Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Whitworth to co-host 10-year anniversary convention Aug. 1 with Act Six Leadership and Scholarship Initiative


Four-day convention kicks off at Gonzaga University

On Aug. 1, Whitworth and Gonzaga universities will host the tenth-anniversary celebration with the Act Six Leadership and Scholarship Initiative at Gonzaga. Nearly 300 Act Six scholars, alumni, staff and supporters from Spokane, Portland, Tacoma and Seattle will gather for the four-day event, sponsored by 7-Eleven, Group Health and REI.

Launched in 2002 by the Tacoma-based Northwest Leadership Foundation in partnership with Whitworth, Act Six has been developing underrepresented urban leaders to be agents of positive transformation on the college campus and in their home communities for the past 10 years. Since its inception, the program has expanded to Portland, Seattle, Spokane and the Yakima Valley, and now partners with Whitworth, Gonzaga University, George Fox University, Warner Pacific College, Pacific Lutheran University, Northwest University, Trinity Lutheran College, and Heritage University.

“Our scholars are having a profound impact through their leadership on campus, and as they graduate they are making a powerful and positive mark in their communities,” says Tim Herron, Act Six founder and president of Degrees of Change, which houses the Act Six central office. “We look forward to gathering the entire Act Six network together to mark an important milestone and to look forward to how we can further invest in the potential of these and other young leaders for the next 10 years.”

Act Six scholars represent six continents of the world and speak more than 30 different languages. Overall, 88 percent of the 318 scholars originally selected for the program across the two states have graduated or are still enrolled, reflecting graduation and retention rates that far exceed national averages for low-income, first-generation students and students of color. Act Six scholars have been elected student body president three times in the past six years and scholars on all eight campuses have been involved in numerous and significant leadership roles, both on and off campus.

The convention will commence on Wednesday at 5:30 p.m. at Gonzaga University with a kick-off dinner banquet featuring remarks from Gonzaga President Thayne McCulloh and Whitworth President Beck A. Taylor, a video message from Washington Governor Christine Gregoire, introduction of alumni and scholars, and keynote addresses from Act Six alums, scholars and staff.

Featured speakers at the kick-off dinner include:
  • Danjuma Quarless, a 2010 Whitworth alumnus from the university’s fourth Act Six cadre, who is currently working on his doctoral degree in the biomedical sciences program at the University of California, San Diego. Quarless works at the Scripps Translational Science Institute, where his focus is clinical cancer applications for genome sequencing.
  • Sandra Lopez, a sophomore in George Fox’s fifth Act Six cadre, who was an integral part of launching a dance team at George Fox and was chosen to participate in an exclusive Latino and Friends Network mentoring program at Nike’s world headquarters. 
  • Crystal Ben, the former Tacoma-Seattle site director, who is beginning a Ph.D. program in sociology at University of California, San Diego. She will focus on the urban American Indian population, social inequalities, culture, education, race, and ethnicity.  
Following the kick-off, the convention will continue Thursday through Saturday on the Whitworth campus, offering a range of workshops and plenary sessions, featuring Fab-5, an urban arts youth development organization from Tacoma, and Stephan de Beer, director of the Centre for Contextual Ministry at the University of Pretoria, South Africa, and convener of 12 leadership foundations across Africa. From 9 a.m. to noon on Friday, the convention will host a graduate school and career fair for Act Six scholars and alumni, featuring more than 35 employers and graduate schools from across the Northwest.

More information about Act Six and full convention details are available online at www.actsix.org/convention. Wednesday’s kick-off event and the remainder of the convention are open to members of the press.

Located in Spokane, Wash., Whitworth is a private liberal arts university affiliated with the Presbyterian Church (USA). The university, which has an enrollment of nearly 3,000 students, offers 60 undergraduate and graduate degree programs.

Contacts:

Tim Herron, Act Six founder and president, Degrees of Change, (253) 284-1162 or tim.herron@actsix.org.

Ben Sand, chief executive officer, Portland Leadership Foundation, (503) 209-3485 or ben.sand@portlandleadership.org.

Andrea Idso, interim public information officer, Whitworth University, (509) 777-4703 or aidso@whitworth.edu.