Maeve McCracken ’19 Reflects on “Popping the Whitman Bubble” at YWCA Walla Walla, WA

Hey everyone! We are over halfway through the academic year, which means that my internship is almost at a close! As a graduating senior, second semester has been full of nostalgia for me as I think back on the past four years and my time at Whitman. I’d like to use this blog post (my final one!) to reflect on the opportunities that the YWCA of Walla Walla has given me, and to encourage any Whitman students reading this, to go out and engage with the community that we live in!

As Whitties, we quickly come to realize that we live in a world that is very different from the greater Walla Walla community. Referred to as “the Whitman bubble” our campus is a space apart from the happenings of the Walla Walla community, and without active engagement, it is easy to fall into a routine that doesn’t extend much beyond Isaacs and Boyer (the two streets on either end of campus). My first two years at Whitman, I found myself falling into this pattern; I went to classes, participated in extracurriculars, spent late nights in the library studying, and had fun with my friends just as all Whitties do, but I never ventured further than getting a drink downtown at Coffee Perk, or going to one of Walla Walla’s amazing food truck nights. I found that my college experience was lacking somewhat and hadn’t broadened my horizons in the way that I thought it would. That was when I decided to become a volunteer for the YWCA of Walla Walla.

Two years later and I am still working at the YWCA, and it has become an organization with a cause very near and dear to my heart. The YWCA provides advocacy services to individuals who have experienced sexual violence and domestic abuse. The mission is “Eliminating racism and empowering women”, which I think is incredibly important. The YWCA not only provides advocacy counseling and access to resources, but they put on a variety of programming as well, aimed at developing community capacities and individual capabilities. The work that we do is crucial for educating individuals and the community about the resources available, as well as develop the community capabilities in an effort to eliminate domestic violence within our community.

Working at the YWCA has been one of the most influential experiences of my life. Through this incredible organization I have been able participate in meaningful work that has had a direct positive impact on the community that I live in. I have had the opportunity to participate in Core training to become and advocate in the state of Washington, observe client counseling, participate in client intake and orientation, learn how to fill out protection orders, observe court docket, plan programming for the Whitman campus, and so much more. The skills that I have gained are innumerable, but more than that the connections that I have been able to forge with the Walla Walla community invaluable. Being an intern at the YWCA allowed me pop that “Whitman bubble” and have a positive impact on the community that I am so lucky to be a part of.

Community engagement is such an important aspect of the college experience. Without the connections that I made through the YWCA, and the experiences that I have had, I would not be the person that I am today. Whitman takes pride in the fact that its students have a genuine desire to participate in the Walla Walla community, but there is always more to be done. Whitman students are bright and passionate critical thinkers with a lot to offer the community, and the community has a lot to offer us. Walla Walla became home for me when I was able to walk down the street and say hello to people outside of my Whitman community. I felt like I was a genuine member of the Walla Walla community as well, and that really solidified for me that Whitman and Walla Walla had been the right choice. I am so grateful for the opportunity to work at the YWCA, and I have valued every minute of my time spent engaging in such meaningful work.

Experiences like Maeve’s are made possible by the Whitman Internship Grant, which provides funding for students to participate in unpaid internships at both for-profit and non-profit organizations. To learn how you could secure a Whitman Internship Grant or host a Whitman intern at your organization, click here or contact Assistant Director for Internship Programs Victoria Wolff

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