James Pollock ’04, Ph.D.

James accepted a position as a psychologist at Columbia University (New York City). His clinical competencies include individual psychotherapy for mood and anxiety disorders, identity issues, LGBTQ mental health, and behavioral health issues. He has extensive experience in addictions treatment, and he works with clients to develop individualized substance use treatment plans. At K he majored in psychology and studied abroad in Bonn, Germany. He earned his Ph.D. at New York University.

Adam Marshall ’11

Adam is the Jack Nelson Freedom of Information legal fellow for the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press, a nonprofit association dedicated to providing free legal assistance to journalists. He is spending his fellowship year working on freedom of information and access issues and on tutorials for the Reporters Committee’s “iFOIA” system for sending and tracking Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests. Adam graduated from George Washington University Law School last May. During law school, he volunteered for the Mid-Atlantic Innocence Project, worked as a research assistant, and served as the president of the university’s ACLU student group. He also served as an associate for the GW International Law Review. Before joining the Reporters Committee, Adam interned at the Electronic Privacy Information Center and the National Whistleblowers Center. At K he earned his bachelor’s degree (magna cum laude) in political science, and he studied abroad at the London School of Economics.

Analyst and Activist

Since coming to Kalamazoo College in 2011 Lisa Brock has served a dual role. As academic director of the Arcus Center for Social Justice Leadership, she helps “teachers” (which includes professors, certainly, but also all persons involved in a student’s learning experience at K) think about the ways academic content and social justice can work together. From this work will grow new courses and new programs infused with scholarly rigor and social justice principles. As a result, K students will develop and cultivate throughout their lives the critical thinking skills, the leadership acumen, and the inclination to help build a better world for all. Brock also is an associate professor of history, and her favorite class to teach focuses on Nelson Mandela and the anti-apartheid movement. She has taught courses on this subject for many years, even before the fall of apartheid and Mandela’s release from Robben Island (1990). Her work in social justice and history reinforce one another. An education so infused with social justice that the learner seeks to make a better world may sound utopian. But Brock the historian, and Brock the activist, knows it is possible. BeLight is delighted to help you get to know Lisa Brock in its February 2015 “Lighten Up” interview.

What is the best song ever recorded?

I love Billie Holiday, the pain in her voice makes every song memorable, but the best ever recorded is Aretha Franklin’s “Respect.”

What’s your favorite childhood fairy tale or story?

I don’t recall its title, but my mom used to read me a story about a man who dropped his glasses in black ink, put them back on, and proceeded to move about the world even though he couldn’t see. Maybe it was called “The Man With Ink Glasses.”

If Heaven exists, what would you like to hear God say when you arrive at the pearly gates?

I hope to hear ‘Here are your folk.’ And there, waiting for me, would be my mom and grandparents, my sister and uncles.

What’s your favorite word?


What’s your least favorite word?


What turns you on?

Social justice.

What turns you off?


What sound do you love?

Children laughing.

What sound do you hate?

A person yelling at another person.

What profession other than yours would you like to attempt?

A composer. I liked writing songs and enjoyed my music theory classes in college.

What profession would you not like to participate in?

I’d never want to be a bureaucrat buried in the bowels of a corporation.

What’s been a great moment in your liberal arts learning?

Reading people like Karl Marx and Frantz Fanon when I was an undergraduate.

Who’s the person (living or dead) with whom you’d most like to spend a lunch hour?

Zora Neale Hurston, a writer during the Harlem Renaissance and author of Their Eyes Were Watching God. She also was an accomplished anthropologist, despite having her work marginalized because she was a woman. She studied with Franz Boas. Alice Walker played a role in the re-discovery of this fascinating writer and feminist hero.

What memory from childhood still surprises you?

My parents married young enough to ensure a great deal of grandparent hovering, so I remember enjoying lots of love from my extended family. I took that for granted and was shocked when my first college roommate, who had a very different childhood experience than mine, once told me that she didn’t like her mother. I lost sleep over that. The other thing that surprises me is how childhood is like a snapshot, so temporal. All old photos whisper impermanence. But when we’re children we often think things will always stay the same. Maybe that’s the memory from childhood that still surprises me: that I once could have thought that way.

What is your favorite curse word?

M—– F—–

What is your favorite hobby?

I’m an avid reader and a big fan of mysteries. Lately I’ve taken up listening to mystery novels as audio books. Unfortunately I often fall asleep, and the audio continues for up to an hour, which means I’m quite lost when I resume listening.

What is your favorite comedy movie?

The British version of Death at a Funeral.

What local, regional, national, or world event has affected you most?

There are two, and both are positive. One was the campaign and election of Harold Washington as mayor of Chicago. I worked on his campaign. And the other was the culmination of the anti-apartheid campaign (I was an activist in that movement as well) with the release of Nelson Mandela on February 11, 1990. Millions of people around the world “gathered” to be part of that moment. I remember many friends came together at my house at 3 a.m. in Chicago. We were making breakfast, talking excitedly, anticipating that great hopeful moment.

Allen M. Omoto ’82, Ph.D.

Allen was awarded an American Psychological Association Presidential Citation for his passionate dedication to social justice and to bringing psychological science to bear on social policy. Throughout his career, Allen has demonstrated a strong and lasting commitment to social justice and inclusion through his research, publications, teaching, mentorship and leadership. He was APA’s inaugural William A. Bailey AIDS Policy Congressional Fellow. He served on the Committee on Lesbian, Gay and Bisexual Concerns, chaired the Board for the Advancement of Psychology in the Public Interest, has served on the APA Council of Representatives and has been elected president of Div. 9 (Society for the Psychological Study of Social Issues) and Div. 44 (Society for the Psychological Study of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Issues). Allen has received awards for distinction in education and training (Div. 44) and service (Div. 9), as well as the Western Psychological Association’s Social Responsibility Award. Through his passion, dedication, sense of humor, and the example he sets for integrating his values into his personal and professional life, Allen inspires and leads his students and his colleagues to affect social justice through the science of psychology. He is currently a professor in the Claremont Colleges in California.

Ruth Moerdyk ’83

Ruth was awarded the Faith Award this year for recognition of her leadership and work in creating safe and affirming spaces through a faith lens. Ruth advocates for the LGBTQ community from the pulpit (she serves as the pastor of Christian Church-Disciples of Christ in Kalamazoo), in everyday life, and as chair of the Faith Alliance. During her time at Kalamazoo College, Moerdyk helped found the first LGB student organization at K and went on to provide leadership for the LGBTQ student organization at Chicago Theological Seminary. She earned her bachelor’s degree in religion and studied abroad in Sierra Leone.

Sarah Ovink ’00

Sarah has won a 2015 National Science Foundation Faculty Early Development (CAREER) Award to study how race/ethnicity, gender, and family income are linked to career success in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM). The CAREER Award provides multi-year support for especially promising junior faculty members. Sarah is an assistant professor of sociology at Virginia Tech (Blacksburg). A key component of her research will be interviews with more than 100 undergraduate students in STEM and non-STEM majors at Virginia Tech and focus groups with peer interviewers. Over the next five years, Sarah and a team of graduate and undergraduate research assistants will follow up with these students as they complete their degrees and begin their careers. The grant is expected to total $453,359 over the five years. Sarah’s scholarly interests have primarily focused on educational inequality by race and gender using qualitative and quantitative methods of inquiry. Other research interests include immigration, Latino/Latina populations, and undocumented students.

She recently published an article in the journal Gender & Society that examines trends in Latinos’/Latinas’ postsecondary pathways and life course decisions over a two-year period. She is completing work on a book titled Race, Class, and Choice in Latino/a Higher Education: Pathways in the College-for-All Era under contract with Palgrave Macmillan.

Mary Helen Diegel ’97

Mary Helen is an award-winning teacher in the Livonia (Michigan) Public Schools. She and two colleagues are planning a trip to the House of Hope Orphanage in Montrois, Haiti. They will bring and distribute school supplies, clothes, and shoes to the children there. The three also will guide enrichment camps focusing on sports, art, and dance. Their work expands a program that previously resulted in the provision of four goats for the village, used to supply milk and cheese to the community.

Jon Stryker ’82

Jon received the 2015 Visionary Award from GLSEN (Gay, Lesbian, and Straight Education Network), the leading national education organization focused on ensuring safe and affirming schools for all students. Jon is founder and president of the Arcus Foundation. He also serves on K’s board of trustees. In honoring Jon, GLSEN noted that “Jon Stryker has been a philanthropic pioneer, ensuring LGBT people have the same opportunities as everyone else. Since founding the Arcus Foundation in 2000, Mr. Stryker has become a leading funder and supporter of LGBT issues [and] Arcus has become one of the world’s largest LGBT-focused grant makers, leading the way in the U.S. and pioneering funding for LGBT issues globally…” Celebrating its 25th year, GLSEN envisions a world in which every child learns to respect and accept all people, regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity/expression. The GLSEN Respect Awards showcase the work of students, educators, individuals, and corporations who serve as exemplary role models and have made a significant impact on the lives of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender youth. Previous GLSEN Respect Awards honorees include actress Julia Roberts, Dreamworks Animation CEO Jeffery Katzenberg, film producers Bob and Harvey Weinstein, and former NBA player Jason Collins.