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Cameron Conner ’20

A Catalyst for a Better World

Cameron Conner ’20

Cameron Conner ’20 spent his childhood traveling back and forth from his home state of Washington to Nepal, where his family volunteered to help refugees. At Whitman, he furthered his humanitarian passion by seizing community-enhancing opportunities on campus and in Walla Walla. As a Politics and Rhetoric, Writing, and Public Discourse double major, Conner sought out resources at Whitman’s Career and Community Engagement Center (CCEC) and gained experience by taking student leadership position in various campus groups. Now, he is traveling around the world to study the different community-organizing models in the United Kingdom, Peru, Spain and Mongolia.

At Whitman, I learned early how to quickly adapt to changing situations, build powerful communities and develop successful campaigns.

Cameron’s Pathway

2015 | Accepted to Whitman prior to his Gap Year: Conner spent this time as a Certified Emergency Medical Technician and volunteered in disaster relief in Nepal after a 7.8 magnitude earthquake. His passion inspired another incoming Whittie to join him.
AUG 2016 | Enrolled at Whitman on a merit scholarship recognizing him for his leadership.
2016 | Volunteered in the Walla Walla School District: With support from the CCEC, Conner tutored and gave civil rights and social justice presentations at local schools as part of the nationally recognized program Whitman Teaches the Movement.
2017 | Resident Advisor and Academic Advisor: Lived with predominantly first-years in a residence hall as an on-site resource for academic advice and emotional support.
2018 | Joined the Associated Students of Whitman College (ASWC): Conner served as a senator to create a more just, equitable and authentically representative council. His work led to student representative positions on the Board of Trustees and the COVID-19 Response Team and led to an Executive Council Award for his outstanding contribution to ASWC.
2019 | Named a Newman Civic Fellow: Backed by Whitman’s Office of Fellowships and Grants, Conner was recognized nationally for being a community changemaker and leader. During his fellowship, he worked for a nonprofit advancing the public purposes of higher education.
2019 | Water Campaign Development Intern: The CCEC supported Conner in taking a remote internship with a company fighting for democracy, human rights and climate action. This internship was funded by a Whitman Internship Grant (WIG).
2019 | Neighborhood Engagement Program Coordinator for the City of Walla Walla: Whitman’s CCEC connected Conner with the mayor and city manager. This relationship fostered an internship with the city to create and implement a program dedicated to cultivating community throughout Walla Walla—again, funded by a WIG.
MAY 2020 | Graduated from Whitman College summa cum laude with a B.A. in Politics and Rhetoric, Writing, and Public Discourse.
2021 | Community Organizer at Industrial Areas Foundation in Dallas, Texas
2023 | Thomas J. Watson Fellowship: Conner is currently traveling around the world to explore the “Intersection of Common Wealth and Well-Being”—analyzing the different methods in which communities come together to meet the needs of all of their members.

“Whitman helped me develop three crucial things: a vision for what the world could look like, a group of peers who wanted to make that vision a reality and a space to fail safely then get up and try again,” says Conner, reflecting on what his Whitman education brought him.

Conner continues to draw on these lessons doing meaningful work in the world. Connor has worked with schools, faith-based institutions, and neighborhoods to address exploitative lending practices, immigration reform, behavioral health and substance abuse challenges, as well as equitable distribution of COVID-19 vaccines.

Find Other Upward Pathways

Published on Oct 10, 2023
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