The phrase “Once a Pirate, always a Pirate” rings true for select Whitworth faculty and staff members. Several professors received an education within the same classrooms students use today.
Some have only been alumni for a few years; others graduated more than 40 years ago. No matter how long ago they graduated, they all have returned with a similar purpose: to provide their students with the same experience they had when they were Pirates.
“I had made the decision that I wouldn’t teach if I couldn’t teach at Whitworth,” biology professor Michael Sardinia said.
Sardinia said his sister, along with a few academic scholarships and a football scholarship, motivated him to choose to attend Whitworth.
An undergraduate from 1983 to 1987, Sardinia majored in biology and chemistry and minored in theater.
He was involved in a few theatrical productions and spent a Jan Term touring with a theater group. He also played football for three years.
Director of the dance minor and Jubilation Dance Ministry adviser Karla Parbon is another Whitworth alumna who returned to teach.
“I came back to Whitworth in 2008 and started teaching dance classes,” Parbon said.
While she was a student, Parbon helped establish Jubilation at Whitworth. She majored in psychology and minored in women’s studies while she attended Whitworth from 1996 to 2000.
Growing up in Spokane for most of her life, Parbon was set on leaving to attend Oral Roberts University in Oklahoma, she said.
“It was about March of my senior year in high school that I had a huge tugging to go to Whitworth,” Parbon said. “Everything fell into place after I made my decision.”
English lecturer Adeline Grow visited her brother, who was attending Whitworth, and sat in on one of English professor Vic Bobb’s classes. Grow said she fell in love with Whitworth.
Grow majored in English and minored in math during her undergraduate years from 2005 to 2009.
In contrast to Sardinia, Parbon and Grow, theology professor James Edwards said he was not planning on attending college until peer pressure persuaded him to apply.
“I was in Young Life and my leader told me Whitworth would be a good fit,” Edwards said.
He said he found the Christian environment to be compatible with his beliefs. Edwards, used to warm Colorado winters, said he struggled to adjust to the gray skies of Spokane.
Edwards attended Whitworth from 1963 to 1967. He majored in history and minored in English and religion. Whitworth has changed in multiple ways since he was a student, he said.
“In the 1960s English and history were especially excellent areas of study at Whitworth,” Edwards said. “There were some real deficits in comparison with today, however. There was no Core program, very few women’s sports as far as I remember, and no Jan Term trips or Central America study center.”
Parbon said that students also used to be required to attend Forum, an event held in Cowles Auditorium in the middle of the afternoon, which consisted of seminars and lectures by various speakers.
Whitworth also used to have a ski team, which Edwards participated in. The team competed against WSU, University of Washington and the University of Oregon.
Grow said she has noticed more support of sporting events since her days of attendance.
“We’re way bigger than we used to be,” Sardinia said. “The student population used to be half the size.”
Parbon said one of her favorite things about Whitworth was that it was a smaller university. Grow said that the small community was one of the most enjoyable aspects of Whitworth.
Sardinia said he loved his classmates and continues to keep in touch with them to this day.
Each the professors said that the relationships developed with faculty members had the largest impact on making their Whitworth experience enjoyable.
“I felt that these people had my best interests in mind,” Grow said. “I was viewed as a person, not just a student.”
Parbon, Sardinia and Grow were taught by professors who are still currently on staff such as Leonard Oakland, Pamela Parker, Martha Gady and Forrest Baird, to name a few.
“It’s strange to be a colleague of someone that was your professor,” Sardinia said.
The professors said the relationships they developed with their professors and the faculty was a major influence on their decisions to return to Whitworth.
“Because of my experiences, I wanted to teach where not only the mind but convictions were valued,” Edwards said. “Some of the most whole people I met were professors.”
The other main reason these alumni said they came back to teach was because of the students.
“The students here are so driven and respectful,” Grow said. “They are fun to engage in conversation with.”
Rebekah Bresee Staff Writer
Contact Rebekah Bresse at firstname.lastname@example.org