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This summer, the Student Engagement Center (SEC) welcomed two new fellows who will be a critical resource for students during the 2018-19 academic year. Kendra Winchester ‘19 will serve as the SEC's Civic Engagement Fellow, and Molly Unsworth '18 accepted the yearlong fellowship in Technology and Marketing. While the Civic Engagement fellowship is a new position, the Technology and Marketing fellowship is in its sixth year. The positions allow recent graduates to gain essential job experience while serving the Whitman community.

As the Civic Engagement Fellow, Winchester will mentor students, as well as meet with faculty and staff and interact with the community, in support of Whitman's community focused programs. Unsworth's responsibilities include creating materials for SEC programs as well as updating the SEC website and social media.

A photo of Kendra WinchesterKendra Winchester '19, Rhetoric

1. What are the top three objectives you're looking to accomplish during this fellowship?

A main objective this year is to help students realize that their passions can be crafted into future career opportunities. One overarching goal of the Student Engagement Center is for students to understand that community service, internships, employment and academics can and should work contemporaneously. Another objective I am passionate about is to expand on the community partnerships Whitman collaborates with, while also creating new ones. Finally, I hope to work with Whitman faculty within these community partnerships for community-based learning opportunities.

2. What experiences from your time at Whitman will you draw on when attempting to connect students with community organizations?

My experiences at Whitman were largely shaped from pre-Whitman life. Being from the region, coming from working class homes and inhabiting a seemingly black body crafted a reality that is different from many students here. It was not until I accepted this fellowship that I realized all the work I put into academics and experiences in the community while going to college fit perfectly into a position like this. Particularly my work last year at Wa-Hi inspired me. I realized how much I saw myself reflected in the students there. I observed many disparities in these students' lives and the lives of my peers at Whitman. These range from immigration rights, homelessness, food insecurity, first generation/working class folks, etc. Each of these issues not only affected some of the high school students, but their families and by virtue, the greater Walla Walla community. Having said that, I hope to amplify what partnerships are already existing and to create new ones with a focus on individual and community compassion.

3. What are you most looking forward to a summer draws to a close and the new school year begins?

I am really looking forward to working with students. My hope is to have my door always open to students, faculty, staff and alumni for anything I can help them achieve. As the academic year approaches I know that it will only become busier in the center, but having students around will only feed my energy throughout the year. I am hoping to be inspired myself. I also will be completing my senior thesis to finish my Bachelor of Arts in rhetoric studies.

4. How do you feel this fellowship will assist you in your future career goals?

Coming out of Whitman I knew that I was passionate about this community, and also eager to show my fellow Whitman-affiliated folks some of the essence of Walla Walla. With that, I also knew that whatever it is I want to be in the future, it will be done with compassion. This position will help amplify that quality as well as others that I hope gain and improve on. Another aspect of this fellowship that will help me reach my future career goals is that of meeting, networking and collaborating with a variety of people. These opportunities will occur through our already existing community partners, alumni, faculty, staff and everyone in between. I have already met multiple people who have been so awe-inspiring. I know for a fact, that meeting more of these people within the valley will only continue throughout the year.

A portrait of Molly UnsworthMolly Unsworth '18, Biology

1. What experiences from your time at Whitman will you draw on when assisting in increasing the understanding of the resources offered by the SEC?

While at Whitman, I was the Panhellenic president for 1.5 years, as well as a sexual violence prevention intern for three years, which allowed me to develop a broad knowledge of resources provided by the college. In my position at the SEC, I hope to continue making the resources available on campus accessible and known to all students.

2. How will you use social media when developing advertising campaigns for the SEC?

I am looking forward to continuing the active presence of the SEC on Facebook and over email as has existed in the past, while also exploring new platforms that can better connect us with students. This fall I am planning on launching a SEC Instagram page, so stay tuned for exciting updates on programs, as well as profiles on how students and alumni are staying engaged!

3. What are you most looking forward to a summer draws to a close and the new school year begins?

As summer rapidly seems to come to an end, I am very excited to see the return of students and all that follows. As a recent graduate myself, this is actually the first summer I have spent on campus and is the longest amount of time I have been at Whitman without students around. While I have enjoyed the peace and quiet, I am looking forward to seeing familiar faces and to meeting the incoming Class of 2022. I have also been eagerly awaiting the opening of Stanton Hall and Cleveland Commons, so on a personal level I am excited to watch them both become centers for student life on campus.

4. How do you feel this fellowship will assist you in your future career goals?

As a recent grad, this position is a fantastic first step that will help me develop many skills useful in my career development. Already, it has pushed me to improve my email and verbal communication skills, and required me to develop a more professional wardrobe. From the tech side of my job, which has led to my increased proficiency in several computer programs, to the marketing side, which has helped me better understand how to communicate with different audiences, skills I take from this job will easily translate to any career path I take in the future. In addition, it has been a joy to work with the other staff in the office and I consider myself incredibly lucky to have found a first job that makes me genuinely excited to come into the office every day.