Whitman Internship Grant in Walla Walla

Kate Grumbles, News Editor

The Whitman Internship Grant funded 129 student internships this summer all over the world, from Walla Walla to Thailand.

The Whitman Internship Grant is available to any rising sophomores, juniors or seniors who have an internship that matches their career interests, providing a unique and formative experience. The grant stipulates 10 weeks of work, at 20 hours per week to receive the $2,500 payment. The internships ranged in placement from stateside to international; this year saw eight international internships. Another significant number was the 33 students who had Whitman-funded internships in Walla Walla. The number of students using the grant to stay in Walla Walla has been increasing steadily since the start of the grant, indicating that more students are realizing the value of learning more about the community we live in during the school year.

Victoria Wolff, the coordinator of the grant, sees the increased number of internships in Walla Walla as a positive step towards meshing the campus and the surrounding community.

“There’s a push from students to be a member of the [Walla Walla] community and a lot of students see the value in contributing to local nonprofits or government agencies,” Wolff said. “A lot of students volunteer and I think that is often a segue into the Walla Walla community and understanding what types of options are available, kind of popping the bubble.”

One of the students who chose to stay in Walla Walla was Katy Woodall, a senior sociology major. Woodall worked at Welcome Table Farms; a small organic vegetable and flower farm. She spent her summer harvesting and selling produce at the farmer’s market or farm stand. While connecting with the other Whitman students and Walla Wallans around, Woodall felt her connection to the land grow as well.

“I just hadn’t really spent a lot of time with plants and farming or gardening before, and so I feel like I got much more intimate knowledge of plants and vegetables and flowers,” Woodall said. “I think growing your own food is a really important act of self sufficiency and I also found that it connected me to the land in a way that I hadn’t been connected before.”

Senior politics major Daniel Pailthorp stayed in Walla Walla this summer as well, doing political organization in the local community. Pailthorp worked for the Walla Walla Democrats doing non-partisan research on affordable housing. He conducted interviews with many different members of both the Whitman and Walla Walla community in order to publish relevant information on affordable housing for the area.

Pailthorp mentioned that through the process of interviewing and interacting with more of the community, he felt more connected to Walla Walla in a way that isn’t as possible during the school year.

“Through a community internship, I was able to speak to community members, which is something I think myself and most Whitman students don’t actually do – go and talk to the people that work downtown or own a business downtown. Being able to do that, I was able to get a sense of what their opinions are on just simple community issues, and on bigger national issues as well.”

Wolff mentioned her desire to make these otherwise unpaid experiences an option for students at Whitman.

“I hope that students feel like they have the opportunity to pursue something they’re really interested in and committed to, and that might mean taking an unpaid internship and then applying for funding,” Wolff said. “I would hope that for students this program helps them navigate that process.”

There are more opportunities to participate in a Whitman funded internship, such as participating in an internship in Walla Walla for the fall or spring semester. The grant funds 10 to 12 students each semester. The deadline to apply for a fall internship grant is September 20, and the hourly pay for this grant has been increased to $11.50.