Escaping the Pomona "bubble" became a little more competitive and lucrative last year when the 47 Challenge was introduced. Students who complete the most items on the "47 Things Every Sagehen Should Do Before Graduating" list during the academic year are eligible to win cash prizes for their exploratory efforts around Southern California.
This year, Philipp Schmuecker '16 won first place, Yi Li '16 won second place and Rebecca Yukman '16 won third place.
The students are awarded $1,000, $600 and $400, respectively, by the Cognoscenti Fund, set up by Ronald Lee Fleming '63. The fund awards a matching amount to the winners' selection of a college department, program or registered student organization. The grant was established for the purpose of rewarding students' curiosity and strengthening connections outside the Pomona "bubble" by experiencing the wealth of cultural and natural opportunities that Southern California has to offer.
Pomona subsidizes some of the cost-prohibitive activities, so that meeting the 47 Challenge is better within students' reach. The Smith Campus Center and Student Programs Office organizes eight to 10 trips each semester, with approximately 250 students attending the activities throughout the semester.
Schmuecker completed 36 of the 47 things, the most memorable being #18, his trip to Santa Monica Pier and ride on the Ferris wheel during Orientation Adventure: "The impeccable, lush blue sky, a small gust of wind, flying above the world—[it was] the best time, without any worries during orientation," he recalls. One item he didn't get to check off was the infamous midnight run to Donut Man. And one outing he wasn't keen on but still completed was visiting a quirky museum: the Museum of Death in Hollywood, which he calls "a place of atrocities." Schmuecker, a mathematical economics major, selected the Association for Marketing and Modeling of the Claremont Colleges as the recipient for the matching gift.
Li did 33 things and what she enjoyed most were the activities that gave her new experiences. Pomona's Ski-Beach Day was her first time skiing, and taught by her friends, she made it down the steepest slope by the end of the day. "I think that's the point of 47 things, to step out of your comfort zone, to explore new things and just have fun," she says.
Although the contest is over, Li is still determined to do #1, watch the sunset at Joshua Tree National Park, and #5, go to Walt Disney Concert Hall. An international student from Nantong, China, she chose to send the matching prize to Pomona's International Student Mentor Program (ISMP).
Yukman's first attempt to get to Catalina Island during fall break was thwarted, thanks to her sleeping through her alarm. (Departure time was 4 a.m.) But she made it there this semester as part of her scuba dive certification class and loved it. Item #33 was out of the question: Eating a deep-fried Twinkie at the L.A. County Fair wasn't going to happen since she's gluten intolerant. Still, the acapella group 9th Street Hooligans and Bottom Line Theatre got $200 each, thanks to her succeeding 20 other times. Two of those times were skiing and hiking Mt. Baldy—which were most notable because both activities were done while dressed in a bikini. "Both were bizarre and gloriously fun," says Yukman.