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Wicked Smart

By Lauren Clark Hughes

Some may see interests in public policy and ministry as an incompatible mix, but for Phillip Allevato, '17, a political science major double-minoring in philosophy and law & justice, they combine perfectly.

This fall, Allevato was presented with the Daniel Burtness Memorial Leadership Award, established in memory of Dan Burtness, a Whitworth student and Young Life leader who died after a car accident in 2008. Allevato is passionate about people and studying law, investing his time in building relationships with alumni as an Alumni Discovery Project ambassador, caring for fellow students as a resident assistant, and tackling discussions of policy and culture as a member of Whitworth's forensics and Ethics Bowl teams.

Allevato's interest in forensics brought him to Whitworth. After competing on his high school's team, he wanted speech and debate to be a part of his higher education. The quality and atmosphere of Whitworth's forensics community attracted him, and the feel of campus made him stay.

"I fell in love with the campus when I visited," he says. "And one professor's comment has stuck with me ever since. She told us, 'Don't be afraid to be wicked smart!' That attitude toward learning really resonated with me."

Allevato stays engaged in his very busy schedule by asking himself what is truly important. "Forensics has taught me to ask good questions, whether in class, in speaking to professors, or in my personal life," he says. "Having crucial and difficult conversations with my forensics teammates has always been a place where I have learned most. We hold just about every viewpoint imaginable, so our disagreements can be significant. However, we're able to discuss tough topics in a way that is not seen as threatening the identity of our teammates."

Isabelle Broussard, '19, who participated in forensics with Allevato last year and who serves with him on the Duvall Hall leadership team, says, "Phillip is incredibly hardworking and serious in achieving his goals, but when he's goofing around he can be the snarkiest person in the room. He's a big brother to everyone younger, and that shows in the quality of his relationships."

After graduation, Allevato plans to attend law school and eventually to do legal representation in the nonprofit world. "I chose political science because I've always been interested in systems of laws," he says. "And I love problem-solving, which is a huge part of what political science is about."