From tattoo removal to legal aid to Native American art: nothing is off limits for students helping community groups through the Whitman Fellows program.

The program, which pairs students with local nonprofits, provides extraordinary opportunities for Whitman juniors and seniors to enhance their classroom studies through paid internships.

Students spend an entire academic year working with local nonprofit and public organizations in the Walla Walla area. The popular program is currently taking applications from organizations that would like to participate in the coming year.

And the agencies that participate say they gain just as much as the students do.

“Since ours is a completely volunteer organization, we relied our fellow, in more ways that I could have ever imagined,” said Sergio Hernandez, founder of INK-OUT. “Her work ethic, follow-through on requests and ability to see the big picture as well as the small details has been amazing.” He added, “we hope her experience with us has enriched her life as much as she has ours."

Fellows are paid by Whitman College and work 6 to 7 hours per week over the course of the year.

Past participants say being involved with an organization consistently for a full school year allowed them to help with a variety of projects and build long-lasting professional habits and relationships.

“Balancing school work and a ten-hour a week commitment is a helpful transition from senior year into the professional world,” said 2014 fellow Emily Ford ’15. “Due to the longevity of the internship, it is easy to see growth in confidence, professionalism and responsibility.”

This year, six Whitman students will be placed with nonprofits in the Walla Walla Valley.

The Fellow program, launched in 2012, has placed students in local organizations such as INK-OUT—a free Tattoo Removal Project, the Walla Walla Symphony, Crow’s Shadow Institute of the Arts, Blue Mountain Action Council, and Community Council.

"It is remarkable how they dive into unknown waters, explore foreign terrains, create new databases, new music programs and pioneer projects no one at their organization was able to tackle," said Whitman College Internship Coordinator Victoria Wolff.

Application packets for organizations wishing to have a Fellow are available 9:00 a.m. on Monday, June 15, by contacting Marisol Becerra in the Student Engagement Center via becerrm@whitman.edu. Applications for Fellow positions will be due at noon on Friday, July 17. No applications will be reviewed before that date.

Proposals will be evaluated based on a demonstration of a combination of factors, including the specific project, the capacity for a student to make a meaningful and lasting contribution to the organization, the role of the supervisor or mentor, professional support given to the fellow during the year and the professional environment the student will be working in.

The program is funded by support from the Sherwood Trust.