By Emily Glory Peters
When Joe Mitchner P’21 walked into his first Parent Leadership Council (PLC) event at Scripps, he already had plenty of extraprofessional claims on his time. A seasoned volunteer, this father of twin Scripps seniors could have easily seen adding Scripps to his plate as too much. Fortuitously, he took a different view.
“Having volunteered with our kids’ schools for years, I knew I wanted to engage with Scripps some way, but I wasn’t sure of the best approach. I signed up for a PLC meeting to learn about my options. Everyone was so welcoming and genuinely wanted to ease my family’s transition to Scripps—I thought it would be a cool group to be a part of,” he explains. “Plus, PLC’s vision of growing the Scripps community in fun ways, with an eye to benefiting current and future Scripps students, really resonated with me.”
Recently named Scripps’ H. Mac and Michele-Anne Riley P’18 Parent Volunteer of the Year, Mitchner is one of the many who make up the College’s vibrant mosaic of family volunteers. These families have a direct hand in shaping student life—whether through groups like PLC, comprised of parents who support the College through personal philanthropy and opening their networks to Scripps students—or through the multiple volunteer opportunities open to parents throughout the year.
“In the summer and early fall, parents and guardians of current students volunteer in many ways to support incoming families. They host virtual and in-person welcome receptions, make peer calls to families in their area, create care packages for new students, and generally take new families under their wing,” says Casey Crosbie, Scripps’ director of parent engagement, adding that parents can also have a hand in students’ career development. Families can network with the Scripps community on Olive Grove, the College’s exclusive social media platform, or can even partner with Scripps’ Career Planning & Resources office to offer internships, career exploration treks, and other professional opportunities to students.
As Mitchner observes, creating these avenues for students is critical for Scripps as a smaller liberal arts college—and something parent volunteers are uniquely equipped to do.
“Parents have the ability to help grow the College community, elevate the Scripps College name around the country, and alleviate some of the obstacles our graduates face as they build their careers,” he says. “As a women’s college with a close-knit community, it’s important that Scripps continues to take advantage of our connections and put them to work for past, current, and future students.”
Scripps parents repeatedly display their readiness to support more than just their own student. In 2020, as the campus was forced to close due to the pandemic, many families donated their student’s refunded room and board back to Scripps—a move that helped the College remain financially stable despite historic financial setbacks. And at the start of the current academic year, several first-year parents joined the PLC despite their student never having yet set foot on campus.
“Our families’ philanthropy and willingness to foster a supportive college experience through volunteering is unquestionably powerful,” says Crosbie. “They are essential ingredients for what makes Scripps so unique.”
With COVID-19 restrictions finally loosening, Scripps is preparing to welcome its community back to campus—in turn, bringing fresh occasions for parents get involved. For Mitchner, it represents a chance for all families to give back, whether as donors, volunteers, or by simply attending an event. Doing so not only enriches the student experience, he says, but can be personally rewarding for parents, too.
“Scripps is a tremendous find—solid academics, engaged students, a hidden gem of a campus. Those were the reasons I volunteer with the PLC, and it’s given me a more overarching picture of what our girls have experienced. But I’ve also gotten to develop my own connection to Scripps,” he says. “The best involvement is the one that fits your background, time, and fulfills you internally. I encourage all parents to get involved in whatever way is comfortable for them!”