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Whitworth Home Page > Political Science Department > Alumni Essays >

Alumni Essay: Jordan Cleland, '92 (political science major)

Cleland is currently vice president of advancement at Olds College, Alberta, Canada.

I lead a team that conducts fund-development, events, communications and marketing, government, industry, external and alumni relations. I got a job in politics just two months after graduating from Whitworth with a bachelor of arts degree in political science - doing legislative research and speechwriting. From there, I served as senior aide to two cabinet ministers in four portfolios. I did a two-year tour of management consulting with KPMG Consulting and then spent five years in government relations at Alberta's Workers' Compensation Board.

I have talked my way into some really good jobs I probably had no business getting, and I have figured them out and done them well - thanks to my upbringing, but thanks also to a fantastic, broad-based liberal arts education of critical inquiry I got at Whitworth.

Notable Notes: Was a regular in the Laureate Society, graduated magna cum laude with a 3.8 GPA. I "TA'd" for the enigmatic and brilliant Leonard Oakland for Core 250. I scored a 15/15 from Pat Stien on an oral interp piece - supposedly next to impossible to do.

Why did you choose Whitworth? Truthfully, at the time I came for the academic pedigree of Whitworth, and for the quality of the baseball program - "Of Mind and ... Body." The "of Heart" stuff was just a wonderful ancillary benefit/coincidence.

Looking back, how much room do I have?! [I'm glad I chose Whitworth] because I was "forced" to get a broad-based education of mind and heart. I was forced to take the Cores, Oral Interpretation, Intro to Public Speaking, Intro to Old Testament, Intro to New Testament, 13 "forums" per semester before lunch on Mondays and Fridays, a language (French), as well as all the courses required of my major - and I'm so glad for that now. Because the campus was breathtakingly beautiful and is even nicer now that some swank new buildings have replaced some of those WWII mildew shacks! Because the student life was so much fun. It will be a great joy for me one day if one or more of my kids choose Whitworth.

Whitworth Activities: In addition to varsity baseball, I was senior class VP with ASWC. And not to sound like too much of an academic and extracurricular keener, I dated lots of beautiful Whitworth co-eds and attended my share of off-campus parties!

Quotes: "Work to live, not live to work" (Me), and "A people that values its privileges above its principles soon loses both" (Dwight D. Eisenhower).

Influential Whitworth Experience: Quitting the Whitworth Pirates baseball team (this requires explanation). About 7/8 of the way through the 1991 season, a teammate and I quit. We felt we were not getting a fair shot at playing time and we probably had all sorts of legitimate justification. I was the No. 6 pitcher in the four-man rotation, notwithstanding the fact that our No. 1 starter played in a summer league with me, and I was the MVP of that summer league, etc., etc., etc. However, to this day, quitting is the biggest regret of my life and I swear I on draw on the experience often in my professional career.

Career Goal: This may sound Gen X - but I'm not sure I have a "career goal." Do not construe this to mean I'm not very ambitious - I got myself elected to the Progressive Conservative Party Executive Committee at age 34 and became a college VP at 36. I just don't know that I have my eye on one and only one title. I think I might like to be the president of Olds College someday (with several more years of experience in my current role) or maybe the V.P. of advancement/external relations at a larger college or university. I may hang my own consultancy shingle as a PR practitioner or lobbyist. I might even run for office myself one day... after my youngest daughter is out of the house at university. I have seen firsthand how hard politics can be on young families.