Growing together: How Whittier's local community supports student scholarships

April 17, 2024

Whittier College’s vibrant student body, faculty, and staff don’t exist in a vacuum. As much as the College is there to support educational endeavors, so too is the community of Whittier.

Illustrating those strong bonds is Soroptimist International of Whittier, a local chapter of a global volunteer organization that helps provide education access to women and girls to achieve economic empowerment. Nearly $50,000 in scholarships and awards were recently given to various college student recipients, including Whittier College undergraduates biology major Anh Tran ’25, child development major Rebeca Diaz ’26, and kinesiology major Haley Kivett ’25.

Haley Kivett | Courtesy Haley KivettKivett left Portland, Oregon, to attend Whittier because of the women’s water polo team. She is also a member of the kinesiology honors society Phi Epsilon Kappa, and the Poet Student-Athlete Leadership Academy.

Her athletic background — and passion for helping others — is why she wants to be a physical therapist. Additionally, she’s been a student note-taker to provide students who need that accommodation equal access to their educational resources throughout her academic career.

Kivett is paying her own college tuition, and receiving the Soroptimist scholarship has been a significant boon.

“It means a lot to me and it will really impact my educational career both here at Whittier and into grad school,” Kivett said.

Tran, who is originally from Vietnam but wanted to study in California, was attracted to Whittier’s tight-knit community and the biology department’s hands-on research.

Both are also recipients of the College’s John Greenleaf Whittier Scholarship and peer health educators. It was Dr. Rebecca Eberle-Romberger, peer health educator program lead and a member of the Soroptimist club, who encouraged them to apply for the scholarships.

Anh Tran | Courtesy Dr. Rebecca Eberle-RombergerStrengthening the next generation is why Tran joined the peer health program and wants to be a physician’s assistant. When not studying, she volunteers at the Cardiac Care Center for PIH Hospital and teaches orthopedics lessons at the Boys and Girls Club of Whittier. She is also a resident advisor and the president of the Asian Student Association.

The Soroptimist club inspired her to continue on her path to empower others. Tran received a scholarship last year, which made her eligible for the club’s mentorship scholarship this year.

“I really appreciate the mission to give women the freedom to control their finances and their future,” Tran said. “I want to return the same favor they gave me.”

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