who we are 

 

about us 

The Caltech Y is an independent 501c3 organization recognized by and formally affiliated with the California Institute of Technology. Founded by students in 1916, the Caltech Y seeks to broaden students’ worldviews, raise social, ethical, and cultural awareness through teamwork, community engagement, activism, and leadership.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

For more than 100 years, the Caltech Y has enriched the lives of Caltech students through a wide variety of programs and services that are initiated and led by students.  We supplement and complement the excellent academics of Caltech by providing a variety of co-curricular events and activities for all campus members. Our programs fall within our 5 pillars: Leadership, Service, Adventure, Civic Engagement, and Perspective.

The Caltech Y's mission is to enrich student life and challenge students to grow into responsible citizens of the world. 

 

CALTECH Y pillars

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A range of on-campus and off-campus community service projects fits each student's schedule and interest. This includes tutoring for the Caltech Y Rise Program, Reading Partners, serving meals at Union Station Homeless Shelter or Alternative Spring Break service trips. 

service

Students learn to be effective citizen scientists and to address diverse issues that face us today - on campus, and in our local, national or global communities. 

civic engagement

Outdoor trips to many exciting venues each year service student adventures - from novice to seasoned. Day trips and multi-day trips afford students the opportunity to escape the daily rigours of Caltech. Students learn about themselves and explore the boundaries of their comfort zones within the ease of a trip guided by other students. 

adventure

Caltech Y programs broaden student views through cultural exchanges and service opportunities, students see that they can have an impact on the world beyond their own vocations, and they learn how to affect change locally, nationally, and internationally. 

perspective
 

Students play a key role in initiating and organizing every Caltech Y program and activity. The Caltech Y leadership activities give students meaningful opportunities to sit on a nonprofit board, program committees, manage budgets, and plan programs from start to finish. 

leadership

history

1916

Eleven students of Throop College of Technology petitioned and ultimately received a charter for a YMCA club on campus. This would later be called the Caltech Y.

1918

The Y was primarily a service organization. During WWI, it provided refreshments and other services for the soldiers training on campus and at the Santa Anita Racetrack.

MEET OUR STUDENT EXCOMM

president
 
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Albert Kyi

Albert (23’) is an Averite Junior from New York City majoring in Chemical Engineering (Environmental). As a part of the Caltech Y’s ExComm and the VP of Internal Affairs, Albert is a part of the Life Skills and Explore LA teams, and helped lead the virtual D.C. Science Policy trip in 2020. Outside of the Y, he serves as co-president of Caltech Science Olympiad and secretary of AICHE in addition to supporting Avery House in both a peer advocate and health advocate capacity. He also enjoys road biking and playing volleyball or badminton in the rare free moments he gets at Caltech. He is excited to bring more people and their experiences into the Caltech Y family and is especially happy to get to see JJ, the Caltech Y Dog, soon.

vice president
of OPERATIONS
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Catherine Ko

 

Catherine (’24) studies chemistry at Caltech and is a part of Avery House and the Arnold Group. In the lab, she works on stabilizing and promoting the evolution of new-to-nature biocatalysts. Beyond her studies, Catherine likes playing piano, taking pictures, drawing/painting, and playing badminton with friends. Additionally, she is an avid member-at-large of the Caltech Y, facilitating the fun Life Skills/Explore LA series and creating promotional content for various social media platforms. She loves bringing people together through the Y.

vice president
of internal affairs
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Alexandra Haraszti

Alexandra (23’) is studying mechanical engineering and is a member of Dabney House. She was introduced to the Caltech Y through the Yosemite trip before freshman year and has been an avid participant since. Outside the Y, she is passionate about combining her hobby of origami with aerospace research at JPL, as well as participating in mentorship and tutoring programs. She is excited to plan Y events and outings to build the Caltech community on campus and beyond! 

vice president
of external affairs
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Joseph Kim

Joseph (24') is studying CNS and is a member of Lloyd House. He was introduced to the Caltech Y through RISE tutoring his freshman year and has been a driven participant since. Outside the Y, he is passionate about the orchestra, his research, and contributing to the local community. He is excited to plan Y events and programs to support the Caltech community and those around it.

 

MEET OUR board

board chair
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Cindy Bengtson

Cindy retired after 30 years of leadership positions with ARCO/BP and devotes her time to community service. At age 25 she created Big Sisters of Los Angeles.  41 years later, Big Sisters is merged as Big Brothers Big Sisters of Greater Los Angeles serving 1000 “high risk” children throughout LA County. Her other non-profit work has included memberships and Board roles in over 15 organizations, most recently Leadership Pasadena and Los Altos Auxiliary for Hathaway Sycamores. She graduated with a BS in Consumer Economics from Purdue University and completed numerous professional certification courses in employee benefits, taxation and gerentology.

secretary
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Nick von Gersdorff

Nick (MS ‘06) started his career in hydropower as an undergraduate student at Harvey Mudd,

analyzing critical infrastructure, which paved the way to his current position as Southern California Edison’s Chief Dam Safety Engineer. He is passionate about traveling and fostering green energy internationally and is currently working to develop hydropower in the country of Georgia.

vice chair

Mary Wahl

 

Mary is a Caltech alum (BS 2008) and former Y student volunteer who recently returned to Pasadena as a faculty spouse. She is currently a data scientist at Microsoft, specializing in computer vision on overhead imagery, and formerly studied genomics and experimental evolution.

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treasurer

Kevin Maxwell

Mr. Maxwell is an accounting executive having served in roles at FabFitFun and Warner Bros. He began his career in PwC's assurance practice, attaining the title of Director. Mr. Maxwell has a Bachelors of Science in Business and a Masters in Accounting from the University of Arizona.

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MEET OUr staff

Executive director

Athena Castro 

 

Athena began working at Caltech in 1994, where she has filled a number of roles. She began her current position as Executive Director of the Caltech Y in 2000. She earned a BA in English Literature at Scripps College, an MS in Education and PhD in Higher Education from Azusa Pacific University. 

PROGRAM director
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Greg Fletcher 

 

Prior to coming to the Caltech Y, Greg worked in Residence Life at UCLA and Cal Poly Pomona, and in Student Life on board the SS Universe Explorer for Semester At Sea. Greg is a native of Niagara Falls, Canada, and holds a Masters of Education with an emphasis in Student Affairs from Azusa Pacific University. 

associate director
of student programs

Liz Jackman 

 

Liz joined the Caltech Y in 2010 while obtaining her Master's degree in College Counseling and Student Development from Azusa Pacific University. She worked as a teacher for four years in Japan prior to joining the Y. She is very committed to finding ways to partner with and better serve the community of Pasadena. 

student Program 
 coordinator
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Courtney Reddix

 

Self-described as "Pasadena-born, California-grown" Courtney is a community service leader that has recently earned his Master's in Public Administration (MPA) and is an adventurer that loves to have random experiences.  Prior to the Caltech Y Courtney has taught college level instruction internationally, and always had a passion for youth, learning, and sharing knowledge.  On his days off, he enjoys being a retired Army Medic.