Xiaoye "MD" Ma
Xiaoye “MD” Ma’s path to Pomona was a long and winding one. He took two years off after high school after realizing his chosen career goal—medicine—wasn’t right for him.
On whim, happenstance and natural talent, he nearly became a pop-music singer in Singapore and then landed a role on a Chinese TV drama about firefighters. During four months of grueling training and production on the show, he attended a one-day information session on Pomona College in Shanghai and that changed the course of his education and life.
Such varied work experience, which also included behind-the-scenes television production work, led him into discipline very different from science and medicine: media studies. “There are so many things in society that we’re not aware of. We assume and take things for granted,” says MD, who is from China but went to high school in Singapore. “So that’s why I really wanted to become a media studies major, so that after I graduate I can use my own camera to bring certain issues or ideas in front of people and send out a message.”
At Pomona, MD has been able to explore his interest in media studies through activities and research projects. He began Extravaganza, a student-run multilingual, multicultural magazine. After serving as freshman president, he returned to the ASPC his sophomore year as Commissioner of Communications. He even brought a new film festival to campus by applying for and winning a grant through the Tournees French Film Festival Fund.
MD also likes to step behind the camera. A friend of his received a Pacific Basin Institute Summer Video Grant and, during the summer after MD’s freshman year, MD accompanied him to China to film a short documentary on sports education. This led to Ma creating a much larger project during his sophomore summer to support education for Hmong children in China’s Guizhou Province. The project includes both a short documentary and raising funds with the final goal of renovating an elementary school, purchasing books and paving a village road.
All of MD’s activities have also fed into another passion: Meeting new people and exploring different points of view. “Whenever people ask me ‘What makes your Pomona experience the best?’ I will always tell them it’s the people,” says MD. “The people are friendly. The professors are really, really cool. My friends are easy going.”
Ma boasts friends from freshman to seniors and has taken classes at several of the 5C campuses. “We are a small liberal arts college, but we have the resources of a [large] university. I’ve experienced every kind of environment and learning process. And it’s great to meet students from different campuses—you can learn a lot from them.”
MD’s ultimate goal is to make the absolute best of his education and the opportunities that Pomona provides. “I’m really taking full advantage of what’s being offered here, [but also] trying to pay back by contributing as much as I can, “says Ma. “I feel really lucky to have been picked by Pomona. On the other hand, I want to make Pomona feel that they’re lucky to have picked me.”