Friday April 24th the Student Engagement Center hosted President George Bridges to celebrate his support of the many programs that the SEC sponsors. Over the last 5 years President Bridges’ commitment and investment in Whitman student success has contributed to thousands of educational and professional experiences that have significantly impacted Whitman students and the Walla Walla community.
Our first stop was at the Green Park Elementary Bi-Lingual program where student mentors from Whitman work one on one with Spanish speaking students. Devyani Gupta ’15 conceived of an idea to provide mentoring to these students. She spent hours developing the concept, presented the idea, and a program was born! There are now over 80 Whitman students who cross Isaacs St. to work with these students and develop supportive relationships to increase student success. This mentor program has been embraced by the school community and families of these children. Gina Yonts, Green Park Elementary Principal, Devyani, Elissa Picozzi ’15, Mrs. Rosas, Green Park Bi-Lingual teacher, and 15 students helped to celebrate President Bridges support of this wonderful program.
Our next stop was to the Walla Walla Downtown Foundation where the SEC has had Interns and Fellows who have worked collaboratively with the WWDF staff on many creative ways to highlight Walla Walla downtown events. Currently Ashley Hansack ’15, a Whitman Community Fellow, is involved in the upcoming “Gentlemen of the Road” event, August 2015, that includes bands such as Mumford and Sons, The Foo Fighters, and many other musical groups. This event is expected to bring over 40,000 visitors to the Walla Walla Valley. Elio Agostini, Executive Director, Gina Grant Bull, Events & Public Relations, and Becca Palmer, Membership & Program Coordinaltor, joined us to honor President Bridges.
In 2013-14 over 1045 students participated in community service events through the SEC – the highest number ever! The SEC has hosted 770 students, parents, alumni, and recruiters at recent networking events. The SEC currently supports 9 student run community service programs, 4 of which were able to begin due to President Bridges support. In 2014 Whitman students interned in 17 different states and 5 foreign countries. 28 students have participated in the year long Sherwood Fellows program that takes them into the local community. Over the last 5 years internship grants offered to students have risen almost 700%.
This just goes to show that when supported to spread their community involvement wings to move out of the “Whitman Bubble”, Whitman students accomplish awesome things. Connecting students to the community helps to develop great partnerships with those community members. We were honored to celebrate these wonderful accomplishments by giving President Bridges a small snapshot of what his support has helped to create!