J.J. Whitney '96

WhitneyBy Natalie Atkins
Staff Writer

J.J. is originally from Bentonville, Ark., and attended Hendrix, graduating in 1996 with a B.A. in Spanish. After leaving Hendrix, she attended Boston University School of Theology where she received a Master of Divinity degree. She began her professional work at Hendrix in 2002. She currently serves as Associate Director of the Miller Center for Vocation, Ethics, and Calling and as the Assistant Chaplain for the College.

When J.J. is not working, she enjoys Jazzercise and watching "Lost." She also enjoys going on dates with her husband, Kaleb Barrett, to Mike’s Place in Conway or Lily’s Dim Sum in Little Rock, and playing Star Wars with her 4-year-old son, Jack.

Life as a Student

As a student, J.J. participated in the choir and served as secretary during her junior year. The Candlelight Carol service and spring choir tours are some of her fondest memories. One moment that is frozen in her memory is being thrown into the fountain on her 21st birthday — in January!

During the first two trimesters of her senior year, she studied abroad in Madrid, Spain. In addition to building proficiency in the Spanish language, J.J. believes that her experience abroad positively affected her life. She says of the experience, "Living in another country taught me about my own culture, honed self-discipline, self-reliance, and independence in traveling, and gave me insight into what it means to be ‘different.’ Without my study abroad experience, I would not have been prepared to take on the duties in my current vocation."

Life as an Employee

J.J. was originally hired by the college as the Program Coordinator for the Hendrix-Lilly Vocations Initiative. Although she performed chaplaincy functions in this job, it was not until 2004 that she was given the Assistant Chaplain title. Then in 2008, with the generous gift of Bob & Nadine Miller, the Hendrix-Lilly program became the Miller Center for Vocation, Ethics, and Calling and J.J. was named Associate Director.

In addition to many other job duties, J.J preaches at chapel and co-administers the sacrament of Holy Communion during weekly services. She also leads other religious programs on campus, mentors students who are interested in ministry, leads vocation workshops for interns in non-profit and religious organizations, and leads at least one mission trip per year. Outside of the duties her job demands of her, she has also taken on teaching the first-year Explorations seminar for the past four years.

Although she is a fairly recent graduate, J.J. has seen many changes at the college since her time as a student. The college is no longer on a trimester system, and she has personally enjoyed watching the Odyssey program take shape. "It has been exciting to see what ignites student passions and how they are given the chance to ‘try out’ these passions in the world," she says.

J.J. says, "I think the Hendrix community truly wants to make a difference in the world and I find that kind of energy contagious." Perhaps that is why she has chosen to make her home at Hendrix.