Claudia Garcia-Des Lauriers entered a “dream” experience last month after taking on her new role as the interim director of Cal Poly Pomona’s Kellogg Honors College following the retirement of her predecessor, Suketu Bhavsar.
Garcia-Des Lauriers is an archeologist by trade, specializing in the ancient cultures of Mesoamerica. She is from a small town, so college for her meant entering a new adventure in life. During her ascent into pre-doctoral coursework, she also claimed a spot within the honors program at California State University, Bakersfield.
Garcia-Des Lauriers is now an associate professor of anthropology at Cal Poly Pomona. In her studies she realized the importance of collaboration with others. From mentorships to team building and networking, making herself available to new experiences has been the key to her success.
Under the tutelage of Bhavsar, upholding standards was essential. As interim director, Garcia-Des Lauriers plans to uphold the standards set by her predecessor and take things further with an emphasis on diversifying majors at the honors college.
“It’s a program that is available to anybody of any major and we also wish to do a better job partnering with other groups on campus like Poly Transfer and the cultural centers to make sure we provide support to help our students effectively connect with other resources on campus that can be more beneficial and make student’s lives more well-rounded,” Garcia-Des Lauriers said.
The Kellogg Honors College is an undergraduate community at CPP that was put in place to cater to academically advanced students.
The program fosters a thriving ecosystem for student advancement. Students are exposed to scholarship opportunities, fellowship workshops, mentorships and concentrated access to present their ideas in a network setting.
By participating, students are allotted the opportunity to join honors-level courses offered at CPP. “They’re honors versions of Cal Poly courses, not extra courses,” Kellogg Honors College Academic Coordinator Won Choi said. “Honors courses are reserved for CPP students and they are maxed out at 20 students per class. With that size there’s a lot more discussion. You have to come prepared. For those who want to be more involved academically, we provide those extra academic opportunities.”
The program includes a component for commitment to civic engagement.
“We require community engagement,” Garcia-Des Lauriers said. “Typically, things like volunteering, community service, projects both on and off campus. Obviously, because of COVID-19 that’s been somewhat limited but under normal circumstances, these students are interacting with one another both in class and outside of classes.”
While currently serving in an interim position, Garcia-Des Lauriers said that she would love to be considered for a permanent position but is fully aware of the necessary process that must take place in order to make that a reality.
“I would love that, but it is not up to me; it has to go through a very particular process. So even if I would love to do it, I might not be the most qualified person,” Garcia-Des Lauriers said. “I am really enjoying the position. This is kind of a dream for me.”
Garcia-Des Lauriers looks to the future optimistic and with a plan in mind.
“My wish is that we find strong permanent leadership and one that embraces everyone in everything we do,” Garcia-Des Lauriers said. “I want to see greater diversity of majors, and of course what I would also like to see is that KHC is no longer the best kept secret but really be out there, noticeable, and engaging with every single college on campus.”
To claim a spot in the college, students must apply during their freshman, sophomore or transfer semesters. The GPA requirement to be in the honor college is 3.3 and there are three different chances for students to join.
The deadlines are posted on the Kellogg Honors College website.
The next opportunity to apply for 2020 students will be released December and due in February.
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