Presentation of the Class of 2019
August 28, 2015
Tony Cabasco

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

By tradition, it is my duty to give the Whitman community an introduction to the class of 2019.  I hope the following gives you a sense for the individuals who will be joining our community today and helping shape it in the coming years.

Those us in the admission and financial aid offices have been the first to get to know the Class of 2019.   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 impressed us with your academic talents, made us laugh out loud with your sense of humor and storytelling, moved us with your stories of overcoming hardships in your life, and made us take notice of the breadth and depth of your extracurricular accomplishments.  

To the new students:  you're sitting here today because you made an impression on us in the admission office.

This cohort of 384 first-years and transfer students started out as a pool of 30,000 seniors who considered Whitman at some point in their college search.  Nearly 4,000 students applied to Whitman this year, a new record for the College.

  1. The new students are comprised of 367 first-years, 17 transfers.
  2. This is class is academically talented with a median HS GPA above a 3.8 and median SAT's close to 2000.
  3. About 21% are students of color, 13% are first-generation students, and 7% are international students, the largest group of international students in a Whitman entering class.
  4. New students hail from 17 states, and 10 countries.  Washington was the most represented state with 123 students (1/3 of the class), followed by CA with 78, and OR with 45.  The next states most represented are Colorado, Hawaii, Minnesota, Texas, Arizona, and Massachusetts.  
  5. We have international students from Australia, Canada, China, Ghana, Hong Kong, India, Indonesia, South Korea, the UK, and Vietnam. In addition to the international students, 2 US resident students attended HS abroad, and 20 students are dual citizens.
  6. Students from the following cities took the prize for longest trip to Walla Walla:
    • Accra, Ghana - 7,241 miles
    • Kolkata, India - 7,405 miles
    • And the winner this year traveled 7,670 miles from Ho Chi Minh City in Vietnam.
  7. The shortest trip to the Whitman campus was 2 blocks or a 1/10 mile for one of our new students from Walla Walla.
  8. New first-years came from a broad range of high schools:  286 HS's are represented, and 2 of you were homeschooled.  About 62% of you attended a public HS and 35% attended independent or parochial schools.
  9. New students speak 19 languages other than English at home, including Arabic, Armenian, Guajarati, Korean, Portuguese, Spanish, Tamil, Ukrainian, and Vietnamese. 
  10. The average age is 18 but ranges from 16 to 22.  One of you has a birthday today.  

Happy birthday Gaby Thomas.

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

  • One student participated in a project restoring habitat for garter snakes in the San Francisco Bay area (a likely future student of biology professor Kate Jackson).
  • Another helped install solar powered electricity and running water systems in Uganda.
  • A new student is a member of the The Vertical World Rock Climbing team, one of the 
  • nation's top teams.
  • One of our students helped needy families in East Los Angeles by packing and delivering 
  • food.
  • Finally, another new Whittie created a promotional video for a documentary called the Empowerment Project. The film discusses the idea of gender inequality and the roles of women in different societies.

These accomplishments give you a sense for personality of the class of 2019.  These students are also talented musicians, entrepreneurs, accomplished athletes, and volunteers.  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 2019. 

Thank You.