Pomona Professor Tinker Salas Chosen as Faculty Mentor for Incoming Posse Group

Miguel Tinker Salas, a professor of history and Latin American studies at Pomona College, has been chosen as the faculty mentor for Posse 6.Tinker Salas, who has taught at Pomona for more than 16 years, will supervise the group of 10 students in the incoming class of 2014 who have been recruited by the Posse Foundation.The foundation is a non-profit organization that selects students from public high schools in several cities and pairs them with partner institutions of higher education. Posse aims to select a diverse group of students who have demonstrated leadership skills in their schools and communities.Pomona has partnered with Posse Chicago for five years, and each group has been paired with its own faculty mentor who stays with the group throughout their four years at the college. Tinker Salas will play this role for the sixth Posse group.Tinker Salas was one of several applicants for the position nominated by students and faculty. Dean of Students Miriam Feldblum narrowed down the initial list of candidates, and current Posse students also had a chance to weigh in on which applicant would be most suitable for the job.Then Feldblum and Associate Dean of Students for Student Development and Leadership Daren Mooko met with each applicant and decided who would be best for the position this year.“We were very fortunate to have an outstanding pool of candidates,” Feldblum said. “Tinker Salas still stood out for his extensive experience with mentoring students, his great knowledge of Pomona and all its departments and resources, and his ideas of what more we can do at Pomona.”Tinker Salas said this kind of job comes naturally to him.“Mentoring and supporting students that have been historically excluded and historically underrepresented…is something I have been doing all my life,” he said. “It is part of my being.”He said even as an undergraduate and graduate student at University of California, San Diego, he was involved in groups that aimed to support under-represented students, mentioning as an example the Movimiento Estudiantil Chicano de Aztln (MEChA), which seeks to promote Chicano self-determination and empowerment through political involvement and education.At Pomona, Tinker Salas said, he has continued to try to “create a safe space” and build bridges between different ethnic groups and studies.Many of his advisees have not only been members of historically under-represented groups, they have also been Posse members, so he has “been involved in a supportive way since the program began,” he said.Tinker Salas said he was looking forward to meeting his mentees over the summer, and to continue to support them and help them grow.“My hopes are that they should continue to advance and succeed,” he said. “We shouldn’t put on them an undue burden…we expect all our students to succeed.”Tinker Salas said students who are expected to “represent” in some way are often forced to bear a larger burden then others—more pressure is put on them to achieve.He also said Pomona and other institutions have a long way to go in addressing this and other issues of diversity.“Diversity should be normalized…at every institution,” he said. “I think Pomona has made some strides, but I don’t think the numbers are representative.”Tinker Salas said he hopes all the existing institutions and organizations devoted to increasing and normalizing diversity at Pomona will continue to be expanded and linked to work toward a future in which diversity is no longer an atypical phenomenon.To prepare for his position as mentor, Tinker Salas attended the recent Posse retreat, and will go to training sessions in New York and Chicago later in the year.

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