Aldair Arriola-Gomez '17

Aldair Arriola

I majored in IR because it allowed me to take classes in areas I was interested in such as history, language classes, and politics. I love the interdisciplinary aspect of the major and the fact that you can design your own IR path. For example, I’m very interested in Latin America so I did most of my research on issues from this region of the world. I think the IR coordinator, Professor Pierre Englebert, is a fantastic man who brings life to the IR program and who is a dedicated professor that cares about his students. I think these reasons contributed to me selecting International Relations as my major!

I studied abroad in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil during fall 2015. Living in such a dynamic city like Rio de Janeiro was incredible. I stayed with a host family who lived two blocks away from Copacabana Beach. I was able to learn Portuguese, take classes with Brazilian students at PUC-Rio, and partake in an internship experience with a non-profit organization. The city was filled with multiple, diverse events to go to. Studying abroad in Rio de Janeiro solidified my interest in city planning and how metropolitan areas will respond to increases in population. I had the chance of traveling around Brazil (Minas Gerais, Sao Paulo, Salvador de Bahia) and can confidently say that everyone needs to visit at least once in their lifetime!  

Jacob Merkle '18

I feel very privileged to be a part of the IR department at Pomona College. In my mind, what makes IR at Pomona such a great major is the quality of the teachers, the type of student who is drawn to international relations, and atmosphere that exists within IR classes. Not only are the teachers in the IR department incredibly intelligent, they are also genuinely good people who take a close interest in the learning and well-being of their students. Especially at a liberal arts school like Pomona, where we are so often reminded that much of the value of our education comes from learning to think, I am grateful to have chosen IR as a major because my teachers and fellow students constantly push me to reconsider my own beliefs and attempt to understand the positions of others. My experience in being a part of the IR department has made me a more thoughtful, well-rounded person.

Classes often feature animated discussion and a healthy atmosphere where students challenge each other to defend their own positions. The major requirements help create a well-rounded course load in which students are able to take advantage of courses from other disciplines such as history, language, and politics. Being an IR major has helped me make the most out of my college experience, I wouldn't trade it for anything.