A Disney Encounter

By Sonam Rikha ‘24

“Hi, my name is Sonam, and you’re watching Disney Channel!”

Zoom CDO event with Jennilee Cummings
CDO event with Jennilee Cummings

I stared in the mirror, reciting the introduction again, but this time drawing out the Disney logo with my hair brush. Who knew that much of 8-year-old Sonam’s childhood would be in the hands of Pomona alum Jennilee Cummings ‘98. When I first saw the email that Pomona’s Career Development Office (CDO) was going to hold a call with former vice president of Disney Channel and Disney XD originals Jennilee Cummings, I frantically registered for the call. The fact that I would be in the same digital space as someone who was so influential in the childhoods of me and my friends was incomprehensible.

I’ll admit, I was a bit worried about accessing opportunities and resources during this online semester, but the amount of resources available to students online have been way more than I ever imagined. Every single email from the CDO or the Smith Campus Center seems to slap me in the face with interesting opportunities. Listening to how Jennilee was able to rise up to her position as VP at Disney, to founding her own entertainment company, and then to joining Imagine Entertainment was inspiring and definitely eye-opening. Although I am a prospective international relations major, I’ve always had an interest in screenwriting and directing. As a kid, I would often write screenplays and force my siblings and friends to act in them. As a result, I have a video library full of embarrassing skits that I wrote and directed.

Listening to the long yet exciting process of taking an idea and developing it on screen ignited a passion that I had forgoten I possessed. Even though it’s only been a few months since I’ve started college, I’ve already been reevaluating my passions, career goals, and life purposes. The idea of possibly majoring or minoring in media studies constantly runs across my mind.

Professor Wayne Soon on Zoom discussing the research in his book
Professor Wayne Soon discussing his research

Besides the events that the CDO hosts, I’ve also attended events hosted by the Humanities Studio, Pomona’s Model United Nations team, and the history department. Most recently, I attended a webinar led by the history department on Vassar College Professor Wayne Soon’s new book, Global Medicine in China: a Diasporic History. Learning about the relationship between the Chinese diaspora and medical development in China definitely gave me a different perspective on the roles diasporas and communities in exile have on shaping their “native” country. Whether online or in person, Pomona has a sea of resources and events that students can get lost in.