The new faces of admissions at Whitman


James Baker

Jack Buettner, one of the three new admission officers, looks forward to getting to know more of the Whitman community.

Rylee Neville, News Reporter

Every year, the Office of Admission welcomes new admission officers to their team. This year, three new officers joined the Whitman community. Fernando Penate-Chavez, Phoebe Blaisdell and Jack Buettner started their positions a few months ago. The officers are passionate about helping students and each is looking forward to the upcoming year.

Fernando Penate-Chavez, Assistant Director of Admission, coordinates Whitman’s Visit Scholarship Program (VSP). This program brings in about 80 prospective students from all over the country to campus every year. Within this group, Penate-Chavez specifically looks at students from underrepresented backgrounds. He also works on Whitman’s strategic planning, specifically focusing on diversity recruitment. 

“I aim to provide a route for diverse students to come to Whitman,” Penate-Chavez said.

 In his previous job, Penate-Chavez was the coordinator for multicultural recruitment. This experience has given him the skills needed to execute his goal of providing a route for underrepresented students to come to Whitman.

“I don’t want to see this progression stagnate,” Penate-Chavez said. “As demographic trends in the US change, there are going to be more students from underrepresented backgrounds going to college, so providing access for them is extremely important.” 

The kind people and small-town charm of Walla Walla initially brought Penate-Chavez to Whitman. He, along with the other two admission officers, emphasizes the welcoming nature of Whitman and the admission department.

“I enjoy how kind the people here are. I see Whitman striving to be as great as it can be,” Penate-Chavez said.

Admission officer Phoebe Blaisdell also enjoys the kind-heartedness of her colleagues.

“Whitman College Admissions is a field full of friendly people who very sincerely believe in the transformative nature of higher education,” Blaisdell said. 

Blaisdell is fully committed to the idea of a liberal arts education and values a small institution like Whitman. According to Blaisdell, it is important how Whitman values proactive advertising of academic, social and emotional resources for students. Blaisdell wants to take care of students by being that loud and proactive voice for them.

“I like being around folks who believe as strongly as I do that building these kinds of communities is an intense, deeply worthwhile objective,” Blaisdell said.  

Jack Buettner serves as another voice for prospective students to learn from. According to Buettner, being able to follow a student through the application process and seeing them on campus next year is the most gratifying part of his job. 

“I am really excited to see a full admission cycle and to get to know students in this beginning prospective stage,” Buettner said. “I already have met students that I am so excited about because of their incredible potential.” 

As for advice to future prospective students, Buettner stressed the importance of asking questions. According to Buettner, students shouldn’t have to feel a barrier between them and their dream school throughout the stress of the admissions process. The admission officers at Whitman are here to help students. 

“It doesn’t have to be this big mystery of why does a certain student get into Whitman,” Buettner said. “Keeping those channels of communication between student and admission officer will help so much.”