As the supervising electrician, Jake Whisenhunt’s face is frequently seen and one many recognize around campus. But his contributions to the function and maintenance of campus are not the only involvement of his. One of this year’s Mario and Alma Pastega Staff Excellence award winners, Jake also devotes his time to working with students through extracurricular activities, namely the Wrestling Club and Campus Crusade for Christ.
Jake has worked at WOU for seven years, coming to campus after completing the Electrical Journeyman program. He’s known since he was an undergraduate student at Oregon State University that he wanted to work on a college campus. He’s happy to have landed at WOU because it has been the perfect fit for him. “What I love about Western is the community atmosphere. It’s a lot more personable and so you get many opportunities to get to know people on campus and what they do. In doing that, it helps you see life in many perspectives. On a bigger campus, it’s harder to be on that personal level like you get here,” he said.
He also has a personal connection to WOU, with his great grandmother, aunt, and uncle all earning degrees from the university. “It’s really neat to be on campus here and know there is connection to family.”
With all that he does on campus, what he enjoys most about his time at WOU is making an impact in both the college students’ lives and the people he works with. Working with students has been rewarding for Jake because he enjoys seeing the students from when they first arrive on campus to when they walk across the stage at graduation.
“Advising the Wrestling Club gave me a platform to encourage college students who were at a crossroads in their lives, and they just need a positive influence.” Jake said “I see the electrical portion as a platform to have a positive influence on staff and faculty. I feel that what ever we do we should do it whole-heartedly, and in doing that we build a platform that gives us opportunities to positively influence people.”
Tom Neal, director of the Physical Plant, notices Jake’s superior work on campus. “Jake comes through our front door each morning with a big smile on his face and ready to work. The attitude that he puts forth is that there is no other place he would rather be than on campus and in the service of the campus community.”
For Jake, he’s made it a point to make an impact on campus and a highlight of the job for him is simply passing by and interacting with people. “On a daily basis, whether you know it or not, you are going to impact somebody in a negative or positive way, you just are. You could be just the smile, the pat on the back or the kick in the butt someone needed. I think just realizing that gives you a sense of purpose in your day and also makes you understand that you are valued. It does make you think: how do you want to impact somebody in that day?”