Whitman news since 1896

Whitman Wire

Vol. CLIV, Issue 4
Whitman news since 1896

Whitman Wire

Whitman news since 1896

Whitman Wire

Class of ’09 prepared to tackle challenges ahead

Members of the Class of '09 mingle at a wine tasting event at Merchants. Organized by the Senior Class Committee, the event celebrated the last 25 days until graduation. Credit: Kim.
Members of the Class of '09 mingle at a wine tasting event at Merchants. Organized by the Senior Class Committee, the event celebrated the last 25 days until graduation. Credit: Kim.

Since their arrival in August 2005, the students of the class of 2009 have greatly  impacted the Whitman community.

Although it’s difficult to define a class made up of 340 individuals, Dean of Students Chuck Cleveland says the class of 2009 consists of leaders and doers.  

“This class has brought activism back to campus,” he said. “They leave a legacy of change, activism and concern for others: both globally and locally.”

He mentioned the work of Whitman Direct Action (WDA) and Campus Greens specifically, and noted that many of the seniors’ efforts have had an environmental focus. He also emphasized the class’s generosity.  

“They show a real caring for others,” he said. “The Emergency Fund for students: that’s the work of the seniors. The seniors led that charge, along with junior David Changa-Moon.”

The seniors will certainly have to use their creativity, enthusiasm and intelligence once they hit “the real world”: they’re graduating in the crux of an economic downturn.

Who is the Class of 2009?
Credits & Majors    

Students need 124 credits to graduate from Whitman. The average number of completed credits was 126. 27 students are graduating with a double major. The most popular majors are biology (31 students), psychology (29 students) and politics (27 students). In addition, there are seven Biology-Environmental Studies majors, one Biology-Geology major, and five Politics-Environmental Studies majors. There are 54 students in the combined Environmental Studies major, with the largest number (12) in the Environmental Humanities major and the smallest number (2) in the Physics-Environmental Studies major.

Popular Courses

The most common courses taken by students graduating this May were Psychology 110: Introduction to Psychology, Economics 107: Principles of Economics, Chemistry 125: General Chemistry, Art History 103: Introduction to Art History, and Math 126: Calculus II.

Admissions Facts

69 percent were involved in community service in high school; 56 percent participated in at least one varsity sport; 55 percent did music (vocal and instrumental); 29 percent participated in outdoor activities; 22 percent were captain or co-captain of a varsity sport; 22 percent participated in theater in high school; 36 percent were editor/co-editor of the newspaper, yearbook, or literary magazine (9 percent). 23 founded a club or student organization; 12 were Eagle Scouts; 12 were ASB or senior class president. The entering class traveled to 59 countries and spoke more than 18 languages.

Facts and Figures

Eight percent of graduating students transferred to Whitman from another college or university. 361 first-years enrolled at Whitman in September 2005, and 83 percent of students graduating this May entered Whitman in September 2005. 19 students will graduate in September: a remarkably high number compared to past years. 340 students are expected to graduate on May 24, but the number may change due to difficulties with transfer credits; 23 percent of the class of 2009 participated in a Varsity Sport at Whitman; 77 percent of graduating seniors are Caucasian; nine percent are Asian/Pacific Islander; six percent are Hispanic/Latino, three percent are international students; three percent are Black/African American and two percent are American Indian/Alaskan Native. Male students comprise 51 percent of students that enrolled at Whitman in September 2005, and 49 percent are female. In contrast, 50 percent of graduating students are male and 50 percent are female.

*Data is from the Profile of the Class of 2009, compiled by the Admissions Office in September 2005, and a Class of 2009 Fact Sheet, compiled in 2009 by Neal Christopherson in the Office of Institutional Research.

Ruth Wardwell, the director of communications, emphasized the difficulties that graduating students face.

“I have only the best wishes for this class but it comes with concern on their behalf,” she said. “For those who want jobs right away, their challenges are great. For those who want to go to grad school, they are well prepared and that’s a good feeling.”

Barbara Maxwell, the associate dean of students for student programs and activities, also recognized the unfortunate financial climate. Additionally, though, she recalled the tragedy that occurred during the class’s opening week in 2005: Hurricane Katrina.  

“Their bookends are not positive, but my guess is that they’ll rise above that,” she said.

Each Whitman affiliate has interacted with the graduating seniors in a different context. Some remember specific events and others remember certain students.

As the Dean of Admission and Financial Aid, Tony Cabasco knew the class before its members even arrived on campus. When the members of the class of 2009 applied to Whitman, their SATs scores were out of 1600, not 2400. Of the 361 first-years that enrolled in September 2005, 39 were first-generation students, 53 were valedictorians at their high school, and 51 had a familial connection with Whitman.  

Once enrolled students arrive on campus, though, they are no longer defined by their performance in high school but by their contributions to Whitman.

“On May 24, we’re going to be cheering,” said Cabasco. “We got to know them as high school seniors, we got excited to see them come to Whitman, and then we got to see them get involved once they arrived.”

Although she has only been at Whitman since the fall of 2006, Andrea Ramirez, the director of student activities, has also enjoyed watching the seniors’ development.

Ramirez works with students in many different contexts, but most frequently through the
Associated Students of Whitman College (ASWC) and the Campus Activities Board (CAB).  

“The students that I’ve worked with have been really outgoing and committed to what they’re involved with on campus,” she said. “It’s been great to see the seniors figure out what they want to accomplish and become their own person, finally feeling comfortable with who they are,” she said. “They start to see themselves as adults and role models.”

The seniors’ accomplishments transcend academics, but their scholarly achievement is also noteworthy. Twenty nine percent of the class will graduate Cum Laude (Whitman GPA of 3.650 or greater), Magna Cum Laude (Whitman GPA of 3.800 or greater), or Summa Cum Laude (Whitman GPA of 3.900 or greater).

Although Cabasco is sad to see the seniors go, he knows they’ll be back.

“When we admit high school seniors, we’re not just recruiting students: we’re
recruiting alumni,” he said.  

Cleveland shares a similar sentiment.

“We’ll see this class again,” he said. “They may be gone, but they’re still connected.”

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