Judy Chu, Pitzer set to recognize Susan Warren

Susan Warren is pictured at Pitzer College on Tuesday. Courier photo/Andrew Alonzo

By Andrew Alonzo | aalonzo@claremont-courier.com

Susan Warren will be feted in two award ceremonies this month recognizing her contributions to Pitzer College and society at large.

The Upland resident, 68, is the co-founder and director of Project Think, a nonprofit summer science, technology, engineering, arts, and mathematics camp held across the Claremont Colleges. She is being recognized by U.S. Representative Judy Chu and Pitzer for her decades of work with Project Think and the several organizational boards she’s a part of, including the Uplanders Club, the Pitzer College Alumni Board and that board’s race and justice and reunion committees, and the California Chapter of The National Association for Multicultural Education.


Women of the year  

On Saturday, April 13, Warren will join nine other honorees in a private ceremony at Rep. Chu’s annual Congressional Women of the Year Awards.

The ceremony honors women that study, work or provide services in Chu’s 28th Congressional District. Chu’s office did not make information about the other honorees available to the Courier before press time.

Asked about Warren’s nomination, Rep. Chu wrote in an email Tuesday, “Dr. Susan R. Warren, Ph.D., has poured her life’s work into education and equity, with over 45 years of transformative service to our community. As the co-founder of Project Think, a summer STEAM program, she has enriched the lives of thousands of children through engaging, thought-provoking curriculum. From science experiments, art projects, drama performances, and computer coding to creative writing and maker-space inventions, Project Think prepares students for their upcoming school year and beyond, helping them to love learning for a lifetime.”

Susan Warren is pictured at Pitzer College on Tuesday. Courier photo/Andrew Alonzo

Nominated by Bryan Bowens, a former doctoral student of hers at Azusa Pacific University, Warren got wind of her selection on March 14 and said she was honored and humbled to be chosen.

“We all need to realize we have something valuable to contribute to our neighborhoods, to our greater community, to the world,” said Warren, adding women have a unique empathetic gift within them and always seem to muster that “extra little bit of energy to give even when they’re weary and tired.”

She hopes more women strive to become leaders in their communities.

Distinguished alumni

Warren, a Pitzer 1978 alumna, is this year’s Distinguished Alumni awardee and will join past recipients such as 2023’sSekou Andrews, a Grammy nominated poet and two time poetry slam national champion; Steven C. González of 2022, Washington state’s 58th Supreme Court Chief Justice; and 2021 recipient, chef and entrepreneur Susan Feniger.

“To be in that same category is such an honor,” said Warren. “Seeing the list … they have been people who have really, truly had an impact on our society. Of course, being at Pitzer and from Pitzer that’s important, but their impact has really been a ripple in a larger space and it’s wonderful to be among them.”

Since 2004, Pitzer has recognized alumni who put their education into action to demonstrate “an unwavering commitment to making impactful changes in their community,” reads the award description. Warren said she’s been propelled by Pitzer’s dedication to supporting students becoming change makers, a goal she’s had her sights on throughout her teaching career.

Now retired from teaching — but not from Project Think — those close to Warren have lobbied her to sit back and enjoy life. But she says, “There’s still work to be done. There’s still things that I can contribute to in my community to make the world a better place.”

Bowens and fellow Pitzer alum Sylvia Elvis, class of 1999, nominated Warren for the award. Bowens and Warren have worked together on research, and Warren helped Elvis get into Pitzer’s New Resources Program, which helps older applicants earn bachelor’s degrees.

This year’s ceremony will take place during the 7 p.m. alumni only Sagehen Soiree on Saturday, April 27. Warren will be joined onstage by Cesar Vargas Nuñez, a Pitzer grad of 2014 who is this year’s young alumni achievement recipient.

The ceremony follows the public Taste of Pitzer music and food festival. Information is at pitzer.edu/alumni.


Research opportunity

After the award ceremonies and Project Think’s 41st year of camps this summer, Warren will turn her attention to a research presentation at the September meeting of the British Educational Research Association Conference and World Educational Research Association at the University of Manchester.

Warren will deliver research on the diversity ambassador program she began at APU in 2014 which “explored the benefits of a 4-year voluntary diversity professional development program for over 200 faculty and staff in an urban, private university,” according to the study’s abstract. “Findings indicate significantly increased commitment as a community to advocacy, personal and professional development, and creating a university-wide inclusive campus climate. This information will assist educators seeking more inclusive campuses through diversity professional development initiatives.”

The study was conducted by Warren, who was an APU professor and director of the university’s Center for Diversity, Equity, and Inclusive Excellence at the time, alongside APU professors Richard Martinez and Maria Pacino. The research, “Accepting educational responsibility for an inclusive university campus: the impact of the diversity ambassador program,” was published by the Journal of Higher Education Theory and Practice. Search for author “Susan Warren” at articlegateway.com to view it.

Warren expressed thanks to those who have recognized her work.

“While I am very honored to be the recipient of those two awards and to have been selected to present this research, what brings me the most joy is being able to touch and support and influence the lives of others, of other scholars, of children, of individuals in any walk of life to help them grow,” she said.


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