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The Class of 2020 isn’t exactly ending its time at Whitman College like its members planned.

Instead of celebrating the last 50 days or 25 days of classes with fun activities together, they’re each ticking down the moments until graduation virtually, from Walla Walla to their homes around the globe.

And while it’s not what they expected, members of the Whitman College Senior Fund committee are still working hard to create opportunities for the class to celebrate the community they’ve built during their four years at Whitman.

For Nikki Delgado ’20, a psychology major from Bothell, Washington, that means asking her fellow seniors to consider giving back to the organizations that have meant so much to them.

“Whitman has given me a lot of opportunities and resources, a lot of support over the past few years. I think it’s important to give back to the community that’s allowed me to thrive, to grow academically and personally,” said Delgado, who is the philanthropy chair for this year’s Senior Fund.

About the Senior Fund

The records of the Senior Fund go to 1986, and has raised nearly $200,000 to support different aspects of the college. The Class of 2013 holds the record for donations, with 65% of the class contributing for a total of over $15,000.

Typically, the Senior Fund asks members of the graduating class to support the college by making a donation to a group that means a lot to them — it could be an academic department, a student club or athletic team, or to support community engagement programs. Delgado recognizes that COVID-19 has long-lasting financial implications for many students and their families. This year, the fund is focusing on asking those students who are able to make a contribution to the Student Emergency Fund to help other students who are also hurting financially because of the pandemic.

“If students are able to give, we’d love for them to give, but it’s not something we’re going to press them about” Delgado said. “We’d love to have them give to the emergency fund for students who need the extra funding during this time.”

The fund had already raised $1,200 when it launched earlier this spring. The campaign officially goes through May 21.

Keeping Community Alive

Roderick Wang ’20, an economics major from Hefei China, joined the Senior Fund to help celebrate his time at Whitman. As the events chair, Wang’s job is to organize activities for the Class of 2020 to celebrate their final moments as students.

“Switching to online learning means that we won't be able to have physical gatherings to celebrate the 50 and 25 days until graduation as planned, but our amazing committee members have come up with many virtual celebration ideas,” Wang said. That includes Instagram events, throwback videos and online happy hours. 

They’ve also worked with seniors to collect video footage and photos from their time at Whitman to put together commemorative videos.

Their efforts showcase what makes Whitman so special: That even spread across the globe, Whitties are still eager to stay connected and support each other.

“We encourage our classmates to continue to support the Senior Fund amid this special time if they are in a position of giving,” Wang said. “There is no better time to show love and solidarity to those who in need.” 

Students interested in supporting the Senior Fund can make a gift online.