Coming into Whitman fresh off of a SCORE (a weeklong pre-orientation adventure centered on community service in Walla Walla – recently decided 2022 Whitties, be sure to check it out!), I was itching to get involved in one of Whitman’s community service programs right away. I tried my hand at several programs my first year, and would recommend every single one of them, but one found a very special place in my heart: the Whitman Mentor Program. Four years later, I have spent my senior year as a co-intern for this incredible program, and recently carried out our biggest and most exciting event!
The Whitman Mentor Program follows a familiar format: college students are paired up with elementary school students who are in need of a consistent older role model, often due to stresses caused by stressful situations at home, social isolation, and/or large changes in their lives. Whitties visit their mentees weekly, typically to hang out during a lunch and recess block, and often comment on how it’s incredible how big of an impact such a small time commitment can make! This consistency, attention, and role modeling mentors give their mentees makes a huge difference in and out of the classroom, and it all comes from college students playing 4 square and tag with them once a week!
Each year, we like to celebrate these invaluable relationships by inviting all of the mentees to Mentees to Campus Day, where they can hang out with their mentors at their school for a change. MTCD is a giant carnival full of all the good stuff: cotton candy, games, face painting, and even a bouncy castle. Mentors and mentees get 2 hours to play to their hearts’ content (roughly 1.75 hours of it spent in the bouncy castle, if we’re being honest), and my mentee has left every single year asking me when he gets to come back next year! It has been a highlight from each of my years at Whitman, and it has certainly been a highlight from my work as an intern this year!