From the Readers

Fall15_Letters

The life-changing properties of Upward Bound and avocados

Affirmation for Upward Bound

I was thrilled to read the feature about the Occidental Upward Bound program ("Onward and Upward," Summer). I was a counselor in the program, and then project assistant to director Steve Holeman M'73, from 1969 to 1971. It was a life-changing experience for me. The late Mr. Holeman remains in my memory as the best boss and mentor I ever had. At the time I was myself a college dropout (having left Occidental in 1968). Working with students who had not had the advantages and privileges I'd had—yet had more motivation, tenacity, and wisdom about getting a higher education than I—was an honor. Eventually the example set by many of our Upward Bound graduates got me moving, too; I completed my B.A. degree at UC Santa Cruz several years later, and a medical degree at USC in 1980.

Andy Faught's article, while excellent, didn't acknowledge the vital role that affirmative action policies had in supporting many of our Upward Bound students in that early era. Recruiters and financial aid counselors from colleges and universities far and wide paid close attention to our program's students. Our talented Upward Bound students went on to help diversify the nation's institutions, and thus our society, in very important ways. I've long regretted the legal challenges that came later that reversed some terrific recruitment practices of the prior years.

I'm thankful for my time as a staff member of Upward Bound, and will always admire the faculty and students who made it so vibrant.

Tina Castañares '70
Hood River, Ore.

Lessons in Gastronomy

The retirement article reviewing Professor Don Deardorff's many accomplishments ("Better Living Through Chemistry," Summer) somehow overlooked his practice of bringing his famous Hass avocados for his students. While I don't remember much about organic chemistry, Dr. D did introduce me to the gastronomic delight of a freshly cut avocado with a pinch of salt—a lesson that has yielded much more practical use over the years!

His wry humor in the classroom will be sorely missed, no doubt. Congratulations to Professor Deardorff!

Lemeneh Tefera '95
Washington, D.C.