Though we cast our nets a bit more widely in 2008 than we did, say, 10 years ago, Whitworth Today seeks primarily to be a magazine for members of the Whitworth community. We want our readers to encounter new perspectives on national and international issues and on questions of nature and supernature. But we also want alums to see how their former classmates are doing, to check in on faculty and their accomplishments, to be delighted by the improvements being made to the campus (and to be assured that, at its essence, Whitworth remains much the same), and to feel, after reading each issue, as if they've made a brief, information-packed visit to Whitworth.
As always, we strive to fill you in on Whitworthians who are making a difference in the world. There are many. Richard Cizik, '73, Whitworth's Distinguished Alumnus for 2007, was recently named one of America's 100 most influential people by Time magazine. We profiled Cizik in our fall 2007 issue, and if you'd like to know more about this Whitworth grad whose evangelical faith has informed and impassioned his leadership in issues of creation care, please go to www.whitworth.edu/whitworthtoday and click on "Archives."
Like Cizik, alumni of Whitworth's Central America Study Program, which has been an integral part of the Whitworth curriculum for more than 30 years, are concerned about the state of the world and of humankind; they want to know what they can do to make life better for people who live in the direst of circumstances. In this issue, Julienne Gage, '95, an alumna of the program who's now a successful freelance writer based in Miami, has contributed an in-depth feature about how the program has changed the lives and vocations of those who have participated in it. Near the end of the piece, Gage mentions a current Whitworth student – Iveth Canales, '09 – whose life was changed by two alums of the Central America program, Nhi Hoang, '94, and Sheila Maak, '97. You can read more about Canales' experience in our online W.T. extras, which you'll find at the aforementioned web address.
In this issue we also visit Phil, '96, and Amy Shahbaz, the parents of one-year-old quadruplets Cedar, Jeremiah, Jonah and Jordan, born in March 2007. (You can see the babies, their parents, and part of their circle of friends on our cover and in the article on pp. 12-13, as well as on the web.) Phil and Amy are in love with their quads, just as you'd expect them to be – but they also know the incredible stresses of piloting four preemies through the first year of their lives, and they fervently acknowledge that they could never have made it without the support of their families, their California friends and Phil's Whitworth classmates. I hope you'll enjoy the story of the Shahbazes' wild ride and the Whitworth alums who accompanied them.
As I write this message, Whitworth mourns the loss of Dan Burtness, '11, who was killed in an auto accident earlier this week. The community has closed ranks, as it does in such tragic circumstances, and Dan is being remembered by his grieving family, friends, classmates, hallmates and professors. This is a moment when community fulfills a need that can't be met in any other way. And this Whitworth community is a very special one, filled with people whose ideals go far beyond self to recognize a greater good, a higher purpose. I hope this issue of Whitworth Today will give you – whether you're an alum or not – some sense of how a small, devoted community can have a tremendous impact on the lives of its members, their families and friends, and the world far beyond the rolling lawns, the handsome brick buildings, and the stately pines of Whitworth University.