The Road to Pomona

By Leslie Paz ’24

Out of thousands of universities and colleges, the fact that I landed at Pomona is honestly a miracle. After forming relationships with faculty and bonding with friends, I genuinely believe it is my perfect fit. However, it wasn’t always this way. There was a time when I almost dismissed the school altogether. I shudder now to think where I might have ended up. Thankfully, a series of fortunate events helped guide me and answered the age-old question: why Pomona?

graphic of Pomona College and copy of Leslie's description of it
Opening slide to my freshman presentation

As a freshman in high school, I did not know anything about college other than that it was expensive. My first peek into the 5Cs was when my teacher assigned the class to investigate a SoCal college and create a presentation and research paper. As a first-generation student who had no idea what to pick, I turned to Google. I know they say do not judge a book by its cover, but the only reason I chose Pomona was because of its logo. I spent a couple of hours researching its academics, social life, and the Claremont area and finished the project. The result? I liked everything about the school, but the sticker price tag, so I discarded it. It would not be until years later that I realized how affordable and generous Pomona is with its financial aid packages.

Leslie's description of Pomona.
My personal reflection and the giant misconception I had.

Later in my sophomore year of high school, I joined a college preparatory program. Coincidentally, my counselor for the program turned out to be a 5C alumni. One day while promoting the Claremont Colleges, he told a story about how one of his classes had only two other students. After asking if I knew about the 5Cs, my counselor remarked that he believed Pomona would be a good fit for me. At first, I was so intimidated by his story that I ignored his remark. After all, what shy introverted high school student wouldn’t be afraid of being stuck in a small class? It was not until junior year that I recognized the importance of small classrooms and one-on-one interactions.

Junior year was the year where all the tiny puzzle pieces finally started to click together. I received an invitation to attend an event hosted by Pomona College. At first, I was hesitant to accept. However, considering the campus was only an hour away, and I had nothing else going on, I decided it would not hurt to accept. Ultimately, this visit would be the turning point that led me towards Pomona.

The drive there was rocky, to say the least. Who would have thought that Pomona College was not in Pomona, California? For about 15 minutes, my family and I were driving in circles around empty parking lots… thank you Google maps. I finally arrived and was amazed by all the greenery and by the architecture of the school. Photos do not do justice to the graceful aura that Pomona emits in person. My first stop was Frank Dining Hall. Since I was late, I was not able to get breakfast, but the hall was gorgeous! However, nothing could prepare me for the absolute beauty of the Mabel Shaw Bridges Hall of Music (also known as Little Bridges). Without exaggeration, I felt like a fancy aristocrat or diplomat when I entered the room. The deep tones of brown and hickory wood merged to form a beautiful hall. Lunch took place in Frary Dining Hall. While I don’t remember what I ate, I could never forget the Prometheus mural that looked down on me as I ate. After an exciting day of touring, I fell in love with the campus. It was almost like there was a magical ambiance that assured me, “this is the place for you”.

When the time arrived, I sent in my application and hoped for the best. After long months of waiting, I was finally in. I was finally a Sagehen. My financial aid package was beyond amazing. The main grievance I had about attending Pomona back in my freshman year of high school was the cost, yet Pomona gave me the best financial aid package of any of the schools I applied to. Without hesitation, I quickly hit the “I accept the offer of admission” button.

Leslie's little dog with a Pomona hat next to her
My dog enjoying her honorary title as a fellow Sagehen!

Looking back at my experience, I swear to Cecil that I will never regret my enrollment in Pomona. As a high school senior, the factors that appealed to me were the beautiful architecture and the small student-to-faculty ratio. However, now that I have experienced my first year, it is the homey, friendly community and financial generosity of the school that stand out. Now that the Zoom era of college is hopefully over (fingers crossed), I look forward to finally revisiting the campus that I fell in love with.