Rosemary Choate '63 and Carlos Garcia '73 are being recognized with the 2013 Alumni Distinguished Service Award, which recognizes selfless commitment and ongoing volunteer service to Pomona College.

Rosemary Choate '63

Rosemary Choate '63, a past president of the Alumni Association, created and chaired the Alumni Symposium for Alumni Weekend for 20 years. In addition, she has chaired the Event Planning Committee for most of her class reunions, and was the chair of the Pasadena Alumni Club in the 1980s. She also served as an alumni representative on the Admissions Committee for four years. In 2007, she received the Trustees' Medal of Merit at Commencement.  

"Showcasing the talents of our outstanding alumni body was the impetus for me to initiate the Alumni Symposium," says Choate, who organized and oversaw the Symposium each year. The Symposium (which has since morphed into the Daring Minds lecture series) was an opportunity for alumni to gather for topical and intellectually challenging conversations.

In 1985, Choate, a history major, established a fund, supplemented by other donors, for a prize to honor Professor Vincent Learnihan when he retired. The prize was designed to reward an outstanding student of Western Civilization, which was a required class for decades at the College. "Professor Learnihan taught medieval and Renaissance history, but was renowned for his Western Civ course and the hurdles he imposed on unsuspecting freshmen who, on the whole, became stronger students as a result," recalls Choate, who notes that several recipients of the award became history majors and found the prize helpful for travel and building a library.

Currently, Choate is the president of the Friends of the Caltech Libraries and is on the board of directors for the American Museum of Ceramic Art, founded by David Armstrong '62. She lives in Pasadena, California, and taught high school for many years. Her late husband, Joe Choate '63, was an attorney.

"I have always felt so privileged to have attended Pomona," says Choate. "Although my desire has been to 'give something back to the college,' the reality is that I am the one who has been continuously rewarded by an ongoing association with faculty and students and, especially, by working with fellow alumni. The time spent on Pomona projects seems to have raced by, while the reward for me has grown exponentially and is enormous"

Carlos Garcia '73

Carlos Garcia '73 was president of the Alumni Association in 2007-08 and has chaired various reunion committees, served on the Torchbearers Board, helped launch the LGBT and Latino alumni affinity groups, and hosts students at his home during spring Alternabreaks.

Recalling a recent Alternabreak party, Garcia says "I was telling the kids how much fun it is to meet them. They're so fun and interesting. It's like sticking your finger in an electric socket—you get this electric jolt and see so many new things."

Garcia majored in foreign languages, studying comparative literature, while at Pomona. He earned two master's degrees from UC Berkeley and National University. His spent 21 years leading his consumer research company, Garcia Research Associates, which was later acquired by GfK: Knowledge Networks. He is now senior vice president at GfK, where he leads their Hispanic research efforts.

Garcia was raised in East Los Angeles by immigrant parents, and takes a special interest in helping Latino students and alumni. "Latino students often come from lower income families and don't have industry or academic connections. Without any support or contacts, it's hard to get started [after college]," says Garcia. "This is where the Latino alumni really come into play, helping to steer them toward internship or first job opportunities, to get a sense of what business and a job might be like."

He also encourages his alumni friends to attend events and get involved with the College. "Some resist mightily and then thank me mightily. They end up loving it," says Garcia.

"It's really satisfying in ways you wouldn't anticipate because of the people you meet, across the [class] years. You find the same type of people at different points of life with the same Pomona quality: bright, inquisitive. They have this open mind and they're really interesting.  You don't very often meet people like that in the real world. It's rare and precious, and I love it."