I’m a Tom Boy

By Bryce Kelly ‘23

My mother kept staring at me, trying to judge my feelings. We were driving away from an admitted student’s day at a university I’ll call Hardstone College, and I was refusing to share even an ounce of emotion about it. Not because I had none, but because I knew that if I showed eagerness or disapproval, so would my parents, which would only loop back to me. Hardstone’s would be the last admitted students’ day I would attend, and now I would have to make a decision on which college I would attend for the next four years.

I had visited Pomona just a few days before. I had sprinted through the halls of my home in celebration when I had received Pomona’s regular decision acceptance, and I’d reacted in much the same way for Hardstone. It was a neck-and-neck choice, with only the on-campus visit left to tip the scales.

After the visits, I had made up my mind. But my parents still lived in uncertainty.

“You’ve chosen?” My mother asked cautiously. I nodded.

A few moments of silence. “I think I know.” She said. “You’ll be great there. It’s-“

Bryce holding a bunch of college brochures
Throwing out college brochures the day I made my decision


“…Hardstone.” My mother finished her sentence before she could process mine. After a moment’s pause, it sunk in. “Pomona! Really! I’m surprised! Not because I think it’s a bad choice, but I just thought you were more excited about Hardstone!”

The conversation continued, and I eventually managed to convince her that I was indeed more interested in the college I was choosing to attend. Upon arriving home, I informed my father, who apparently had been receiving a steady stream of pro-Hardstone predictions over text. My mom assured me a hundred times over that she was excited about Pomona and very proud of me, but I felt as though there needed to be some sort of affirmation about the whole decision.

That validation arrived in a package from Tom Campbell, the Pomona admissions officer responsible for my state (Washington). And the moment I unwrapped it, I knew I had made the right decision.

illustration of Bryce with suitcase leaving home
Illustration by Teodelina Martelli ’23

It was a poster of Pomona’s campus, with a quote emblazoned across the front of it. In bold yellow letters, it read: “I feel my heart beat in my chest as history comes alive before me!”

I had written those words in my application essay.

In an attached note, Tom had written how he wished me all the best in my decision process, and that he enjoyed reading about my passion for history, and he said he hoped my lacrosse season was going well.

My parents had the same reaction as me. We were blown away by the level of attention and thought Tom and Pomona had put into me, before I had made any commitment to them whatsoever. We were all won over in that very moment.

Bryce on scooter
Enjoying Pomona

It would be a pattern that would continue the more we interacted with the school. When my parents first met Tom, he greeted them by their names before they could even introduce themselves. When I first arrived on campus to meet him in person, he recognized me before I could even get a word out and congratulated me on my lacrosse season. He could quote my essay from memory and has been an invaluable resource all throughout my time at Pomona. He is the reason why, throughout it all, I have never doubted that I made the right choice since I stepped foot on campus.

Thank you, Tom, for bringing me to this wonderful place. You did more than look at my application; you brought me to my new home. And I know I wasn’t the only one!