Occidental Magazine - Fall 2021

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Office of Communications F-36 1600 Campus Road Los Angeles CA 90041-3314

Nonprofit U.S. Postage Paid Occidental College

First Impressions: Introducing the Class of ’25

New Faces of 2005: Where Are They Now?

Address Service Requested

FALL 2021

I was determined to spend my college years at a small, residential liberal arts school with a beautiful campus. Occidental was close to where I’d grown up in Pasadena, and even closer to the sprawling metro L.A. area and its many enticements. It seemed like it would be a good fit, and it turned out to be one. Oxy showed me that the path to one’s goals need not be linear or conventional. I became so absorbed by Professor Mahler’s freshman psychology class that I devised a plan to satisfy the science course requirements for dental school within a psychology major. Faculty members who were so influential in my development as a student and person—Robert Hansen and Constance Perkins in the Art Department, Lewis Owen in the English Department, and David Cole M’48, my mentor in the Psychology Department—taught me how to think, to write, to create; to trust my instincts and pursue my interests with passion and a standard of excellence. San Francisco beckoned, with my acceptance to the University of the Pacific School of Dentistry. I soon met Pamela Gerard, who was pursuing her fine art degree at the San Francisco Art Institute. We were married and have lived in a Victorian home here in the city ever since. Our lives have centered to a great degree on the arts and travel. We were able to attend so many memorable performances of opera and symphony in our early San Francisco days; from these experiences I developed a real passion for classical music. Pursuing this passion meant once again becoming a student, and after a few years of studies in music theory, voice, and piano, the door was opened to my long association with the San Francisco Symphony, as a member of the chorus—surely one of the most fulfilling experiences of my life. I give Oxy full credit for having sent me out into the world curious and valuing lifelong learning.

Not a day has passed that I have not been rewarded in some way by my Occidental education. The broad foundation of knowledge, acquired world view, and exposure to thinking from different perspectives that are at the core of the Oxy experience have added immeasurably to my relationships with colleagues, students, and patients throughout my professional life. Pamela and I feel strongly that education, and especially higher education of the caliber offered by schools like Occidental, can address so many of the challenges, struggles, and inequities that Photo by Pamela Gerard we encounter in the world today. When we decided to contribute to the future of the College’s mission and of its students, creating endowed scholarships made the most sense to us. Most of us support the idea of what a fine education can do for our careers, our society, and the world. But it’s important to remember the great benefits to be gained in our personal lives from an education at an institution like Occidental. Oxy trains us to reason, to think, and to be stimulated to be perpetual students. During the inevitable challenges and rough patches in life we all experience, being able to access the tools, extra dimensions, and interests we gained from our education can be critical to our health, well-being, and resilience. So, for graduates who feel that they have benefited from the multiple and varied lifelong gifts that their stay in the oasis of Eagle Rock has bestowed on their lives: Please consider the College as an eminently worthy beneficiary of your philanthropy. —MICHAEL J. FIELDS ’70 A recently documented estate gift from Pamela and Michael will support the Obama Scholars Program and the Edgerton-Occidental Merit Scholarship. Read more about Oxy’s Legacy Challenge on page 30.

oxy.edu/magazine

oxy.edu/giving

WECHAT ABOUT GLOBAL PRIVACY WITH TENCENT'S TIMOTHY MA ’02 /// EARNING EVERY STRIPE: OXY ATHLETICS RECOMMITS TO SUCCESS

Lessons in Giving From a Lifelong Learner

Navigating

WELL-BEING

Balancing the demands of life and college can feel like a high-wire act—and the pandemic has made that even more difficult. How is Oxy addressing students’ mental health needs?


OXYFARE

Snapshots from Volume 43, Number 4 oxy.edu/magazine OCCIDENTAL COLLEGE

Katie Placensia ’25 Undecided major

Harry J. Elam, Jr. President Wendy F. Sternberg Vice President for Academic Affairs and Dean of the College Charlie Cardillo Vice President for Institutional Advancement David T. Carreon Bradley Vice President for Equity & Justice Rob Flot Vice President for Student Affairs and Dean of Students Amos Himmelstein Vice President & Chief Operating Officer Maricela L. Martinez Interim Vice President of Enrollment Marty Sharkey Vice President for Communications and Institutional Initiatives Jim Tranquada Director of Communications editorial staff

Dick Anderson Editor Marc Campos College Photographer Gail (Schulman) Ginell ’79 Class Notes Editor SanSoucie Design Design DLS Group Printing OCCIDENTAL MAGAZINE

Published quarterly by Occidental College Main number: 323-259-2500 To contact Occidental magazine By phone: 323-259-2679 By email: oxymag@oxy.edu By mail: Occidental College Office of Communications F-36 1600 Campus Road Los Angeles CA 90041-3314

Manuel Placensia P’24, ’25 Oxy Dad

Nicole Placensia P’24, ’25 Office and Property Manager Business Office

Manuel: Oxy cap with ghosted Tigers logo in black, gray, orange, and white. $21.95 Dad crewneck T-shirt Occidental 1887 in charcoal gray. Sizes S-3XL.* $17.95 (*Large is out of stock) Nicole: Cardigan with left chest logo. In marble gray. $52.95 Katie: Oxy crop top T-shirt in washed apricot or driftwood. Sizes S-L. $22.95 Emily: Drop-shoulder long-sleeve shirt with Oswald logo on left chest in ash gray. Sizes S-M. $27.95

Emily Placensia ’24 Undecided major

Occidental College Bookstore oxybookstore.com To order by phone: 323-259-2951 All major credit cards accepted

Letters and class notes submissions may be edited for length, content, and style. Occidental College online Homepage: oxy.edu Facebook: facebook.com/occidental Instagram: instagram.com/occidentalcollege TikTok: occidentalcollege Twitter: @occidental Cover illustration by Gwen Keraval Oxy Wear photo by Marc Campos

Homecoming & Family Weekend October 22-23 Photos by Marc Campos

After a virtual-only program last fall, Oxy’s Alumni & Parent Engagement team adopted a hybrid approach to Homecoming & Family Weekend 2021. But it was clear from the outset that students and parents alike were eager to celebrate the occasion in person, with nearly 800 registered participants gathering on campus for two days of activities October 22 and 23. 1. It all started in Rush Gym: Women’s Baseketball—that is not a typo—took the Grand Prize in the Homecoming Car Parade. 2. The men’s and women’s swimming and diving squads send a welcome message. 3. Trustee Hector De La Torre ’89, chair of the L.A. Care Board of Governors, shares a sign during a discussion with U.S. Rep. Karen Bass (D-37th District) and Eric Newhall ’67, emeritus professor of English and 2021 Alumni Seal honoree. The topic: “Is Our Democracy in Danger?” 4. Performing their first concert on campus since January 2020, the Oxy Glee Club made a harmonic return to Hillside Theater. 5. Furry family members were popular visitors on campus. 6 & 7. From Connect Four to Jenga, if giant lawn games were your thing, Oxy had you covered. 8. Jonathan Marshall ’22, a biochemistry major from San Diego and catcher for the Tigers baseball team, with parents Rosemarie and Brian. 9. Roshni Edwards ’23, a computer science major from Cerritos, second from left, with her mother, Sheba M. George, brother, Vinay, and father, Kirk A. Edwards.

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ANATOMY OF A REUNION PHOTO When the Class of ’85 gathered virtually in June to celebrate its 35th reunion one year late, one of the highlights of the evening was the class photo shown here— and you can thank reunion committee chair Daniel Woodruff for that. The idea to create a class photo montage came to him when he was sitting in a Microsoft Teams meeting for his work in strategic communications for the Department of Defense. “We had set up an ‘auditorium’ background in which our faces were all arranged in rows with fake chairs behind each head,” he writes. Why not apply the same idea to their reunion photo? Oxy’s Alumni Office set up the portal on Google, and classmates were encouraged to take a current photo against a plain background—no selfies—and dress as they would for an in-person dinner. Woodruff’s classmates followed these guidelines “with varying degrees of success, but I had a lot of cluttered backgrounds to carefully remove,” he says. “I used Photoshop to edit out backgrounds and InDesign to lay out the photo.” The resulting image took him between 20 and 30 hours over the course of several months, but “it was really well received,” he declares. “I’m thrilled that we have a photo from this reunion that isn’t just a bunch of screenshots!”

front row, l-r: Class of ’85 members Kathy Sturdevant, Daniel Woodruff, Celia Mata-Pacheco, Rich Miller, Eileen Brown Kramer, Joe Krovoza, Melinda Wallingford Meshad, Debbi Gabler Gow, and Kristianne Knight Rogalsky. back row: Avan Shroff, Jay Hansen, David Kim, Stephen Chavez Matzel, Susan Ward-Roncalli, Joe Romley, Timothy Burch, Teresa Thurman Koontz, Julie Kinnett, Alan Limbach, Barry Murray-Kuhn, Tim Eby-McKenzie ’86, and Lisa Schmeeckle Marcalus.

alumni.oxy.edu


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Features 8 Nine Lives From movers and shakers to risk takers (and a cheese maker), meet some of the new faces of the Class of 2025.

Haneefah Shuaibe-Peters ’05 stays in touch with her inner child as executive director of the Child Education Center and the Model School Comprehensive in Berkeley.

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Departments

Head First In the face of a global pandemic and a national reckoning over race, sexuality, and gender, Occidental is responding to the mental health needs of a new generation of students.

OxyTalk Rafael Calvo ’81 restores Herrick Chapel’s windows one pane at a time. Also: Occidental’s Legacy Challenge comes up big.

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First Word President Elam reflects on returning to campus and the benefits of an in-person education. Also: Gilman Fountain memories old and new, and a call for your input on Oxy’s strategic plan.

From the Quad An athletics commission report reaffirms Oxy’s commitment to success on and off the field. Also: The Oxy Campaign For Good charges toward the $200 million mark, mixed media, and more.

Appreciation With goodwill and a dash of whimsy (Obamabranded diaper covers!), Anne Wolf made the Oxy Bookstore a destination for more than textbooks.

Tigerwire Class notes for all years.

We Meet Again In our Fall 2001 issue, Occidental magazine introduced eight first-year members of the Class of 2005 “to keep your eyes on over the next four years.” Where are they now?

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27 Turning on a Dime As technology giant Tencent expands its international footprint, Timothy Ma ’02 keeps an eye on global privacy and data protection.

PHOTO CREDITS: Jim Block We Meet Again | Avery Jones ’25 Nine Lives | Marc Campos First Word | Sam Leigh From the Quad | Dick Anderson OxyTalk | The Family of Anne Wolf Appreciation


FIRST WORD » FROM PRESIDENT ELAM

The Rewards of Opening Outward Photo by Marc Campos

A resurgent Delta variant could not diminish the sheer excitement of Move-In Day for the Class of 2025 on August 23. At each of Oxy’s five first-year residence halls— the air electric with anticipation—cars filled with eager families and anxious new students pulled up to front entrances, unloading boxes, bundles, and bags. Three days later, the scene wonderfully repeated as equally anxious sophomores, whom the pandemic had kept from campus last year, moved into their halls for the first time in their college careers. For the first time in my tenure as president, I was able to participate in the movein festivities. It was with such delight and joy that I welcomed families as they moved their students into their new homes, heard the exuberant O-team members cheer the new students’ arrival, and observed how the faces of parents and students, though necessarily masked, nonetheless still expressed the full gamut of emotions—nervousness, exhilaration, pride—on this long-awaited day: Finally, the beginning of the school year safely in person. Given all that everyone has endured over the last 18 months of the pandemic, this annual Oxy ritual was especially poignant this year, as it marked a return to the residential living and learning experience that we all have been craving. To be sure, with first-years and sophomores having never lived on the campus and juniors having been here for only one full semester, the start of the school year has not been without challenges. This period of transition has been demanding for everyone and, anticipating this, we held two distinct orientations, one for firstyears and another for sophomores, which we dubbed the “Sophomore Experience.” After months of studying remotely, our students have entered the year seeking not just to do well in classes but to develop a revived sense of community. The students I have talked with informally on the Quad, in the Marketplace, and 2

OCCIDENTAL MAGAZINE  FALL 2021

their time here. That is why, in the ebb of this pandemic, Occidental is renewing our purposeful immersion of students in collaborative learning, to encourage them to become agents of learning rather than a mere recipient of knowledge and understanding. To be sure, even as we have returned to an in-person Oxy education, the presence of the Delta variant has required our continuPresident Elam speaks to students in the Quad on ing vigilance. By Move-In Day, we Move-In Day, August 23. had already achieved a 98 percent vaccination rate among students, at sporting events are so grateful simply to faculty, and staff. We have followed that be on campus. It is such a joy, they tell me, up with an aggressive testing program; by finally to be able to talk to other students in mid-October, after administering more person. The long months they spent away than 6,500 tests, we have detected only nine have made them all the more conscious of positive cases among the entire Oxy comwhat is at stake and why being at Oxy is munity. In addition, our strict masking rule now all the more significant. In a recent and increased use of outdoor spaces for conversation, the editors of The Occidental academic and dining purposes have all shared with me that students have moved helped to prevent transmission of virus. I with a particular and novel urgency to essee students every day masked and embractablish friendships and find their people. ing these smaller sacrifices of comfort to Because we are invested in the students’ protect themselves and others. whole person, their complete selves, an Oxy The return to in-person instruction liberal arts education foregrounds the value this fall, made possible in part by vaccines of experience. We recognize that so much and the maintenance of testing and safety of learning occurs outside of the classroom: procedures, has spurred a new round of Having spontaneous late-night conversapredictions about the lasting impacts of tions in residence halls, finding camaraderie the pandemic and the future of higher eduon the playing fields, exploring a L.A. neigh- cation. Despite some observers claiming borhood during a city internship, collaboravirtual education is inevitable, we certainly tions in our music studios, or sometimes have learned some important lessons at just soaking in the sun on the Quad with a Oxy this fall. Our students have made it book or sitting by the fountain relishing the resoundingly clear: There is no substitute College’s extraordinary natural beauty. The for the rich, fulfilling, challenging, engagresidential life here makes Occidental speing, residential, in-person Oxy educational cial not because it is an oasis from life but experience. because it opens outward into living. Because we are invested in that “opening outward,” we understand that an Oxy education is not just a matter of what we teach but how we teach, how we integrate attention to student well-being and academic excellence from the very outset of Harry J. Elam, Jr.


FIRST WORD

» FROM THE READERS Photo courtesy Matt Canavan ’89

A Grand Time at Oxy One of the ATOs sent a link to “Baker’s Beauty” (Spring) online to my husband, Bob Jones ’67. I read it and coincidentally a good friend sent the attached picture celebrating his grandson’s admission to Oxy. They were on the first in-person tour and Kanaya was the only student already admitted, so the tour guides were thrilled. Kanaya had never been on campus and did the whole admission and financial aid process online, so the article on Vince Cuseo (“Charting a Different Path,” Spring) was also pertinent. Occidental has a beautiful new fountain, a brilliant new student, and a bright new future. Congratulations! Photo by Max S. Gerber

Sharon Stanberry Jones ’67 San Clemente Photo by Dianne Grissom

Summer Mailbag I was surprised that I liked the online format of the Oxy mag, especially the filmmaking story (“From S#!%house to the Penthouse,” Summer) and the obituary on Professor Andrew Rolle ’43 (“An Author First, A Professor Second”), which enabled me to appreciate him more than I had earlier. Many thanks to the editorial staff for a new chapter in our Oxy experience for which I am thankful along with many of my fellow classmates enjoying a fuller life and grateful for my years there.

Photo courtesy Kate Rope ’95

Jim Grissom, grandfather of Kanaya Adams ’25, on a recent campus tour of Oxy.

Calling All Tigers!

Fauci is a fraud—he created this mess. I cannot believe you had him in Occidental magazine (“Draft Doctors,” Summer). Very disappointed. Elaine Aldrich ’66 Santa Cruz

If you missed these stories or any others from our online-only Summer magazine, please visit oxy.edu/magazine to catch up on your reading.

Seven Friends, Seventh Hole I have always loved Lucille Gilman Fountain—it really is a symbol of Occidental in my mind. Though I have many photos of my time at Oxy, this fountain picture featuring the 1988-89 Norris Hall residence life staff (above) is one of my favorites. Gilman Fountain was the signature 7th hole (teeing off from the top of the Coons Administrative Center steps between Johnson and Fowler halls) of a par-4 disc golf course created by Dawson Nichols ’89 and myself. At our 30th reunion, classmates Ron Provost, Shawn Berman, Bill Cohen, and Jose Olivas joined me and played the “front nine,” including the fountain hole.

Sam Calian ’55 Evanston, Ill.

Not a Fan of Anthony

1988-89 Norris Hall head resident Matt Canavan ’89, foreground, reclines on a surfboard in Lucille Gilman Fountain with the support of resident advisers (l-r) Michele Garrant ’88, Heather Finstuen ’88, Gwen Thomas ’88, James Miley ’89, Mark Paoletti ’89, and Doug Stan ’89.

Matt Canavan ’89 Petaluma Photo by Marc Campos

This fall, President Elam is kicking off the development of a new integrated strategic plan (ISP) for the College that will set institutional goals for the next five to seven years, identify what actions and financial resources are needed to meet those goals, and how to measure their success. Occidental’s current strategic plan was adopted by the Board of Trustees in 2012 and extended in 2017. The planning process needs input from the entire College community—including alumni. To learn more about the process and how you can directly have a voice in Oxy’s future, visit oxy.edu/strategic-planning.

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FROM THE QUAD

Photos by Sam Leigh/Sam's Photo Services

Strength in Many Stripes A new college athletics commission report reaffirms Oxy’s commitment to success on and off the field above left: Aniya Hawthorne ’25 (#15) celebrates with Kat Chodaczek ’23 (#21) during Oxy’s contest vs. La Verne on September 21 in Rush Gym. The Tigers won the match in five sets. above right: Shea Grosz ’23 scored three goals and two assists in the Tigers’ 24-14 win over La Verne in men’s water polo. left: Forward Jazz Henry ’22 fends off a charge from Birmingham Southern defender Bryan Arteaga Cruz in the Tigers’ 3-1 victory over the Panthers September 12.

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As Oxy’s student-athletes return to competition this fall, the College has begun implementing the recommendations of the Occidental College Commission on Athletics, appointed in January by President Harry J. Elam, Jr. to explore how the College can strengthen its athletics programs and better support student-athletes. “The commission had two goals: to positively impact our competitiveness and increase the diversity of intercollegiate athletic programs,” Elam said of the 15-member, multi-constituent group, which submitted its report in May. “We want to reiterate the College’s continued commitment to the support and success of Occidental athletics.” Meeting through the spring semester, the commission worked with coaches, student-athletes, and alumni and actively sought out input from current students through campus surveys and communication with members of various student organizations. It examined previous athletic reports and recommendations and looked at our peer institutions to understand what best practices can, and should be, adopted at Occidental. In its report, the commission—co-chaired by Athletics Director Shanda Ness and Associate Professor of Kinesiology Marcella Raney ’01—presented a series of recommendations focused on staffing, facility improvements, collaborative efforts between various departments at Oxy, and intentional programming and community building. Because more than 22 percent of students participate in varsity athletics, “it is reasonable to conclude that providing additional resources for the overall success of Oxy athletics is a sound investment for the institution,” the report said. The goal should be for Oxy to finish in the top three in the nine-school Southern California Intercollegiate Athletic Conference’s collective ranking, with every individual program finishing in the top four, the report said.


FROM THE QUAD

(Oxy last won the SCIAC’s all-sports trophy in 1985 and finished sixth in the pandemic-abbreviated 2019-20 athletics year.) At the same time, the commission stressed that the health and safety of student athletes should drive all decision-making and their academic, psychological, and social development should never be sacrificed to achieve athletic success. In line with commission recommendations, the College already has increased the contract length of fulltime athletics staff to better reflect the work they do, with head coaches moving from 10 or 11 months to 12 months and assistant coaches from nine or 10 months to 10 months. The College also added two full-time assistant coaches to swimming and diving and women’s basketball, and increased hours for part-time staff. “By devoting more resources to staffing, Oxy athletics will be in a better position to recruit and support a diverse group of student-athletes in their pursuit of competitive success,” says Rob Flot, who oversees athletics as vice president for student affairs and dean of students. “Equally important, these changes actively demonstrate the value of our athletics staff to institutional goals and to student-athlete excellence.” In addition to staffing, the College hopes to address facilities issues as well. Replacing the artificial turf and the remaining old lights on Patterson Field are the top priorities. Future facilities projects will include renovations for Bell Field (softball) and Anderson Field (baseball). “The key is funding, of course,” says Ness, noting that the commission recommended hiring a full-time athletics gift officer. “With the support of the College and the generosity of our alumni, we will find the necessary resources.” Oxy athletics also has the potential to help the College recruit and retain more students from all backgrounds, the commission found. “As one of the most external facing entities of the school, Oxy athletics has an opportunity to engage communities where underrepresented students and potential recruits hail from,” the report said. New funding for the student-run Justice, Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion (JEDI) program, created by Ness in 2019, will enhance community-building efforts and other JEDI-specific initiatives. (Oxy’s JEDI initiative was recognized by the NCAA’s Division III Diversity Spotlight Initiative in August.) Oxy athletics has also committed to further bolstering existing collaborations with the College’s Admission, Institutional Advancement, and Student Leadership, Involvement and Community Engagement (SLICE) offices, and the Intercultural Community Center. Ness will also be invited to attend the meetings of the Board of Trustees’ Student Life and Enrollment Management (SLEM) committee. According to Ness, the College will continue to regularly monitor the state of the athletics program, including a comprehensive review every five years.

THE BENCH DISPATCH After a year of texts, emails, phone calls, and training over Zoom, Oxy’s coaches are more than excited to return to in-person interactions with their players—to say nothing of getting back into competition. Prior to the start of the school year, we checked in with them by email (pandemic habits die hard) to discuss the role of sports in the life of an Oxy student-athlete. An extended Q&A can be found at oxy.edu/magazine. What characteristics do you look for in a student-athlete? Heather Collins, volleyball: I look for a true competitor. Of course, we all look for a pure athlete with great talent; however, I seek out the player in the gym who never lets a ball hit the floor, goes after everything, and is hungry all of the time. Kelliner Croushore, softball: Talent on the field is important, but in addition to that we look for highintegrity people who have worked hard, accomplished multiple goals, and made it a habit to succeed. I look for the intangibles: How are they going to affect the dugout or the locker room? I want players that will combine an Oxy education and the experience of being a collegiate athlete into alumni we are proud to call Tigers for life. How do you measure success beyond the scoreboard? Colm McFeely, women’s soccer: Seeing student-athletes grow and mature over their four years with the program is truly rewarding. Leadership development, a team-first mentality, and a willingness to leave everything on the field for your teammates and your school is success whatever the scoreboard says. Anahit Aladzhanyan ’07, women’s basketball: By how hard we work, how well we work together, and how much we improve. It’s all about the process and staying in the moment and giving each moment your best. Luke Wetmore, baseball: Wedding invitations, baby photos, and recommendation requests. What advice do you give studentathletes in striking a balance between the classroom and competition? Jack Stabenfeldt ’14, water polo: Early in the recruiting process, we make it clear that being a student-athlete at Oxy is challenging. There’s no shortcut here, and it requires a strong will to be responsible and disciplined. The next thing we discuss is an understanding of prioritization. Academics

Men’s soccer coach Rod Lafaurie, left.

is always priority one, and water polo is priority two. This helps the coaches and players navigate the season more effectively. Rod Lafaurie, men’s soccer: It’s easier to strike a balance when you have a sport, and if you don’t want that challenge, then this is not for you. Maybe it was because it was my last semester of college, but I can assure you that the worst GPA I had as a college student was my second semester senior year when I didn’t have regular practices and games while I was preparing for my professional soccer career. So I would make a strong argument that playing sports aids in striking a balance, rather than hindering them. Rob Bartlett, track and field and cross country: If you are admitted to Occidental, there is no reason you can’t excel in the classroom and as a student-athlete. Holding yourself to that standard won’t always be easy, but it is possible and ultimately incredibly rewarding. Will Morris, golf: I want our student-athletes to have a special college experience—the ability to expand their horizons, get to explore and experience all the opportunities Occidental provides and that we are fortunate enough to have because of our location. We are located in, and an integral part of, one of the great cities in the world. In your experience, how do student-athletes benefit from playing sports at Oxy? Hannah Khin, women’s lacrosse: They have a family in Los Angeles the minute they step onto campus. Many of our players come from all over the country so it’s great having a group of people who they know are there to help support and cheer them on both on and off the field. Brian Newhall ’73, men’s basketball: They grow as people. We are the best classroom on campus.

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FROM THE QUAD

Photos by Marc Campos Photos by Marc Campos

Barry’ed Treasures The future Obama Presidential Center Museum will highlight the president’s time at Oxy— and we’re looking for your memorabilia from that era When “Barry” Obama ’83 arrived on the Occidental campus in the fall of 1979, “My Sharona” by the Knack was the No. 1 song in the country, a 24-hour sports channel named ESPN was just getting off the ground, and Chrysler was borrowing $1.5 billion from the government to save itself from bankruptcy. But what was going on in Eagle Rock? Student newspapers tell much of the story, as do Oxy publications from that era. But we suspect there’s so much more out there. Working with the Obama Presidential Center Museum team, Oxy Special Collections is gathering materials of campus life reflecting Obama’s time at the College (1979 through 1981) for Oxy’s archives, and plans to share these materials with the Obama Presidential Center Museum as potential loans and/or by offering duplicative materials for donation to their collection. In the interest of better documenting that time in Occidental history, we are looking for artifacts from that era—personal photographs, papers, recordings, etc. If you have any items to potentially share, please contact Dale Stieber, director of Oxy’s Special Collections and College Archives, at dstieber@oxy.edu. Io Triumphe! 6

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A 1981 admission prospectus, Occidental College: Possibilities and Realities, included an image of Obama in the library stacks. Student photographer Thomas Grauman ’83, on assignment for Oxy’s Communications Department, asked his friend to pose for the photo.

Obama published two short poems in the student literary magazine Feast. In a 2012 interview with PBS’ Frontline, writer Margot Mifflin ’82 described Obama’s poem “Pop”—about his maternal grandfather, who helped raise him—as “this very detailed portrait of the conflict between the boy who wants to be independent going up against the man who in some ways controls his life, but who he loves, and who is both an obstacle and an enabler in his life.”

Obama’s name and address in the 1979 student directory.

For the second issue of Plastic Laughter, edited by Mark Dery ’82 and published in 1981, Obama contributed the short poem “Underground.” (How short? It’s 38 words.) Cover art by Kimberly Wexman ’83.

Ms. magazine editor Gloria Steinem spoke to a Thorne Hall audience of more than 800 people on Oct. 9, 1980. The feminist icon was one of a number of high-profile guest speakers during Obama’s time at Oxy—but no word if he was among those attending. (Comedian and activist Dick Gregory—whose vegetarian diet Obama reportedly adhered to on Sundays —canceled a planned talk on campus in 1981.)

In 2011, when asked what his favorite class in college was, President Obama responded that it was a political theory class at Oxy taught by Professor Roger Boesche. Pictured is a mimeographed syllabus from a later iteration of Boesche’s course.


Photos by Marc Campos (Sykes) and Helena de Lemos (Morrison)

» WORTH NOTING

Diversity in Dialogues From postdoctoral fellows to visiting speakers, Oxy brings a range of voices to the campus conversation

Occidental’s ongoing effort to diversify its faculty has received a major boost from a five-year, $950,000 grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation that will fund nine one-year postdoctoral fellowships in the arts and humanities. The three cohorts of three fellows will automatically transition to tenure-track faculty positions at the end of their postdoctoral year, making it possible for Occidental to identify and recruit promising scholars whose work focuses on issues of race and/or social justice and whose background, expertise, and experiences will contribute to diversifying Oxy’s faculty. The first cohort will be hired for the 2022-23 academic year. “This grant represents an important opportunity to advance the College’s equity and justice agenda, and we are thrilled that the Mellon Foundation has chosen to support Occidental’s faculty diversity goals and help us recruit the next generation of outstanding teachers and scholars,” says Wendy Sternberg, vice president for academic affairs and dean of the College. The Mellon grant will fund first-year salaries for the new faculty, who are hired initially into postdoctoral positions with a greatly reduced teaching load and access to student teaching assistants and extensive opportunities for mentoring in both teaching and research. The fellows will be hired in clusters of three, a practice that research has shown can increase satisfaction, a sense of belonging, and retention. Continued diversification is one of the specific goals identified in the March 2021 Equity and Justice Agenda announced by President Harry J. Elam, Jr. Leila Neti, professor of English, will serve as the faculty program director and work closely with the fellows and the initiative steering committee to ensure the initiative’s success.

Charles Sykes spoke in Thorne Hall on October 6 as the 2021 Jack Kemp ’57 Distinguished Lecturer.

» Donald Trump is as much a symptom as the cause of the Republican Party’s turning away from classic conservatism, political commentator Charlie Sykes, author of How the Right Lost Its Mind and founder and editor-at-large of The Bulwark, said in Thorne Hall October 6 as Occidental’s 2021 Jack Kemp ’57 Distinguished Lecturer. Following the Cold War, the anti-communist cause that united all the disparate strands of the GOP disappeared “and all the divisions were exposed,” Sykes told an in-person and online audience of several hundred. “There was a time many years ago when I would have described myself as a Kemp Republican, but I’m not sure there are many of us left.” Looking to the future, “normal political polarities may not apply,” Sykes said. “Our best hope is to have a coalition of the decent.” He urged his audience to remain engaged politically: “If you give up, they win.” Created in 2013, the Kemp Lecture Series seeks to engage Oxy students and faculty in dialogue on important issues of public policy such as the political economy, economic growth in the context of a market system, communitarian values, and bipartisan relations—topics near to Kemp’s heart.

Pulitzer Prize-winning Los Angeles Times journalist Patt Morrison ’74, right, presented an illustrated look at the evolution of American newspapers along with some analysis of the changing nature of news and the persistent need for it. Titled “Paper, Scissors, Rock, Pixels,” the talk is based on her 2018 book Don’t Stop the Presses! Truth, Justice, and the American Newspaper and is part of the Greg Critser ’80 Memorial Talking Books Series. Shown with Morrison is Olivia Duncan ’23, a diplomacy and world affairs major from Woodstock, Conn., and student worker at the College Archives, who designed the exhibit on Morrison’s time at Oxy under the supervision of Dale Stieber, director of the Oxy Library’s Special Collections and College Archives.

» Occidental once again ranks among the nation’s top liberal arts colleges, according to the 2021-22 editions of major college guides. Occidental ranks No. 42 in U.S. News & World Report’s annual rankings, and appears on its “best value,” “top performers on social mobility,” and “best undergraduate teaching” lists. It receives four-star ratings for academics and quality of life from the Fiske Guide to Colleges, and ratings of 96 for financial aid and “best value college” from Princeton Review’s The Best 387 Colleges. The Wall Street Journal/Times Higher Education rankings places Occidental No. 34 among U.S. liberal arts colleges; Forbes ranks Oxy at No. 32. But there’s more: Washington Monthly ranks Occidental at No. 41 among liberal arts colleges. Payscale’s 2020-21 College Salary Report lists Oxy at No. 24 among liberal arts colleges with the highest-paid alumni with bachelor’s degrees. FALL 2021  OCCIDENTAL MAGAZINE

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From movers and shakers to risk takers (and a cheese maker), meet some of the new faces of the Class of 2025

Nine Lives By PETER GILSTRAP Photos by MAX S. GERBER

Chin’s older cousins and their boyfriends— all Tigers—“had an amazing time while they were at Oxy,” she says, “and now they’re reminiscing about when they were here.”


EPENDING ON WHAT YOU GOOGLE, the number 25 “is about intuition, self-awareness, and interest in nearly everything”; “reveals that the changes coming into your life will force you to grow and become a better person in society”; and is indicative of individuals with “very high intellectual abilities.” But you don’t have to be a numerologist to figure out that Oxy’s Class of ’25 shares all those qualities, and more. Of the 545 incoming first-years who arrived on campus this fall, most came directly from high school; 86 of them bring gap year experiences to campus. They hail from 37 states (and the District of Columbia) and 30 countries. Their number includes athletes, activists, podcasters, and (of course) Tik-Tokers. If history is any indication, their post-Oxy journeys will make a sizable impact on many lives. But let’s not get ahead of ourselves. Beyond the numbers, one thing is especially true this fall: We are happy to see them on campus and in person. Let’s start with a few introductions.

LAUREN CHIN Though a physician may argue the point, Lauren Chin’s blood runs Oxy orange. “My two cousins [Abby Chin-Martin ’14 and her sister Lily ’17] graduated from Oxy, and both of their long-term boyfriends [Dustin Neiderman ’13 and Garrett Schwab ’15, respectively] also went to Oxy,” Lauren says. “My aunt [Andrea Chin ’82] was in school at the same time as Obama. For us, Thanksgiving is a lot of Oxy every year!” The Seattle native attended James A. Garfield High School, which hosted thenSen. Barack Obama ’83 for a speech on education in 2006. “There are five girls from my graduating class who are at Oxy and my best friend is here, and we didn’t even really know where the other was applying,” Lauren says. Her high school life was a whirlwind of study, volunteer work, and extracurricular activities. Lauren served on the executive board of Post 84, a student-run racial justice organization that strives to encourage environmental awareness, leadership, diversity, and self-confidence through outdoor activities such as hiking, camping, and skiing. “Traditionally these kinds of activities can be really inaccessible because of cost or because it’s not something that you or your family

“By the time high school rolled around, I was always hanging out down by Georgetown or on Capitol Hill,” Myrick says.

grew up doing,” she says. “Like, I had never gone camping until my freshman year of high school when I went on a Post trip. I had a great time.” Of all her high school extracurriculars, Planned Parenthood Teen Council, which offers peer-led sex education, made the most profound impact on Lauren. “We met every week at a Planned Parenthood clinic and learned various lessons about consent or birth control or gender and sexuality,” she explains. “We would go to middle schools and high schools in our region and give these lessons. It’s super important that students have access to these kinds of resources and education to make healthy, safe decisions.” Lauren’s vigorous engagement with activities in high school is continuing at Oxy. “There’s just so much to do,” she says. “I’m applying to different clubs and I just auditioned onto the dance team, but I’m really excited about taking diplomacy and world affairs courses.” Looking beyond college, “I want to do something that’s very much involved in making any kind of progressive, positive change, whether that’s on the global scale or doing something with policymaking,” Lauren says. “All my classes at Oxy are super interesting. I feel like I’m learning a lot about the things that are really important to me.”

HENRY MYRICK It’s hard to imagine that Henry Myrick does not have a future in politics. Even though he’s new to the Oxy campus, he’s already a veteran of Capitol Hill. Henry grew up in Falls Church, Va., just a short Metro ride away from Washington, D.C., where his father, Gary, serves as secretary for the Democratic Majority of the U.S. Senate. “The best part about living in D.C. was probably seeing all the different types of people that live there and the different jobs that people have,” Henry says. “It made me very cognizant of the political landscape and political system, because I was surrounded by it every day.” During high school and a gap year prior to Oxy, he held eye-opening jobs as a Senate doorkeeper and page, applying for both through Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.), who sponsored Henry for the positions. “Pages are heroes in the Capitol,” Henry says. “When we walked around in our baggy navy blue suits with rectangular name tags we would always hear, ‘OMG! Pages!’ or get greeted by random staffers. People were so interested in the job and it was cool to have adults be interested in what I was doing at such a young age.” FALL 2021  OCCIDENTAL MAGAZINE

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Those adults included senators themselves. Sen. Cory Booker (D-N.J.) “would randomly surprise pages and ask them to tell him a joke,” Henry says. “It was an opportunity most pages took, and it was a major credit if you could make him laugh before he would go on the floor.” Henry made a connection with Oxy through Dire Ezeh ’19, a diplomacy and world affairs major from Nigeria, whom he met at a summer camp in eastern Maryland. “Dire was so knowledgeable and well-spoken,” Henry says. “When I started my college search, my ACT tutor said, ‘Think about the coolest people in your life and figure out where they went to school.’ And my brain immediately went to Dire. That’s how Oxy got on my radar. “I decided that of the whole West Coast, the school I liked most was definitely Occidental, partly because of its location. Los Angeles is such a great city to be in, and when we did the campus tour, our guide was so excellent it just seemed like a perfect match.” Henry is interested in studying urban and environmental policy, but after that? “I would love to pursue politics,” he says. “Our generation has so much power in our hands. It’s up to us to learn how to use it.”

ISABELLA LAMBERT Growing up in the Dallas suburb of Plano, Texas, Isabella Lambert encountered a cultural mindset that often ran counter to her own beliefs—most recently the state’s new abortion law and Gov. Greg Abbott’s handling of COVID-19. “It was always difficult to live in a place like that, where a lot of people don’t do really what you wish they’d do,” she says. From fifth grade on, Isabella attended the Hockaday School in Dallas, which eased the situation. “It was a smaller, really good environment,” she says of the all-girls school. “I was lucky to be surrounded by people who didn’t necessarily agree with all of that other stuff.” When Isabella began delving into potential colleges, the charms of the Golden State beckoned. “I was always interested in California,” she says. “I’d never really traveled too much, and I’d never been to the West Coast. That was a place that always sounded really cool, particularly Los Angeles. And since I wanted to go to a small school but I 10

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Lambert worked at a manufacturing company assembling COVID-19 test kits in her hometown of Plano, Texas.

still wanted the city experience, Oxy seemed perfect.” Isabella is considering a double major in biology and theater, embracing the full breadth of a liberal arts education. “I’ve been doing theater for practically my whole life and I’ve been super interested in film, but then also I’m really interested in biology,” she says. “Oxy was a place that would allow me to experiment with all my interests, and then being in L.A. for the entertainment side of it was very beneficial.” Though she may not have traveled much in a conventional sense, acting has given Isabella a road to exploration in other ways. “I

really love acting, it just feels so good to be performing on a stage,” she explains. “It’s just really cool to experiment, to be a different person or a different thing. Kind of like traveling in your mind to a whole different world and getting to adapt to that.” Isabella hopes to act on the Keck Theater stage, but her favorite role from high school may be hard to top. “I played Simon in Lord of the Flies—it was an all-girl cast. Simon is the crazy one, the one who kind of goes off the rails. I got to do a lot of physical, crazy acting. And I just got to do so many things that I would not normally do, like having these like crazy freak-outs. That was definitely fun.”


MARIO ALVARADO Mario Alvarado’s hometown of Redding lies along the Sacramento River in Northern California, a place with a rich Native American and Gold Rush history and many natural attractions. But Mario says his favorite spot was “a really, really nice gym called Rice Brothers Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu where I trained every single day.” The unique martial art—which dates back about a century and is similar to wrestling and judo—has been a major part of his life from an early age. “When I was around 5, I had some issues with bullying

After high school, Mario knew he wanted to stay in California. Research led him to Occidental. “My weakest point is with writing, and I felt Oxy would help me become a more independent thinker and a better writer. And I love the campus and the area. And I love the campus food!” Mario is leaning strongly toward a major in chemistry: “I want to become a physician like my father. He works in anesthesia, but I want to pursue orthopedics.” When it comes

Having sustained an ankle sprain and fractured fibia from jiu-jitsu that sidelined him at times, Alvarado wants to help others who have had injuries and improve their quality of life: “That’s what I’m passionate about.”

to career goals, the “no pain, no gain” axiom he’s learned in jiu-jitsu has been a motivator. “My injuries inspired what I want to study,” says Mario, who sustained a syndesmosis ankle sprain and a fractured tibia during a match in high school, among other battle scars. “With all the injuries I’ve had from jiu-jitsu, I want to be able to help people who have experienced injuries and increase their quality of life. That’s what I’m passionate about.”

Brazilian jiu-jitzu “is a very technical sport,” Alvarado said in a 2020 video profile, “and it’s even better when you have good training partners to push you and help make your jiu-jitsu better.”

because I was a little bit younger than my classmates,” says Mario. “My dad decided to put me into Brazilian jiu-jitsu for selfdefense and discipline. That increased my self-confidence and throughout the years I became better. Eventually I started competing and having fun.” And winning awards. Mario is one of the best jiu-jitsu competitors in his age group on the planet, and he has the titles to prove it— 2018 World Champion, 2019 European Champion, 2019 Pan American Champion, and 2019 World Championship Silver Medalist. On top of all that, the positives of jiu-jitsu’s intense style of sporting combat helped Mario get a chokehold on his academic work. “Sometimes you need a break from studying all the time,” he says. “You can just go train and focus and it’ll make you feel better. Then you get right back into studying.” FALL 2021  OCCIDENTAL MAGAZINE

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MATTHEW VICKERS If you’ve ever wondered what it would be like to live in a place that many people consider to be heaven on earth, Matthew Vickers offers up the lowdown on his native stomping grounds, the Hawaiian island of Kauai. “It’s kind of like growing up in a postcard,” he says. “I did like growing up in Hawai‘i, but it’s not completely this beautiful tropical paradise that everyone associates it with. It’s pretty rural but there’s a lot of tourist infrastructure and everything supports that. It’s a very weird kind of place, if you really think about it.” If that sounds a bit existential, there’s good reason for that. Matthew is a devotee of philosopher Jean-Paul Sartre, and wrote about his interest in French Structuralism as one of his reasons for choosing Oxy. “As a kid, I was deeply interested in history,” Matthew says, “but then I had this overall turn to focusing more on philosophy after I read Sartre’s Existentialism Is a Humanism, which is based on a short lecture he gave in Paris in 1945.” Another draw to Occidental was a bit more terra firma. “I was looking at liberal arts schools on the West Coast, but what really set Oxy apart was I got a letter from Rob Bartlett [head coach of Oxy’s track and field and cross country programs] looking for recruits after I won the Kauai Interscholastic Federation,” says Matthew, whose main races were the 800-meter dash and 1,500-meter. He got on Bartlett’s radar after winning two federation cross country titles. He was also twice named MVP for his team. When he arrived to check out the College, “It felt like it had this very nice openness in the air, different from any of the schools I visited,” explains Vickers, who is deciding between economics, politics, and English as a major. (He took a gap year after graduating from the Island School in Lihue in 2020 in a socially distanced ceremony.) “I met some members of the cross country team, and they were very kind. They showed me around everything, even though I was just some stranger from the tour. And I’m really interested in the humanities and want to take my time with them, especially my first two years. The openness of the curriculum worked out. That’s what really piqued my interest.” 12

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In placing first out of a field of 71 runners in the Kauai Interscholastic Federation cross country race in 2019, Vickers had to shoo a nene (the world’s rarest goose, native to Hawai‘i) off the course.

BROOKE & CLAIRE ANDREWS Brooke and Claire Andrews are identical twins who hail from Vancouver, British Columbia, where they attended the all-girls Crofton House School. But if you’ve ever wondered about the alleged mysterious powers possessed by identical twins, Brooke will happily set you straight. “We get a lot of people asking if we have twin telepathy,” she says. “We’re really close, which is great, but no telepathy!” “There’s actually a lot we don’t see eyeto-eye on,” Claire adds. “We have pretty similar mannerisms but I would say we have quite different personalities. Brooke’s a lot

more organized than I am. I’m a lot more like last-minute.” Something the pair do see eye-to-matching-eye on is tennis. “We’re both on the tennis team at Oxy,” Claire says. Brooke was scouted, and Claire wasn’t, but then-Coach David Bojalad ’94 reached out to Claire and asked her if she wanted to play on the team. “My sister’s a lot better than me, she played a lot more than me, but it was always kind of her thing,” Claire says. “I was more into academics, and I like hiking and skiing and outdoor activities. Vancouver has so many mountains and beaches. I really enjoyed growing up there.” Tennis brought the sisters to Occidental, on a tip from a tennis friend of Brooke’s.


Claire, left, and Brooke Andrews will play tennis for the Tigers next spring. “My sister’s a lot better than me,” says Claire.

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“She said Oxy was really nice,” says Brooke, who applied Early Decision. “Oxy has a pretty good tennis program but it also has really good academics, which is important to me. I really want to study psychology.” Claire, who applied Early Decision II, is leaning toward a double major in economics and sociology. Beyond that? “Honestly, I haven’t really given that much thought,” she says. “I’m kind of ‘go with the flow.’ ” Arriving on campus was far from the twins’ first exposure to Los Angeles. “Our parents have a house in Ventura, so we’d go

Last fall, Jones donated $2,200 from her cheese sales to AmpSurf, a Pismo Beach-based organization dedicated to teaching adaptive surfing to people with disabilities.

into L.A. quite a bit,” says Brooke. “There’s so much to do, and we have friends down here.” Going back to tennis, who is the sisters’ biggest influence? “Probably Serena Williams,” Brooke replies. “She’s done really well and she has a really good attitude on court.” “Probably my parents—they met each other playing tennis,” Claire replies. In fact, her whole family plays. “My maternal grandparents played, and they also met each other through tennis. My Aunt Teresa is really good. She almost went pro. So that always inspired me.”

AVERY JONES Not many first-years arrive in Eagle Rock preceded by their handiwork, but Avery Jones can make that claim. “I visited this shop called Milkfarm [a cheese establishment and eatery on Colorado Boulevard] with my family on Move-In Day,” Avery says with a smile. “We saw a few of my dad’s cheeses and one of mine. The owners recognized us, and they asked to take a picture with us.” The Modesto native has spent most of her life in the wine- and cheese-making hub of Templeton. Avery has already made a name for herself in the artisanal cheese world. Her creations have been written

Here’s that number 25 again: Jones’ artisanal cheeses are being churned out of parent company Central Coast Creamery’s facilities at a rate of about 2,500 pounds a month. about in The New York Times and Food & Wine magazine. At age 15, Avery took third place among 1,742 competitors for Best of Show honors in the prestigious American Cheese Society competition. Her father, Reggie Jones, co-owner of Central Coast Creamery in Paso Robles, let Avery tag along from a young age as he plied his craft. It got into her blood, sparking her own offshoot business, Shooting Star Creamery. Inspired by her great-grandfather’s and great-great-grandfather’s military service, Avery donates a percentage of her profits to AmpSurf, a nonprofit that offers surfing rehabilitation therapy to disabled people, many of them veterans. Shooting Star’s offerings include Avery’s prize-winning, aged Alpine sheep milk cheese, Aries; a soft-washed rind cheese, Scorpio; a delicate rind cheese, Leo; and her latest,

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Sagittarius. (The zodiac-themed names, she explains, are “partially due to the name of the company, and partially because I felt it represented the cheese.”) Although her father earned a degree in biological sciences at Fresno State University, he attended Occidental “for a year or so,” Avery says. “I always wanted a different experience than what I had in my hometown, which is a small rural community where everyone has pretty much been in school with each other since kindergarten. I didn’t want too much of a shock going from a really small town to a really big city, so when my dad suggested Occidental, I looked into it—and Oxy had everything I wanted.” Avery is considering a biology major with a minor in theater. One of those would be a boon to cheese making. “All these tiny organisms that you put in the cheese make it work a certain way,” she says. “I might not keep cheese making as my permanent career, but I love doing it.”

YENNI GONZÁLEZ SALINAS It sounds like something out of a Nashville story song: Yenni González Salinas was born in Music City to a single mother who arrived there from Mexico looking for a relative who had been reported dead. The relative turned up alive and well, and Yenni’s mother stayed and created a home for her daughter. “I grew up in a Hispanic community that was very low-income, but we were all there for each other,” Yenni says. “Nashville is very diverse but segregated. When I was at home, I mainly spoke Spanish. I could integrate myself into my culture and I didn’t have to explain things.” But for her first couple of years of high school at University School of Nashville— where only 37 percent of the enrollment are students of color—Yenni felt “completely lost. I had never been exposed to so many white people being around me,” and “there were comments made that made me really uncomfortable.” The experience sparked her passion for social justice and educating communities, and Yenni became co-leader of Aliados (Spanish for allies), a student organization “focused on how we could be allies to the Hispanic community,” she explains. “Each month we would host a big fiesta, and all the

The first in her family to graduate from high school, González Salinas draws inspiration from her mother’s daily mantra: “You can do it.”

money raised would go toward different [Hispanic] organizations.” Yenni was a prime facilitator of diversity, equity, and inclusion conversations on campus. As a senior, she did an independent study on indigenous communities and the right to vote. In these conversations, she says, participants would confide how they felt that “they don’t have the same voting rights as white people or Hispanic people or people of color.” In recognition of her diversity and equity work, Yenni was awarded Oxy’s new Community Impact Scholarship, which recognizes high school students who have had an enormous impact on their communities, with all signs pointing to them accomplishing the same at Oxy.

Yenni—who wants to major in politics in preparation for law school—became aware of Occidental through her high school counselor. That led to an admission interview with an Oxy alumna that changed her scholastic path. The interviewer “told me how she didn’t want to go to Oxy to begin with, and that was really funny to me because Oxy was not my first-choice school,” Yenni admits. “She expressed how social justice was very important in the Oxy community.” The interview prompted Yenni to take a closer look at the College, she says, “and the more I learned, the more it felt right.” Welcome to Occidental, Yenni—make yourself at home. Gilstrap wrote “Reimagining the Sciences” in the Summer issue. FALL 2021  OCCIDENTAL MAGAZINE

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T Again BY ANDY FAUGHT

In our Fall 2001 issue, Occidental magazine introduced eight first-year members of the Class of 2005 “to keep your eyes on over the next four years.” Where are they now? 16

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WENTY YEARS AGO, the 2002 Kaplan/Newsweek How to Get Into College guide (published in August 2001) proclaimed Occidental was one of the 10 hottest colleges in the country. That came on the heels of a Los Angeles Times Magazine cover story touting Eagle Rock as “the next hot place” in Southern California, and in the wake of a then-record 3,635 applications to Oxy, dropping the College’s admit rate to a then-historic low. Among the 458 incoming members of the Class of 2005, we profiled eight incoming first-years for an Occidental magazine cover story. There was Nathan Baptiste of Lake Oswego, Ore., whose high school extracurriculars “centered heavily on civil activism and diversity celebration.” And Sarah Candler of Atlanta, who immersed herself in Nepalese culture and language on a 35-day sojourn to remote western Nepal with nine high school classmates. First-generation American Brooke Vuong (whose parents fled the Viet Cong for a new start in Houston) enrolled at Oxy intent on majoring in biochemistry and becoming an epidemiologist. Chi Gook Kim, blind since age 3 and immigrating from South Korea to Philadelphia in 1998, excelled as a musician from an early age and aspired to a career in Christian pop music. Andrew Pace of Fort Lewis, Wash., who followed in the Oxy footsteps of his father, emergency room physician Steven Pace ’73, and older brother Aaron ’03, aspired to open a family medical practice one day. Haneefah Shuaibe of Oakland was the first in her family to attend college; she came to Oxy intent on opening her own business in the Bay Area. The daughter of a BP Amoco engineer, Rachel Shoemaker spent half her time in high school studying in the Netherlands and the United Arab Emirates; she arrived at Oxy having learned to speak five languages. And lastly, we met Gabriel Flores, who chose Oxy for its emphasis in the liberal arts with aspirations to a career in the performing arts: “I’m hoping to gain an intellectual basis for any form of art I decide to work with,” he told writer Andy Faught in 2001. Twenty years have passed; where are the “New Faces of 2005” today? We caught up with them all—in eight cities on three continents—and enlisted Faught (who above: The Fall 2001 Occidental magazine now lives in Fresno) to chat with all of declared the Class of them. Where has life taken them since ’05 “the most selective Oxy? How did their time at Occidental in Oxy history.” top: Clockwise from top influence their career choices? And what left: Pace, Kim, Shoeadvice would they give their 18-year-old maker, Shuaibe, Bapselves? For answers to those questions tiste, Flores, Candler, and Vuong. and more, read on.


Pace photo by Rick Dahms | 2001 photos (pages 16-21) by Max S. Gerber

Twenty years ago, Andrew Pace envisioned going into medical practice with his older brother, Aaron ’03. The siblings have been close since childhood, and they even roomed next door to each other at Newcomb Hall, when Aaron was a chemistry major. “But there were times in med school when it was hard to know if we both were going to end up in the same specialty,” Andrew says. “Sometimes medicine is tough, depending on your specialty and whether an area can support it. We always intended to come back home if at all possible.” All developed as the brothers had hoped. Andrew and Aaron are co-owners of Pace Dermatology Associates, which has offices in Tacoma and Lakewood, Wash., near where they were raised in Steilacoom. Andrew joined the practice in 2013 after earning his medical degree from the University of Washington. (He served a derma-

tology residency at USC.) Doctoring runs in the family; the brothers’ father, Steven Pace ’73, retired this year as an emergency physician. Occidental played no small part in Andrew’s personal and career development. He spent summers and parts of the academic year working in the research lab of Don Deardorff, the Carl F. Braun Professor of Chemistry (who retired in 2015). “That was part of my entire time there, and the experience helped me with many life skills,” Andrew says. “The undergraduate research was some of my most memorable time at Occidental.” These days he’s making new memories. Andrew is married and has two young daughters. He enjoys woodworking and fishing when he’s not doctoring. Any advice to his 18-year-old self? “Do it all again,” he replies. “It’s worked out great.”

above: In July 2013, Andrew Pace ’05, foreground, joined Pace Dermatology Associates, the practice founded by his brother Aaron Pace ’03, center, two years earlier. Their dad, Steven Pace ’73, left, retired earlier this year as an emergency physician.

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left: “In surgical oncology, I have the privilege to meet people during what is often the scariest moment in their life as they are diagnosed with cancer,” says Vuong, who lives and works in Sacramento. “This work is both rewarding and humbling.”

Photos by Eli Moreno-Sanchez ’04 (Vuong) and courtesy Gabe Flores ’05

above: As a design lead for Netflix’s product art, Flores works on the art that appears on the streamer as well as broader marketing campaigns. “Our designs are created to help make a selection, so our work is often both the introduction and entry point into a new title.” 18

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Brooke Vuong hadn’t had many interactions with a physician until she took part as a student in the Career Center’s Walk in My Shoes program, through which she met Kimberly Shriner ’80, an infectious disease expert at Huntington Hospital in Pasadena since 1992 (and currently an adviser to Oxy’s COVID Operation Group). “Dr. Shriner was really inspirational,” recalls Vuong, who majored in diplomacy and world affairs and went on to earn a master’s in public health from USC and a medical degree from UC Davis. She considered pursuing nephrology, because her father had renal failure, but her priorities changed when he received a kidney transplant. She marveled at her dad’s restored independence once he was free from dialysis. Consequently, she went into general surgery to “fix problems.” As a surgical oncologist at Kaiser Permanente South Sacramento Medical Center, Vuong is the head breast surgeon and one of three surgeons who treat more than 400 breast cancer patients every year. She takes pride in being both a breast and hepatobiliary (liver and pancreas) surgeon “as there are so few women in this profession.” In surgical oncology, she says, “I have the privilege to meet people during what is often the scariest moment in their life. For those who are surgical candidates, I can offer them an operation to treat their cancer. This work is both rewarding and humbling.” When she’s not in the operating room, or doing medical research (such as building a robotic liver surgery program), Vuong and husband Eli Moreno-Sanchez ’04, a lawyer for Liberty Mutual, enjoy traveling. They’re planning trips to Machu Picchu and Patagonia. Twenty years after they first met at Occidental, Vuong remains good friends with classmate Haneefah Shuaibe-Peters (more on her below). Of all that she has experienced over the years, Vuong offers one lesson in particular: “Really take advantage of hearing the people’s stories around you and learning from their experiences,” she says. “Occidental gave me that opportunity, because everyone comes from such different backgrounds.” In both his life and life’s work, Gabe Flores is propelled by a truism: All the world’s a story. As lead product art designer for Netflix, he pays testament to that daily— with no small assist from Oxy. “By studying cultural anthropology, gender, and postcolonial theory, I learned how to see how human experience, joys, and traumas articulate in culture through customs, traditions, and popular entertainment,” he says. “This has allowed me to find meaning in my work, promoting these stories about ourselves and finding the best way to visually communicate each story’s theme and genre through design.” At Netflix, Flores works with a small team of designers to create a suite of images representing individual shows or movies—the icons that prompt users to click on Selena the Series, for instance, or The Witcher: Nightmare of the


Wolf. For a favorite project, the 2013 FX series American Horror Story: Coven, he combined Helmut Newton photos with snake iconography from the Aztec goddess Coatlicue. Flores doesn’t stray far from artistic creation. Away from his job, he creates illustrations, landscape and portrait paintings, and digital paintings. Before joining Netflix in 2019—and after studying illustration and animation art at the ArtCenter College of Design—he was art director at the Refinery Creative, a marketing and advertising agency in Sherman Oaks. An anthropology major and theater minor at Oxy, Flores, who lives in Pasadena, says if he could do it over again, he’d likely major in theater to hone his skills in scenic design, with an eye toward working on productions. That said, he adds, “I have nothing but gratitude for the opportunities I’ve been given and the early footing Oxy helped me find.” College has always been fertile ground for exploration and self-discovery. Just ask Sarah Candler, whose selfcreated independent study major focused on everything from language to music to Homer. “The classes that I took at Oxy were more like an English garden than a French garden—a diverse and sometimes unmanicured landscape rather than a strictly organized or polished scene,” says Candler, who has fond memories of soaking in her college days sitting on a triangle-shaped patch of grass near the Music Quad. At the time, she wanted to become “a teacher of some sort, but in a more hands-on way”—a mindset that made becoming a physician a logical choice. Not only is Candler care team medical director at Iora Health in Houston, she also teaches clinical students from the University of Houston as the facility’s director of academic relations. Candler, who has a master’s in public health and an M.D. from Emory University in Atlanta, spent five years treating veterans at the Michael E. DeBakey VA Medical Center in Houston before joining Iola Health in 2019. Currently the mom of two is on maternity leave, during which she’s finding surprising linkages with her professional life. “The most consistent thing is the overwhelming humility that parenting requires,” Candler says. “It’s a lot like teaching and doctoring. I’m reminded every day that I can have a plan, but my kids or my patients or my trainees may have different needs that day.” Candler continues to look back warmly on lessons learned at Oxy. “Tell your teachers how much you appreciate their work,” she advises. “It’s not too late. The good ones are always going to be happy to hear that something might have stuck.” Some 4,000 miles from his native Oregon, Nathan Baptiste spreads the virtues of mindfulness in Cali, Colombia. But it’s more than simply promoting meditation as a means of living authentically in the moment. Baptiste also is helping to encourage authentic workplace

below: Candler enrolled at Oxy as a Margaret Bundy Scott Scholar. Today, the mother of two is a primary care physician, patient advocate, and teacher in Houston.

Photos by Marc Campos (Baptiste) and courtesy Iora Health (Candler)

cultures that teach the value of organizational equity, diversity, and inclusion (EDI). “I’ll bring meditation into training spaces, usually briefly, as a way to make ourselves attentive to how our bodies are responding to sensitive conversations,” says Baptiste, founder of EDI Mindfulness Consulting. “That’s when we get our first signals that we’re uncomfortable, or are shutting down channels of communication.” He works with nonprofits, public agencies, and forprofit companies with clients in both the United States and South America, where he moved with his Colombian-born wife and their two children in 2018. Part of his job involves coaching organizations on advancing equity. Baptiste points to research that shows that teams of people from diverse backgrounds consistently outperform homogenous groups, as they are more creative, better problem-solvers, and more financially prosperous.

above: Baptiste relaxes in a hammock outside his home in Colombia. Prior to his freshman year, he took part in Oxy’s Multicultural Summer Institute.

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below: Calvert chose Oxy for its close-knit community and its location in the heart of cosmopolitan Southern California: “It’s a nice mix of both worlds.” She now lives in Singapore.

above: As associate professor of music therapy at Berklee College of Music, Kim founded Berklee’s assistive music technology program for blind and visually impaired students. During his two years in Eagle Rock, Kim was involved in Oxy’s InterVarsity Christian Fellowship. “I had a great group of friends who supported each other throughout our spiritual journey as college students.” 20 OCCIDENTAL MAGAZINE  FALL 2021

Baptiste, a sociology major and religious studies minor, developed his sensibilities in part through Oxy’s Multicultural Summer Institute, known for challenging students’ critical thinking and fostering relationships across diverse backgrounds. “It was so formative,” Baptiste says. “It was the most pivotal and important experience I had in college.” Prior to founding EDI Mindfulness Consulting, Baptiste designed and launched an EDI professional development training plan for more than 1,000 employees of Oregon Metro, the regional government for the Portland area, and drove an initiative to increase both diversity enrollment and retention numbers as director of inclusion and multicultural engagement at Lewis and Clark College. Away from work, Baptiste finds time for basketball with his kids and relaxation time in his hammock. He has learned to take the long view of the world since his days at Oxy. “Be patient,” Baptiste advises. “I have the tendency to want to change the world now, and that creates stress. Being patient helps.” From the day she set foot on the Occidental campus, Rachel (Shoemaker) Calvert has been testament to Ralph Waldo Emerson’s credo that the destination is the journey. “I’ve had that build-your-own-pathway mindset from the beginning, and that has carried all the way through to what I do today,” she says. “Everything has flowed directly out of what I studied and did at Oxy.” That path led Calvert to Singapore, where she is director of IHS Markit, a team of analysts, data scientists, financial experts, and industry specialists that help governments and businesses make informed policy decisions. Calvert’s work focuses on clean energy transitions. She’s not one to be tied down. After growing up in international settings, Calvert, a diplomacy and world affairs major, won a Fulbright Scholarship to study in Taiwan; she also completed her master’s degree in China through Johns Hopkins. She went on to work for NGOs in mainland China, and she did political risk analysis in the United Kingdom. In a big world, Calvert reflects on her years in Eagle Rock, where she had “really diverse relationships” with classmates and professors. “I have a lot of fond memories of a whole bunch of small moments, in dorm rooms and hall parties, and all of the social life that was built into campus,” she says. “Without question, it was the people who made my time there.” If she could speak to her younger self, Calvert would urge learning digital skills, especially in a work world that increasingly demands such skills. “I’m not a technologyoriented person, and it kills me to sit at a desk on a computer all day,” she says. “I’d much prefer to be out in the woods or on the ocean somewhere.” Two years into his Oxy experience, Chi Gook Kim decided to follow his heart and enroll at Berklee College


Photo by Jim Block | Page 20 photos courtesy Rachel (Shoemaker) Calvert ’05 and Chi Gook Kim ’05

of Music in Boston. Occidental, where he had a social network and an overall “amazing experience,” played an important role in the decision. “I didn’t have a clear path, but the College definitely gave me a foundation and a confirmation that Berklee was something that I could do,” says Kim, who enjoyed his time studying music at Oxy. “It was a small department and a family kind of atmosphere.” Berklee is known for its jazz instruction, and it would ultimately give the jazz-loving Kim a chance to carve a path for other blind or disabled students. He’s back at his alma mater as an assistant professor and founder of the assistive music technology program for blind and visually impaired students. Kim uses programs such as Sibelius, music notation software that allows students to record audio or write scores with computers. When he started at Berklee in 2010, there wasn’t much in the way of assistive equipment. “I had to teach myself and contact strangers on the internet, saying, ‘I have this problem. Can you help me?’” Kim says. “Now I’m developing these technologies, so visually impaired students don’t have to go through all of the pains that I did.” Inspired by a guest artist at Berklee, Kim began writing music for film and has scored three indie shorts that played the festival circuit and two feature films (Tooth and Nail and Casa Amor) that were released in Korea. He discussed his experiences navigating the world as a blind musician for a 2019 episode of Talks at Google, a popular YouTube interview series. In the face of his physical challenges, Kim has long relied on his Christian faith to stay positive. “Don’t stress too much, don’t worry too much,” he says. “Just know that if you do your best, things will work out.” In a TEDx talk on early childhood education with more than 26,000 views on YouTube, Haneefah ShuaibePeters makes the case that preschool should be about more than kindergarten readiness: “We need to start developing the skills that we need them to have to be social human beings.” Shuaibe-Peters’ passion for early childhood education dates back to her days of helping out at the Bay Area nursery school where her father was principal. “That’s definitely where the love began,” she says. But Shuaibe-Peters has shifted her focus. As executive director of the nonprofit Child Education Center and the Model School Comprehensive (child development centers for kids from 3 months to 5 years old), both in Berkeley, the former public and private school teacher dedicates much of her time to improving “horrific” wages among early childhood professionals, most of whom are women of color. “I am committed to figuring out how to create work environments in which these women feel loved, comforted, and supported—financially and emotionally,” she says. “The children will be best off if you give them loving

caregivers who are able to provide that level of care.” A mother of three (the oldest is 12; the youngest turns 2 in November), ShuaibePeters earned her master’s in early childhood education from San Francisco State University. She completed her doctorate in 2020 from SFSU. She’s married to classmate Karl Peters ’05, educational administration consultant and dean of students at a middle/high school in the Bay Area. High school sweethearts, the couple got married shortly after graduating from Oxy. Shuaibe-Peters sharpened her leadership skills at Oxy, working as a choreographer in Dance Production, serving as an RA for two years, and presiding as a senior over the Black Student Union, which the College recognized as club of the year. Looking back on her career to date, Shuaibe-Peters is circumspect. “Enjoy the ride because it’s never going to be what you thought it was going to be,” she says. “Be OK with whatever the result is.” Faught also wrote “Head First” in this issue of Occidental.

above: While attending Oxy, Shuaibe-Peters says, African American students were a small part of the student body, “but we found ways to create community on campus.” She uses the leadership skills she developed in college in her work in the field of early education.

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FIRST By ANDY FAUGHT Photos by MARC CAMPOS


IN THE FACE OF A GLOBAL PANDEMIC AND A NATIONAL RECKONING OVER RACE, SEXUALITY, AND GENDER, OCCIDENTAL IS RESPONDING TO THE MENTAL HEALTH NEEDS OF A NEW GENERATION OF STUDENTS

IN SEPTEMBER 2020, SIX MONTHS AFTER the pandemic sent her packing from Oxy, Pacita Del Balso ’23 spent much of each day planted on her childhood bed at her Foster City home. A year earlier, she had stepped onto the Oxy campus excited to begin her college journey. For the first time in her life, she wrote in the Occidental newspaper last fall, “I had found my place and my people.” But the threat of COVID-19 wrenched from her that happy reality, just as it upended the lives of nearly 20 million U.S. college students abruptly forced into remote learning arrangements. Del Balso decided her best course would be to take off the fall semester, in hopes of riding out the scourge. Her homebound existence became a dot-to-dot affair: Brush teeth, water plants, do a little classwork for a pair of community college courses she was taking to stay sharp. The torpor left her exhausted and depressed. “It was terrible for my mental health, and not having my peers around me was awful,” says Del Balso, a philosophy and cognitive science double major who sought out therapy to work through her malaise. “That gave me a push to get medicated, which in the long run was valuable for me.” She’s hardly alone. In an April 2021 study by the American Council on Education, 73 percent of college presidents identified mental health as a “pressing issue”—up from 53 percent in a survey taken a year earlier. “A number of studies, articles, and blog posts in recent years have hinted that campuses are figuratively hanging off of a mental health cliff,” Kate Wolfe-Lyga and Marcus Hotaling wrote in Higher Education Today in June.

Against the backdrop of a global pandemic and a national reckoning over race, sexuality, and gender, Occidental is responding to a generation of students far more likely than their predecessors to meet mental health challenges head on. “Throughout higher ed in general, there’s less stigmatization around mental health, which in part has created the need,” says Rob Flot, vice president for student affairs and dean of students, who came to Occidental in 2017. That need has been growing steadily. In the last decade, Oxy has seen a 15 percent increase in the use of counseling services among its students; 30 percent of all students will visit the counseling center during their college career, according to Flot. At the same time, students from marginalized backgrounds are breaking with cultural taboos to seek help. (“Growing up as a Black male myself, counseling is something you wouldn’t typically engage in,” Flot says.) In counseling, the students talk about everything from homesickness and depression to eating disorders and substance abuse. But now there’s something more. A month

above: Dean of Students Rob Flot addresses incoming members of the Class of ’22 during Orientation in August 2018. left: Pacita Del Balso ’23 sought out therapy during the pandemic.

into the new academic year, Oxy’s youngest students are presented with a new burden: social anxiety. “Most of our current first-year students have not been in an in-person classroom since they were about 16,” notes Flot, who has a master’s in clinical psychology. “If you think about the developmental tasks that happen between 16 and 18—getting a driver’s license, dating, values clarification, and negotiating alcohol or drugs and sexuality—all of those were disrupted. There are other dynamics playing a role, but the pandemic is the most significant factor interrupting a student’s expected developmental trajectory.” The College employs four full-time therapists. Counseling sessions are free, and students are referred to off-campus resources when necessary. While some students lament that it can take weeks to land an appointment, Flot says the College has not denied anyone a meeting with a therapist. FALL 2021  OCCIDENTAL MAGAZINE 23


above: McKenna Matus ’24 marched in Black Lives Matter protests across the country during a gap year from Oxy. below: Chris Arguedas, director of Oxy's Intercultural Community Center, speaks to students participating in the College’s 2021 Multicultural Summer Institute at a July 29 dinner.

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They have much on their minds. For students like McKenna Matus ’24, an undeclared major from Royersford, Pa., pondering her future hardly seems a reasonable prospect because of ongoing unrest in the country and the world. When COVID struck, Matus opted to take a gap year. Following the May 2020 murder of George Floyd by a police officer in Minneapolis, she marched in Black Lives Matter protests in Los Angeles, San Diego, Philadelphia, and New York, once getting struck by a police projectile. Matus identifies as bisexual and supports LGBTQ causes. The various upheavals can at times be disorienting. Returning to campus, “There’s a large sense of disconnect,” Matus says. “A lot of people we haven’t seen in nearly two years, so there’s excitement but also anxiety, which is a general consensus among my peers.” But there, too, is emancipation amidst the political and public health uncertainty. “I have a lot of close peers who only felt

comfortable coming out because of the political moment we’re in,” Matus says. “All of these movements have been resurfacing or gaining popularity during COVID, which goes to show that my generation is a generation of changemakers. It’s a beautiful thing: People really care.” While young adults respond to stressors in much the same way as older generations, it’s not unusual, developmentally speaking, for them to have fewer coping skills, says Irma Breakfield, a licensed therapist and interim director of counseling at Emmons Wellness Center. To address students’ needs, “We offer one-on-one counseling, virtual drop-in spaces, groups, and walk-in sessions,” she says. “Providing a variety of spaces is critical to support the mental health needs of the community.” Meanwhile, the Intercultural Community Center (ICC) has done its part to reach out to underrepresented students, especially


For many students, spirituality—and by association mental health—is “a desire to connect in meaningful ways with other individuals, a desire to experience a sense of health and wellness and well-being, and making meaning in your life.” those who historically wouldn’t ask for help in large numbers. Oxy sophomore Jaden Burris ’22’s suicide in February 2020 compounded the sense of loss felt on campus in the wake of first-year student Ilah Richardson ’23’s death from natural causes three weeks earlier. “This is a time of extreme anguish and pain for all of us, but I believe the pain is especially poignant and raw for the Black community at Oxy,” Flot wrote in an email to campus following the news of Burris’ passing. The ICC, working with other offices within the Division of Student Affairs, decided then to make good on what to that point had been years of conversation. The center developed a Black Action Plan to engage the Oxy community at large on issues most keenly felt by students from the African diaspora, including Afro Caribbean, Afro Latin Americans, Black Canadians, and students from multiracial or multiethnic backgrounds. The effort is being shepherded by ICC director Chris Arguedas, who has been meeting regularly since April 2020 with students and staff. The plan likely will be programmatically different from year to year, depending on the needs of the moment, Arguedas says, but it will rest on three pillars: Ensuring the health and well-being of Black students, nurturing their “belongingness,” and fostering connections among Black students, faculty, staff, and alumni. Last year, the ICC sponsored a pair of lectures open to the Oxy community: a talk on anti-Blackness by noted community organizer Monique Liston, and a presentation by Jennifer Eberhardt, a Stanford psychology professor and author of Biased: Uncovering the Hidden Prejudice That Shapes What We See, Think, and Do. In addition to educational programming. the Black Action Plan seeks to implement

structural changes on campus. Recent examples include the new associate director for racial equity position, a Black-themed living community, renovations to MLK Lounge in Pauley Hall, and the creation of a bias education and support team. “It was long overdue for key stakeholders to come together and think about how to meet the needs of Black students,” Arguedas says. “Many of the goals embedded in the plan existed before the losses of Jaden and Ilah, but that was a very difficult reminder that it was time to take action.”

above: Vivian Garay Santiago, associate dean and director of student success.

Mental health support can be found in other forms across campus, and spirituality is another component by which the College hopes to be a salve in hard times. Through late September, the flow of students into the Interfaith Center had been a trickle, “but I anticipate them coming,” says the Rev. Susan Young, director for religious and spiritual life. In March 2021, the Office for Religious and Spiritual Life, in collaboration with the College’s senior staff, conducted a campuswide memorial service on Zoom to remember loved ones who have died during the pandemic. Over the last five years, the office has operated a student-led “grief group,” “but grief really was just not something that students felt like they wanted to do virtually,” Young says. “We didn’t meet last fall, but we are starting that up again.” For many students, spirituality—and by association mental health—is “a desire to connect in meaningful ways with other individuals, a desire to experience a sense of health and wellness and well-being, and making meaning in your life,” she adds. “For a lot of our students, that’s social activism and social justice.” From the time that Oxy students left campus in March 2020, the College has been preparing for their return. Administrators

have been “intentional about students’ wellbeing” and put together an array of programming to support students’ social-emotional health, notes Vivian Garay Santiago, associate dean and director of student success. Every summer, Santiago and her team partner with their colleagues across campus to facilitate workshops and training sessions to prepare faculty, resident assistant staff, and Orientation leaders for the new academic year. “This year, we expanded the typical presentations and related it to the culture of care,” she says. “We reached out to departments that maybe don’t see themselves as being student support-oriented.” In addition to creating robust social programs to help students connect with one another, the College offered educational programs on topics such as equity and justice, sexual violence, and the transition back to campus life. Additional wellness options included yoga, hiking, and getting out into the local community. “We knew that students were going to be anxious socially, and that we were essentially welcoming two classes that have never been on campus before—our incoming first-year students and our sophomores,” Santiago says. “We turned up the volume on those programmatic self-care opportunities.” FALL 2021  OCCIDENTAL MAGAZINE 25


right: As a resident assistant at Chilcott Hall, Garrett Richardson ’23 keeps an eye out for fellow students who may benefit from mental health care.

One student who is working to promote wellness is Garrett Richardson ’23, a diplomacy and world affairs major from Boise, Idaho. The Oxy junior has battled anxiety and obsessive-compulsive disorder, compounded by his stepfather’s hostility when Richardson came out as gay. Richardson described his struggles in a video he made last spring for Active Minds, a student club that works to increase awareness about issues surrounding mental health, symptoms related to mental health disorders, and mental health resources on campus and in the surrounding community.

RESOURCES FOR STUDENTS Emmons Wellness Center provides ongoing individual therapy, walk-ins, support groups, drop-ins, crisis support, and consultations through a virtual platform. Fall groups include: Disordered Eating Support Group Meeting bi-weekly and designed for those who have experienced disordered eating and are committed to and motivated for recovery, this group focuses on developing coping skills, implementing strategies for recovery, giving and receiving support, and expanding skills needed for recovery. 1st-Gen Connection An open, supportive space for first-gen students to connect, this group touches on topics specific to the first-gen experience, including adjustment to college, self-care, resiliency, belonging, impostor syndrome, and intersecting identities. Men of Color Support Circle Meeting weekly and open to self-identified men of diverse cultural backgrounds, this virtual drop-in group provides healing and support, encourages self-exploration, and fosters community. Mindfulness Group A four-week psycho-educational group that provides opportunities to learn about and engage in various mindfulness practices. Each week focuses on different information and practices, including mindful breathing, mindful eating, body scan, managing difficult emotions, and loving kindness. Survivors Circle A safe, confidential environment to provide support and understanding for any student who has experienced sexual assault at any time, Survivors Circle offers a space to heal and recover from trauma, to reestablish safety, and to share experiences with others.

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Through its poignancy, Richardson’s video offers a testimonial of hope. “I wanted to get my experience out in the open and bring it into the light,” he says. “I wanted to bring awareness to a disorder that is very commonly misunderstood. People throw around the term OCD when they really don’t know what it means or what it looks like. I wanted to show an honest portrayal of how it can manifest.” As an RA at Chilcott Hall, Richardson keeps an eye out for students who may benefit from mental health care. Part of his RA training involves learning how to recognize struggles in his peers and direct them to services. That said, it’s not a perfect science. “In my first year, I wish I would have known about the Los Angeles LGBT Center,” Richardson says. “It offers a plethora of mental health and primary care services that I didn’t know about.”

Like Richardson, Del Balso returned to Oxy this fall in the additional role of RA, with Stearns Hall as her campus home. A month into the semester, she is finding a new rhythm and making up for lost time with friends. “It feels terribly different,” Del Balso admits. “A lot of people are still figuring out what college life looks like now.” The pandemic has underscored what Flot calls “the fragility of the human experience. None of us are immune to feeling stress, anxiety, loneliness, worry, concern, and depression.” Even so, he says, “It’s been amazing to me to see the Oxy community— students, faculty, and staff—come back to campus eager to stay safe, eager to be here, and eager to again grow and learn in person with each other.” Faught wrote “The Biology of Changemaking” in the Winter issue.


Ma celebrates the launch of WeChat Pay services in Hong Kong in 2017, above. Photos courtesy Timothy Ma ’02

AS TECHNOLOGY GIANT TENCENT EXPANDS ITS INTERNATIONAL FOOTPRINT, TIMOTHY MA ’02 KEEPS AN EYE ON GLOBAL PRIVACY AND DATA PROTECTION BY DICK ANDERSON

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SOUNDS LIKE A SIMPLE QUESTION: Where did Tencent—the Chinese internet and technology giant with a worldwide user base well over 1 billion —get its name? But as Timothy Ma ’02 explains, there is no simple answer. “There are a number of stories out there,” says Ma, Tencent’s head of international privacy and data protection. “Number one was that one of our founders, Pony Ma [no relation], used to work at Lucent. Ten is sort of equivalent to the last Chinese character of his name, téng [Ma Huateng]. So he took the cent from Lucent and ten from his name, and it becomes Tencent. “The second story that I read on the internet was that the company first started off helping people to send SMS. And at the time, it cost 10 cents to send SMS. And that is why the company name is Tencent.” Neither story was ever confirmed by senior management, and Ma has no preference for one over the other. “I’ve never thought of that,” he admits during an interview from a hotel room in Macao, where he is quarantining for 14 days before traveling to China on business. “The name Tencent carries a differ-

above: Ma and a Tencent associate at the FinanceAsia Achievement Awards in 2017. 28 OCCIDENTAL MAGAZINE  FALL 2021

ent meaning for me—to remind ourselves to always be humble, and that without our strong efforts, without our continuous R&D and thinking outside of the box, we could be just a 10-cent company in the literal sense.” Founded in 1998, Tencent is one of the top 10 largest market cap companies in the world, with a market value in excess of $620 billion at this writing. Yet it remains a fairly low-profile company, reflecting the humility of its founders. Its value has grown more than tenfold since Ma joined Tencent in 2012. At first, he was responsible for a lot of corporate tech market operations—ensuring that the company complied with the listing rules requirements in Hong Kong as well as corporate and banking work. Soon the scope of his work expanded to cover international business compliance. For example, when WeChat (Tencent’s mobile messaging app, with more than 1.25 billion active monthly users) was launched outside of China, Ma helped the business to properly structure WeChat and prepare the terms of service, privacy policies, and the like. On the fintech side of things, he helped the company apply for numerous financial licenses outside of China: banking and reinsurance licenses in Hong Kong, payment licenses in Hong Kong and Malaysia, and other money-transmitting licenses. He also was serving as a head of compliance for a number of Tencent’s businesses. Then, in 2018, the company decided that it needed a dedicated data privacy department that looks after this risk and helps the company navigate this area of law on a very specialized basis. “They saw my track record of building up an international legal team,” Ma says. “So general counsel asked me to build this team out to look at international data privacy matters.” He relished the challenges of his new role. “I love to learn, and I thought it was a good chance for me to further exert my influence over the company, and bring about a positive impact over community. So I switched from the international product compliance role to a data privacy role. I’ve been doing this for over two years now. And I had to learn things all over again to reshape or reinvent myself into a data privacy professional. It was a steep learning curve for me, but I have gotten great job satisfaction in what I have achieved so far.”

above: Ma, right, and his team were honored in the technology, media, and telecom category at the In-House Community Counsel Awards Ceremony and Celebration in Hong Kong in May 2018.

Born and raised in Hong Kong, Ma was educated there as well, having finished year 11 of high school (the equivalent of junior year in the United States) when he enrolled at Occidental in 1998. He is the second in his family to study at Oxy; older sister Pauleen ’01 transferred to Wellesley midway through her sophomore year. They got to know Oxy through a frequent visitor to Hong Kong—History Professor Wellington Chan, who taught humanities at the College from 1971 until his retirement in 2010. “We had spoken with him and were confident that Occidental would be the perfect place for me,” Ma says. “Our family believed that a well-rounded liberal arts education would help with our future development, be it professionally or personally.” Oxy’s low student-to-faculty ratio also was a factor, and the College’s International Programs Office helped Ma make the transition to college life in the United States, especially as a 16-year-old. “I always joke with my friends and my parents that when I graduated from Oxy, I wasn’t even at the legal age to drink,” he says with a laugh. Compared to the education system in his homeland, Ma found the liberal arts experience to be “fun.” “In Hong Kong, it’s a sort of spoon-fed education that is very resultsoriented—the goal is for you to get high marks in exams. Occidental provides a very different style of education, and I was able to explore different interests, discover what I was good at, and learn through real interactions and intellectually stimulating discussions with professors. Those are not things that were generally available in Hong Kong.” His favorite professor was Giorgio Secondi, who taught economics at Oxy from 1998 to 2008 and also served as Ma’s adviser.


“He made very complicated principles into something that was easy to understand,” says Ma, who majored in economics. He also was a resident adviser in Stearns for one year and worked about two years in the Tiger Cooler —behind the grill, at the coffee stand, or wherever his help was needed. “I remember Tim as a student who always showed a lot of energy and enthusiasm,” says Secondi, now an upper school economics teacher at the Potomac School in McLean, Va. “He would approach any learning experience with a big smile on his face and a positive attitude. He took his work seriously yet never lost his sense of humor—it was clear that he genuinely enjoyed learning.” After graduating from Oxy, Ma went to law school at City University of Hong Kong on a full scholarship. (“I’m from a family full of lawyers,” he says, including his dad and two sisters.) He subsequently spent two years as a trainee in the Hong Kong office of U.S. law firm Paul Hastings, followed by stints at a couple of other firms, culminating in a job at O’Melveny & Myers as an IPO lawyer. Then he got a call from a headhunter about an opening at Tencent. “The determining factor at that time was that I wanted to join a tech firm,” he recalls. “I wanted to explore my interests quite consistent with my personality. I’m someone who doesn’t like to sit tight in a place for a long period of time. I don’t like boredom. And I always like to find new challenges for myself.” Were he to stay at a law firm, he reasoned, “I’d be doing the same kind of deals over and over again. That wasn’t challenging to me.” Joining Tencent, he says, “has been one of the best decisions I’ve made. It absolutely lived up to and exceeded my expectations.” A typical workday for Ma might entail managerial responsibilities (he oversees an 18member team), reviewing contracts, meeting with international clients or higher-ups, staying abreast of new developments in the legal space, and managing Tencent’s international data privacy compliance program. Tencent is quite different from a lot of other corporations, he adds, in that it has a strong legal and compliance culture. “Senior management views legal compliance as a red line. It gives me great job satisfaction knowing that the work I do will actually have a heavy influence over how the company operates or how the business is being run. With that strong legal compliance culture, the

company gives me a great level of autonomy to ensure that we’ll be able to provide professional advice from an independent and professional standpoint—not being influenced by the need to just rubber-stamp something that they do. It’s not like that. In that way, they allow me to both develop myself on a professional level and be able to build a team of lawyers who would work well together and contribute to the company. It’s also just a fun place to work.” For all the talk today about data privacy, what exactly does it entail? “There are a number of angles to this question,” Ma says. “On the granular level, data privacy is about compliance with the law—that’s the baseline—and how we protect user data. As a tech company, or what we call a data user, we need to use this data in a responsible and reasonable manner. And to respect the rights of our users over their personal data. “But the key to this is if you look at the European GDPR [General Data Protection Regulation], or if you look at international treaties and conventions, some would even argue that personal data is a fundamental constitutional human right. Another role in data privacy is to respect that right, and to

above: A longtime fan of Manchester United Football Club, Ma stands outside Old Trafford, the Red Devils’ home, in Manchester, England.

ensure that whatever data that we have collected, we have done so in a reasonable manner and used in a responsible way.” Tencent has a strong culture of respecting user privacy and delivering the best experience to its users, “and we have generally done pretty well in terms of privacy and data production,” Ma says. “We are a responsible corporate citizen in terms of data usage, but the most challenging thing of my job is to change the perception of the international community on our data privacy strategies and what we do to protect user data.” All that said, one of the most enjoyable aspects of Ma’s job is feeling that the work he is doing actually makes a positive impact in the global community. “Now that I am focused on data privacy, I know that whatever decisions I make are helping in guarding the data that users have entrusted us with. I am ensuring that users would have peace of mind whenever they use our products. That’s why I’m still here after almost 10 years. “I could probably teach a whole course on Data Privacy 101,” he adds with a smile. “Maybe Oxy will give me a job when I retire.” FALL 2021  OCCIDENTAL MAGAZINE 29


OXYTALK

Kind of You to Ask Capitalizing on a personalized appeal at a time when the pandemic made in-person visits impossible, Oxy’s Legacy Challenge documents more than $7 million in planned gift commitments to the College Photos by Jim Block (Gillettes) and Marc Campos (Kemp)

If it worked at Swarthmore, Oxy trustee Gil Kemp P’04 reasoned, it could work in Eagle Rock. A longtime board member at his alma mater and chair of its recently concluded comprehensive campaign, Kemp saw firsthand how a personalized appeal to alumni and parents to document estate gifts to the college could be “a really powerful tool.” And work it did: During the 2020-21 fiscal year, Occidental’s Legacy Challenge produced $7.38 million in previously undocumented planned gifts from more than two dozen graduates—as well as an additional $290,000 for the Oxy Fund thanks to the generosity of Kemp in tandem with fellow trustee Mike Gibby ’68 and Mike’s wife, Barbara Nogy ’68. Together, they made a donation of $10,000 to the Oxy Fund for every newly documented planned gift. “For all of us it was a wonderful way to support a marvelous institution,” Kemp says. “It’s an easy way to make a difference for the College in the long run, because you’re not giving from current income or assets. I hope more people will think about it for themselves in the future.”

30 OCCIDENTAL MAGAZINE  FALL 2021

Dane Gillette ’72 and Pat (Kruse) Gillette ’73. Below: Gil Kemp P’04 calls the Legacy Challenge “a wonderful way to support a marvelous institution.”

“Occidental is indeed fortunate to have leaders like Gil and Mike whose expertise— and generosity—pay huge dividends for the College,” says President Harry J. Elam, Jr. “We are tremendously grateful to both of them and to every member of the Oxy community who has chosen to include the College in their estate plans.” Participants in Oxy’s Legacy Challenge span four decades of alumni, from the 1950s through the 1980s. Their gifts to both the endowment and the Oxy Fund will eventually support everything from scholarships to athletic programs. Regardless of their age or program of choice, donors say that it was the lasting impact of their Oxy education that motivated them to give. “We decided to invest in Occidental because we really do believe in a liberal arts education,” says political science major Pat (Kruse) Gillette ’73, a successful civil trial

lawyer, mediator, and gender equity advocate. “We want to put our money where it makes a difference. And if we give it to Oxy, we know it is going to make a difference.” Increasingly today there is an emphasis on science and tech in higher education, adds Dane Gillette ’72, a psychology major who retired as California’s chief assistant attorney general in 2014. “That’s obviously important, but I think there is a lot to be said for a broad-based liberal arts education that gives you an understanding of literature, history, and philosophy.” Legacy participant Michael Fields ’70, who also majored in psychology before becoming a successful San Francisco dentist, couldn’t agree more. “Oxy showed me that the path to one’s goals need not be linear or conventional,” he says. “I learned how to think, to write, to create; to trust my instincts and pursue my interests with passion


OXYTALK

Photo courtesy Kristin Kenyon ’87

» A TOUCH OF GLASS FOR HERRICK

Bringing in Reinforcements

Legacy Challenge participant Kristin Kenyon ’87.

and a standard of excellence. … Not a day has passed that I have not been rewarded in some way by my Occidental education.” Kristin Kenyon ’87, a Denver-based transportation planner, is the youngest of the Legacy Challenge participants. “Being a single woman with no kids or spouse, I feel a responsibility to give back to the school that got me to where I am today,” she says. Raised by a single mother, Kenyon says it was a generous financial aid package, paired with campus work and loan opportunities, that made it possible for her to attend Oxy and earn a degree in economics. She credits her liberal arts education for her “knowing how to write, to think analytically, use numbers, and to communicate effectively.” She also feels that the experience of working with people from different cultures and backgrounds at Oxy was invaluable. For Kemp, it was daughter Rebecca’s experience as a history major and athlete who ran cross country and track that sold him on Oxy. When Rebecca, a New Yorker, took a year off after the trauma of 9/11, “What impressed me was that Oxy was very supportive of her and worked thoughtfully with her to make her feel welcome back,” he says. “The fact that she could catch up and graduate with her class was to me a demonstration that Oxy really is committed to its students.” Kemp, who called many potential legacy donors himself, often jokes that making a planned gift seems to add 10 years to a donor’s life expectancy. “I can’t promise that, of course, but there is evidence that being philanthropically minded is good for one’s health and happiness,” he says. “Under the rubric of supporting Occidental, all of us can find one or more parts of the institution we particularly care about and want to support.” —jim tranquada

Years before the term “MacGyvering” became synonymous with improvising a repair with whatever items were around, Rafael Calvo ’81 learned about “Tico-teching” from his father. When installing a new washer-dryer, and the hole in the wall missed the edge of the dryer by a couple of inches, Rafael was told to grab an empty coffee canister, which his dad trimmed at the edges until it fit the space exactly. His dad called that “Tico-teching” (Ticos being people from Calvo’s native Costa Rica). When he founded his licensed glazing business with wife Janet in 1996, Calvo chose the name Tico Tech as a tribute to his late father and as a symbol of “innovation and a creative spirit.” He learned the stained glass-making process from a Lebanese glass-cutter; his clients include homes, businesses, churches, and now his alma mater. During the recent restoration of Lucille Gilman Fountain, some additional construction work was done to Herrick Memorial Chapel and Interfaith Center. Calvo was hired as a subcontractor to do some repairs to Herrick’s windows, which had been damaged over the years. Calvo’s efforts will extend the life of the 57-year-

above: In addition to Tico Tech, Calvo runs a separate tool business. He owns four patents, including a screw-on funnel and an improved ergonomic caulking gun.

old glass in Lower Herrick with protective tempered glass on the exteriors so they won’t be broken by an errant ball. “I had always imagined myself becoming an ambassador, but that didn’t work out,” says Calvo, a diplomacy and world affairs major and French minor. He glazed a different trail instead, and that led him back to Oxy.

right: Damage and dirt to the panels prior to their repair. Most of the damage was sustained by four windows in Lower Herrick. far right: In replacing a number of broken panes, Calvo and his team worked to match the color of the original stained glass, some of which has not been produced “in 30 or 40 years,” he says.

above: In repairing and installing new doors at the second-level entrance to of Herrick, Tico Tech changed the metal from aluminum to steel. right: The view from inside. “Having had the opportunity to touch the building and assist with the glass repair, I feel very honored,” says Calvo, who lives with his wife in Altadena.

Before photos by Rafael Calvo ’81 | After photos by Dick Anderson

FALL 2021  OCCIDENTAL MAGAZINE

31


OXYTALK

Returns on Investments Sparked by a host of grants, gifts, and innovative initiatives, The Oxy Campaign For Good forges ahead

of the Class of 1971 to commemorate their 50th reunion. The first Edgerton scholarships are expected to be awarded this academic year. » Professor of Black Studies Erica Ball is serving as Oxy’s inaugural Mary Jane Hewitt Endowed Department Chair in Black Studies, thanks to a $500,000 anonymous gift. Funds generated by the Hewitt endowment pro-

Defying the disruptions caused by the global pandemic, The Oxy Campaign For Good continues to build momentum following one of the most successful fundraising years in College history—a community effort that brings the total in gifts and commitments to $195 million as of September 30, within hailing distance of its $225 million goal. Occidental raised a total of $31 million during the 2020-21 fiscal year, including $7.3 million in planned gift commitments identified through the first-ever Legacy Challenge (page 30) and $1.6 million raised in just 36 hours during the second annual Day For Oxy. With close to 90 percent of the Campaign’s goal already in hand, Oxy students and faculty have already begun to see the impact of the thousands of gifts the College has received, including those designated for student scholarships, the Campaign’s top priority. » The Edgerton-Occidental Merit Scholarship Program, aimed at middle-income students from California, has raised $2.1 million toward its $6.4 million goal from 68 donors, including more than $306,000 from members

Photo by Kevin Burke

Announced in June, a multimillion-dollar estate gift from trustee and campaign co-chair Anne Wilson Cannon ’74, added to her previous giving, makes her Oxy’s largest living individual donor.

THE OXY CAMPAIGN FOR GOOD Campaign totals through September 30, 2021

Designated $159.6 million

Undesignated $35.6 million

Overall Campaign: Goal: $225 million Total Gifts to Date: $195.3 million

0

25

50

75

100

125

150

175

200

225

86.8%

For Access

For Distinction

For Campus

For Today

Financial Aid Endowment

Endowed Funds for Academics and Student Experience

Capital Projects

The Oxy Fund

76%

65%

61%

77%

Goal: $100 million Gifts to Date: $76 million

Goal: $50 million Gifts to Date: $32.3 million

Goal: $40 million Gifts to Date: $24.3 million

Goal: $35 million Gifts to Date: $27 million

32 OCCIDENTAL MAGAZINE  FALL 2021

vided a course release for the chair, a stipend for her scholarly work, and discretionary funding for the department’s most pressing needs. » A new three-year, $247,500 grant from the Sherman Fairchild Foundation will provide summer research opportunities for more underrepresented and first-generation students with an interest in the sciences. » Funded by a $750,000 grant from the Fletcher Jones Foundation, the newly renovated multipurpose computer classroom on the ground floor of the Academic Commons is busy with a full weekly schedule of classes in computer science. The Campaign is scheduled to conclude on June 30, 2023. In the coming months, some of Oxy’s fundraising focus will shift to the priorities identified by the 60 alumni, parents, and trustees who served alongside faculty on the College’s Science and Music and MAC (Media Arts & Culture) task forces. Science programs currently make up 40 percent of all declared majors and minors. Media Arts & Culture and Music Production are two of the College’s fastest-growing programs, and Oxy is uniquely positioned to take full advantage of its location in Los Angeles, a global leader in film and music production. Investing in new faculty positions, including the creation of endowed professorships, is critically important to keep pace with growing student demand in film, music, and the sciences, both task forces concluded. “Investments in the Norris Chemistry Building [built in 1960] and other teaching and research science facilities are critical to student success and the attainment of the College’s ambitions,” the Science task force report says. The necessary work won’t come cheap: Renovating the Norris teaching labs will require as much as $40 million. The state-of-the-art Choi Family Music Production Center in Booth Hall and a new percussion studio in Thorne Hall both went live this fall, but additional modern production and performance spaces are needed, the Music & MAC task force concluded. Those departments “are past the point of ‘adversity feeding creativity,’ ” the report states. “What lies ahead is exciting and inspiring,” says Charlie Cardillo, vice president for institutional advancement. “With continuing support from the College community, The Oxy Campaign For Good can continue to deliver on the cornerstones of its mission—excellence, equity, community, and service.”


OXYTALK

» MIXED MEDIA Invisible Child: Poverty, Survival & Hope in an American City, by Andrea Elliott ’96 (Random House). Building on the reporting that won her a George Polk Award for a 2013 series of articles for The New York Times, Elliott chronicles eight years (from age 11 to 19) in the life of Dasani Coates, the oldest of eight kids living with her family in one room in a run-down shelter in Brooklyn. Amid the homeless crisis in New York City, Dasani must guide her siblings through a city riddled by hunger, violence, drug addiction, and homelessness, and the monitoring of child protection services. Out on the street, Dasani becomes a fierce fighter to protect the ones she loves. When she finally escapes city life to enroll in a Pennsylvania boarding school, she faces an impossible question: What if leaving poverty means abandoning your family, and yourself? Elliott’s reporting “has an intimate, almost limitless feel to it, the firsthand observations backed up by some 14,000 pages of official documents, from report cards to drug tests to city records secured through Freedom of Information Law requests,” Matthew Desmond writes in The New York Times Books Review. “The result of this unflinching, tenacious reporting is a rare and powerful work whose stories will live inside you long after you’ve read them.” Giannis: The Improbable Rise of an NBA MVP, by Mirin Fader ’13 (Hachette Books). Two-time league MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo led the Milwaukee Bucks to their first NBA title in 50 years—and the 6'11" “Greek Freak” overcame unfathomable obstacles to become the personification of the American Dream. When Fader wrote about Giannis’ younger brother, Alex, for Bleacher Report in 2019, she interviewed Giannis one-on-one. To flesh out his story for a book-length manuscript she talked to 220 additional sources —from players to family members to residents of Greece who contributed to his

development. A New York Times best-seller upon its publication in August, Giannis is the first book by Fader, a senior staff writer for The Ringer. Her work has been featured in the Best American Sports Writing series. No Sun, by Nite Jewel (Gloriette). As Nite Jewel, Ramona Gonzalez ’09 makes synth-based compositions that twist 1980s R&B through an experimental filter. No Sun, her fifth album, was released in August to wide acclaim—“a breakup record stripped to its most elemental parts” and “her most accomplished, arresting work yet,” Eric Torres writes in Pitchfork. “The one thing that I don’t do as an artist is stick to the same exact formula. I know there are some things that are just a part of me musically that I love to include, whether it’s deep bass lines or certain melodies, but I try to challenge myself with each record,” Gonzalez told Rolling Stone writer Julyssa Lopez. “For No Sun, I finally got to do this vision that I’ve had for so long, which is very improvisatory, experimental, and focused on working outside of the pop formula.” Gonzalez has been the Johnston-Fix Professor of the Practice in

Songwriting at Occidental since 2019 and is a Ph.D. student in musicology at UCLA. Heaven’s Passport: Designing Your Biblical Passport for a Fuller Life, by Carnegie Samuel Calian ’55 (available on Amazon). “Each of us is created in God’s image, the imago Dei, with all that implies about our lives to be spiritually empowered to leave the world a better, more just, and humane place honoring God’s creation,” Calian writes. “Readers will use this book not only as a resource for strengthening their own inner sense of living under God’s grace, but also as one’s biblical passport.” Calian is emeritus president and professor of theology at Pittsburgh Theological Seminary. He and his wife, Doris, live in Evanston, Ill. Briefly noted: Asian Americans, the 2020 PBS docuseries featuring Associate Professor of History Jane Hong, has won a Peabody Award. Peabodys are given in the categories of entertainment, documentary, news, podcast/radio, arts, children’s and youth, public service, and multimedia programming.

Living Skillfully: Buddhist Philosophy of Life From the Vimalakirti Sūtra, by Dale Wright (Oxford University Press). In his latest book, Wright—the David B. and Mary H. Gamble Professor in Religion Emeritus—offers a contemporary philosophy of life drawing upon Buddhist resources from the Vimalakīrti Sūtra. In the acknowledgments section, he writes: “I owe the motivation for this book to my former students at Occidental College. As soon as they sensed that I might be willing to teach it, they made clear to me that what they wanted most from my instruction on Buddhism was something practical, something worthwhile that could be applied in their lives. Standing at the threshold of adult life, they were able to see the startling difference between lives that appeared to be well-lived and those that just weren’t. They wanted me to teach them what Buddhism had to say about lives skillfully lived—theirs, not just someone else’s. They wanted a Buddhist philosophy of life that could be tested in their own lives here and now. … To get what they wanted, my students would have to bite the bullet of reading strange and difficult texts and of considering ways of thinking and living that at face value would inevitably seem foreign and inapplicable.” As it turned out, Wright continues, “The most difficult and most lucrative ‘bullet’ that they would be challenged to bite was the Vimalakīrti Sūtra. On first reading they found it incomprehensible and therefore uninspiring. What they needed from me was some way to get it into existential view, some way to understand it in relation to the lives they were living. This book is the outcome of my decades-long effort to meet those needs, and I can’t begin to tell all of you how grateful I am for having been forced to do that. If any clarity or inspiration made its way through that process and into this book, I owe it to the demands my students put on me. In appreciation I dedicate this book to all of them.”

FALL 2021  OCCIDENTAL MAGAZINE 33


PAGE 64 Photo credits: The Family of Anne Wolf (left), Donna Huebner (center), and Marc Campos (right)

An Independent Spirit With goodwill and a dash of whimsy (Obamabranded diaper covers!), Anne Wolf made the Oxy Bookstore a destination for more than textbooks Months before Election Day 2008, Anne Wolf assembled a handful of her colleagues from across campus in the small office space inside the Occidental Bookstore to discuss merchandising opportunities should Barack Obama win the Presidential election. At the suggestion of Derek Shearer, the Chevalier Professor of Diplomacy and World Affairs, the T-shirts could be marketed as “BarOxyWear”—and it was on that day that the idea for an Obama diaper cover was birthed—with the tagline “Change We Need.” Touted in a piece on NPR’s Morning Edition in January 2009, the diaper cover moved more than 25 units the next day. “We used to get tourists coming for 90210,” Anne told The Wall Street Journal in October 2009. By then, the Oxy Bookstore had sold more than $30,000 in caps, shirts, mugs, and those infamous diaper covers. Anne died May 23, 2021, in Pasadena, three days after being diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. The news of her unexpected passing was met with an outpouring of tributes on social media. “This is a loss for our entire community,” one person wrote. “Anne was vibrant, vivacious, full of goodwill, and had a devilish sixth sense for poking goodnatured fun.” 64 OCCIDENTAL MAGAZINE  FALL 2021

Helen Anne Alston graduated from high school in Ogden, Utah, in 1962 and moved with her mother and two sisters to Inglewood in 1963. Anne attended El Camino College and San Jose State University. In 1966, while visiting her sister, Mary Alice, in San Francisco, she met and soon after married the love of her life, Roger Wolf. The entire family celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary in Kona, Hawai‘i, in 2016. Anne came to Oxy in 1980 and worked with the Bookstore as an accounting clerk until 1994, when she assumed a larger role in the store’s operations as a senior department assistant. Following a stint as interim manager and the departure of Mike Moreno as manager, Anne was named Bookstore manager in 1999 (and promoted to director in 2007). She was instrumental in the store’s relocation and expansion in the newly Johnson Student Center/Freeman College Union in 1999. Not long after, she played a key role in drafting the Garment Manufacturers Code of Conduct. Oxy became one of the first colleges to sell certifiably sweatshop-free (union-cut, -sewn, and -imprinted) collegiate apparel. For the better part of the 1990s and 2000s, Anne worked in unison with a core team of four, each of whom contributed to the store’s

above left: Wolf in a 2015 photo. center: From left, current Bookstore manager Donna Huebner, Wolf, former student worker Renae Cotero ’09, and longtime textbook buyer Diane Jackson, who retired in 2014. right: With President Jonathan Veitch at Oxy’s Founders Day celebration in 2010.

success. Textbook buyer Diane Jackson expanded the College’s signature Oxy Wear apparel offerings in addition to navigating the shift to textbook rentals and digital books, while tradebook buyer Dennis Johnson’s discerning eye for literature and smart periodicals offerings gave Oxy’s shelves the feel of an indie bookstore gem. Rounding out the team were book operations assistant John Rangel, who handled shipping and receiving duties, and current manager Donna Huebner, who started as an accounting clerk in 1994. In 2005, Anne served as California Association of College Stores president. Outside of the College, Anne was a longtime treasurer of the Northeast Democratic Club and cochaired the Northeast Democratic Headquarters during Bill Clinton’s 1992 presidential campaign. She was also involved with the California Association for the Gifted and Learning Works Charter School in Pasadena. After Anne retired from Occidental in June 2011, she remained actively devoted to her causes. She continued to campaign, march, and fight for women’s rights; she stood outside malls to register people to vote; and she carried on her work with Eagle Rock Chamber of Commerce and the Women’s Twentieth Century Club of Eagle Rock. In addition to her husband, Anne is survived by children Cindy ’89 and Clinton ’95; and a granddaughter, Juliette. The Occidental flag flew at half-staff May 25 in her memory— and the Oxy Bookstore is a lasting monument to her impact on the College community.


OXYFARE

Snapshots from Volume 43, Number 4 oxy.edu/magazine OCCIDENTAL COLLEGE

Katie Placensia ’25 Undecided major

Harry J. Elam, Jr. President Wendy F. Sternberg Vice President for Academic Affairs and Dean of the College Charlie Cardillo Vice President for Institutional Advancement David T. Carreon Bradley Vice President for Equity & Justice Rob Flot Vice President for Student Affairs and Dean of Students Amos Himmelstein Vice President & Chief Operating Officer Maricela L. Martinez Interim Vice President of Enrollment Marty Sharkey Vice President for Communications and Institutional Initiatives Jim Tranquada Director of Communications editorial staff

Dick Anderson Editor Marc Campos College Photographer Gail (Schulman) Ginell ’79 Class Notes Editor SanSoucie Design Design DLS Group Printing OCCIDENTAL MAGAZINE

Published quarterly by Occidental College Main number: 323-259-2500 To contact Occidental magazine By phone: 323-259-2679 By email: oxymag@oxy.edu By mail: Occidental College Office of Communications F-36 1600 Campus Road Los Angeles CA 90041-3314

Manuel Placensia P’24, ’25 Oxy Dad

Nicole Placensia P’24, ’25 Office and Property Manager Business Office

Manuel: Oxy cap with ghosted Tigers logo in black, gray, orange, and white. $21.95 Dad crewneck T-shirt Occidental 1887 in charcoal gray. Sizes S-3XL.* $17.95 (*Large is out of stock) Nicole: Cardigan with left chest logo. In marble gray. $52.95 Katie: Oxy crop top T-shirt in washed apricot or driftwood. Sizes S-L. $22.95 Emily: Drop-shoulder long-sleeve shirt with Oswald logo on left chest in ash gray. Sizes S-M. $27.95

Emily Placensia ’24 Undecided major

Occidental College Bookstore oxybookstore.com To order by phone: 323-259-2951 All major credit cards accepted

Letters and class notes submissions may be edited for length, content, and style. Occidental College online Homepage: oxy.edu Facebook: facebook.com/occidental Instagram: instagram.com/occidentalcollege TikTok: occidentalcollege Twitter: @occidental Cover illustration by Gwen Keraval Oxy Wear photo by Marc Campos

Homecoming & Family Weekend October 22-23 Photos by Marc Campos

After a virtual-only program last fall, Oxy’s Alumni & Parent Engagement team adopted a hybrid approach to Homecoming & Family Weekend 2021. But it was clear from the outset that students and parents alike were eager to celebrate the occasion in person, with nearly 800 registered participants gathering on campus for two days of activities October 22 and 23. 1. It all started in Rush Gym: Women’s Baseketball—that is not a typo—took the Grand Prize in the Homecoming Car Parade. 2. The men’s and women’s swimming and diving squads send a welcome message. 3. Trustee Hector De La Torre ’89, chair of the L.A. Care Board of Governors, shares a sign during a discussion with U.S. Rep. Karen Bass (D-37th District) and Eric Newhall ’67, emeritus professor of English and 2021 Alumni Seal honoree. The topic: “Is Our Democracy in Danger?” 4. Performing their first concert on campus since January 2020, the Oxy Glee Club made a harmonic return to Hillside Theater. 5. Furry family members were popular visitors on campus. 6 & 7. From Connect Four to Jenga, if giant lawn games were your thing, Oxy had you covered. 8. Jonathan Marshall ’22, a biochemistry major from San Diego and catcher for the Tigers baseball team, with parents Rosemarie and Brian. 9. Roshni Edwards ’23, a computer science major from Cerritos, second from left, with her mother, Sheba M. George, brother, Vinay, and father, Kirk A. Edwards.

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9 Photo illustration by Daniel Woodruff ’85

ANATOMY OF A REUNION PHOTO When the Class of ’85 gathered virtually in June to celebrate its 35th reunion one year late, one of the highlights of the evening was the class photo shown here— and you can thank reunion committee chair Daniel Woodruff for that. The idea to create a class photo montage came to him when he was sitting in a Microsoft Teams meeting for his work in strategic communications for the Department of Defense. “We had set up an ‘auditorium’ background in which our faces were all arranged in rows with fake chairs behind each head,” he writes. Why not apply the same idea to their reunion photo? Oxy’s Alumni Office set up the portal on Google, and classmates were encouraged to take a current photo against a plain background—no selfies—and dress as they would for an in-person dinner. Woodruff’s classmates followed these guidelines “with varying degrees of success, but I had a lot of cluttered backgrounds to carefully remove,” he says. “I used Photoshop to edit out backgrounds and InDesign to lay out the photo.” The resulting image took him between 20 and 30 hours over the course of several months, but “it was really well received,” he declares. “I’m thrilled that we have a photo from this reunion that isn’t just a bunch of screenshots!”

front row, l-r: Class of ’85 members Kathy Sturdevant, Daniel Woodruff, Celia Mata-Pacheco, Rich Miller, Eileen Brown Kramer, Joe Krovoza, Melinda Wallingford Meshad, Debbi Gabler Gow, and Kristianne Knight Rogalsky. back row: Avan Shroff, Jay Hansen, David Kim, Stephen Chavez Matzel, Susan Ward-Roncalli, Joe Romley, Timothy Burch, Teresa Thurman Koontz, Julie Kinnett, Alan Limbach, Barry Murray-Kuhn, Tim Eby-McKenzie ’86, and Lisa Schmeeckle Marcalus.

alumni.oxy.edu


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FALL 2021

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FALL 2021

I was determined to spend my college years at a small, residential liberal arts school with a beautiful campus. Occidental was close to where I’d grown up in Pasadena, and even closer to the sprawling metro L.A. area and its many enticements. It seemed like it would be a good fit, and it turned out to be one. Oxy showed me that the path to one’s goals need not be linear or conventional. I became so absorbed by Professor Mahler’s freshman psychology class that I devised a plan to satisfy the science course requirements for dental school within a psychology major. Faculty members who were so influential in my development as a student and person—Robert Hansen and Constance Perkins in the Art Department, Lewis Owen in the English Department, and David Cole M’48, my mentor in the Psychology Department—taught me how to think, to write, to create; to trust my instincts and pursue my interests with passion and a standard of excellence. San Francisco beckoned, with my acceptance to the University of the Pacific School of Dentistry. I soon met Pamela Gerard, who was pursuing her fine art degree at the San Francisco Art Institute. We were married and have lived in a Victorian home here in the city ever since. Our lives have centered to a great degree on the arts and travel. We were able to attend so many memorable performances of opera and symphony in our early San Francisco days; from these experiences I developed a real passion for classical music. Pursuing this passion meant once again becoming a student, and after a few years of studies in music theory, voice, and piano, the door was opened to my long association with the San Francisco Symphony, as a member of the chorus—surely one of the most fulfilling experiences of my life. I give Oxy full credit for having sent me out into the world curious and valuing lifelong learning.

Not a day has passed that I have not been rewarded in some way by my Occidental education. The broad foundation of knowledge, acquired world view, and exposure to thinking from different perspectives that are at the core of the Oxy experience have added immeasurably to my relationships with colleagues, students, and patients throughout my professional life. Pamela and I feel strongly that education, and especially higher education of the caliber offered by schools like Occidental, can address so many of the challenges, struggles, and inequities that Photo by Pamela Gerard we encounter in the world today. When we decided to contribute to the future of the College’s mission and of its students, creating endowed scholarships made the most sense to us. Most of us support the idea of what a fine education can do for our careers, our society, and the world. But it’s important to remember the great benefits to be gained in our personal lives from an education at an institution like Occidental. Oxy trains us to reason, to think, and to be stimulated to be perpetual students. During the inevitable challenges and rough patches in life we all experience, being able to access the tools, extra dimensions, and interests we gained from our education can be critical to our health, well-being, and resilience. So, for graduates who feel that they have benefited from the multiple and varied lifelong gifts that their stay in the oasis of Eagle Rock has bestowed on their lives: Please consider the College as an eminently worthy beneficiary of your philanthropy. —MICHAEL J. FIELDS ’70 A recently documented estate gift from Pamela and Michael will support the Obama Scholars Program and the Edgerton-Occidental Merit Scholarship. Read more about Oxy’s Legacy Challenge on page 30.

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WECHAT ABOUT GLOBAL PRIVACY WITH TENCENT'S TIMOTHY MA ’02 /// EARNING EVERY STRIPE: OXY ATHLETICS RECOMMITS TO SUCCESS

Lessons in Giving From a Lifelong Learner

Navigating

WELL-BEING

Balancing the demands of life and college can feel like a high-wire act—and the pandemic has made that even more difficult. How is Oxy addressing students’ mental health needs?