Alumna/us of Merit Award

The Alumna of Merit Award is the highest honor the Alumni Association bestows on an alumnus of Whitman College. This award is given to alumni who have achieved distinction in their chosen field, or rendered outstanding service to their community, or rendered outstanding service to, and demonstrated loyal interest in, Whitman College. Members of the Board of Trustees, the Board of Overseers, and the Board of Directors of the Alumni Association are eligible three years after their last term has been served.

Recipient for 2015 is Linda ‘Jay’ Jackson ’71

A former teacher and photographer, Linda ‘Jay’ Jackson ’71 has turned an eye-opening visit to Nepal into an effective non-profit organization assisting citizens in this developing nation in the areas of medicine, education and water supply.

2015 Alumna of Merit Award, Linda "Jay" Jacobson '71In Jay’s own words, “The first year I taught school, a brilliant student in my photography class told me he would become a doctor, donate his time in developing countries, and take me with him as his documentary photographer. Today he is an ophthalmologist and twenty years after his original statement, he indeed took me with him on his humanitarian mission to Nepal.”

That trip led to the founding of Helping Hand for Nepal (HHN) in 2001. Since that time, Jay has been working tirelessly to assist the people of this country, among the poorest and least-developed countries in the world. Beginning with eye care, the efforts of HHN have now expanded to include clean water supply projects, education, mobilization of volunteers, collection of surgical supplies and livestock projects. The recent earthquakes and accompanying aftershocks have added another element to HHN’s work: disaster relief.

Jay has been recognized for her humanitarian efforts by Nepal’s Prime Minister; Sister Cities International’s Oakland Service Award/Humanitarian; the U.S. Ambassador’s Community Service Award; the Bridge Builders President’s Award and the Alaskan Governor’s North Star Award/International Excellence, Humanitarian. The Alumni Association is pleased to add one more to the list: The 2015 Alumna of Merit Award.