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Promoting Orca Pride

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Story and Photo by Faith Ulate

Students on the Programming and Diversity Board (PDB) at Whatcom Community College have the opportunity to get involved on campus, fill a leadership role, incorporate new ideas, use their own creativity and get paid while doing it.

The PDB hires eight students a year to fill part time positions on their leadership team. This team coordinates most of Whatcom’s events and activities on campus, said Mady Ellars, a member the PDB.

Ellars said that part of the job is to contact local artists and speakers and schedule them to present, perform or speak on campus. The PDB staff often participates in those events and creates publicity for them.

“To be hired on for the PDB, you need to be a creative person, a good communicator, and someone with a passion for the school who is willing to bring it to the workplace,” Ellars said. “We want someone who thinks out of the box and can work with a team.”

“We’ve developed a sense of family and we are looking for a group that can help foster that,” Ellars said.

The Programming and Diversity Board, along with the Student Ambassador Program and Student Government, is part of Student Life at Whatcom. There is a training for hired members to go to in August and September that consists of meeting a couple of hours a day, a few days a week to prepare for the upcoming year.

“The training is about getting to know the people you are going to work with, getting all the paperwork in order and learning about everything on campus,” said Ellars. The students in training talk with the Human Resources Department, the Business Office and the Copy Center. They also meet with the President of the college, Ellars said. “This training is so useful for building a family dynamic.”

“Being on the PDB, it’s nice to know that you can affect students directly and quickly through programs you feel passionate about,” Ellars said. “You have the opportunity to leave a legacy for the student body that affects them directly.”

One of those programs is Orca Day, which is taking place on June 5 this year. Orca Day is an event which celebrates Whatcom with an end of the year party for students. In past events, there has been music, free food, games and prizes.

The PDB team helps to organize Orca Day by overseeing the catering, contacting local artists, and organizing games and activities, Ellars said. “Last year there was a climbing wall, human hamster balls to roll in and a make your own tie-dye tee-shirt station. This event goes all day,” Ellars said. “It’s really fun and exciting to be a part of.”

Some other activities at Whatcom that the PDB has helped put together are: Spring Hiking to a Nature Reserve, the “Get Up and Move” week, which includes Orca Ball, Cultural Dance Workshops, and the Athens Boys Choir, which is for Queer Awareness Week. There will also be various lectures coming such as “The First Muslim”, and “Speaking to Children About Race.”

Maya Monroe, another member of the PDB, said she wanted to get involved with the program so she could reach out and make lifelong connections. “This has been the perfect job for me, because I am able to do it in conjunction with my co-presidency of Phi Theta Kappa,” she said. “Both programs’ main values are to serve the community.”

Monroe works eight hours a week for PBD and says it gives her more access to students who are specifically involved in campus activities. “This position allows me to help other students develop their interests and bring awareness of issues they are interested in.”

Another big event that Student Life is involved in is the Ski to Sea Parade. They encourage any and all Whatcom students to participate and walk in the parade. Each student walking will get a WCC tee-shirt and a big blow up Orca, Ellars said. “This is our way to show everyone our Whatcom Community College pride. We hope to have a pod of Orcas to go down the street!”


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