Pomona College students and trustees met Oct. 15 to discuss internships, career planning, and life after college at the 12th annual Trustee-Student Retreat. Although the retreat fell on the first night of fall break, turnout was high.
“Over 80 students [registered], and more than that came,” said Miriam Feldblum, Vice President for Student Affairs and Dean of Students. “That’s high—amazingly so for fall break.”
At least 23 trustees attended the retreat, which was held in the Hahn and Carnegie Buildings on Friday evening.
The theme of the retreat, according to an e-mail sent by Feldblum to all students prior to the event, was “a focus on real-world engagement and life beyond campus.” The retreat was divided into three sessions, each of which focused on a different topic: school year engagement (through the PCIP program, the Draper Center, and study abroad), summer engagement (SURP, summer internships, and employment), and post-grad engagement (interaction with alumni, Pomona’s brand name, and the value of a Pomona education).
Trustees and students were pleased with the event.
“I thought the retreat was terrific,” said trustee Francine Scinto, whose children are in Pomona’s classes of ’09 and ’11. “[This assures us] that it’s worthwhile, all the money that’s being invested in this institution.”
Trustee Mark Wyland PO ’68 agreed.
“For trustees, this is fun, interesting, and gratifying because so much of what we do is removed from the reasons we’re doing it, and it’s great to sit around and talk with students,” he said. “I think it makes all of us feel energized.”
Stefan Castellanos PO ’11 said he enjoyed the retreat but felt the groups could have been smaller and the sessions more focused.
“Some of the topics seemed to overlap, and it might have been nice to have two sessions that were longer,” he said.
Several Associated Students of Pomona College (ASPC) representatives attended the retreat.
“I think it was very productive, and the trustees in particular enjoyed getting a flavor of what goes on on campus,” said ASPC Vice President Cosimo Thawley PO ’11.
ASPC President Stephanie Almeida PO ’11 agreed that the retreat was productive for both trustees and students.
“The retreat is a chance for the trustees to hear directly from students,” she said. “I think they listened carefully, especially in this case because the retreat is so related to the current committee on career development.”
This committee, known officially as the Trustee Pre-Professional and Career Development Task Force, is a recent Board of Trustees project. Task force co-chair and trustee Scott Olivet PO ’84 said the task force’s goal is to help students define and attain their career goals.
“The idea is essentially to rethink and hopefully to create some evolutionary and revolutionary steps on how the college can help students figure out what they want to do during their time at Pomona and when they leave Pomona,” Olivet said. “And that starts with the [Career Development Office]: what does the CDO do well, what does it not do well, and what resources does the CDO have that students don’t know about.”
Lucy Block PO ’11 attended the retreat, her first, wearing a Workers for Justice pin.
“I talked to the trustee sitting next to me about Workers for Justice, and she said she wasn’t as informed about it as she’d like to be, so she couldn’t say that much,” Block said. “Even just talking with a trustee, it’s clear we need more dialogue, [and] I think the administration doesn’t want to create that dialogue.”
Still, Block said she enjoyed the retreat.
“I felt we were being listened to,” she said.
Trustees and students expressed optimism that the ideas generated at the retreat would lead to improvements in career planning and alumni-student interactions.
“Pomona has an incredibly diverse set of students with a diverse set of interests and aspirations,” Olivet said. “We need to do the best we can to help that incredibly complex mosaic and get students to where they’d like to be.”