John Faranda: A Feature on CMC's VP and Ambassador-at-Large
November 8, 2017
by Uddhav Gupta
Formally recognized as the Vice President and Ambassador-at-Large of Claremont McKenna College, John Faranda is known as that cheerful character you see at many events across campus, someone with whom you can always have a great conversation. Having grown up in Orange County and hailing from a family of sailors, Faranda's favorite childhood memories are of him and his two sisters sailing with their father in Newport Beach.
“My great-grandparents, my grandparents, and eventually, my parents, all lived in Newport Beach, Orange County, so sailing was one of our family adventures,” Faranda said.
Currently, he conducts a “relatively organized sailing class” every Sunday in the fall semester. He takes his students to Newport where they sail on his Catalina 30 sailboat, a model of which he keeps on his desk. According to his students, the class also features “some of the hardest quizzes at Claremont.”
An alumnus of CMC, Faranda chose the College because of its strong economics and government departments. Moreover, as he recounts, some of his father’s friends recommended CMC at the time as “an upstart institution that was on the move, doing interesting things, and not resting on its laurels.”
Faranda had been in France for two summers and had studied French in high school. So, rather than studying abroad his junior year, he opted to go to Washington D.C. for the Washington Program, which spurred his interest in politics. He then became a government major, which was referred to as a political science major at CMC at the time. “For people interested in government and international relations, D.C. is a wonderful place to be,” said Faranda.
In terms of the major on-campus events that took place when he was a student, he mentions CMC going co-ed his sophomore year. However, Faranda is quick to point out that the transition was not as monumental for CMC as it may have been for some other college campuses since Scripps students would often attend classes at CMC anyways.
During his freshman and sophomore years, Faranda lived on the third and eighth floors of Fawcett Hall, respectively. One of his favorite parts about living there was the good mix of underclassmen and upperclassmen he got to meet.
For the last two years, however, he moved to Mid Quad where he lived in Phillips Hall, Room 120 to be exact. Noting that this was before the dorm rooms in CMC were “really fixed up,” Faranda made some modifications to the room and chose to retain during his senior year room draw. “My neighbors were a bunch of us who decided to live together in the same hallway,” he added.
In regard to life at CMC, he said, “It was a very different world back then. Work was tough since people did not own computers.” Faranda said that students would often share time on CMC’s mainframe system to complete assignments. However, when it came to writing papers, he was “one of the lucky few who had an electric typewriter.”
Interestingly, people would seldom call their parents back then, especially if home was in New York or, as in Faranda's case, Saudi Arabia. “The lore was that it [the call] would not go through, but I never tried.”
Moving on to his various professional roles at CMC, Faranda began as a volunteer with the alumni association before becoming an official employee. At an event, one of the men who worked at the College informed him of an opening in the staff.
One thing led to another, and after a conversation with Jack Stark, CMC's president at the time, he took a role at the alumni fund. Over the years, he has held various roles within the institution, all related to external relations. However, it was President Hiram Chodosh who came up with the title Ambassador-at-Large.
As Vice President and Ambassador-at-Large, his roles include spreading the word about current CMC events and keeping alumni and parents connected to the College. He also raises networks to help with fundraising and maximizes internships and job opportunities for CMC students.
Faranda concludes, “It is a lot of work, but at the end of the day, it is part of the sense of community.”
Favorite TV show: “I do not watch television, but I do love movies. Casablanca is my favorite, followed by Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, or anything by Alfred Hitchcock. How is that for eclectic?”
Favorite food: “My family has a tradition of making Crêpes Suzette on New Year’s Eve, so we can flambé them at midnight. They are a favorite.”
Hobbies: “My hobby is sailing in Newport Beach or anywhere in the world with good winds. After that, it would have to be watching the Claremont Cougars Men’s Lacrosse team games or any of the CMS teams.”
Favourite Ath dinner: “My favorite speaker was Ryan McMahon ’08 talking about his music career and the hit 'Shut up and Dance.' I think it is super when CMC alumni return to campus as Athenaeum speakers.”
“Sleep is for the weak” or “sleep for weeks”: “I know we need it, but I certainly am in the 'sleep is for the weak' camp.”