The Best Kept Secret in Walla Walla

Within the first year of Whitman, if not the first few weeks, every Whittie discovers the allure of the well-established Walla Walla wheat fields. After walking just ten minutes away from campus, one finds themself amidst rolling hills of tall grass. Ideal for picnics, dates, or an evening with friends and a guitar, the beauty of the wheat fields is no secret.

However, less known is the existence of the “upper wheat fields.” I myself regret that I did not discover this gem until my senior year. The upper wheat fields, or the Rooks Park lookout, is more difficult to encounter than the regular fields. However, this difficulty is well worth your time: it makes enjoying this spot all the more rewarding. In order to reach the upper wheat fields, drive to Rooks Park (about 10 minutes from campus), walk across a stunningly beautiful bridge, and proceed to climb an excruciatingly steep shoot. Climbing up this shoot entails clinging to roots for dear life, and sacrificing your clothing to massive amounts of dust. You know that I wouldn’t tell you to put yourself through this if there wasn’t a spectacular payoff.

Upon climbing up this “path,” you are met with a view like no other I have encountered in Walla Walla. Unlike the regular wheat fields, Rooks Park provides a view of the entire region. It allows one to see that the Whitman campus is nuzzled not just in the middle of the town of Walla Walla, but in a plane surrounded by mountains, agricultural land, rivers and lakes.  Standing on the edge of a cliff overlooking this wonder for the first time, it pained me to think that Whitties can go their entire college experience without discovering this place.


Find your Narnia

 I believe that an integral part of one’s first semester of college is finding your “spot” on campus.  Along with finding a good group of friends, your favorite professors, and the best food spots, I believe every student should invest some time seeking out their “spot”. By this I mean a place where you can retreat to make a phone call home, delve into your reading, or just simply sit and think. A few of my favorite places on campus (now don’t go stealing them!) are the balcony of our library’s Quiet Room, the benches along Lakum Duckum, and the roofs of the academic buildings.

However, the spot that I’ve continuously found myself returning to over the last few years is Whitman’s Narnia. Narnia is a unique space on campus no larger than a volleyball court. It is characterized by a peaceful stream and small waterfall, zen rocks, and overall just beautiful landscape architecture. I love to climb around on the rocks and then settle down on one to relax and take in the beautiful setting. What I love about Narnia is that it has no real purpose other than being a beautiful, quiet place. Whitman could have easily used this space for a small academic building, a residence hall, or some other more functional purpose. However, Narnia has been preserved. Because it has no practical purpose, I believe many students go their whole Whitman experience never spending significant periods of time there.  Wherever life takes me after I graduate this spring, I hope I will be able to find another “Narnia” there.


Final Countdown.

As one may have noticed from recent blog posts, us senior admissions interns are becoming acutely aware of the limited time we have remaining at our beloved Whitman. Entering my last semester, I have been creating an ongoing mental checklist of things that I absolutely cannot graduate Whitman without doing. Below is just the start of my list. Senior Whitties, I am curious: what will YOU do to make this semester count?

“I cannot allow myself to go my last semester at Whitman without…”

  1. Thanking the professors who have made the greatest impact on my academic experience at Whitman. I of course have learned and grown from every professor who has taught me here—but there are certain professors who have taken a far greater investment in my education that they are required as professors. For this, I’ll always feel indebted to them. I cannot allow myself to leave Whitman without at least attempting to communicate the extent of my gratitude.
  2. Reuniting with my freshman year section. We’ve known each other since the beginning, since the first week of Whitman when we walked timidly around Jewett Hall wondering: who will become my friends for the next four years? Do I belong here? How can I get to know those handsome devils in the 2-West section? Personally, I would love nothing more than to have a reunion with the students of 4-East. I am curious where everyone has ended up, what we have all accomplished, and how each of us has changed over our time at Whitman.
  3.  Enjoying one last “Camp Whitman.” The period of time at the end of each school year after finals but before graduation has been dubbed Camp Whitman. Why? Because the entire campus magically transforms from a place of high stress and academic intensity into a land of frolicking, none-competitive sports, and sun bathing. Everyone experiences a kind of post finals, pre summer euphoria. This spring will be my last Camp Whitman, and I hope to make it count. As always, dinners in the wheat fields, outdoor jam-sessions, and Frisbee will be essential elements.

Study: Break!

As I enter the pre-Thanksgiving academic crunch, I find myself brainstorming new effective ways of breaking from schoolwork to clear my mind. When your eyes are glued to a word document or textbook for hours on end, one must periodically stop and return to the real world to avoid total insanity. As a senior, I’ve had some memorable study break moments. In the library, my favorite break is hearing one of our campus a capella groups break the tense, quiet library atmosphere by serenading the students. I love watching everyone momentarily abandon their work to gather around the main library foyer just to enjoy the music.

The Residence Hall RA’s put on an organized study break Wednesday evenings at 9:00. One of my favorite memories of freshman year was gathering in the Jewett Hall lounge to roast marshmallows in the seldom used Jewett fireplace, while we listened to RA’s tell campfire stories and sing camp songs. Aside from dropping burnt marshmallow goop onto the Jewett carpet (I believe there is still a mark) the event was a great success. When I became an RA, during the first study break I hosted I had the residents learn the entire dance to “Sexy and I Know it”. I like to think that everyone studied a little bit better that night with this song playing in their heads on repeat as a constant confidence boost.

I plan on spending the greater part of tonight in the library. Can’t wait to see what tonight’s study break will bring!

Walla Walla Fall(a)

The one drawback to fall breaks (both thanksgiving and 4 day) is that there is an inevitable mass of papers and midterm exams that must be attended to before break can begin. I remember my freshman year walking back from the library on the Friday afternoon before 4 day in a post midterm delirium—I believe I had spent the entire previous night in the library writing an international politics. I planned on going straight to my room and not leaving my bed for a very, very long time. However, I was stopped by a good friend of mine who was sitting in front of Jewett on the grass, strumming his guitar. He insisted on serenading me, and I was too tired to protest.

I ended up laying on the grass in front of Jewett for hours, drinking hot chocolate with fellow residents, talking about our plans for break, and admiring the fall colors surrounding us. We brought blankets out, laughed, and celebrated the fact that we’d just conquered our first set of college midterms. It was almost comical how quintessential Whitman the scene was, and perhaps for this reason it is still so clearly engrained in my memory.

Let there be art!

As a senior at Whitman, it was only this year that I decided to join the Whitman Events Board. Why did it take me this long? Great question, one to which I don’t have an answer! The Whitman Events Board (or WEB) is responsible for organizing and overseeing all events we bring to campus—this includes musicians, lecturers, bouncy castles, drive-in movies…you name it, we’ll bring it! Well, we will try, I should say. A very sweet woman in the activities office recently asked if we could bring “that Lady Gaga girl”. I smiled and said we’d look into it.

My position on WEB is Creative Art Director, meaning I oversee the student art gallery in Reid, our campus center. While it’s a small space, being in Reid means that it gets perhaps the most foot traffic of any building on campus. Yesterday I put on the first gallery opening of the school year, revealing 18 beautiful photographs taken on a Whitman Direct Action trip to Guatemala. Armed with plenty of tea, coffee, and cookies to lure students into the gallery space, the opening was a great success! The Whitman Direct Action students were able to speak about their experience researching sanitary water systems this summer in Guatemala while having wonderful visual aids to bring their words to life.

As for me, I finally got to sit back, relax, and eat a cookie. After slaving away for weeks to make sure the gallery was spotless, the photographs were printed the right size and quality, everything was level, and signs had been made, it felt wonderful to simply sit down and enjoy the sight of students wandering through the space, drinking in the artwork.

Advice on starting college

Hello everyone! My name is Anna Dawson, and I am one of eight wonderful 2012-2013 Senior Admissions Interns. This means that I have the privilege of participating in this year’s admissions process by reading applications, performing interviews, participating in student visit days, and many other exciting tasks that go into assuring that the future freshman class at Whitman will be a knockout. Aside from being an Admissions Intern, I am an English and Studio Art major, I serve as the Creative Director for the Whitman Events Board, and I work for our award winning art and literary magazine, Blue Moon.

As I watch the class of 2016 find their way at Whitman, I’ve found my mind wandering back to my own freshman year experience. More specifically, I’ve been reflecting on the most memorable pieces of advice I was given before beginning college. My question is: what were the most helpful or memorable pieces of advice you were given going into college? Or perhaps even better, what is the advice that you were not given, but that you wish you had been?

I’ve compiled my top five best nuggets of wisdom. Some were given to me, and others I have constructed based on what I feel I could have benefited from hearing. Here they are!

1. Get to know your professors outside of class. Chat and engage with them. Ask them not only about the coursework but also about their own intellectual interests. But also never forget that it is equally important to get to know the custodians in your dorm, the security staff on campus, the people who work in the dining hall. Talk to them, ask them questions and thank them.

2. During the first few months of college, write a hand-written letter to someone back home who helped make Whitman possible for you. Tell them about your experience thus far, and make known the impact that they made on you. It will mean a lot.

3. Don’t forget to periodically stop and remind yourself what you really care about (it’s up to you to decide what that is!). But also challenge yourself by trying on new perspectives. Listen carefully to friends or professors who have wildly different views than you, and always be asking, “What can I learn from this person?”

4. Many things in the next four years you will have no control over: a difficult roommate, an incompetent professor, even not ending up on the major or career path that you thought you wanted to pursue, among other possibilities. But here’s the thing: you have absolute control over how you choose to navigate such obstacles. You can let them define you and your mood, or you can fight back and decide to not let that happen. Things that seem like the end of the world DO become funny and character building over time.

5. At least a couple times during your freshman year at Whitman, allow yourself to do something fun and irresponsible when you should be studying. I am entirely serious. It’s important to be rational and think about the future, but you won’t get all that you can out of Whitman if you’re not present. Think of it as far more than just a stepping stone.