Inspiring Stories - Living at 110 Miles Per Minute | Spring/Summer 2017
July 19, 2017
BY: Abbey Schlanz '18
To say that Brianna Whittaker ’17 is driven would be an understatement. Not many students think seriously about their careers in grade school but Whittaker had what she describes as an “eighth-grade life crisis” when she realized being a veterinarian wasn’t for her. Later that same year, she went on a school trip to Washington, DC, where she fell in love with the monuments and the history of the city. This experience stuck with her throughout the next several years as she prepared for college and planned future career goals.
In high school, Whittaker particularly enjoyed math and history and sought a major that would combine the two.
“It really led me to look into national security and foreign intelligence analysis (NSFIA) because it includes a lot of analysis, which ties in the math, but also touches on history and regional studies,” Whittaker explained. “It has turned into the perfect major for me.”
She initially came to Mount Union as a double major in computer science and math, but switched to majoring in NSFIA to align more with what she wanted to do after college.
Whittaker finds that Mount Union’s liberal arts foundation has made her education even more valuable than she’d hoped. Her major has required her to take classes in history, political science, computer science, foreign languages, communication, and sociology, providing her with a broad range of experiences.
“The fact that all these different disciplines make up this major will definitely benefit me in the future,” Whittaker said. “It’s great to be able to tackle a problem or look at an issue facing the country from different perspectives. You may not have this advantage if you went to an institution that is solely professionally-focused.”
Not only does she take her academics very seriously, but Whittaker is also very involved on campus. From the first semester of her freshman year, she has held multiple leadership positions in various student organizations including Student Senate and the Criminal Justice and Sociology Club. She also participates in Delta Sigma Tau, Oasis, the Dowling Mentor Program, the Honors Program, Sigma Iota Rho, Alpha Lambda Delta, and the Purple Raider Marching Band as the featured twirler. More recently, she has been a part of faculty committees such as Academic Policies and the Integrative Core Review Taskforce, which has led her to a greater understanding of the value of her education and helped her realize how important a student’s voice is to the University. Through these experiences, she has learned more about herself as a student and as a leader.
“I developed a tougher skin by holding leadership positions, which will benefit me greatly in the future, especially in government,” Whittaker said. “You have to be able to stand your ground and realize that you’re not going to be able to please everyone, but that’s okay because what you’re doing is for the best.”
With all of her involvement, it may seem impossible that Whittaker has the time for it all. But she finds that she works best when she’s “going 110 miles per minute,” as she puts it, because she becomes bored if her Google calendar has more than an hour free during a day. Operating on such a rigid schedule may not be ideal for everyone, but for Whittaker, it’s how she thrives.
“To get results, you have to put in hard work, obviously,” she said. “But also never forget that you’re only in college once, so you should make the most of the extra time you have.
“All these organizations and involvements that I’ve had are connected to one another, and they’ve positioned me to make a real difference on campus,” she said. “I wouldn’t have been able to get to this point without devoting everything to being involved, meeting new people, and really taking college for what it’s worth.”
As her December graduation approaches, Whittaker finds herself reluctant to leave Mount Union. “I’m going to be so upset to leave because of the connections I’ve made and the involvement I’ve had,” said Whittaker. “It’s going to take me a while to build that again in a different city and to get to a level where people know and respect me.
“I’m just really taking it day-by-day and enjoying life, but ultimately, I’ll be heading out to DC after I graduate, looking to make a difference. I think if there’s one career goal that I have, it would be to make a difference in the world for good.”