Wali Shaikh ’24 had never set foot on the CMC campus until last summer when pandemic restrictions finally lifted. Coming to Southern California from Alexandria, Va., for his sophomore year, “was a shock, but a pleasant surprise,” he says.
“I love being out here,” Shaikh says. “Everyone I’ve met has been extremely kind and helpful, both the professors and the students. I’ve met some of my closest friends here, including my best friend and girlfriend, Salina Muñoz.”
An environmental analysis major, Shaikh was drawn to CMC by its liberal arts focus and small class size. At the same time, he wanted to be able to explore many subjects. “I also loved the concept of the Consortium. Being able to have access to so many resources sounded awesome,” he says. “I feel like I’ve taken advantage of that having taken a class at all the 5Cs!”
Choosing a favorite is difficult. “All the professors I’ve had here have been fantastic,” he says. But he’s really enjoying a joint Pomona and Harvey Mudd class he’s taking right now called Building Los Angeles, co-taught by Professor Char Miller at Pomona and Professor Jeff Groves at Harvey Mudd. “We go into and explore different areas of Los Angeles every weekend and learn about the city’s history. They’re both extremely knowledgeable about the city’s design, architecture and history.”
The course is one of many Shaikh has taken in his work toward pursuing a career as an urban planner/designer. “It intersects my interests of politics, community organizing, and urban design,” he says.
He had an “invaluable experience” in that realm interning with Chelina Odbert ’99 at Kounkuey Design Initiative last summer. At the design and community development nonprofit, he worked with under-resourced communities in Southern California, helping to identify their needs and designing solutions for them. “It was a mix of urban planning and design work. I learned a lot about what those fields entail, while conducting research and in-person community building activities,” he says.
If Shaikh is working hard, he’s also playing hard. That’s what the culture is like at CMC, he says. “The students here are some of the brightest and most driven people I’ve ever met. At the same time, they know how to have fun and appreciate life outside of academics.”
Shaikh commentates on softball and baseball games with his good friend, Dante McDermott ’24, as a CMS Athletics sports broadcaster. He also enjoys spending time outdoors in the California sunshine, learning about the environment and “appreciating its beauty” with CMCers A.J. Holzer ’23 and Tyler Duggan ’23 and other members of the Outdoor Initiative club. With the College Knowledge club, “it feels really fulfilling to mentor and help students at Chaffey High School get into college.”
Sometimes, work and play go hand in hand. “I’m also currently working on reviving a club called Design Urban Spaces with a few friends,” Shaikh says. “It’s been inactive for a few years, but we’re hoping to create a 5C space for students interested in urban planning/design and architecture.”
Hometown: Alexandria, Virginia
Major: Environmental analysis with a concentration in sustainability in the built environment
Sports broadcaster, Claremont-Mudd-Scripps Athletics