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Pete Reid Award for Young Alumni

The Pete Reid Award for Young Alumni is given by the Alumni Association to someone whose youthful exuberance is demonstrated toward his or her career, community, and Whitman College as exemplified by Pete Reid ’49, in his service to the College. This award is limited to graduates of the last ten years. Standards for recognition include outstanding recognition in his or her career or field of work or outstanding commitment in service to others, and a demonstrated commitment to Whitman College.

The 2023 Pete Reid Award Winner, Kate Kunkel-Patterson ‘13

Kate Kunkell-Patterson

The 2023 Pete Reid Award for Young Alumni goes to Kate Kunkel-Patterson ’13 for her dedication to her community, and her deep commitment to Whitman College. Currently, Kate is the Ranger at the Whitman Mission National Historic Site. Since graduating in 2013, Kate has played a unique and multifaceted role in helping Whitman students, faculty, staff, and alumni engage with Whitman’s place and past, in large part through her work at the Mission and her interaction with the campus community.

Professor Emeritus of Religion and General Studies Rogers Miles, characterized Kate’s important role at the Mission in this way: “Kate is doing valuable work in interpreting the Whitmans as the National Historic Site seeks to deepen its relations with the Confederated Tribes and move the park’s interpretive program from one of neutrality toward the Whitmans and the Cayuse—inviting visitors to walk in the shoes of both parties without taking sides—to a more critical perspective of the settler colonialism in which the Whitmans played a part. Her career attests to the fine work that Whitman’s history department has done in instilling both a love for and a critical appreciation of the historical discipline in its majors.”

From her unique vantage point, Kate has made ample contributions to Whitman College’s efforts to educate our students, staff, and faculty about our place. For many years Kate has volunteered her time to educate new students in the annual Home in Pasxapa orientation event. Dean of Students Kazi Joshua, whose office oversees this initiative said, “In the middle of the new awakening about how we have mutually beneficial relationships with the CTUIR, she has been an invaluable teacher to our community. Her involvement has also extended to the First Year Experience. This academic year (Fall 2022), five sections of the course visited the Mission Site and Kate organized a group of guides and teachers to contextualize the history of the region to the first-year students.”

Kate was a unique partner in the Spring 2022 Long Tent initiative. Early on in the visioning sessions, Kate eagerly committed the tent poles and canvases from the Whitman Mission inventory to be used. This generosity began a more extensive partnership between the Mission Site and Whitman College that endured throughout the project, including an informational booth that Kate and her NPS colleagues set up during the time the Tent was up. Kate also played an important role in introducing Et-twaii-lish Marjorie Waheneka (Cayuse, Palouse, Umatilla, and Warm Springs) for a special evening program that took place in conjunction with the Tent about growing up with traditional elders and practicing traditional lifeways. Ms. Waheneka, one of Kate’s mentors and sources of inspiration, is the first-ever US Park Ranger (in the Interpretation program) of Native American background to work at Whitman Mission NHS.

In addition to all of these ways of bringing knowledge and understanding to the Whitman community, Kate has also been a wonderful partner for the Career and Community Engagement Center by teaching students how to apply for internships and post-graduate jobs not just with the National Park Service but with the entire federal government through the USAJOBS portal.

All in all, through her professional work, her contributions to helping Whitman engage with our place through an expanded understanding of the peoples, cultures, and history of this region, and her dedication to helping current students move toward professional roles as public historians, Kate has undoubtedly made a profound impact on our institution and the broader community. Her tireless efforts in promoting inclusivity, fostering meaningful connections, and preserving the rich tapestry of our local heritage have not only elevated the educational experience at Whitman but have also empowered countless individuals to embrace their own histories and identities.


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