Whittier College’s Societies Still Give Students The Tools for Success

October 27, 2023

Ty Carlson and William Penn Society MembersWhittier College is a unique institution that likes to do things differently. The small liberal arts college prides itself on standing apart from the pack by approaching even its social-service clubs differently.

People won’t find the traditional Greek life on campus that has students join a nationally affiliated fraternity or sorority seen at other colleges or universities. Instead, Whittier College has 10, one-of-a-kind Societies that reflect student life and the Whittier population at large.

Established in the 1920s, the Societies began as literary groups and still follow four key pillars: friendship, scholarship, leadership and community service.

Ariela RomeroFourth-year student Ariela Romero went to every Society event she could while rushing during the recruitment period in the fall of 2021. She ended up choosing the Athenians.

“We had a lot of similarities, and I knew that those were the girls that I was going to look up to,” Romero said. “It just felt right for me.”

Born and raised in Whittier, Romero is majoring in social work and psychology because she likes connecting and helping people. That passion spreads to the Athenians, where the group recently had a jeans drive that donated about 50 pairs to the local organization ​​gram-MeDownz. Additionally, as Athenian president, she created a mentorship program that partners current members with alumni.

Ty Carlson also encourages classmates to check out as many Societies as possible to find one compatible with them. For the second-year student from Las Vegas, that was the William Penns

“The most important thing with these types of organizations is that you find a group that you feel comfortable with and that you feel like you fit in,” Carlson said. “The Penns felt like the best fit for me because I felt like they were professionally focused. I was really looking to be surrounded by people who I could network with and who could keep me on track for my goals.”

Aimee HuertaSocieties aren’t just for current students, either. Aimee Huerta ’23 is still active with the Palmers, participating in this year’s Homecoming and other events. Huerta said that, unlike standard clubs, the bond she formed — combined with the shared respect and care for one another — transcends her time at college.

“Having that sisterhood is kind of like having family per se, not by blood, but by word and by connection,” Huerta said. “It feels like I have a family here wherever I go.”

While she aids current students and members, Huerta has also received personal and professional guidance from Palmer alumni. The first-generation student graduated with a degree in kinesiology and an emphasis in physical therapy because she has seen her mother deal with the autoimmune disease lupus firsthand.

Along with networking in the medical field, the Palmers helped her with time management, communication, creativity, and other skills that she puts to use daily at her internship at an outpatient physical therapy clinic in her hometown of Whittier.

“If it hadn’t been for the Palmer Society with everything I’ve learned thus far, I wouldn’t be where I am today,” Huerta said.

To learn more about Whittier Societies and how to join, visit Societies.

Societies for Women

  • Athenians
  • Ionians
  • Metaphonians
  • Palmers
  • Thalians

Societies for Men

  • Franklins 
  • Lancers
  • Orthogonians
  • William Penns

Gender Non-Conforming Societies

  • Sachsens — Originally established as a society for men in 1948, it opened its membership to all in 1971.

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