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Students and Trustees Discuss Career Development and Networks at 13th Retreat

2011 student-trustee retreat at Pomona College

Pomona College’s 13th annual Trustee-Student Retreat took place on Friday, Sept. 30, in Edmunds Ballroom. More than 80 students from all grades and a variety of majors met with more than 20 Pomona trustees to discuss two topics.

The first topic, the Four-Year Personal and Career Development Plan, focused on re-envisioning personal and career development at Pomona. The second topic, Residential Life, Friendship Networks, and Support Groups, considered students’ social networks on campus. The retreat began with short presentations from six students showcasing highlights trends and statistics on both topics. For two hours, students and trustees met in six small discussion groups of 15 to 20 people led by student and trustee facilitators.

The first topic asked students and trustees to consider how to better prepare Pomona students for life after college.

“The main goal was really to hear from the students what they thought about the Career Development Office (CDO) and the results of our task force studies,” Lynn Yonekura '70, trustee chair of the Student Affairs Committee for the Board of Trustees, said.

According to Pomona Vice President and Dean of Students Miriam Feldblum, the topic of career development was also discussed at last year's Trustee-Student retreat to “get input for the trustee task force and start the task force in the right direction." The task force is a trustee initiative designed to improve career planning for students while at Pomona and after graduation.

This year, students and trustees had the opportunity to converse about the recommendations already made by the task force, such as the idea for a four year plan for students to think actively about their future.

“We wouldn’t want to implement something so major without students' input,” Yonekura said.

Groups discussed how to get underclassmen engaged in their futures beyond college, whether to make the four-year plan mandatory, what role faculty advisors, alumni, and other students should play in the program, and how best to implement the program.

“We had some really conducive conversations [in my group],” Associated Students of Pomona College (ASPC) Vice President of Finance Leslie Appleton ’12 said.

Yonekura added, “It was good to validate it from a broader cross-section of students.”

For the next topic, groups considered social divides on campus, support groups, and student boundaries. They discussed the Sponsor Program, Orientation Adventure trips, mentor programs, and other activities that help students form networks within the larger college community.

“The second topic was informational for the trustees--so many of those things didn’t exist when we were students,” Yonekura said. “It’s good to check in and see how are they working.”

“I think it went very well,” ASPC President Nate Brown PO ’12 said of the retreat. “It’s a great opportunity for students and trustees to connect.”

“It’s fun for us to interact with students,” Yonekura added. “The trustees do their job to oversee the governments of the college and the policies, but the real reason they do it is for the students. This [retreat] is critical to being in touch with what is going on and getting input on the things we want to implement."

Feldblum said the discussion of a four-year personal and career development plan will continue.

“We already put together a Career Advisory Group which is the follow-up to the trustee task force,” Feldblum said. This group includes students, faculty, deans and staff from the Career Development Office (CDO).

This article was originally printed in The Student Life on October 7, 2011.