David Baxter- The Rock, Georgia
Class of 2016
“Baby, you’ve done more in your life than I’ve done in my 50 years,” my mom likes to tell me whenever I call home. Well, here I am in sunny southern California at one of America’s most elite institutions of higher learning—30 miles east of Los Angeles and about 2000 miles west of home.
“Sure!” I think. I’ve done a lot since I’ve come to Pomona! Let’s see. Not only have I been given the opportunity to experience life outside the small town in Georgia I call home, but I’ve been given the opportunity to experience it in an environment as dynamic and stimulating as Pomona. Just this weekend I competed in my second ever ballroom competition! And last weekend I visited the U.S.-Mexican Border with my history professor.
With the resources the College provides its students, I see what she’s referring to. As someone who rarely feels comfortable making decisions as small as what to eat for lunch, much less which of the several dining halls that are available to me I should eat at, I have the ability to sample a buffet of experiences whether that be mentoring nearby middle school students, working with environmental organizations in San Francisco for spring break, or having döner with my German professor in Little Tokyo. Did I mention the time I had Thanksgiving dinner with my advisor and her former U.S. ambassador friend?
That being said, fifty years is a long time. And, as much as I have experienced and will to continue to experience here at Pomona, I can’t forget that. I can’t forget the food stamps, the angry bill collectors, and the smell of plastic at home after her 12 hour days, 6 days a week at the nearby thermoforming factory. Leaving her family behind to immigrate to the U.S. from the Philippines to provide a better life for me and my siblings and the experiences she has had along the way remind me of how little I’ve really experienced.
So, in the end, I usually respond with, “Thank you, Ma.” I thank her not only for the support she’s given me my entire life, but for the support she has given me as I attempt to navigate my way through college. Fortunately, as a Quest Scholar at Pomona, I am surrounded by similarly loving and understanding people who share many of the same struggles and experiences. Without these people, the experiences I’ve had here would not be possible. I look forward to the rest of my time here at Pomona as they, like my mom, continue to support me along the way, gently reminding me of the many inspiring years that have led me here.