Gateway Program sends WWCC students to Whitman

Molly Smith

Full-time students are not the only people taking classes at Whitman. Two Whitman programs allow local community college students and high school students to take classes at Whitman as well.

The Walla Walla Community College (WWCC) Gateway Program was created two years ago.

“The primary purpose of the Gateway Program is to encourage low income and first generation, as well as other Walla Walla Community College students from diverse backgrounds, to pursue a liberal arts education at Whitman College,” said Dean of Admission & Financial Aid Tony Cabasco.

It allows qualified WWCC students to take one to two courses at Whitman during the spring semester alongside taking classes at WWCC. Based on the students’ performance in the class, they may apply as a transfer student to Whitman and will be given special consideration as a Gateway Program student.

Two WWCC students who took part in the Gateway Program are now fully enrolled at Whitman, and two WWCC students are currently in the program this semester.

“I took Core for my class, which sealed my decision to come to Whitman,” said junior Gabe Kiefel, a Gateway participant and now a full-time Whitman student.

“I think the Gateway Program is a great bridging program. It brings a kind of unity to the battle that exists between ‘Townies’ and ‘Whitties.’ Being both allows me to see the best of both worlds,” said Kiefel of his experience.

The long-standing High School Enrichment Program allows 16 local high school students to register for one class at Whitman each semester. The 16 spots in the program are allocated among Walla Walla High School and Desales Senior High School in Walla Walla and McLoughlin High School in neighboring Milton-Freewater.

The program is open to any high school student with a GPA of 3.6 or above, and interested students are required to fill out an application.

Students are able to register for any class offered as long as any pre-requisites are met. They receive college credit for the classes they take and a transcript from Whitman. Popular courses students in the program opt to take include these in the math and language departments.

Admission to the program was once fairly competitive; however, application rates have been down in the past years. The average number of students in this program is between 12 and 14 each semester. David Guichard, professor of mathematics and director of the High School Enrichment Program, attributes the decrease in admissions to changing schedules at the high schools, making it more difficult for students to find time and space in their schedules.

Although students who have been part of the High School Enrichment Program do sometimes enroll as full-time students at Whitman, unlike the Gateway Program this is not a goal of the program. Rather, it is to expose students to college-level work.

“It does something good for and gives back to the local community,” said Guichard.   “Students who take part in the program and their parents are very appreciative.”