Q&A with Yohance Whitaker ’16
Can you tell us a little about yourself and where you are today?
I am a Master of Divinity student at the Samuel DeWitt Proctor School of Theology, pursuing my call to faith-based community organizing. I am passionate about empowering people of faith to create forward ministries, to challenge oppressive systems, and to build coalitions with the goal of transforming society and the world.
What is your fondest William & Mary memory?
My fondest William & Mary memories were spent with my best friends. Our favorite activities included: playing games and watching movies in our dorm rooms; eating at Top’s China after a long day of Student Assembly meetings; hanging out on the terrace; writing papers in Morton into the wee hours of the morning; sharing loaded cheese fries at Paul’s; and just enjoying each other’s company.
How did philanthropy impact your undergraduate experience?
The generosity and vision of dedicated William & Mary alumni shaped my college experience and the trajectory of my life. Robert and Jane Sharpe provided me with the opportunity to connect academic study, research, and community engagement as a Sharpe Community Scholar. Through Jane Powell ‘85 and Michael Powell's ’85 D.P.S. ‘02 commitment to leadership and service, I had the great fortune to study with the Leadership & Community Engagement Institute and intern in the nation’s capital. These two programs lit a fire within me that endures today and equipped me with the skills to contribute to the public good.
Can you describe how your relationship with the Tribe has grown from freshman year to today?
As a student I was the beneficiary of over three centuries of careful stewardship. Now as an alumnus, it is my responsibility to ensure that more students enjoy the fullest blessings of alma mater. Certainly that demands my contributions of time and money.
What compels you to give back to William & Mary?
I had a particularly nasty sophomore slump, which could have derailed my career at William & Mary. The dedicated student affairs staff in the Dean of Students Office, Counseling Center, and Center for Student Diversity simply refused to let me fall. In addition to the Scholarships Impact , I give to the aforementioned offices so that the resources that allowed me to flourish might help others on their journeys.
Why do you think it’s important that young alumni, as a community, support William & Mary?
William & Mary is our family and we belong to each other. We, therefore, have the responsibility to contribute to and participate in our family.
Individually our gifts may be small, but collectively we can have a bold impact. In unity lies strength. If every young alumni supported the Scholarships Impact Fund, the Diversity and Inclusion Fund, or the Alumnae Initiatives Endowment, imagine the progress we could make towards being a more robust family.
What are some of your favorite traditions at William & Mary?
Convocation and Charter Day are my favorite traditions.
What would you like President Reveley to know about your experience at William & Mary as a student and alumnus?
Your leadership and vision made my experience at William & Mary a great one. Thank you for your years of service and love.