As the youngest of four sisters, Whitney Powel ’15 always seemed to be following in someone’s footsteps. So when it came time to choose where to go to college, she decided not to follow the footsteps of her mother (Sandra Powel ’80) and sister (Read Powel Lanctot ’08) and attend Denison, opting instead to enroll at a bigger college in the Southeast, but after her first year, she transferred looking for a smaller school with a bigger sense of community. “At Denison, I’m able to explore my interests” says Powel, a double major in environmental studies and communication. “It’s never because I have to study something. It’s because I want to.”
She followed her interest in food politics to an environmental communication course, where she worked with three other students to analyze how organizations involved in the debate over labeling genetically modified products formulated their arguments. “I’m really proud to say that we were able to contribute to the literature on this topic,” says Powel, who is an environmental studies senior fellow. And in the fall of 2014, she submitted a proposal to the College that offered three potential ways to reduce energy and environmental costs, simply by changing the way some of its trademark hillsides are mowed.
She brought that same focus to the athletic field. After suffering two torn ACLs in high school, Powel came to Denison ready to make up for lost time. She became a highly decorated player on Denison’s lacrosse squad and helped the team bring home the NCAC Championship in 2014 as a midfielder. She was named to the NCAC All-Tournament team, and her teammates and coach tapped her as a captain in 2014 and 2015. In addition, she has been named a James T. Glerum Top 50 Athlete for the last three years and received the NCAC Scholar-Athlete Award in April. “She is someone who continues to impress me every single day, both on and off the field,” says head coach Amanda Daniels. “Whitney is incredibly hard-working, intelligent, respectful, and selfless; she does not take a single rep in practice for granted and leaves everything she has on the field at every moment. She is an absolute team player.” —Dan Morrell