Admission Fellows 2015-16



Claire Bacon ’16

Claire was born and raised in Flagstaff Arizona, where she graduated from Flagstaff High School. She self-designed her Philosophy, Politics, and Economics (PPE) major and is concentrating in Economics. Claire is a transfer student and attended two other colleges before finally finding her home at Pitzer College. Although it took her a few tries, Pitzer was worth the wait. Her experience with the transfer process prompted her to become a transfer mentor and to help with transfer orientation. She has also become deeply involved with Student Senate. She served for two years as one of the two student members on the Faculty Executive Committee and will be a student representative on the Curriculum Committee this year. She has also been involved in several clubs including the Student Investment Committee. In her free time Claire enjoys hanging out with friends in the California sunshine and frequenting coffee shops.

Natasha Cheng ’16

Natasha was born and raised in Hong Kong. She came to the U.S. her sophomore year of high school and graduated from Proctor Academy. Now a senior at Pitzer, she is double majoring in Environmental Analysis and Sociology and just returned from a study abroad semester in Nepal. On campus, she is heavily involved in the Asian American Sponsor Program, Asian American Pacific Coalition and International Place. She also served as a committee member and the treasurer of Pitzer Activities Programming Board, and an International mentor through the ResLife First Year Mentor Program. This year, she is working with a few other International students to start the International Students and Scholars Club on Pitzer’s campus. Natasha spent her last summer at her home in Hong Kong working at a non-profit environmental education program as the camp coordinator. Throughout her time at Pitzer she found her passion in conserving resources and protecting the environment thus, after graduation, she is planning a full time position in the environmental sector. In her free time, she enjoys spending time with family and friends and napping.

Grace Geller ’16

Grace Spencer was born and raised in Berkeley, CA where she graduated from Berkeley High School. As a senior at Pitzer College, she is pursuing a major in Media Studies and a minor in Computer Science through Pomona College. During her time at Pitzer, Grace has competed for the Pomona/Pitzer Women’s Lacrosse team which in the past two years has had record breaking seasons with NCAA competition. Grace recently finished an internship in the Silicon Valley area working in corporate digital communications. Her ideal professional opportunity would integrate her three passions, communication, technology and artistic innovation. This upcoming year Grace intends on applying for a Fulbright fellowship while looking for more opportunities in the Silicon Valley area. During her free time, Grace enjoys running, watching Disney movies, spending time with her 4 month old Labrador puppy, Olive and attempting to sample each pastry at the Some Crust bakery in the Claremont village.

Joey Grotts ’16

Joey was born and raised in Los Angeles, California, and graduated from LACES high school. Currently a senior at Pitzer, he is majoring in Biochemistry with a minor in Spanish. On campus, Joey has been a lab assistant in the Vaccine Institute, a first-year mentor, a baritone in a 5C a cappella group, and a coordinator for Tutors for a Cause. He has also had the opportunity to travel abroad three times as a Pitzer student. After the completion of his first year, Joey traveled to the University of Botswana to study the development of Plant-Based Vaccines. The following summer, Joey took part in Pitzer’s Costa Rica Summer Health Program, in which he had an internship with a health outreach center and learned about the healthcare system in Costa Rica. In Fall 2014, Joey traveled to Ecuador with the Pitzer in Ecuador Program. While there, he studied the nation’s healthcare system, took Spanish classes, and lived with a host family. In his free time, Joey enjoys playing sports, including softball and tennis, jogging, and spending time with family and friends. After Pitzer, Joey plans on attending medical school and ultimately working as a pediatrician in Los Angeles.

Maria Melendrez ’16

Maria was born in Sonora, Mexico and raised in Los Angeles, CA. She graduated from Animo Jackie Robinson Charter High School and replaced the city lights with Claremont’s starry sky. At Pitzer, Maria has become very involved with academic support services, enjoys the cooking club, and was a member of the rugby team. As student intern of academic support services, she has helped plan academic success workshops and helped support he tutoring program on campus. Maria has received two Pitzer summer research awards to work on studies that examine the educational challenges faced by first-generation college students, undocumented students, deported young adults, and Mexican indigenous youth in the U.S. Most recently, Maria has focused on developing institutional support and increasing the visibility of first-generation college students at Pitzer. Maria will be earning a degree in sociology in spring 2016 and hopes to work in college admissions or students affairs before applying to graduate school to pursue a PhD in Sociology of Education. One of Maria’s personal goals is to bridge her strong identity as a burn survivor to her academic work by helping pave a smoother road to college for other burn survivors than the one she had to travel. During her free time, Maria enjoys immersing herself in Spanish literature, strength training, and discovering new ways to implement trail mix into her everyday life.

Chris Norwood ’16

Chris was born in Kirkland, WA where he graduated from The Northwest School. Now a senior at Pitzer, Chris is majoring in Human Biology. Throughout his years in college, Chris has busied himself practicing and performing with Pomona College’s Men’s Blue and White A’Capella Choir. Every year Chris work’s with Esperanza International of Tijuana, MX working alongside local families constructing homes in developing communities. Chris has a passion for environmental sustainability and has been working on raising awareness about the neglected Salton Sea through producing informational films with local NGOs, activists, and lawmakers. Chris’s junior year he studied abroad in Botswana, Africa and worked for the Botswana Association for Psychosocial Rehabilitation assisting social-workers counseling patients with HIV/AIDS. Chris also worked at the University of Botswana carrying out plant virology research to develop vaccinations and detection methods of bovine diseases including Lumpy Skin Disease and Foot and Mouth Disease. Chris has also traveled on several delegations with Water Access Now to raise awareness on water sanitation and assist with fundraising for the installation of wells in Northern Ghana. Chris is passionate about communication disorders and after graduation he plans on pursuing a doctoral degree in clinical Audiology.

Briana Perlson ’16

Briana grew up in Brea, CA, and is a graduate of Brea Olinda High School. At Pitzer she is majoring in Environmental Policy and loves the emphasis on interdisciplinary learning and community involvement. As a result, she participated in the Pitzer in Ontario program, focusing her internship on corner store conversions to increase access to affordable, local, organic produce in Ontario. Briana studied abroad in Costa Rica Fall 2014. Since she loves to cook, she volunteered in two restaurants for her independent study to learn the culture and process behind traditional Costa Rican food. As a Resident Assistant for the past three years, she has invested much of her time in the Residential Life program. In The Claremont Colleges Against Cancer club, she has raised money and helped organize the annual Relay for Life and Breast Cancer 5k. In a favorite class, “Political Economy of Food”, she interned at a local continuation high school, helping teach topics on food justice. At Pitzer, she has pursued her interest in Sociology and love of working with people; taking a variety of classes that addressed the connections between people, health, and the environment. From these experiences she realized her true calling in social work and hopes to obtain a Masters in Social Work with a focus in health after Pitzer.

Enrique Romero ’16

Enrique was born and raised in Richmond, CA in the Bay Area and graduated from Saint Mary’s College High School. At Pitzer, Enrique is a first generation college student pursing a double major in Sociology and Spanish. During his first year, he got involved with Jumpstart, an AmeriCorps organization focused on improving the education of preschool children from local low-income neighborhoods. Beginning sophomore year, he became a member of the Office of Admission as a Diversity Intern. Enrique has had the fortune of studying abroad twice. He first embarked on Pitzer’s Costa Rica Summer Health Program after his sophomore year to learn about the Costa Rican healthcare system. Soon after, he spent the spring semester of his junior year in Parma, Italy where he learned about Italian culture and cuisine while studying the Italian language. Every year, Enrique has also been an active member of Pitzer’s Latin@ Student Union while simultaneously serving as a Spanish conversation leader in a student run program designed to assist those enrolled in Pitzer Spanish courses. On his free time, he enjoys playing soccer, running, spending time with family and friends, and exploring new places. This upcoming year, he plans to apply for a Fulbright and hopes to attend graduate school in the future.

Mayra Sandoval ’16

Mayra was born and raised in downtown Los Angeles where she graduated from Edward Roybal Learning Center. As a first generation college student, Mayra found Pitzer through an academic outreach program she was part of while in high school called Heart of Los Angeles (HOLA). At Pitzer, Mayra is majoring in Sociology and minoring in Economics and just returned from a semester abroad in Parma, Italy. During her time at Pitzer, Mayra has been a student liaison for the Sociology field group, a member of Latino Student Union (LSU), and has worked in the Office of Admission as a Diversity Intern since freshmen year. Mayra is passionate about expanding college access to underrepresented communities. She has been fortunate to expand her knowledge in this field through her position as a sociology research assistant focusing in college access. After three years as a research assistant Mayra’s passion for research has grown and now plans to pursue a PhD in Sociology or Education. This upcoming year, Mayra plans to apply for a Fulbright in Mexico. During her free time, Mayra likes to drive home to visit family and while in school likes to take walks across The Claremont Colleges.

Suriya Shogren ’16

Suriya was born in Seattle, WA and grew up in the area. She has always had a strong passion for social justice work and women’s rights, finding multiple channels to harness this energy to better her community. She also has a love for art and graduated from Tacoma School of the Arts in 2012. Now a senior at Pitzer, Suriya is pursuing a major in Sociocultural Anthropology and a minor in Studio Art. She is an active part of the Pitzer community as she works at the Grove House, is a member of the Student Senate Aesthetics Committee, and is co-president of Pitzer’s own knitting club, Stitch n’ Bitch. During her sophomore year, Suriya studied abroad through the Pitzer in Botswana program, where she taught in a middle school as well as completed an apprentice ship in traditional basket weaving. This past summer, Suriya was able to pursue an internship at the YWCA thanks to the Pitzer Internship Fund, where she coordinated programs for low-income girls to pursue college and careers in STEM fields. This year, Suriya will be applying for Fulbright and Watson fellowships to continue exploring and learning more about our global community. During her free time, Suriya likes to eat copious amounts of cereal, bake pies, nap as much as possible, and soak up the California sun.

Will Thorson ’16

Will was born and raised in Palo Alto, CA but sadly did not start a company out of his garage. At Pitzer, he is majoring in Economics with a minor in Sociology. When not in the classroom, he splits the majority of his time between his family of the Pomona-Pitzer Swim and Dive team and the Pitzer College Student Senate. As a swimmer he earned All-Conference and an NCAA B-Cut while focusing on the 100 Butterfly. For the Pitzer Student Senate, Will served his junior year as the Senate Treasurer managing the budget and working with clubs, as well as sitting on the Trustee Investment Committee. This year he was elected Senior Class Representative. Will has also been an intern for the Pitzer Institute of Entrepreneurship, First Year Mentor for the Office of Student Affairs, and Director of Broadcasting for a 5C Club. When free, he spends time searching Los Angeles for the best döner kebab, going on hikes in the San Bernardino mountains, and learning to code in Java.