Alumni Conversations: Memories, Membership, and Making Waves

Our students need us. They need us to demonstrate we’re there for them during one of the most challenging times on our planet.
Chris Witherspoon

As a student, the thing I loved most was being in Red Square—the people, the energy, the chatter on a spring day. When I talk to my friends and fellow alumni, they remember what a great time they had and how much they enjoyed Western’s beautiful campus. The memories come flowing back.

What’s special to me about the WWU Alumni Association is that we bring people together again to celebrate these moments. So much of our work has to do with recapturing what we loved about the university and continuing to build meaningful connections—not only with each other, but with our students.

If there is anything that’s become apparent during the past year, it’s that these relationships are more necessary than ever. Our students need us. They need us to demonstrate we’re there for them during one of the most challenging times on our planet. They also need us to stand for equity and diversity—diversity of thought, perspective, and background. We must safeguard these institutional values and ensure no one is left behind.

The opportunity to help steward an inclusive vision for diversity is what inspired me to join the WWU Alumni Association Board eight years ago. Today, my hope is that as we welcome a new, and fingers crossed, a better year, we can stand together to provide all Western students with access to an exceptional education and a promising future. Here are some ways we, you and I, can do this:

Join as a member of the Alumni Association

When I first learned how the Alumni Association gives back in the form of scholarships, I knew I wanted to have this kind of an impact on a student’s life. In 2014, my wife and I started the Lillie Mae Witherspoon Minority Scholarship in honor of my grandmother. She was so proud to see her grandchildren go to college, and she supported me in many ways. When I had the opportunity to give back, I wanted to honor her. When you become a member, you’re contributing to a student’s future. Join today:

Participate in WE Connect

This is the resource I wish we had when I was a student, especially when I was seeking my first job. WE Connect is a virtual networking platform that serves two purposes: it provides an opportunity to reconnect with great people who share our love for WWU, and it’s an opportunity to get involved with students in a meaningful way. WE Connect allows you to mentor students, participate in topical discussion boards, and post internships and job opportunities. It’s a great way to foster meaningful connections and to make a difference. Sign up today:

Support the Student Emergency Fund

With a daughter (Maya ’21) at Western, I have a sense of what it’s like to be a student—the expenses—housing, transportation, medical, food, and so on. This is an opportunity to ensure that students can focus on being students. Contributions to this fund can help them stay afloat during challenging times and graduate without racking up debt. It’s an excellent opportunity to give back and help students concentrate on the work they need to be doing. Give here:

In this issue, you’ll find additional ways you can support Western students. For me, it comes down to this. We talk a lot about Making Waves as an institutional platform. By contributing to our students’ success, not only are we making waves of our own, we are positioning our students to do so. That is a proud legacy.

Chris Witherspoon , '94, is president and chief growth Officer of DNA, immediate past president of the WWU Alumni Association and a board member of the Western Washington University Foundation.