Whitney Edwards '12
Randolph-Macon College student Whitney Edwards ’12 describes herself
as “Theta for life,” and it’s easy to see why. The Pulaski, Virginia native joined
Kappa Alpha Theta when she was a freshman, and the fraternity has played an important
role in her life ever since.
“Kappa Alpha Theta taught me about myself and brought out the true leader within,”
says Edwards. “It has been a wonderful opportunity and I have amazing sisters.”
Those sisters—along with R-MC faculty and staff—helped Edwards during one of the
most difficult times of her life.
Edwards lost her father to cancer in December of her freshman year, and she struggled
when she returned to school for January Term (J-term).
“I knew it was what my dad wanted me to do,” she says, and she focused her energy
on bringing Relay for Life, a fundraiser that benefits the American Cancer Society,
to R-MC. Her hard work paid off—literally and figuratively.
“We raised around $12,000 that first year,” recalls Edwards. “We achieved our fundraising
goal of $16,000 the second year, and in 2011 we started with a goal of $20,000 and
surpassed it: I had the honor of announcing that we had raised more than $34,000!
It was touching to have the support of students, faculty, staff, and the community
for such an amazing event.” This year’s Relay for Life was also a huge success,
as volunteers raised more than $28,000.
Edwards, a biology major with a minor in
religious studies, has worked with Biology Professor Melanie Gubbels Bupp
for several years.
“Whitney has worked with me in the lab extensively,” says Gubbels Bupp. “It began
with a one-credit-hour research course during her sophomore year, involved two summers
of research, and culminated with a year-long senior project. Whitney has been instrumental
in getting my research program up and running. I usually refer to her as the ‘rock
star’ of the lab. I will miss her terribly when she graduates.”
Edwards received a travel award to attend the American Association of Immunologists
conference in May with Gubbels Bupp, who will present a talk, titled The forkhead
transcription factor, Foxo1, coordinates an adaptive, pro-survival response to calorie
restriction in T cells, which she and Edwards co-authored.
“I am extremely excited about the opportunity to go with her to the conference,”
Edwards is the recipient of the Paul H. Wornom Scholarship the Forrester Family
Scholarship, the William Goggin Scholarship and the Presidential Scholarship.
“Without scholarship support, I could not have
afforded a Randolph-Macon College education. I am so grateful for this incredible
experience,” says Edwards. She looks forward to putting her skills to use after
“I have applied to several places to be a research technician,” she says. “I look
forward to using the lab skills and techniques I learned from Professor Gubbels
Bupp, and then I want to go to graduate school to get a master’s in immunology.
After that, I may get my Ph.D., and I’d eventually like to work in an infectious-disease
clinic or somewhere like the Center for Disease Control. I admire Professor Gubbels
Bupp so much. Who knows? Maybe one day I will end up working as a college professor.”
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