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Presentation of the Class of 2016

by Tony Cabasco
Dean of Admission and Financial Aid
Friday, August 27, 2012 

Good afternoon.  I would like to add my welcome to the new students and their families.  We are delighted that you are all here and excited for the students to begin their Whitman experience.

Today is an exciting time for us at the College and for those us in the admission and financial aid offices who have been the first to get to know the Class of 2016.  We have waited anxiously for this day to welcome you to Whitman and see your smiling faces on campus.

By tradition, it is my duty to give you some information about the new entering students.  The class of 2016 is an academically talented and diverse group of students.  You might say all Deans of Admission like to say that, but it’s generally true in this case.


Crafting a class of students is a labor intensive and challenging task, but I would like to think that admission staff and I were successful in finding students who are academically talented, down-to-earth, highly engaged in their communities, and who bring diverse interests.  In reading applications this year, many of you made us laugh out loud with your sense of humor and storytelling, some of you moved us with your stories of overcoming hardships in your life, others impressed us with your academic prowess and some impressed with the breadth and depth of your accomplishments. 

To the new students:  you’re seating here today because you made an impression on many of us in the admission office.

This cohort of 409 first-years and transfer students started out as a pool of 26,000 high schools who considered Whitman at some point in their college search, and about 3,000 completed an application.

I’d like to share a few interesting details about the new students to give you a flavor for the mix of the individuals who are joining the Whitman community:

  1. The new students are comprised of 384 first-years, 23 transfers, and 2 students from exchange programs with universities in China and Japan.
  2. This is class is academically talented – 63% were in the top 10% of their HS class.  Thirty-nine were valedictorians.  66 were identified as AP Scholars.
  3. About 20% are students of color, 9% are first-generation students, 4% are international students, and 4% are dual citizens.
  4. New students hail from 30 states, DC, Puerto Rico, Saipan, and 10 other countries.  Washington was the most represented state with 125 students (30%), followed by CA with 94 (23%), and OR with 56 (14%) and MN with 22.  The next states most represented are CO, MA, TX, ID, and NM.
  5. We have international students from China, Egypt, Hong Kong, Iran, Iraq, Mexico, Rwanda, Thailand, and Vietnam.  In my 20 years at Whitman, this is the first time that students from Iraq and Rwanda are part of the Whitman student body.
  6. You came from a broad range of high schools:  288 HS’s are represented, and one of you was homeschooled.  In addition to the international students, several of you attended HS abroad in Argentina, Indonesia, Japan, and the UK.  About 70% of you attended a public HS and 30% attended independent or parochial schools.
    1. Roosevelt HS in Seattle sent us 7 students
    2. Palo Alto HS in CA and Garfield in Seattle - 6
  7. Nineteen languages other than English were spoken at home by new students, including Afrikaans, Arabic, Korean, Punjabi, Russian, and Tagalog.
  8.  This entering class are comprised of student leaders.
    1. 18 of you were ASB or class presidents. 
    2. 60 were club presidents.
    3. 26 were editor or co-editors of your newspaper or yearbook
    4. 95 were captains or co-captains of a varsity athletic team.
  9. The new students were highly engaged in their HS communities:
    1. About 87% did some sort of community service in HS
    2. 52% were varsity athletes.
    3. 48% are vocal and instrumental musicians.
    4. Nearly 1 in 4 were involved in drama.

In culling through applications this year, I found a few interesting tidbits:

Members of this class created student organizations like the Baking club, a Quidditch team, the Anti-Human Trafficking club, and one of you had the distinction of being President of the Break Dancing club.

A new student interned at the Smithsonian Museum of American History.

One of you had an essay published for NPR’s “This I Believe” series.

Finally, One of you made an appearance on the David Letterman show for placing 2nd in a bird-calling contest.


These accomplishments are impressive, and I look forward to the contributions that you will make in and outside of the classroom at Whitman.

To members of the Whitman community—faculty, staff, current students, alumni, and friends—I proudly present the new transfer students and the class of 2016.

Thank You.

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