Gabe Villareal – San Diego, CA
I’m from San Diego. Why did I leave?
The short answer is that Pitzer is awesome and I love it here. I am currently a senior majoring in Political Studies and minoring in Sociology. I studied abroad in Nepal, living an a small rural farming village in the outskirts of the Kathmandu Valley. I am working in the Admissions office as a Senior Fellow and am considering Admissions work as a career. The short answer, amazing people, awesome weather, proximity to Disneyland, the usual reasons for living in Southern California, but the actual reason that I came to Pitzer College is a bit complicated.
I first visited Pitzer College on the PZ Diversity Program. I identify as mixed-race Mexipino. I am Mexican, Argentinian, and Indigenous (Native American, Hopi we think) on my Dad’s side and Filipino (Ilocano and Pangasinan) on my Mother’s side. My ethnic/racial background describes my hometown community of the South Bay San Diego very accurately, predominantly Filipino and Latino. I had never really heard of liberal arts schools, my parents were the first in their families to go to college, and they both attended UC- San Diego for their undergrad. So, this small school thing was brand new to my family. I got a card on the mail that said “Hey! Come Check out Pitzer!” and I thought sure why not. So I came to Pitzer and fell in love with it. The people, the culture, the classes, and the mission; I had never felt so at home in an academic space before. I came to Pitzer and it just felt right.
After applying, getting accepted, and actually coming to the college, that ideal image has been challenged, but those challenges have been part of what has made my Pitzer experience so amazing. Through Pitzer I came to know Diversity in a different way than I did back home, geographic, religious, racially/ethnically, culturally, ideologically. As a political studies major with a focus on sociology I came to recognize my positionality within this institution and within our society and the factors that drive discrimination, create power, and maintain privilege for a minority of people within our country. Learning about these things and seeing them played out in the world around me was difficult. It still is difficult, and that is why things need to change. Pitzer gives you the tools to see the world around you, the connections between your academics and your social reality and then you learn how to change it. There are no solid answers to the questions of social inequality, racism, and power, but in this place I’ve been able to start formulating an answer. Pitzer College is my home and my community, but it is also my challenge, my obstacle, and my teacher.