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Some Senior Year Sentiments on the Draper Center | Sonya Zhu

December 10, 2013

Sonya is a senior Psychology major from Coralville, Iowa. She is a coordinator for Pomona Partners and K-12 Campus Programs.

An oldie but goodie: LA Alternabreak with co-coordinator Diana & Assistant Director Sergio (Spring 2012)

Pomona Partners program field trip to Little Tokyo, Los Angeles (Fall 2013)

The Draper Center’s bright yellow wall featuring bios and other postings (Fall 2013)

Coordinators and Director Maria during team community building (Fall 2013)

As fall semester of senior year comes to an end, I find myself at a roadblock. I do not know where I will be going after I graduate this coming spring, I do not know what I want to do with my life, and I do not know how to even begin painting a colorful picture of a cloudy future.

In spite of my uncertainty and worry, I have something to keep me anchored. I have the Draper Center, where I work, reflect, and laugh like I can’t anywhere else. This is my third and last year as a Draper student coordinator, and as I have believed ever since going on LA Alternabreak my first year of college, it is the best job on campus. My Draper programs and the coordinators, staff, and volunteers—past and present—are all wonderful. Not to say that doing community engagement work is easy, for I am constantly challenged, sometimes needing to take baby steps to approach my goals. Yet while other aspects of my life make me feel lackluster at times, I can count on the Draper Center to help me feel whole again.

People often say that Pomona College is a beautiful place. With lush green lawns, graceful trees that glimmer in the sunlight, and Spanish mission style architecture, the school’s campus is a gem in the desert. To me, one of the most beautiful places is actually the Draper Center. It is an intersectional space where I find myself amongst beautiful, inspiring people with diversity in personality, race, gender, sexuality, socioeconomic status, immigration background, culture, knowledge, and more. In the ‘real world’, even at Pomona College, it’s hard to find a space like this. Where do you see such diverse people working together and supporting one another in one place on a daily basis? This is what I dream for our school, our society to look like one day.

Social justice is implicit within our daily discourse and functioning. Consequently, we can have conversations that everyone just gets. Sometimes you don’t have to explain about why such and such is the way it is, or why you feel a certain way, because of society’s oppression. We’re all on the same page, yet that doesn’t mean we don’t challenge each other and ourselves. I can easily say that I would not be the person I am today without having the opportunity to learn from and engage with people at (and through) the Draper Center. 

Perhaps it is a semester too early for me to say how much I will miss the Draper Center, but I will miss it incredibly. I will miss everything—the creative biographies of coordinators and staff decorating the wall, the center’s comfy green couches that seem to melt away your worries when you sit down, the various programs that I have been involved with, and of course, the people who fill the space with something that is intangible but simultaneously very real.  

So here’s to a lovely end of fall semester, and to a memorable semester next spring.

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