Pomona College and QuestBridge Build on 18-Year Partnership

Three Questbridge Scholars

In its efforts to promote access to a high-caliber liberal arts education, Pomona College has had a valuable partner in QuestBridge since 2005.

QuestBridge is a national nonprofit that connects exceptional, low-income youth with leading colleges. Through the QuestBridge National College Match college and scholarship application process, Pomona offers a number of College Match scholarships annually that cover the full cost of tuition, room and board and are loan-free.

“The access to college that QuestBridge provides is closely aligned with our mission statement at Pomona College to gather individuals, regardless of financial circumstances,” says Edward Pickett III, senior associate dean and director of recruitment.

To build on the relationship with QuestBridge, Pomona is preparing to host a QuestBridge National College Admissions Conference on campus in May. The conference is one of three happening around the country, and all QuestBridge College Prep Scholars are invited to attend to learn about the college admissions process and meet with admissions staff from several Questbridge partner colleges and universities.

“After hosting a QuestBridge National College Admissions Conference pre-pandemic, it’s exciting to bring back this important admissions event for students and families to learn more about their college options as well as showcase the beauty of the Pomona College campus,” says Pickett.

Get to know three of the current QuestBridge students who attend Pomona.

Bayarmaa Bat-Erdene ’26

Bayarmaa Bat-Erdene comes to Pomona from Vernon Hills, Illinois. Applying through QuestBridge gave her the opportunity to more fully share her family’s financial situation, which she considers an important part of her background and identity.

Her parents, who immigrated from Mongolia, “worked really hard to get me here,” Bat-Erdene says. “I want to make sure my parents’ contributions and efforts were worth it.”

Bat-Erdene is interested in studying sociology and public policy analysis. “I’m always thinking about social groups, income, immigration,” she says. Recently reading the book The Maid’s Daughter for a class, she was able to compare it to her own experience as her mom worked as a housekeeper for a time.

She ranked Pomona as one of her top choices for its academic rigor, small size and location in California. Ultimately, though, Bat-Erdene ranked schools based on “vibe,” she says, believing the school that she matched with would be the right place for her.

So far, her approach has worked as she has found a home at Pomona. “You really get to know people,” Bat-Erdene says. “At lunch with friends I know so many people in the dining hall.”

Brisa Salazar ’24

Brisa Salazar, who is from Dallas, Texas, ranked Pomona at the top of her list for Questbridge matches. “I need to go to Pomona,” was her thinking.

After visiting campus through the Fall Perspectives on Pomona (POP) program, Salazar “fell in love.” Everything from the weather to the small classes to the students beckoned her here.

After she arrived, she worked in the admissions office for two years, talking to prospective students about the College and QuestBridge as well. Her junior year, Salazar took a job as a program coordinator for the Pomona College Academy for Youth Success (PAYS) program. Creating access to opportunity, she says, “is so important, especially coming from a low-income background.”

As a Latina computer science major, Salazar feels the responsibility to “bring others forward” in that space especially. “I’ve always felt imposter syndrome with computer science,” she says. “But I’m realizing that, ‘Okay, your imposter syndrome is not entirely made up. You are one of the only people here (that looks like you), and that’s intimidating.’”

Salazar has found the FLI (first generation and/or low income) Scholars community on campus to be a supportive network at Pomona. “FLI has been really great in my time at Pomona and in helping me adjust,” says Salazar.

Peter Schwammlein ’26

Peter Schwammlein, from Fayetteville, Arkansas, applied to the QuestBridge College Prep Scholarship Program his junior year, upon his college counselor’s suggestion, and matched with Pomona his senior year.

“I just had a good feeling about putting Pomona near the top,” he says, adding that he was drawn to the Claremont Colleges consortium, the liberal arts education, and Pomona students he had met through the QuestBridge network.

Schwammlein is planning on majoring in linguistics and considering double majoring in German Studies as well.

“Just in my first year, the classes have been phenomenal,” he says. Schwammlein points to Calculus II Honors with Professor Shahriar Shahriari as an example, which felt like what “college should be: doing late night math homework with friends and learning a ton too.”

Schwammlein has especially enjoyed the students at Pomona. “I feel like I belong here because of the connections I’ve made,” he says. “People are willing to listen to other perspectives,” he adds. “The school pulls deep-thinking people that can see multiple sides and are not fully set on their ideology.”