Alumni share what it means to be a Whittie—and what motivates them to support The Whitman Fund and our talented students.
Whitman College students are amazing! Jasmine says she’ll be a change agent in her future workplaces. Elena says she’s acquired essential skills for her future in research. Daniel says he’ll always be grateful for the opportunity to grow as a person and leader.
And these current Whitties say that’s thanks in large part to the generous support they’ve received at Whitman.
Each year, thousands of Whitman College alumni invest in the students of today for a better tomorrow. This past year donors made an immediate and transformative impact by contributing $4.6 million to The Whitman Fund.
Every gift adds up to sustain and shape the Whitman experience. These donations help the college maintain and evolve, but more important, they transform the lives of current students and future Whitties.
We spoke with a few of the many Whitman alumni who chose to make a gift this year—to hear why they gave and what the Whitman experience means to them.
What does being a Whittie mean to you?
Carrie Gage ’03: Being a Whittie means being a part of an amazing lifelong community that values learning, innovation and curiosity about the world. I’ve found that Whitties keep seeking out new challenges and growth opportunities long after college ends. Our Whitman friends are some of our closest—and have been transformative in countless ways in our lives and careers. Pictured: Carrie Gage, Jud Heugeland family. Seattle, Washington.
Shilpa Goradia Bratt ’91: A big part of my Whitman education and what I remember the most is the people! At the risk of sounding cheesy, there’s something special that connects us Whitties, old and new—and even today, when I meet a fellow Whitman alum or a high school graduate who is off to Whitman, I gravitate toward them because I know there’s a good chance we’ll get along. When my spouse and I met in Bolivia, I knew the odds were in our favor as soon as I heard he had gone to Whitman!” Pictured: Shilpa Goradia Bratt, Blake Bratt and family. Bellevue, Washington.
Tom Henderson ’83: Being a Whittie is about being well-rounded, analytical and curious about where you fit into the world. It means not having a knee-jerk reaction to what someone says, but stopping to think about it and attempting to understand that person’s point of view. My group of college buddies get together at least once a year. We have a pretty wide range of political views and engage in very robust discussions. And, yes, sometimes there are raised voices but because we share those Whittie values, the immediate reaction is not to be dismissive but to truly listen to each other. Pictured: Tom Henderson and wife Tracy. Denver, Colorado.
Why do you give to The Whitman Fund?
Jud Heugel ’02: Carrie and I want to make bigger contributions toward the causes, people and institutions we believe in. Whitman is all of those, really. Both Carrie and I were able to go to Whitman with the help of scholarships. Neither of us would’ve been able to attend without it. We are passionate for others to get a chance to experience a Whitman education and all that follows.
Paige Organick-Lee ’17: Whitman is more than just a college or somewhere to get a degree—it’s a place for students to grow, change, learn and thrive, and it would not be possible to have such an enriching college without donations. Pictured: Paige and John Organick-Lee.Arlington, Virginia.
Blake Bratt ’92: Whitman provided me with a great group of friends, a solid academic foundation and—even though we didn’t know each other at school—the connection that ultimately led to Shilpa and I getting married. That’s an ROI that is hard to beat.
Q What do you hope gifts like yours will create for students and the future?
Tom:There’s a need out there for more people to view the world through empathetic eyes, and if a Whitman education—a true liberal arts education—can help more people be more empathetic than the world would be a better place.
John Organick-Lee ’14 and Paige:Alumni donations should hopefully allow a more diverse student body with varied socioeconomic backgrounds to obtain access to all Whitman has to offer. We hope alumni donations enrich students’ time at Whitman through supporting the arts, the internship programs, improving diversity and inclusion—as well as expanding and growing campus buildings and the endowment for future success and stability.
How did your Whitman education transform you?
Jud:Whitman provided the foundation for my professional career. I learned to think broadly and deeply, to analyze and write, to question assumptions and to stay curious and open-minded. In those small classes, I was able to connect directly with professors and form close relationships which were pivotal in getting through some tough academic challenges.
Carrie:Whitman taught me to have the curiosity and confidence to reach far and to believe in myself, but also to pursue meaningful opportunities. Coming out of Whitman, I felt empowered to try something different—that meant more than just a job. Whitman helped me develop the tools, confidence and passion to bet on a unique path.
Blake:Whitman created a foundation for lifelong curiosity for others. We both followed up Whitman with time in Latin America while in the Peace Corps—which cemented that curiosity. Our journeys have continued that exploration, whether living in Asia, working with global teams or the various jobs we’ve taken at Microsoft.
Which Whitman Fund designation did you choose and why?
John: I was able to attend Whitman thanks to the incredible generosity of Whitman’s scholarship fund. I am forever grateful, especially when reflecting on the friends and experiences I had at Whitman. That’s why I felt compelled to give to the scholarship funds—so students in similar financial situations are able to make their college choices without having to consider finances.
Paige: I’ve worked for a nonprofit organization and understand the value of greatest-need donations. Thanks to unrestricted donations, we were able to use these funds in unglamorous ways that people often don’t think about … such as paying for utilities or fixing a leaking roof. While I understand the desire to support something specific, I trust Whitman will use the funds in my unrestricted donation in important ways that will benefit all students and secure the future of the college.
Blake: Financial aid played a significant role in me going to and, more importantly, staying at Whitman. I remember how it felt to have a great opportunity and the uncertainty of ability to pay for college. My hope is that if a future student has done the work to gain admission, money doesn’t get in the way of an opportunity that can change your life in so many aspects.
“So much of what my life currently looks like at Whitman is thanks to the scholarship and aid in covering my tuition. … It allows me to fully immerse myself in Whitman’s culture, become a leader and give back to my community.”
“As a senior looking back at my Whitman journey, I can’t think of a better place where I could grow and learn as much as I did here. Scholarships allowed me to conduct scientific research with my instructor, explore the field of pollination biology and acquire essential skills for my research career. Now, my instructor and I are working on a scientific publication based on our research.”
“I could not attend Whitman without the generous aid awarded to me. The scholarships I’ve received make me feel like a part of Whitman—my voice is valued. Whitman would not be the same without the diversity of voices made possible with the scholarships provided by our generous donors. This fortified my commitment to be as engaged as possible with the academics and community here.”