Fourth-year Karen Romero has always been interested in politics.
It is an interest of hers that was cultivated by her family, long before she came to Whittier College, and just in her hometown of Pomona, Calif. “My parents were politically active. They would take me to grassroots organizing events, to protests. They encouraged me to be really vocal, politically,” she said. Romero’s interest in politics was what inspired her to pursue her undergraduate in Political Science, and would eventually lead her down her path to the Quaker Campus, which she joined this year for her final year as a student.
In comparison to her younger years, Romero felt that Whittier has given her an opportunity to branch out and shine. Romero described her childhood, in which she turned to reading more often than not. Books were her escape, and also cultivated her interest in writing.
After graduating from Diamond Ranch High School in 2017, Romero was thrilled about the chances she got to connect with her professors. “I’ve really enjoyed my time at Whittier. I felt like it was such a different experience than my high school experience. [ . . . ] I had a hard time in high school because I feel like people stereotyped me, and never allowed me to reach my full potential. But, at Whittier, I felt like I had opportunities to pursue things I was interested in,” she said.
Romero talked about the professors she created relationships with, and how they helped her pursue her goals, as well as giving her the confidence to do well in school. Among these professors who inspired her were Professor Sara Angevine of the Political Science Department, Professor Julie Collins-Dogrul of the Sociology Department, and Professor Joe Donnelly of the English Department. “Donnelly has allowed me to do a lot of cool opportunities, through internships and other things. [ . . .] He’s definitely made me a better writer,” said Romero.
One of Romero’s most notable experiences was her collaboration with Professor Julie Collins-Drogul. Together, they published research about the U.S. transgender military ban, as well as the gender discourse that emerged from it. Romero and Professor Collins-Drogul were supposed to present their paper in Eugene, Ore. at the Pacific Sociological Association, but were unfortunately unable to, due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
All of these professors, Romero said, encouraged her to pursue what she was interested in, and helped maximize what she wanted to do in her life. The research opportunities she gained were a strong part of her experience, and is what led her to her to your very own Quaker Campus.
When joining Whittier College, Romero had not known that newspaper printing was still in effect — her high school had certainly never had a newspaper, and it was surprising to her to see it at university. “It’s like I forgot newspapers were a thing,” Romero said. She got involved with the Quaker Campus during one of Professor Donnelly’s classes, where he encouraged her to attend one of the meetings for the paper. After attending the meetings, however, Romero said that she loved it. “I wish I would have done it sooner,” she said.
This is, in fact, Romero’s first year at the Quaker Campus. After Professor Donnelly’s encouragement to attend some meetings, she became a consistent presence at the meetings. In her last semester at Whittier, she has become the News Editor for the paper, where she has been managing all news articles published by the QC. “I enjoyed getting to know all of you guys,” she said, when asked about what she enjoyed at the newspaper. “I wish I could have been in person with you guys more.”
Romero has appreciated the opportunities that the Quaker Campus has given her to improve her writing, and step out of her comfort zone. “I would get anxious about writing. [ . . . ] I’d be too obsessed with being perfect, but the QC helped me just get comfortable with writing a lot, and writing weekly. [ . . . ] It’s something that really helped me.”
For her plans after Whittier, Romero is excited to begin her journey at the University of Southern California, where she will be starting her PhD program for Political Science. In addition to this, she would like to continue to improve her writing. “Even if it’s freelance work, interning places [ . . . ] I still want to eventually write.” Romero has plans to move to L.A. in the fall, looking forward to coming into her program. Romero said that, after her program, she would want to be a researcher, or work at a publishing house, and eventually come to be a teacher. “In the future, what I want to do is to do what I genuinely like. The creative stuff that I’m in, writing, art, as well as the other parts of me [ . . . ] I equally enjoy doing research and things related to [political science]. If I can balance that out, and spend my life doing what makes me happy, then I’ll be happy.”
Romero has high hopes for the future, as she should. Though her time at the Quaker Campus was short, she made a big impact on the paper itself, and the other staff members who worked there. With the skills that she has taken from working as the News Editor for the QC, and her opportunities she has gained from Whittier, she will no doubt be able to thrive at USC.
Featured Image: Karen Romero / Quaker Campus