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Creating Community for Underprivileged Youth


“I want to pay it forward. I want students to have opportunities.”

Andres “Fluffy” Aguilar '19 knows what it feels like be supported, and he is excited to now be in a position dedicated to supporting others. Since the beginning of June, he has worked at Pomona College as the school’s Post Baccalaureate Fellow for Educational Outreach, promoting a sense of community among high school students involved in the Pomona College Academy for Youth Success (PAYS). PAYS is a high school residential program that provides opportunities to underprivileged youth in the San Bernardino and Los Angeles counties, and Aguilar will spend the next year committed to helping run the program.  

Aguilar’s responsibilities include aiding the PAYS scholars with college searches and applications, hosting writing workshops, and developing meetings and program reunions to help the scholars navigate social and academic endeavors.                                      

About Andres Aguilar ’19

Major: Interdisciplinary Concentration (Theatre Arts in Education as Social Change – Latin America focus)

Hometown: San Bernardino, Calif.

High School: Arroyo Valley High School

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A PAYS alumnus, Aguilar first started working for PAYS in 2016 through the Joan Hinde Stewart Career Development Program. Interning with PAYS for the past three summers, he has previously worked to integrate the scholars into one cohesive group and cultivated an interest in high education. He said that his main responsibility was to simply “build community with each and every community member.” With his current fellowship, he will do similar, more comprehensive work.

At Hamilton, Aguilar participated in several programs and organizations that served to support marginalized communities. A Higher Education Opportunity Program (HEOP) scholar, he worked as a HEOP mentor for two years. He was also a Multicultural Peer Mentor and a COOP Service Intern (CSI) at the Underground Café, which provides social support for at-risk high schoolers.

Active in organizations on campus, he occupied various positions within the Black and LatinX Student Union, the Feminists of Color Collective, and La Vanguardia. He referred to the latter two clubs as his “home,” saying, “They were my safe and brave spaces that allowed me to know myself and explore aspects of my identity.”

Aguilar hopes to eventually obtain other positions in higher education and continue supporting under-resourced, underprivileged youth and young adults. After his fellowship, he intends to obtain a Ph.D. in performance studies and later work as a professor. Ultimately, he would like to secure a job as a dean of students, going on to then become the president “of a small liberal arts college like Pomona.”

For now, however, Aguilar is excited to professionally support youth to whom he can personally relate. “I want to make sure others like myself have the same opportunity. I also want these students to understand and visualize that this is all possible. I want to be an example for them, yet learn from them and their experiences. Our stories are all vastly different, yet our diversity unites us.”

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