by Kamya Sud
As my first month at this truly extraordinary institution comes to a close, about 200 students conclude their last ‘first month of the school year’ at Pitzer. I am referring, of course, to our Class of 2015 seniors. They, along with probably a majority of sophomores and juniors, have forgotten what it’s like to be starry-eyed, awestruck first years in the midst of this chaotic experience for the very first time. Well, being one of the same enthusiastic lot, let me offer some insider insights into the first year experience.
The transition from an easygoing, familiar high school environment to a fast-paced, relatively unfamiliar college community where you know no one, is not an easy one. It’s especially challenging when home is about 8700 miles away, and you’ve never been away from home for more than a month at a time. But I, like the rest of the Class of 2019, have been adapting to our new home unsurprisingly well. Curious to know how everyone else’s first month and general transition has been, I caught up with fellow first year, Lucia di Bartolo.
Kamya: What’s your first month at Pitzer been like?
Lucia: It’s been insane. I feel like this is home now. I’ve created my own little space with pictures and decorations. I also love how I’m constantly meeting new people. It’s great being this close to my friends, and the classes are so engaging. I’ve also been attending FemCo meetings with the most welcoming group of [mostly underclassmen] women and I’m excited to see how that goes.
Kamya: What Orientation Adventure (OA) trip did you go on and what was that experience like?
Lucia: I went beach camping at El Capitan. Honestly, none of my friends at bigger schools have anything like it (OA). I think it was so important since it happened right after we had to hug our families goodbye. We were in this place of vulnerability and unfamiliarity. It’s been so nice to already have people you can always say ‘hi’ to in the midst of everyone getting into their own little friend groups. It put me out of my comfort zone and helped me branch out and have fun!
Kamya: What are the differences between your high school experience and what you’ve seen so far of the college experience?
Lucia: Well, when everyone talks about college, it’s described as this bridge between adolescence and independence. Which it completely is, since there’s no one enforcing your curfew, telling you what to eat, or telling you to study. It’s up to you to get into that routine and be responsible for yourself. Another thing I wasn’t fully prepared for was the workload and the time you spend on other non-academic things.
Kamya: What do you think about the 5C experience?
Lucia: Although I’d always seen myself at a small school like Pitzer, I feel like our relatively minute population alone, especially in a quiet town like Claremont, would’ve intimidated me. That’s why I think it’s really valuable to have the 5Cs, where we have the opportunity to interact with so many kinds of people across the campuses through clubs, classes and social events! The 5C course catalog is a blessing too. Whether you want to take a theater class at Pomona, or a Spanish class at Scripps, the possibilities are endless! I also love how you can feel that palpable personality change when you leave the Pitzer campus, since each school’s students truly seem to embody that school’s ideals and character. At Keck too, it’s amazing how students from all three schools come together and offer these diverse perspectives with absolutely no predisposition to hierarchy since Keck is its own entity.
I already feel so connected to the Pitzer community and I’ve felt that swell of pride so many times already this month, for this school and the first year class in particular when I heard all that we’ve already accomplished and for what we will accomplish in our time here. Everyone here, is here for a purpose, and everyone has so much passionate and seems to truly embody Pitzer’s core values. Already, Student Senate and PAS Hall Council show so much promise, and we’ve just elected our First-Year Representative, Shivani Kavuluru.
Next, Shivani Kavuluru was interviewed about her experience.
Kamya: What made you want to run for First-Year Representative?
Shivani: After I moved to the US from India, I recognized two very different leadership communities. In India, it was Hogwarts-esque. We had a head boy, head girl, four houses, and prefects. I was a prefect charged with everyone from Pre-K to my peers to seniors, each of whom I had an entirely different leadership dynamic. While this experience taught me a lot, I found myself very much out of my comfort zone. In the U.S., integration for me was hard at first and most leadership positions had already been filled. But, what I learned was that you don’t necessarily have to be in a position to make and foster change. By senior year, student government inspired me so much that I knew I had to try and make a change at Pitzer as well.
Kamya: Thoughts on your constituents and the dynamic of students here as a whole?
Shivani: Young people today truly want to see change. If they want to see something happen, with the right environment such as the one Pitzer provides, they can make it happen. And we are the most driven class Pitzer has seen, not only in terms of sheer numbers at events and voting, but also with the initiatives we’ve already embarked upon. For example, first year Orlando Cabrera launched a 5C-wide Bernie Sanders campaign before even getting to campus! Upperclassmen have remarked at how inspiring it is to see how much we care in the same vein of our motto, Provida Futuri. Each person is such a unique snowflake and each of us has their own story to tell.
Kamya: You’re on PAS Hall Council and Student Senate. What have those been like?
Shivani: When I first attended a Senate meeting, I was overwhelmed by the sheer passion and purpose in everyone’s eyes. But by the second meeting, I realized that they’re just students like the rest of us, with ideas and opinions to share. It’s begun feeling like a family now. We’ve had dinner together and the conversations on both personal and professional levels are so engaging. I love how accessible Senate is to everyone. Every idea, no matter how small, is welcomed and discussed openly and fairly. It’s incredible to think that 65 of about 270 of us are student leaders, and that isn’t even including club leadership!
PAS council too, has been such a rewarding endeavor. It’s been such a whirlwind, and the amount of get-go in the blood is incredible. When I first stepped up, upperclassmen handed me a book that recorded the council’s past achievements. Impressed as I was with their work, it’s astonishing how in our short time here, we’ve done so much. Who knows what we could do in four years? There’s so much enthusiasm to satisfy everyone, whether it’s the impending printer revolution spearheaded by the bubbly Dana Nothnagel, or the candy for everyone’s doors, or hammocks for the halls.
The transition to college is probably an entirely novel experience for each of us. Whether figuring out whether getting out of bed counts as fitness, or going to that 8AM Friday class at Pomona, or devoting spare time to extracurricular activities, or simply figuring out who to build meaningful friendships with here, this time is crucial. As we make Pitzer our own and navigate the first few months of this wild and irreplaceable experience, make sure you don’t just get your toes wet. Dive in, the water (at the Pitzer pool) feels just divine!