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Building Creativity, Brick by Brick

When she was 11 years old, Leisan Garifullina (Russia, UWC of South East Asia, Pomona ’20) says she realized “I was not creative enough.” So she sold her doll’s baby pram to buy a set of LEGOs. A few years later she brought the collection she had built to the UWC in Singapore, where she started a LEGO building club for seven- to eight-yearolds. The demand grew; she created an educational booklet and a YouTube channel, and she started LEGO Robotics for the UWC high-schoolers.

Now she’s at Pomona College, where Leisan founded and chairs the 5C LEGO Club of the five-college Claremont Consortium.“We’re creating a community that is able to experience itself through the medium of LEGO,” she explains. “We not only build, we also encourage people to describe what they’re building — public speaking.

“Sometimes people think we’re playing,” she notes. “But we’re not playing.”

Leisan hasn’t stopped there. “During my first year at Pomona I opened the first Junior Enterprise on the Claremont Colleges and in L.A. County, providing marketing and PR solutions to businesses in Claremont and internationally,” she has written. She lobbied last spring for reproductive rights internationally with the Population Connection Action Fund in Washington, D.C., and she was invited by the Council of Europe to participate in the 2017 World Forum of Democracy in Strasbourg, France.

And last summer she volunteered to teach English to children in China, as a grade-one teacher for a class of 40 kids.

As if that’s not enough, Leisan works several jobs on campus. She does customer support for Information Technology Services, works at the college gym, and takes care of equipment at the Pomona sports center.

“The less free time I have, the more I’m able to do,” she says. “Because I don’t have time to procrastinate.”