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Ajoy Vase Awarded Rockefeller Fellowship for Aspiring Teachers of Color

Ajoy Vase, a Pomona College senior majoring in physics and mathematics, has been awarded the prestigious Fellowship for Aspiring Teachers of Color by the Rockefeller Brothers Fund. He is one of just 25 recipients nationwide. Rockefeller Fellows receive $22,100 over five years to help in their pursuit of a teaching career.

Prior to coming to Pomona, Vase spent a year working full-time at his former high school in Dubai, United Arab Emirates. During that time, he taught remedial middle school classes, worked as a substitute teacher, coached soccer and assisted with administrative tasks. “It was an incredibly unique and exciting experience and actually made me think for the first time of being a full-time teacher,” says Vase.

During his undergraduate summers, Vase worked as a teaching assistant for the Pomona College Summer Scholars Enrichment program and as an intern with the Los Angeles Urban Project, a city-run summer camp. At Pomona, he also served as a sponsor for first-year students, as a resident advisor and an active member of the Intervarsity Christian Fellowship.

Vase plans to use his Rockefeller Fellowship to pursue a Master’s degree in education with the ultimate goal of teaching physics and mathematics to 9th and 10th grade students. “I think that those years are extremely formative intellectually and emotionally for students,” explains Vase. “I’m especially excited…because these fields are the ones that can provide students access to rigorous science and engineering programs at the university level. It’s important that more people have access to these programs, even if they don’t choose to enroll in them, because access to science and technology means access to power.”

As an international student from Dubai and Pune, India, Vase hopes to share his international experience with his students. “I want to encourage my students to think on a global level and have big dreams about changing the world,” he says. “Physics and mathematics can give students a framework to think critically about and address social issues.”

Pomona College, one of the nation’s premier liberal arts institutions, offers a comprehensive program in the arts, humanities, social sciences and natural sciences. Its hallmarks include small classes, close relationships with faculty and a range of opportunities for student research.