"The environment here for learning is very supportive."
First-year student Carlos Almanza was struggling with his chemistry homework, so he called up Professor Roberto Garza-Lopez. The professor agreed to come over and help him, even though it was the weekend -- and Garza-Lopez wasn't even his professor for this particular class.
"In every class I've taken, professors have always taken the time if you need help," says Carlos, who plans to major in neuroscience or molecular biology and go on to become an oncologist. "Whether it was on a weekend, lunch, by e-mail, phone, they're there."
Friendly, engaged faculty helped draw Almanza to Pomona in the first place. While deciding on colleges, he visited campus for a Minority Student Action Program weekend, and was impressed with the professors he met. "There was that glimmer in their eyes, like 'this is real and you can have your hands in research and have fun with it,'" he said. "They're really willing to help you.'"
Almanza's favorite class so far is Introduction to Genetics, taught by Biology Professor Daniel Martinez. "He's so engaging," says Carlos. "He relates it to you. He's really being real with the students. Martinez's recent research work impressed Almanza. "He's up to date,'' says Carlos. "A lot of stuff that's not in the book he'll be like, ‘oh, recently, this and this and this.'"
Carlos is eager to get his own hands into some research, using the College's new, state-of-the-art lab facilities in the Richard C. Seaver Biology Building. But his interests stretch far beyond the sciences in a well-rounded approach that is typical of Pomona students. He's a student coordinator for the College's intramural sports program and is a sponsor in the residence halls, helping first-year students adjust to college life. And suddenly he's fallen in love with Japanese.
He studied the language in high school, but didn't have many people to speak it with. Now he visits the lunchtime language tables at Pomona's Oldenborg Center for Modern Languages, where students can sit together to speak in languages ranging from Spanish to Arabic to Japanese. The opportunity for daily practice rekindled his fascination with the language.
"The environment here for learning is very supportive,'' says Carlos. "It's definitely helpful to be with people who want you to prosper. And you want them to prosper."