Kenia Sophia Garcia-Ramos, She/They, Pomona College, Hometown: Colton, California

Tell us about your achievements or accomplishments during your college career.

First of all, I think, even like getting to college was like is huge for me.

Yeah, that was always... ever since my parents got there, that's something my mom always told me, we're here for you to go to school. Just being here. Number one is very just like personal.

Let's see first year... I don't know, first year was the pandemic, so I feel like that was, you know, a lot of stuff got lost there. Sophomore year I got the Mellon Mays Fellowship on campus. So I’m a Mellon Mays fellow. And then from there that led me to a couple of presentations.

I'm really proud of the project I developed through the fellowship. It's about like Latina, immigrant mothers it's like that's like what I'm working with now, and that like ended up turning into like what I’m proposing for gradschool, what I’m doing for thesis and so it just like. I'm just proud also, of the way I think like, that the classes that I've taken have allowed me to like approach my work.

I think everything is very like personal and humanistic, and it's very much about just like centering communities and never like about centering like the Academy, just because I'm like, that's stupid, I don't know, either like these are very real and vulnerable populations and I never want to offer these testimonies to institutions just for offering them so it's always about really creating connections, centering emotion, really, just centering just feeling, and so I like that a lot. And yeah, like this, past year, también,

That took me to do a conference in Puerto Rico, where I got an award from research too which is crazy because I was like,  are you sure like I don't even have a bachelor's? There like PHD’s here like what?

Oh, also, I'm a QuestBridge Match.

And I'm gonna go to UCLA for grad school like that was something that happened in these past couple of years. Yeah. The fellowship that I discussed I'm really excited about that!

Tell us about your experience in the CLS department. And why CLS?

I remember like when I first. So it's crazy like I think my journey in CLS very much started here, like in this room.

I took my ID1 here with Ochoa and just like honestly, a lot of people who are like I know best friends were in that class, and I think I was interested in CLS, especially because I was on a full ride. I think I was really nervous about picking ethnic studies. I remember when I brought it up to my parents, to my mom was like, really, for it but my dad was like make sure like you're not wasting this opportunity blah blah blah!

I think I shared this at the major talk thing, but I think I was always just very cautious of like, Is this really what I want to do? I just don't know what I'm going to do after.

But I said this too, and I feel like I always say this, but I think CLS is a big reason as to why I’m able to live at this school, not just survive just because of like the community that's enabled me to create with the folks in the major, specifically the women in the major, just like the women professors in the department, have been like instrumental for me, just to be here and like, be supported here.

I think it wasn't until I was with women professors in CLS, or yeah just femme professors that I think I ever felt what it was actually like to be supported and cared for, and genuinely believe it, by a teacher.

I don't think I had supportive educators before that, like my educators, were very violent in terms of the way they would treat me just because there weren't really students like me in my AP classes, everybody was white.

So, yeah, I think that's why. And I just realized, like, being at this school's already difficult enough.

And I think if I can pick something that's gonna keep me safe and cared for and happy, and make me enjoy my education, my institutional education, but also, allow me to feel like I have agency in creating that. I think that has made the most sense for me.

What's your favorite class so far been in the department?

Chicana Latina Gender and Popular Culture with Martha Gonzalez at Scripps was mind-blowing just because it was so emotional.

I think it was the class I needed to take as the semester right after we came back from being in the pandemic and quarantine and stuff.

It's really nice to have an emotional space, and it was mostly women, which was really nice.

I love the Fandango that I'm taking with Martha right now.

I think it's the ability to be creative in the class that is really, really beautiful.

I realize how much I enjoy singing.

And so singing has been like a really big part of my semester, which has been really fun. Specifically through Fandango.

Voices with Ochoa were really really good. 

And then most instrumental, I think my ID1 really shaped my college career because that was the first class I took at Pomona and it really exposed me to the major, it was really cool. 

Tell us about your research or thesis or senior project.

So I'm working with, like the narratives, and just like stories and the actual women themselves: Latina immigrant mothers. And I think before I was more argument why this iteration of mothering is so unique and uniquely shaped and formed and experienced and why there’s so much structural support that they just don’t get. For example, for me I always think of  mom she knew she wanted to come to the US to create her family so i think even before she had children, that was a decision of mothering. And so mothering begins way before a lot of times for Latina immigrant mothers.

That's how it started and i think the first part was argumenting and that was my junior year. But this year I wanted to focus on something more creative. I think i had written so much about this and i like I’m kind of tired of writing and i wanted to do something more creative, like i said. This semester that’s something I really wanted to focus on and sustain myself through the semester. And so I ended up doing a project and I’m centering Latina immigrant mothering and mothering narratives but I’m focusing more so on what’s keeping these mothers and their communities and their families alive not just surviving. So i think of the importance of photography for my own family and just like before we had WhatsApp and Facebook in such a big way and such an easy way to share media and videos. My mom would always send pictures. Whenever we had school pictures we’d always print wallets. That was always a practice we would do to be able to send pictures to Mexico so that’s how families were bridged across borders, and we could see each other grow up and age which i think is really powerful and really impacted me just because we have so many photo albums in my house but its always usually mothers who are taking pictures, so i wanted this to be an homage to them. Im Taking portraits of some Latina immigrant mothers in the inland empire, that’s where I'm from. Right now the IE is, most recently, it’s been really overburdened by warehouses and we’re just seeing so much about how much they’re endangering life and whose lives they’re endangering so I really want to celebrate and just create images of these mothers alive while they’re here. I want to have that, and I have audio components; I’ve been doing platicas. And then i want to have video components i have video and footage of others while i was conducting the project and so i just want to create an immersive archive that’s celebrating kenesis and movement and aliveness.

What are your post grad plans?

So I know after I graduate, I'm just thinking directly of this summer. Literally the day of graduation I’m gonna go have a grad party back home. That’s what I’m doing and there’s going to be family members from Mexico there coming so im really really excited. And i tell my mom, I’ve been saving up, i really just want to have a party and just have everyone be celebrating and dancing and have it be just such a joyous day. I just want to be happy. So I know right after I just want to sit with that

I know I wanna go to Mexico for some time this summer.

And then just be at home because I'm not gonna be home for like a year, which is really scary because I live like only 30 min away from my house.

Like here at school, you know. It's like 30 min away. So I think it’s the furthest I've ever been, and just like the most drastic or just different thing I’ve done. So, I'm a little nervous, but I'm gonna be okay.

And yeah, I don't know. I just I right now, like, I'm just thinking I'm super grateful for the opportunity that I get to go and live and experience that.

But yeah, so like then, the following year, I'm gonna be in Shanghai, and then after that, I'm gonna come back and be in LA for grad school.

And I'm just excited to be living in LA 

When my parents first immigrated here, they got to North Hollywood, and so I was in LA for like 5 years and then we moved to the IE

But I always tell my parents like y’all brought me up being a city girl, and I'm never gonna forgive you for that, you know oh, this is because when my dad immigrated here (He came here to work a little before my parents wedding) 

He went to Chicago, and I was like, so I could have been a Chicago baddie I could have been an LA baddie but y’all put me in the IE. and I love the IE now, but you know, now I’m excited to live in LA. LA is worlds away from the IE so it’s far but just close enough for my to go home whenever I want to. I'm excited Just like to be around my family in that way, and just keep watching my little brother grow up.

He's 13 right now, and so I think, like every time I see him he just looks so much bigger.

I’m excited like, leave a little bit, and then come back and just keep figuring this out, you know.

What is some advice you can offer to future CLS majors?

I would just ask them to think about like what they want out of their time here. It’s such a brief 4 years. It goes by so fast, but also like when you're sitting in it, it can feel long, I guess think about what you want out of this time. And yeah, what you're willing to sit through just for me, like, I started off thinking I was 10,000% gonna do psych and just be a psychology major. And I was doing research in a psychology lab for a little bit too. But then I realized that for me what mattered most was just like really sitting with stories and narratives and testimonies and just actual communities. And I wanted to have the opportunity to approach education and “research” in a very very humanistic way, in a way, that’s just like sitting in the community that you're working with, not necessarily by, I think is really powerful.

And so for me, that was an opportunity I wanted to take advantage of.

And again I felt so safe here that I just knew I wanted to know that feeling for as long as possible, like sometimes like when I'm in class, I be forgetting I go to a PWI.  For me, that's what I wanted to prioritize. Am them to reflect on that. And if that's not the priority, that's okay.

But for students who need to seek those spaces in order to just continue being at this institution, I think, like this is a perfect major for you.