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Renee Barton '07

National Guard member returns home to guide students

Earlier this year, Sgt. 1st Class Renee (Huggins) Barton '07 extended her military contract while flying in a Blackhawk helicopter over Whitworth University. As a proud Whitworth alumna and Washington Army National Guard collegiate advisor, she figured it was a fitting way to take her oath.

"I wanted this oath of extension to be memorable," Barton says, "and what better way than with my military crew and my Whitworth crew over the Pine Bowl."

In 2018, Barton asked to return to her hometown of Spokane to work as the collegiate advisor for Whitworth and Gonzaga University.

Her job involves helping current and prospective students with military-related interests.

"My role is to assist future hometown heroes who want to stay in their communities, serve their country and attend college," she says.

One aspect of that assistance is helping secure scholarships for students. Recently, Barton helped Luke Miller '23 receive the full-tuition Minuteman Scholarship.

"It was a very proud moment for me to make the call to tell him he would be receiving a full ride to Whitworth," she says.

Attending Whitworth changed Barton’s worldview, and she values providing opportunities for students to come to Whitworth and experience their own transformations.

"My time at Whitworth got me out of my shell," the former English major says. "Before I became senator of Warren Hall, I was a 'people-pleaser.' During my stint on ASWU, I learned the hard way that you cannot please everyone; you have to pick your battles wisely."

Barton appreciates the similar connection she shares with the Whitworth and military communities.

"Both are a family," she says. "During military training, you are going through something that only a handful of others have gone through and completed. When I see another veteran or service member, there is an unspoken connection like, 'Hey, I got you… I’ve been there.'"

She feels the same when she speaks to current Whitworth students. "I remember what it is like to sit through a Core 250 lecture after a midnight game of frolf, or to take off running when you hear a pinecone break free from a tree," Barton says.

Barton is grateful to be able to serve both of her communities through her role as an advisor, and she wants students to know she is an available resource to them.

"Ask me all the questions," she says. "There is never anything wrong with getting all the facts before you do something."