Two Whitman juniors will be honored for civic excellence tomorrow at the Students Serving Washington Awards ceremony in Seattle, where they will receive Presidents' Leadership Awards.
Politics major Kaitie Dong '18 and sociology major Cassandra Otero '18 are the first Whitties to earn the honor, which is bestowed annually on two students from each member institution of the Washington Campus Compact, a statewide coalition of colleges and universities committed to advancing civic and social responsibility.
In addition, Otero will take home a Governor's Award, conferred to three students from the pool of Presidents' Leadership Award winners. Gov. Jay Inslee chose her as the top student leader at an independent college in the state.
Otero has supported immigrants' rights groups, raised awareness about the status of day laborers in the Northwest and interned at the office of a local immigration attorney.
"Cassandra's relationships with local leaders and her keen understanding of current advocacy campaigns help her educate our campus about these issues and open up ways that students can become involved," President Kathleen Murray wrote in her nomination letter.
Dong has likewise promoted diversity and inclusion at the college through her roles in residence life, the Strategic Planning Committee and the Power and Privilege Symposium. She will spend this summer interning with the Refugee Women's Alliance in Seattle, helping to create a youth civic engagement project while conducting research and assisting with fundraising.
"Kaitie's engagement with the world around her comes from a place of generosity, humility and optimism—a model for all of us," President Murray wrote. "She understands what it takes to hear and then amplify voices that might otherwise be omitted."