As Orientation commenced on Sunday, students closed their laptops and gathered in the flesh to kick off the new school year. It’s been 18 months since the campus has been flooded with unfamiliar faces. But with smiles beaming behind masks and over 90% of students, faculty, and staff fully vaccinated—the newest class of Poets was ready for a lively introduction.
The incoming class includes more than 80 transfers and 90 international students (the largest cohort of international students in Whittier’s history). The group also strongly reflects the diversity and vibrance of LA County, with 138 local students represented.
At Orientation, which included both the Class of 2025 and the Class of 2024, many students stepped foot on-campus for the first time. And through two days packed with welcome programs, workshops, campus tours, and more, they were met all around with a warm welcome from the Poet community.
Throughout the month of August, students and their families attended remote pre-Orientation and welcome activities from 21 U.S. states and 23 countries around the world. Online Orientation events included an inclusive Community Welcome series for incoming BIPOC, first-generation, and LGBTQIA+ students to speak to the unique challenges that they may face as they embark on their college journey.
On Sunday evening, students participated in the President’s Convocation and Light of Learning Ceremony, where President Linda Oubré addressed the hundreds of new Poets and spoke to the strength, resilience, and diversity of the campus community at this historic moment.
“Over the past 18 months, we have embraced a deep sense of community as we have had to come together to keep each other healthy and safe,” said Oubré. “As we welcome all of our new Poets tonight, our Light of Learning ceremony symbolizes a new beginning for all of us who make up this community.”
Oubre also encouraged the students to embrace the opportunity they had before them as well as the legacy of this institution.
“At Whittier, you will engage in a unique learning experience with our amazing and committed faculty and staff, in an environment of exceptional openness and collaboration. But, you will also learn from each other as you explore the unique experiences and backgrounds of your peers. You will leave here transformed.”
Oubré added, “As an institution founded on Quaker ideals, we will nurture and develop you into leaders who believe in social justice, ethical decision-making, a commitment to serving others, and making a difference in our interconnected global world.
“This is the legacy of Whittier College … This is also the legacy of our namesake, John Greenleaf Whittier, who was not only a Quaker and a Poet, but also an abolitionist who used his platform to fight for the end of slavery in the United States.
“The social justice ideal that education is a basic human right is at the core of what makes us Whittier College.”
Classes for all undergraduates will begin on August 24.