Students in the WISE program extract DNA samples during a biology lab taught by Assistant Professor of Biology Arielle Cooley (left, standing).
Students in the WISE program extract DNA samples during a biology lab taught by Assistant Professor of Biology Arielle Cooley (left, standing). Photos courtesy of politics major Adyiam Kimbrough '19.

—Staff report

About two dozen students from five local middle schools came to Whitman College late last month for the 11th annual Whitman Institute for Scholastic Enrichment (WISE). Intended to excite rising ninth-graders about higher education, the program prioritizes students from low-income backgrounds and provides three days of immersion, with all expenses paid.

"Having the chance to ask questions of the Whitman students and to hear their stories of how they made it to college can be very inspiring for the younger students," said program coordinator Sonja Aikens. "After attending WISE, a college campus feels less foreign and scary. We hope this sense of familiarity will encourage them to look toward college for themselves in a few years."  

Participants attend classes with Whitman professors, eat meals in dining halls, spend two nights in a residence hall under the supervision of Whitman RAs and enjoy activities like soccer on Ankeny Field. WISE participants and their parents also can sign up for college prep workshops and panels with Whitman financial aid and admission staff.

More than 300 local secondary students have benefited from the WISE program since its inception.

See below for highlights from this year.

In a workshop led by Whitman students, WISE participants research colleges online, matching their interests and goals with schools they might apply to down the road.

WISE participants practice yoga poses with an instructor from Walla Walla’s Revolver Yoga Studio.

Whitman student volunteers teach a class on self-care, covering topics such as anxiety about school, coping with peer pressure and setting healthy and appropriate boundaries.

WISE students develop self-care toolboxes with assistance from rhetoric studies major Helena Platt ’19 (standing).

On a hot afternoon, WISE students cool off in Whitman’s Harvey Pool.

Before lights out, WISE students spend time journaling, a way to reflect on their experiences on campus while polishing writing skills and increasing self-awareness.