Alumna Sara Frey '98 joins Whitman staff 20 years after graduation

Sara Frey was convinced to come to Whitman College by a very simple element: Paper.

As a high schooler, she was used to hearing a friend of her grandparents talk about his experience at Whitman College, and he encouraged her to look into it. And then she took the SATs, and the onslaught of college admission brochures began.

“Whitman’s materials stood out … what convinced me was the paper,” said Frey ’98, who majored in environmental studies and politics. “They had a really unique recycled paper look at the time.”

An on-campus tour of Whitman sealed the deal.

Sara Frey
Sara Frey '98

“The moment the tour was over, I told my dad, ‘This is where I’m going to school.’ It was more of a feeling than anything — these are my people; this is where I want to be,” she said.

Twenty years after earning her degree, Whitman is again where Frey wants to be. In May she accepted a position as executive assistant to Chief Financial Officer Peter Harvey ’84.

“I’m happy to be back on campus. I feel like I have a bit of an advantage as an alumna — knowing the names of the buildings, knowing some of the history,” she said. “At least if a former president walks in, I’d know who they are.”

It’s not Frey’s first time being a staff member at the college. After graduation, she was in the Alumni Office working with students and organizing alumni events. Then she decided to pursue a career in massage therapy, establishing her own business in Walla Walla.

“I thought it was amazing that you could have a career where you make people feel bet-ter for a living — people are happy to see you, you can choose your hours, you don’t even have to wear shoes if you don’t want,” she said. “I thought, ‘What a cool job.’”

But when she and her husband, Griffin, welcomed their daughter Ruby into the world five years ago, she realized it would soon be time for a change. Massage therapy is a physically demanding career and can be strenuous on the body.

“I was concerned about the long-term impact. I have a 5-year-old: What would happen if I fall and break my wrist?” she said. “Mentally, I was ready for a change as well. I went through a lot of soul-searching and talking to mentors. I kept an eye on the Whitman positions that came up. I have a lot of respect for Peter as a member of the Whit-man community and as a mentor.”

As Harvey’s executive assistant, Frey is often a first point of contact for many alumni, employees and campus visitors, many of whom know Harvey from his long career and activities in the community.

“When you live here, you find out what a small town Walla Walla can be. You’ll end up knowing people you see at the golf course or at Rotary,” Frey said. “There are so many different facets of relationships. But we all have that Whitman connection.”

Editor’s Note: The Whitman Connection is a new feature in each issue of Whitman Magazine where we share a story of one of our alumni who work at the college. If you would like to nominate a current employee to be featured, please email tranchse@whitman.edu.