On Saturday, Feb. 9, Pomona College sophomores gathered in the Smith Campus Center (SCC) to attend The Big Sophomore Event: Reorientation. The event aimed to inform second-year students about study abroad, internship, and fellowship opportunities, as well as how to bridge the gap between their college years and their careers.
The event, which was sponsored by Pomona's Career Development Office (CDO), featured a keynote address by Pomona College President David Oxtoby, followed by workshops designed to encourage sophomores to think about their future plans. The day's events concluded with a major fair in Edmunds Ballroom featuring alumni from each of Pomona's 47 majors.
According to Mary Raymond, Associate Dean of Students and Director of the CDO, the goal of the event was to provide sophomores with the information they need to make informed decisions about the next steps in their lives.
"There's always the sophomore problem around the country," Oxtoby said in his keynote address. "Freshman year, everyone's new, all the excitement; junior year, you're into your major; but what happens sophomore year?"
Oxtoby, speaking to a crowd of roughly 40 sophomores in Rose Hills Theatre, stressed the importance of his liberal arts education in his own academic journey.
"Just to think about myself, when I was at your stage, I was obviously thinking about majors and what to study and so forth," Oxtoby said in the address. "In my first year, I'd been fascinated by a history course on the one side, but on the other hand, I also had taken chemistry and loved that. So I was trying to decide which direction to go in terms of a major. I ended up, of course, doing chemistry, but the opportunity to make those choices, to think about different options throughout your education, is really valuable."
A recurring theme in Oxtoby's speech was that students should not limit themselves to familiar areas, but should feel safe to venture outside their comfort zones.
"Certainly if I think about what I do now as President, and I go back and think about my education, there are a lot of different things through that period that contributed to helping me do what I do now," Oxtoby said in his address. "It certainly wasn't something I planned on or knew about. So you don't know where you're going to end up either. I think the main thing is to take as many opportunities as you have."
Both Oxtoby and Raymond observed that sophomores often fall into an uncertain transitional stage between their first and third year, but that the time should be used for exploration and looking forward to the future rather than falling into a rut.
"The vision of today was to bring together the sophomore class to prepare for what are some very important months and years ahead of us," Sophomore Class President Reina Buenconsejo PO '15 said in her introduction to Oxtoby's keynote address. "I hope that today can help us throughout our years at Pomona and beyond and also help us to realize the virtually limitless potential that lies before us after we graduate."
Raymond expressed interest in continuing the program for future sophomore classes, subject to feedback from current sophomores about the effectiveness of this year's Reorientation.
"I think that the students who came got a lot out of it," Raymond said. "It took a lot of people to bring this event together: all the liaison groups, the alumni who signed on, the different offices that are not part of CDO that lent time to the breakout sessions. I feel as if it's a success because other people got behind the idea and students benefited."
Shannon Lubetich PO '15, who attended the event, had suggestions to improve the program should it be continued in the years to come.
"I think having such an event before winter break would have been more helpful," Lubetich wrote in an e-mail to TSL. "Knowing how and why I should be thinking about my future is great and all, but I'm a busy college student and don't really have that much time to spend looking up information and applying to internships."
This article originally appeared in The Student Life on February 15, 2013.