Senior Spotlight: Keenan Ferar

Pitzer student from Portland, Oregon

For Pitzer senior Keenan Ferar, second semester seems more like a step into the real world than a fleeting end to college life. As a senior who technically graduated last semester, Ferar is living at the Pitzer co-op, working two internships, and auditing two classes free of tuition.

“It’s been like baby steps [into post-college life],” Ferar said.

As a freshman, Ferar thought he wanted to start his own winery after college—and he still has this dream. His short-term options will allow him to test his winemaking interest. One plan is to go back to his hometown of Portland, OR to complete a four-month internship with a winemaker. Ferar was able to find this internship through connections of his father, an architect who designs wineries.

Another plan is to complete an internship for the County of Sonoma in Northern California, where Ferar would be working on a project in the fields of tourism, economics, youth, or community services. The real draw for this opportunity? Ferar would earn $40,000 over the course of the internship and get to live in world-famous wine country.

On top of these options, Ferar has yet another one: studying enology (the business of winemaking) at a graduate school.

Aside from his winemaking interests, Ferar has ideas to pursue his interest in non-profits. As an environmental studies and peace and conflict development dual major, Ferar has a deep interest in social justice.

After studying abroad his sophomore summer in Uganda and Rwanda and witnessing some of the genocide’s devastating effects on Rwanda while interviewing citizens in displacement camps, Ferar realized that he wanted to focus on human rights issues rather than biology.

“It was a really emotionally intense experience. I definitely want to go back to Africa at some point in the future,” Ferar said.

Ferar’s previous non-profit work includes an internship last summer at an NGO that certifies non-genetically-modified food products in order to better inform consumers about the quality of what they are buying. He is also currently interning at an organization that helps refugees in the U.S. obtain jobs.

He and fellow Pitzer senior Sarah Smilkstein are also trying to establish a non-profit to start a school in Mali. Smilkstein and Ferar plan to focus on raising girls’ academic achievement in order to bring them onto a competitive level with Malian boys.

Regardless of his short-term pursuits, Ferar said that he can see himself changing careers often.

“At this point, a big priority is who I am surrounded by,” he said. Ferar and his friends have set a deadline for the end of Spring Break to figure out their plans for the next few months and coordinate living close by each other.

And, if all else falls through, Ferar always has the opportunity to take a spot in his housemate’s band.

“This would definitely be the ‘most fun’ option by far,” Ferar said.

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