Student Success Story: Kathryn Pirtle

Student Success at Rancho Los Alamitos
By Caroline Serrano

“Success is liking yourself, liking what you do and liking how you do it.” – Maya Angelou

Ambyr and KathrynWhenever Kathryn Pirtle—CSULB Anthropology major and American Indian Studies minor—feels as though she has lost direction in life, she reminds herself of this quote. Kathryn believes that quantifying success through your GPA or how much money you earn can be harmful. Instead, she suggests, “I think what defines success is having the courage to open yourself up to growth—which is far easier said than done… Even if you take a wrong turn or make mistakes, I think as long as you’re learning and growing, you’re on the right path.” Kathryn exemplifies this ideology in her own life. Recently, she was awarded with the Cottonwood Scholarship at Rancho Los Alamitos and will be taking on projects to help improve the Rancho.

The Cottonwood Scholarship was created in 2016, when Rancho Los Alamitos partnered with California State University, Long Beach in order to create the Cottonwood Scholars Program. Ambyr Hardy—Volunteer Coordinator at Rancho Los Alamitos and CSULB alumnus—states, “This relationship allows us to create mutually beneficial projects with CSULB students, during which they provide valuable services to the Rancho, such as taking on research or other meaningful projects, and in return, the interns receive real-world training in their discipline.”

Ambyr emphasizes just how important it is to get hands-on experience in today’s world. Many students, especially those earning a Liberal Arts degree, may wonder how to obtain meaningful employment on their desired career path. An internship, Ambyr believes, can make all the difference. She states, “When a student gets an opportunity to work as an intern, they are bolstering their resume, their transcripts, and their life-experience. In short, being awarded and completing an internship makes a college student a better candidate for all jobs and more likely to work in their field.”

While Kathryn hasn’t begun her work at the Rancho yet, she has a few ideas of what she will be focusing on. First, she will be working on the centennial celebration of Women’s Suffrage and voting rights—which will be taking place in August 2020. She states, “Reading through archives of the personal journals of the women that were raised and lived on the Rancho has been a fascinating, intimate glimpse into their daily lives in the late 1800s – early 1900s, and I can’t wait to see the project come together next year.”

She also wants to address the Native history that resides in Long Beach—specifically CSULB and the Rancho, which are built on Puvungna, a sacred site of the Tongva Nation. When asked about this project, Kathryn states, “It’s not [Rancho Los Alamitos’s] place to tell Native stories, but rather to create the opportunity and space for Tongva members to have active leadership roles in telling their own history and preserving Puvungna. While [Rancho Los Alamitos] openly includes its Native history, we are brainstorming on projects that will actually connect the local Tongva community to the Rancho in bridging this gap.”

As for the future, Kathryn looks forward to continual growth and learning while living by Maya Angelou’s quote, “Success is liking yourself, liking what you do and liking how you do it.”