Why I Give


Whittier College invites you to share why you give.

To have your testimonial featured, please contact development@whittier.edu

Raquel Torres Retana and familyRaquel Torres-Retana '91 P'24

As a first-generation Latina, I spent my time at Whittier College feeling lost while also discovering who I was. Staff and faculty, such as professors Les Howard and Martin Ortiz, inspired me and provided me with a home and an opportunity to grow. David, my husband, earned his teaching credential here as well. We have both chosen careers in education where we work to support students not unlike ourselves. I am a Dean at Pasadena City College and David is a teacher at El Rancho High School in Pico Rivera, California.

The Whittier tradition has lived on in our family and we are now proud Poet parents; our youngest child, Viviana, will be graduating this year. Throughout Viviana's time at the College, we have witnessed her academic and personal growth fostered by professors like Danilo Lozano and José Orozco.  

I was thrilled to learn that US News & World Report recently ranked Whittier College as a top institution for social mobility, a testament to how this education has empowered many first-generation alumni like myself. I am humbled to be able to give back to Whittier College as a new member of the Board of Trustees and our family has contributed to the Martin Ortiz Fund and the Whittier Now! initiative.


Julie Rivera '59

“I was given the opportunity (because of financial aid) to get an education at Whittier. This was so important to me and my family as it was truly a team effort to afford my education. Whittier gave me a chance and this is my way of paying it forward.”

Julie Rivera '59 graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in English. After graduating from Whittier, she pursued a career in teaching at San Gabriel High School for 36 years. Rivera finished her career at Cal State Long Beach as a Lecturer in Chicano and Latino Studies and was named the Chair Emeritus of the President's Commission on the Status of Women. In 2006, Julie was honored with the Excellence in Teaching award by Whittier College for her years of devotion to her students.

Stan Smith '73“The amount of personal attention I received at Whittier College when I was first establishing myself in higher education and professionally made an enormous difference. Donating money almost seems insufficient to repay the college for what I received. ”

Stan Smith has been a dedicated supporter of Whittier College for 49 years. Having served as an Alumni Board member and initiating an endowment for the History Department, Stan also sponsors the Alumni Homecoming Swim Meet and Water Polo match. His involvement with the Veteran Resource Center is aimed at encouraging veterans to join the Sachsen Society, founded by World War II veterans, to ensure that their stories and legacies endure. Stan Smith's life journey is a beacon of inspiration for future generations of Poets, highlighting the transformative power of education and commitment to creating a lasting impact.

Elizabeth Cruz“When I was an undergrad at Whittier, I was given a $10,000 academic-based endowment, from a man who gave to the College. After I graduated and started teaching, I in turn gave to the General Fund to help students who needed help in accomplishing their academic goals.”

Elizabeth Cruz is a Whittier Alumna who has earned two degrees from Whittier. She received her Bachelor’s in Business Administration and a Master’s in Education. Cruz has had a successful career teaching for the Whittier City School District, Whittier Union High School District, Trinity Lutheran, Palm View Christian, and East Whittier School District. She also came back to Whittier’s campus to teach at Kaplan Incorporated, a language school that used to be located at the college. She now owns and operates Cruz Tutoring and Arts Center, located in Uptown Whittier. She comes from a family of Poets, being the third of her family to attend Whittier College where she continues to promote her support of being a proud poet.

David Carnevale ' 97“I give because my time at Whittier College was essential to my growth and development. I would not be the person I am today without the nurturing environment of our campus. I know that my monthly donation allows students to have an exceptional experience at the college that was my home and still is a special place to me.”

David Carnevale '97 received a degree from the Whittier Scholars Program with an emphasis in Theatre History. He has worked both in theatre, running his own theatre company, and in higher education enrollment. In his previous role as the Director of Financial Aid at Whittier College, he was able to see how gifts made to the college directly impact students. Through this, he has grown an appreciation for philanthropy.