DEI scholarship opportunities at Whitworth University 

By Kylee Feldhusen | Staff Writer

Portrait of Joshue Orozco in the Loop at Whitworth University in Spokane Wash., Wednesday, Mar. 8, 2023 | Photo by Juan Rodriguez/The Whitworthian

The Office of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) at Whitworth University is creating opportunities for first-generation students and those from historically underrepresented backgrounds by providing travel scholarships to help students travel to professional conferences.

The DEI travel scholarships aim to aid career and research travel, offering financial support to students aspiring to attend academic or professional conferences throughout the school year. 

“At its heart, it’s just a scholarship that’s paid to give access to educational or academic and professional development opportunities for students who either are new to university or higher educational experience (like being first-generation) or who have come from a background that’s been historically unrepresented in a university,” said Joshue Orozco, vice president of DEI.

This scholarship aims to defeat the struggles students may face when accessing such opportunities due to unique backgrounds. 

The scholarship, which awards of up to $750 for undergraduate students and $500 for graduate students, covers the costs associated with conference participation. 

Funds are on a first-come first-served basis, emphasizing the importance of early application. Even if the conference or event will not be until another semester, Orozco encourages students to plan ahead and reach out to hear of their opportunities. 

Orozco shared a few success stories that highlight the positive impact of the scholarships thus far: “It’s mainly for conference travel; last year, we had a student who had some research that she was wanting to present internationally, and we were able to support [her].”

This exemplifies the commitment to empowering students to display their work and create networks with professionals in their chosen field.

A large part of the value of attending a conference is the connections that can be made through exposure. Orozco spoke about how the conferences helped students secure employment opportunities as a direct result of attending conferences. “One student got a job; they went to the conference, got interviewed there, got the job, and they are now in Boston,” said Orozco.

 “A few others reported [that] just [by] being able to go they were able to connect with business and see their representation outside of Whitworth,” said Orozco. 

This exposure to diverse perspectives and professional settings contributes to the holistic development of students and helps the student understand if they would like to truly pursue a career in the field represented in the conference.

Orozco emphasized that there is no commitment required from students who receive the scholarship to stick with the career. It is simply an opportunity to explore, learn and grow. “It was something I never really took advantage of as an undergraduate,” said Orozco.

For those interested in applying, the application can be found under the Forms & Resources list in Pirate Port under Diversity, Equity and Inclusion. Orozco also encourages students to check the DEI office website and Instagram for more information.  

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