Faces of the Hive: Sajo Jefferson (PO ’19)


Meet Sajo Jefferson, a first-year at Pomona who recently led a mini-workshop on the loop pedal.  Her hour-long session was one of the highlights of our Tuesday Night @ the Hive series; almost every person there came in saying they had little to no musical experience, and all of us left amazed at the musical magic we accomplished together.  We knew Sajo had lots of insightful things to say about collaboration, creativity, and how you best not come for her when she’s wrapping cables, so we jumped on the chance to chat with her some more.

What did you teach at The Hive and why did you decide to to teach it?

I taught how to use a loop pedal, which is this technological box that you plug into musical instruments to make loops [a repeated section of sound]. The whole focus of the workshop was about how collaboration is everything in music. I talked about how parts of a song collaborate with each other. It’s all about creating space and making sure that the guitar, bass, and piano are building something and working together. I also talked about how musicians collaborate when they perform together. In every aspect of musical life you are working collaboratively even if you don’t recognize it. I decided to teach loop pedaling to help people recognize when they are collaborating and when it’s important to intentionally collaborate. I’ve played with a lot of musicians who don’t think about their part as a piece of the whole. And so I was like, how do we build those skills? Because it’s definitely a skill that you have to practice and the loop pedal is one of the ways I’ve been able to practice that skill. It really allows me to practice listening carefully, while keeping in mind that my contribution is only a piece of the song, and it’s the whole thing we are making that’s the most important product.

What else did you cover in the workshop?

We briefly talked about the technical skill of loop pedaling, although I’m not super well versed in the tech side of it. It’s a cool gadget that musicians are using more often in performance and recording. I showed people the basics. We just sort of stomped on it and used a microphone, passing it around in a circle and adding our little pieces to make music.

Did you make one song together?loop people

We made several tracks. There’s a lot of tracks that you can record on the pedal. We made four loops altogether; I deleted one by accident, but it happens. They all were interesting and came out very different. The first one started with Tom saying “my name is Tom” in rhythm and we were like, “that’s funny.” People just kept going, and it ended up being really cool. You never know what’s going to happen!

Here’s an example of another one of the loops.

What kinds of things did you learn, or what experience did you gain, from teaching a workshop?

So many things! I connected with people who are also interested in making this kind of music, which was really cool. It was awesome to see people experiencing the loop pedal, and using it as a tool to not just make music but encourage collaboration in general. People said that one of their favorite things was how it encouraged them to actively listen. Also, when people asked me questions I didn’t know the answers to, it made me really want to do research to figure it out. I was like, “hmm I should really do some research.” I’ve been carrying around the manual to my loop pedal all day, reading it and discovering really cool things. So that’s always good.

What do you enjoy about the Hive?

Oh, so much! One of the things I love about the space is how it really centers people who have marginalized identities. This is a really cool space to connect people who generally don’t have access to certain [resources and skill sets]; they can find that here.

What else would you want to teach or learn at the Hive?

Actually, that was sort of another piece of the workshop last night: it was about in my experience as a woman musician and experiencing the most trouble with collaboration when I’m playing with mostly men. And our group was mostly women and there were two guys. And it was really cool to see how that happened sort of incidentally — but maybe not so incidentally — and I got to thinking about wrapping cables.  Because a lot of guys don’t do it right, but usually women aren’t taken seriously when they do it even if they know how to do it.  Every time I go to a gig and we’re doing sound, the guys always think I have no idea, that I’ve never wrapped cables before in my life.  So I was thinking we could have a cable wrapping workshop, but it’s really for women musicians to talk about our experiences.

I was also thinking about doing another loop pedal workshop for people who couldn’t come, since there was a lot of interest.  And maybe one involving instruments, because you can plug instruments into loop pedals too.  At the very end of the workshop I showed the group how a lot of what I do is with the guitar and the loop pedal.  I’d love to have people bring in random instruments to play together, or not even an instrument but just something that makes a cool noise.

What do you see as the role of the Hive for Pomona and the rest of the 5Cs?

I see the Hive as a place that feels really free from a lot of the constraints that normal college life inherently has because it’s so new and it’s been established so well by such wonderful people. I find it really exciting and wonderful that we can come here to practice or learn new things and we don’t have to be experts. One of the things I’ve noticed as a first year at Pomona is that people are always telling you, “it’s liberal arts, branch out” — but it’s still really hard to do that. How do I actually go about majoring in something but still have the opportunity to explore and learn new things outside of that?  I think that the Hive has so much potential because it has no requirements or limitations, none of that. The Hive is just about letting people learn together and be intentionally collaborative, and that’s so exciting and so undervalued. It’s amazing to have a place that’s like that in college.

Thanks to Nicki Maslan (CMC ’16), Gail Gallaher (PO ’17), and Estela Sanchez (PO ’17) for transcription and editing!

Open House at the Hive!

The official launch of the Rick and Susan Sontag Center for Collaborative Creativity took place Thursday November 5th, and the boisterous, celebratory open house served to inform 5C students, faculty, and staff about the many resources and opportunities available at “the Hive.”  Photo exhibits, art installations, and video loops of student reflections showed the multifaceted ways in which the 5C community is already engaging with the Hive, while colorfully decorated walls showed a mixed-media timeline of how the Hive came to be, including a space where visitors could add their own ideas for the future events and programs.


Hive staff member Estela Sanchez (PO ’17) welcomes visitors and shares more about our mission and how we think about creativity.



Students cluster around the button making machine — the surprise hit of the afternoon!



Pomona President David Oxtoby shares his thoughts with Selena Spier, reporter from The Student Life.



Dwight Whitaker (Physics, PO), Interim Co-Director of the Hive, poses with Rick Sontag (HMC ’64).



Visitors take in the colorful mixed-media timeline of the Hive’s history and roster of events.



Vian Zada (PO ’16) works on an astronomy project in the Hive’s low-res maker space.


Honoring the 50-year-long collaboration between Susan (PO ’64) and Rick Sontag (HMC ’64)!



Betsy Crighton, Pomona Vice President for Academic Affairs and Dean of the College, examines the output from our “Reimagining the Digital Toolshed” pop-up class, co-sponsored with Honnold Library, while Dwight Whitaker (Physics, PO) and Warren Roberts (GIS Lab) share their students’ work. Whitaker and Roberts received course grants to prototype experiential, collaborative, and/or exploratory learning methods in their Spring ’15 and Fall ’15 classes.



Pat Little (Engineering, HMC), Interim Co-Director of the Hive, getting interviewed.


For more information about the event, check out the official Pomona writeup!

Carol Dweck: The Two Mindsets And The Power of Believing That You Can Improve

A great read for folks interested in some of the psychology behind some of the mindsets we should be fostering in this initiative.

We often talk about the need to be able to embrace failure. That’s much easier with a growth mindset.

I’ve seen so many people with this one consuming goal of proving themselves— in the classroom, in their careers, and in their relationships. Every situation calls for a confirmation of their intelligence, personality, or character. Every situation is evaluated: Will I succeed or fail? Will I look smart or dumb? Will I be accepted or rejected? Will I feel like a winner or a loser?

Matthew Taylor on The Power to Create

Awesome rallying cry for creativity across disciplines, economic standing and educational levels.

Keynote from DH@CC

We’re really excited by all the work happening as part of the Digital Humanities at the Claremont Colleges. To get a taste of the initiative, check out the key note video.

dr_liu-DH-keynoteDr. Alan Liu presents his talk: “Key Trends in the Digital Humanities: How the Digital Humanities Challenge the Idea of the Humanities.” This talk marks the inaugural event for the DH@CC efforts, and was filmed at Pomona College on Feb. 18, 2015. DH@CC is the digital humanities effort at the Claremont Colleges. The project, which intends to increase DH capacity at the 5Cs, is funded by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation. Video produced by AJ Strout.

3 Tips for a Creative Classroom (from Danish Kurani)

This is a great post for anyone looking to tweak their classroom in a minimal way. As we think through what (if any space) we should have for this initiative at the 5Cs, these three elements are great to keep in mind.


Every day educators are tasked to cultivate bright and creative minds. Yet many teachers are often restricted by the environments they are provided. They must work within various constraints to build a classroom that will support their goals and encourage creative thinking amongst their students. We wanted to know: what are the key characteristics and challenges of a creative classroom?

Element #1 – Environment that signals expectations

Element #2 – Diverse surfaces that encourage active learning

Element #3 – Multiple spaces separated physically and acoustically

Check out the full article by

Our first event: a design thinking workshop

Last night, just under forty students from across the 5Cs participated in one of the first events put on as part of the creativity and innovation initiative. We hosted the event as a prototype that would help us learn more about the kinds of activities that students and faculty wanted to see at the 5Cs.

The workshop was called Redesigning the Future, an Introduction to Design Thinking. The participants paired up and used the process of design thinking to reimagine how their partner could make an impact in the world.

At the end of the workshop, we asked students what (if anything) from the workshop they’d like to see more of at the 5Cs. Here’s a few of the things they had to say:

“I loved that I was able to work with students from across the 5Cs.”

“I would love to see us use more empathy, to really get to understand the motivations behind someone’s idea, artwork or endeavors.”

“I would want to see more of a chance just to come up with crazy ideas.”

We were thrilled to have such engaged, thoughtful participation. We can’t wait to see what everyone comes up with next. Thanks to all of the students and faculty who participated. We’ll be hosting another similar event on February 20th.


Exploring Creativity and Innovation at the Claremont Colleges

Hey There. We’re exploring creativity and innovation at the Claremont Colleges. We’d love for you to be involved, reach out and let us know what you want to see.