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Inspirational Young Alumni Award

The Inspirational Young Alumni Award was established to honor a young alumnus or alumna (graduate of the last decade) in recognition of dedication, perseverance and consistency in following their vision of the inscription on the College Gates: "They only are loyal to this college who departing, bear their added riches in trust for mankind." The winner is invited to return to campus for a short visit to interact with students in a mutually meaningful manner.

The Alumni Office receives nominations for the Inspirational Young Alumni Award from various sources: alumni, parents, faculty and staff of the College. The nominees' information is given to a committee of current students for their review. This student selection committee then discusses the candidates' highlights and talents and makes the final decision.

2014 Recipient

Francine Segovia '04

U.S. Navy Reserve research psychologist Lt. Francine Segovia ’04 is the 2014 Inspirational Young Alumni Award recipient. Segovia, a magna cum laude psychology and Spanish major, works with repatriated prisoners of war, examining post-traumatic growth and resilience. She is part of a team of scientists and medical specialists at the Robert E. Mitchell Center for Prisoner of War Studies examining how optimism and resilience may boost the health of extreme trauma victims. Her goal is simple: “To continue serving others,” she says.

Segovia says her views regarding resilience were broadened by her work with repatriated prisoners of war—and their personal sacrifices, fortitude and buoyancy in spite of great suffering are what inspires her service. She was not expecting this work to be so uplifting. It taught her more about the science of happiness as much as it did about psychiatric illness, she says.

“Survivors of trauma have a lot to teach us about what it means to be happy and how to approach life with an appreciative perspective,” Segovia says. “I’ve never seen people so grateful just to be alive.”

After graduating from Pomona, Segovia was a two-time McNair Research Fellow at Claremont Graduate University and went on to the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor for her master’s and Ph.D. in social psychology, where she worked on a broad array of diversity-related issues and won both the Ford Foundation and National Science Foundation Fellowships.

In May of 2014, Segovia completed a re-specialization clinical psychology post-doctorate program at the University of Missouri, St. Louis and then return to active-duty service at the U.S. Naval Medical Center in San Diego.

She attributes much of her research expertise to experience she gained while at Pomona, including her participation in the Summer Undergraduate Research Program (SURP), during which she sought to understand how science contributes to phenomenon affecting ethnic and racial minorities. 

“The critical thinking skills graduates from an institution like Pomona possess have a direct impact on all your work moving forward. These skills have helped me tremendously as I navigated my career.”

Beyond an education, Pomona offered additional foundational training that built upon the values she was raised with, she says.

“For me, it was just part of my upbringing that if you have, you give. I think Pomona breeds that and reiterates that.”

Segovia’s military service and commitment to those values made her stand out amongst an impressive group of people, says Emma Wolfarth ’14, senior class president and a member of the award selection committee. 

“She is clearly a one of a kind individual who deserves recognition from her alma mater for an unparalleled dedication to service to not only the Pomona community, but also to this country and the world alike,” says Wolfarth. 

Segovia encourages others to do the same—especially past and present Pomona students whose unique opportunities through their education afford them so many ways to contribute to better communities. 

“I think it’s our duty to give back.” 

Past Recipients

2013: Maggie Fick '07

2012: Elena Shih '04

2011: Jane Chen '00

2010: Maia Sophia Campbell '01

2009: Melvin Yee '00

2008: Janelle Lin '00

2007: Maria Luz Garcia '01

2006: Emily Arnold-Fernandez '99

2005: Enriqueta Ramirez '00

2004: David Holmes '97

2003: Cuc Vu '92

2001: Loriq Charkoudian '95

2000: Casey Trupin '95

1999: Karin Zaugg '93

1998: Ed Tessier '91

1997: Martina Vandenberg '90

1996: Gretchen Berland '86