Class of 2010 Makes Headlines
Occidental’s Class of 2010 has been making news across the country – even though its 460 members aren’t due to arrive for orientation until the end of August.
Take Kevin Paiz-Ramirez of Albuquerque, NM, and Dorian Vaughn of Spokane, Wash., for example. Both were the subject of newspaper profiles as winners of Gates Millennium Scholarships, awarded annually to academically talented, low-income students of color.
“I still can’t believe it,” Vaughn told the Spokane Spokesman Review. Student body president at Rogers High School, captain of the football and track teams, and community volunteer, Vaughn was recruited by a number of Ivy League schools but chose to come to Occidental. Paiz-Ramirez, valedictorian at Rio Grande High School with a 4.4 GPA, told the Albuquerque Journal he wants to major in marine biology. “New Mexico is really great, but I need an ocean,” he said.
Some 34 percent of the Class of 2010 is made up of students of color; 15 percent is made up of students who are the first in their families to attend college. Almost 60 percent come from public high schools – and they make up the majority of the almost two dozen new classmates who have garnered ink thus far this summer from Vermont to Hawaii.
Amy Wax of Oak Park, Ill., isn’t sure what her major will be, she told the Oak Park Wednesday Journal – pre-law or pre-med are among the possibilities. “She’s certain, though, that whatever it is, her major will eventually support her primary goal of serving others, especially those with special needs,” the newspaper reported. A soccer player and math team member with a 4.73 GPA, Wax is in the middle of her seventh summer of service with the West Suburban Special Recreation Association. “We basically get one kid for the summer, so you really get to build a relationship.”
Sophia Smith of Lake Oswego, Ore., an artist whose work in a variety of media was shown at a downtown art gallery this summer, was profiled in the Portland Oregonian. Smith “is very talented, and she’s very methodical,” Mark Bornowski, the owner of Bornowski Studios, told the Oregonian. “She works very hard and is very focused in what she does.” Smith, who has a part-time job in a local restaurant, an internship at a local video production firm, and is a dancer with Portland’s Detail Company, took her first art class seven years ago.
Like Wax and Smith, more than half of the Class of 2010 – 53 percent -- is from somewhere outside California, with a total of 37 states, the District of Columbia, and 15 countries represented. They were selected from more than 5,300 applicants – a record number that represents a remarkable 185 percent increase over the past nine years.
Madison Murphy of Seattle, valedictorian at Ballard High School and a President's Scholar at Occidental, was featured in the Seattle Post-Intelligencer in a story on the decline of applications from Washington residents to the state’s public four-year universities. Madison applied to seven schools, but only one in her home state – the University of Washington. The others, she told the paper, didn’t have the small classes, prestige and urban setting she was looking for.
Jason Lehman of Napa, Calif., a two-sport athlete honored as a scholar-athlete by the Northern California chapter of the National Football Foundation and College Hall of Fame, is one of the roughly 200 men who make up 45 percent of the Class of 2010. “I’ve always tried to put academics first,” Lehman, a first team all-league utility player at Justin-Siena High School, told the Napa Valley Register. “I love playing football and I love playing baseball. I’m just glad and I’m blessed that I can still play in college … The education there [at Occidental] is great and I know I’ll have a lot of fun playing foot ball there.”
Joining Lehman will be Scott Saunders of Palm Springs, a three-year starting quarterback at Palm Springs High School who helped lead his team to back-to-back California Interscholastic Federation finals. “Occidental in a great college academically, and they’re competitive in football, too,” he told the Desert Sun.
Occidental residence halls open to welcome the Class of 2010 on Aug. 26.