Elora Pindell appreciates all she has learned through Hampshire's interdisciplinary academic approach. But after exploring numerous fields and subjects, her truest interest remains the one she arrived here with.
"I always knew I wanted to write," she said. "Because of the requirements I took a little of everything, and it made me realize even more that I want to do creative writing."
Working with writing professors like Will Ryan, Ellie Siegel, Nell Arnold, and John Clayton has been influential, noted Pindell 08F. Ryan and Arnold are co-chairs of her Division III (senior) project, a collection of short stories that comment upon the intersection of race and gender.
"I feel I'm writing about youth who encounter certain race and gender boundaries, and are trying to navigate around it," said Pindell. "It's about figuring out who you are as a young person dealing with these racial and gender disparities."
Pindell was introduced to Hampshire through her high school guidance counselor, who suggested she apply for the College's James Baldwin Scholars program. She was accepted, and Pindell was immersed in the Baldwin community soon after arriving.
"I thought this was just a scholarship program through which I was getting money to attend college. I didn't know it was like a whole family within the college," she said.
That family, Pindell insists, has been with her through both her challenges and triumphs at Hampshire. The guidance of older students in the program was particularly helpful her first year, when she was adjusting to college life in a rural town far different from her Philadelphia home.
"They could relate and kind of cry with me, but they could also wipe away my tears and tell me how to fix things," she said.
As one of the older Baldwin Scholars now, Pindell tries to help out new students as much as possible. She has been a teaching assistant in several classes, and became a peer mentor for first-year Baldwin Scholar and writer Aurelis Troncoso 11F. The two met when Troncoso visited one of Pindell's classes the spring before arriving at Hampshire.
"She read a poem in the class that really impressed me. I wouldn't have engaged in the peer mentorship program if it wasn't for her," said Pindell. "It's become a great friendship."
After graduation, Pindell plans to spend a year working before heading to graduate school. Most important to her is putting her Hampshire education to good use.
"When I look back, I know if I had stayed in Philadelphia I wouldn't have grown the same way as a person," said Pindell. "It's been hard. I'm not saying this has been easy. But I wouldn't trade this experience for anything else."