|· · · · · · · · ·
|Pomona College Magazine is published three times a year by Pomona College
550 N. College Ave, Claremont, CA 91711
Online Editor: Mark Kendall
For editorial matters:
Editor: Mark Wood
Phone: (909) 621-8158
Fax: (909) 621-8203
PCM Editorial Guidelines
Contact Alumni Records for changes of address, class notes, or notice
of births or deaths.
Phone: (909) 621-8635
Fax: (909) 621-8535
|· · · · · · · · ·
First-year students bring a range of experiences to the campus
Doing Their Own Thing
By Jill Walker Robinson
Each fall, Dean of Admissions Bruce Poch welcomes the entering class
with highlights of
some of the remarkable accomplishments of members of the College’s
newest class, then
sends the new first-years forth on a scavenger hunt —to mingle and find
each other. His
motive is to get students to see that “they’re not all of the same
The Class of ’08, as usual, had a diversity of experiences before
arriving at Pomona.
Here are four new students whose stories indicate that they are already
well on their
way to discovering the passions that may shape their lives.
Breaking the Mold
Catie Camacho ’08 smiles as she recalls the speech that won her the
title of 2002
Minnesota State Speech Champion in informative speaking. Called “Molding
a Success,” it
was a whimsical speech on America’s most famous dessert, Jell-O. With
tidbits about the size of the mold measuring a person’s wealth centuries
anthropologists judging immigrant assimilation based on whether Jell-O
turns up at
potlucks, the speech had heart.
“I wanted something I could be proud of,” says Camacho of Hudson,
Wisconsin. “It’s kind
of embarrassing when you tell someone you won on Jell-O.”
The next year, she went for a more meaningful topic—“something real,”
she says of her
original oratory speech on a the N-word, titled a “Most Troublesome
Unfortunately, she placed fifth that year, perhaps because of the
For her senior year, Camacho said she “couldn’t go down like that.” She
needed a winner. She chose the 1992 AIDS speeches. Elizabeth Glaser, who
with AIDS due to a blood transfusion, spoke before the Democratic
Mary Fisher, who contracted the disease from her husband, addressed the
Convention. Prior to these speeches, Camacho contends, AIDS was
considered a gay man’s
disease, though it had already crossed economic and racial lines.
“While neither speech has led to a cure, both ultimately succeeded in
their attempts to
issue calls to action,” Camacho said in her eight-minute speech.
She was named the 2004 Minnesota State Speech Champion.
For Love of the Game
Like so many American boys, Eric Thompson ’08 of Mercer Island,
Washington, has been
playing baseball since age 5. After all, wearing a glove and throwing a
baseball is a
“We think it’s a uniquely American thing, but it’s not,” says Thompson,
who trekked to
Cuba for love of the game at age 13.
Thompson went with his baseball team from the Sandy Koufax League. It
was the team
manager’s idea, his attempt to “normalize relationships” and create some
legacy, says Thompson. The team held fundraisers and found sponsors to
raise funds for
“There was a feeling in the back of my mind: You’re going to Cuba. It’s
Fidel Castro is a bad guy,” says Thompson, who learned more than he ever
the trip. He hopes to go back someday.
“It was funny to compare the teams going into the games,” says Thompson.
there doing our methodical drills and playing catch. They were playing
person at bat warming up the team, with no helmets. By our standards,
unsafe. But they were having the time of their lives.”
The Americans brought baseball equipment—bats, gloves, helmets—to the
players, who were playing with old leather gloves that were falling
apart. They played
in a stadium of dilapidated concrete with patches of grass, says
the goat behind the centerfield wall. “Yet, there wasn’t a depressed
remembers Thompson. “The conditions didn’t affect their attitude.”
They loved the game too.
Playing With Fire
Peter Freudenberger ’08 remembers getting wrenches on his second
birthday. “I was
always the weird little kid,” he says. “While other kids were playing on
the swing, I’d
be trying to figure out how to take it apart.”
Freudenberger, who grew up in Canberra, Australia, always loved to
tinker. By the sixth
grade, he found a hobby that captured his interest—pyrotechnics.
“I always loved watching fireworks,” he says, “and if I liked something,
I wanted to
figure it out.” His dad, a scientist, encouraged him. “I was always
brought up to think
outside the box,” says Freudenberger, who taught himself the chemistry
needed to make
fireworks. “I was never told I couldn’t do something because I wasn’t
Of course, in the United States, making fireworks could land him in
prison, as the
materials needed are on the terrorist watch list. “There’s not really
between making a bomb and fireworks,” says Freudenberger, who has taken
a hiatus from
his hobby since coming to Pomona. “One is designed to amuse; the other
Back at home, finding the materials to make fountains—his fireworks of
of the fun. He’d visit sewing shops for the cardboard tubes used to make
the base of
the fountain, find iron brake pads in junkyards to create yellow and
Aluminum, which he found in paint, created the white and silver colors.
Then, he’d need
charcoal, sulfur and fertilizer to make gunpowder.
“I’ve still got my fingers,” says Freuden¬berger, when asked about the
hazards of using
such perilous materials.
The skull and crossbones on the box he carried into his going-away party
freaked out some, but Freudenberger was known for his firework shows.
sprouting beautiful colors in the air surrounded the backyard for his
“When I see them go off, I think back through all that has gone into
Naqiya Hussain ’08 broke cultural rules in Karachi, Pakistan, when she
visited the shantytown where her family’s maid lived. As a volunteer
Lawyers for Human Rights, she handed out pamphlets about women’s rights.
“A woman there was being abused by her husband,” says Hussain. “She went
on to get a
divorce. Her mother came to my house, saying ‘You ruined my family.’”
The ramifications of being a divorced woman in Pakistan is, in some
“A lot of women will stay in abusive situations rather than deal with
stigma,” says Hussain. Some abused women commit suicide. “These women
have no hope,”
Hussain was in the ninth grade when she was first introduced to some of
in Pakistani society, like the abuse inflicted on women and children and
of laws protecting them. “I was unaware of all these horrible things. No
one would talk
about them,” she says. “It was taboo.”
As part of an independent project in an English class, she and other
interviewing lawyers and human rights activists. They organized a panel
aired on Pakistan Television. About 70 students from area schools
Hussain had researched legislation, discovering some shocking insights.
certificates allowed women to ask for a divorce; the law forbids women
from seeking a
divorce. If a woman reports a rape, she must have multiple witnesses and
should the accused be found not guilty.
“We had hoped it would move people to do something,” Hussain said of the
show, “but it didn’t.”
If nothing else, it opened the doors for conversation. A weekly show on
Islamic law and
women’s issues now airs on Pakistan Television. Hussain continues to
work on behalf of
human rights at home.
“A lot of it has to do with education,” she says, fully intending to
return home after
college and continue assisting those who need help.