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New 47 Things Challenge Prize of $2,000 Encourages Students to Explore Southern California

Jamie Garcia '14 explores the Griffith Observatory

Jamie Garcia '14 explores the Griffith Observatory

8 of 47 in 1 Day

During the winter holiday break, Jamie Garcia ’14 and two friends went for broke in their quest to complete some of the 47 Things list. Here’s her account of the day:

"We first went to the Santa Monica Pier and rode the Ferris Wheel (#18). We then went down to the beach and just put our feet in the water since it was January when we went…it was a little cold (#13). From Santa Monica, we walked to Venice Beach (#35) and bought some little things from the vendors. After that, we drove to the Museum of Jurassic Technology (#46) and it was...interesting. I'm still not 100 percent sure of what types of things the museum collects. The website is a little sketchy, too... The museum was not too far from Melrose so decided to window-shop there for a bit (#29).  We had tickets to see a comedy show at the Upright Citizens Brigade (#16) later that evening and it was actually really funny. Tickets were only $5, and we saw two sketches. We had a great time. We got out of the show kind of late, but we still had time to visit the Griffith Park Observatory (#23). I have been there a couple of times, but this was the first time I had gone at night. It was incredible. By this time we were quite exhausted, but we still stopped by In-N-Out and grabbed some well-done animal-style fries (#10). Perfect end to the day."

Update 04/26/12: Molly Horgan '14 has won the award for the 2011-12 academic year, having completed all 47 "things."

Students at Pomona College commonly refer to our beautiful campus as a “bubble,” a safe place they rarely need to leave because of the many places to hang out and things to do. But with so many cultural and natural wonders less than an hour away in any given direction, an important part of the Pomona experience is getting off campus to experience the riches of Southern California.

This is why creating the list of “47 Things Every Sagehen Should Do Before Graduating” was assigned to the first task force established by President David Oxtoby following his inauguration in 2003. Recently revamped by the a committee of students, faculty and staff, attention to the list increased this year by a challenge from Ronald Lee Fleming '63 and his generous gift, the Cognoscenti Fund: The Sagehen who completes the greatest number of the 47 Things during each academic year will receive a $2,000 cash prize. The student will also be able to select a College department, program or registered student organization to receive a matching $2,000 gift.

“I believe in Pomona College and I especially believe in empowering its students,” says Fleming. The Cognoscenti Grant attempts to strengthen outside connections by rewarding curiosity. The ultimate goal, I suppose, is to nourish certain literacy with place and in the end support student conversational energy by broadening the frame of reference.”

The Smith Campus Center subsidizes trips to the 47 “things” throughout the academic year. This semester, the SCC has organized trips to the San Diego Zoo, Cirque du Soleil, the Getty Museum, the Hollywood Improv, Donut Man on historic Route 66, and the Great Wall of Los Angeles.

Jamie Garcia ’14 is putting in a strong effort for this year’s award. She’s only three “things” away from completing the list; among them #37 Take a dip at the Deep Creek Hot Springs. “I'm from Rosemead, about 30 minutes west of Claremont,” says Garcia, an environmental analysis major. “It’s funny because even though I’m from SoCal, there were many ‘things’ that I had never done or even heard of! I have come to appreciate SoCal even more because of the 47 Things Challenge.”

On one particularly ambitious day during winter holiday, Garcia and two friends checked off eight items from her list (see sidebar). So far, her favorite experiences have been whale watching (“Seeing about five whales breach was just mind-blowing.”) and riding the Palm Springs Aerial Tramway. “The ride up gave an amazing view of the desert and snow on the mountain. I got to play in snow for the first time…it was great.”

Ellie Ash-Bala, assistant director of Smith Campus Center and student programs, organizes the trips and helped lead the committee that reassessed the list recently. She says the list “was designed to give students a wide-range of what many would consider quintessential L.A. experiences--things that L.A. natives would agree that you must do if you are going to attend college and live in Southern California for four years.” The most popular events are professional sporting events, concerts at the Walt Disney Concert Hall and Hollywood Bowl, musicals and ski/beach day (a two-for-one list reducer).

The list is not just for touristy purposes though. “It also includes things that will give students a well-rounded Pomona student experience,” says Ash-Bala. “So it includes things like partnering with the Draper Center in giving back on a community engagement project or joining the Sustainability Office on a ‘Toxic Tour’ of the Inland Empire.”

Fleming has spent his career being concerned with place and has supported endeavors at Pomona in this regard. He is an urban planner and designer, preservation advocate, environmental educator and critic, fellow at the American Institute for City Planners, and founder of the Townscape Institute, which acts as an advocate, educator and consultant on place making, public space development and Main Street revitalization.

In the 1980s, Fleming and his mother endowed a lectureship series at Pomona that “sought to stimulate an interest in the built environment, which I thought was being neglected at the College.” The lecture series, which lasted several years, was combined with bus tours around Southern California and summer fellowships on built environment topics. 

Fleming has also helped beautify the campus in ways that retain a focus on place. He funded the popular “Place Maker" bronze relief map of local landmarks, created by Gregg LeFevre and located in Smith Campus Center. “Two presidents of the College have successively informed me that they find parents, alumni and students, standing over it for many minutes, puzzling out the locations of historic buildings stretching from the old Riverside Inn, and the lost Smiley botanical gardens in Redlands, to the bungalows on the rim of the Arroyo Seco in Pasadena,” says Fleming.

He also gifted the statue of the goddess Pomona located at the entrance of the Organic Farm and contributed significantly to Skyspace, the architectural installation by James Turrell ’65 that offers visitors a heightened experience of light and the sky.

“Seen in this context, the Cognoscenti Fund, is a natural evolution of family gift giving," says Fleming. "It’s designed to extend the conversation about place by incentivizing efforts by students to discover their surroundings and to bring information back to the campus that enriches their cultural lives and hopefully their conversation,” says Fleming. “Seeing the new Chinese Garden at the Huntington Library, or spending time at the incredible Norton Museum, or going to the missions and adobes, some of them buried in suburbia, should encourage some broader understanding of who were are and where we have come from.”

Says Ash-Bala, “It is our hope that the ‘47 Things Every Sagehen Should Do Before Graduating’ list will become a defining part of Pomona students’ college experience and that they will leave Pomona having been exposed to more cultures, museums, music and hands-on educational experiences than they would have had without it.”