From the president

Adam Simon, a second year student at Whitman College, is a leader active in addressing issues of ableism and social isolation. He has internalized the importance of community and the collective responsibility we all have to support one another. He cares deeply about the work he is doing as it relates to systems of oppression. Adam is currently serving as the student leader for the Buddy Program—a program that partners with the Walla Walla Valley Disability Network to support and foster connection and friendship with adults from the local community with intellectual or developmental disabilities. Adults with disabilities are often overlooked due to ableism and he is creating a community and a space in which all members of the program have agency and a voice. He approaches community engagement from a genuine place of seeking connection, building community, and a desire to uplift under-resourced individuals. It is his people-centered approach to the leadership of the Buddy Program and his ability to authentically connect and communicate with both the Walla Walla and Whitman buddies that truly stands out.

Dr. Sarah Bolton


Whitman College


Personal Statement

My community engagement journey has been a windy one, driven by a profound desire to bridge divides between various diverse communities and foster connections to break down systematic inequalities and interpersonal biases. I am currently serving as the leader of the Buddy Program at Whitman College—a program that partners with the Walla Walla Valley Disability Network to build community among Whitman students and local adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities. The impact of these relationships can be profound: expanding worldviews, softening hearts, and encouraging people to challenge their assumptions about people’s lived experiences. In addition to the Buddy Program, I have dedicated myself to the mentorship of children at a local elementary school in Walla Walla, as well as the empowerment of middle and high school-aged youth from underserved communities utilizing the transformative power of art, among other community-based initiatives over the years. My varied experiences and reflections have convinced me that true value and genuine relationships sprout when we transition away from viewing this vital community engagement as transactional, and instead work from a foundation of mutuality, reciprocity, and a genuine desire to connect across our divides.

Adam Simon


Whitman College