WALLA WALLA, Wash.— More than 50 Seattle seventh-graders affiliated with the Rainier Scholars program will arrive at the Whitman College campus Saturday for a three-day field trip intended to celebrate their hard work of the past year and also to open the door to a future that includes a college education.

The students are members in good standing of the Rainier Scholars, a privately-funded Seattle-based nonprofit program focused on cultivating the academic potential of young people from disadvantaged ethnic minority backgrounds. The program’s primary goal is to encourage and assist students whose potential has too often gone unrecognized and underdeveloped.

The Rainier Scholars is in its fifth year of operation and this will be the fourth set of students to make a summertime visit to Whitman. Each year, Rainier Scholars recruits and enrolls approximately 60 promising students as they finish the fifth grade in the Seattle Public Schools. Admitted students and their families commit to a rigorous academic intervention and enrichment program, and the students visiting Whitman this weekend are celebrating the completion of the program’s first component, a demanding 14-month academic program that spanned two summers as well as their sixth-grade school year.

The students, accompanied by Rainier Scholars staff and chaperones, will stay in a Whitman residence hall and take part in activities ranging from meetings with academic counselors to classroom presentations and campus tours. Whitman President George Bridges will welcome the students Saturday evening at an informal barbeque on the Reid Campus Center lawn.

As Rainier Scholars, these students will receive ongoing academic support as they continue through middle school, high school and beyond. As juniors and seniors they can access leadership training, help with the college application process and financing. Once in college the students can return to the Rainier Scholars for career counseling, academic advising and internship placement.

Whitman sees this weekend as a way to introduce “bright young students from Seattle to the Whitman campus and higher education in general,” said John Bogley, vice president for development and college relations at Whitman. “The Rainier Scholars program represents one of many ways Whitman is working to make the college a more diverse place and to encourage attendance at colleges like Whitman to students of all backgrounds.”.

Assisting with the program is one way to serve the “common good,” said Whitman dean of admission Tony Cabasco. “If more students of color choose to attend college, and perhaps a liberal arts college like Whitman, then we as a society are all the better for it.”

The Rainier Scholars will depart on Monday, just as the Whitman Institute for Summer Enrichment is in full swing. Whitman expects to welcome approximately two dozen Walla Walla 8th and 9th graders to campus on Sunday, Aug. 13, for the WISE program, the college’s all-expense-paid program for promising least-advantaged and/or first generation students. WISE program students will stay in a Whitman residence hall, take classes from Whitman professors and participate in recreational projects while their parents attend admission and financial aid seminars taught by Whitman administrators.


CONTACT: Lenel Parish, Whitman College News Service, (509) 527-5156

Email: parishlj@whitman.edu