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Chris, Andrew, Forrest, and Michelle White

Liberal arts alumni empower internships, political science students

Purdue College of Liberal Arts alumni Chris and Michelle White are giving back to the college that played such a transformative role in their busy, successful lives together. Based in Minnesota, Chris is the Vice President of Manufacturing for Sleep Number Corporation, and Michelle has worked in the financial industry for over twenty years, in compliance roles for several registered investment advisers and broker dealers. She is also active in the Daughters of the American Revolution and recently became a founding member of the reconstituted Women for Purdue giving society.

In 2017, they made their first-ever gift to Purdue in support of a then-new Job-Ready Internship Program Gift Fund. Liberal arts students who receive internship offers can apply for awards that currently provide up to $2,000 per student for lodging, travel, and other expenses as they pursue meaningful internships where they can utilize their communication, problem-solving, and analytical skills in real-world situations. 

Chris and Michelle grew up in working-class families and had to rely on loans, scholarships, and work to pay for tuition and living expenses. “At times, it was a struggle, so we appreciated all the assistance we received,” says Chris. “With the Job-Ready program, we were surprised that some students could not accept internships because they were either unpaid or did not cover housing. We decided to help students have the opportunity to pursue internships that they would have otherwise not been able to accept.”

Thanks to the program, more than 90 Purdue students have been able to accept career-launching internships with organizations and institutions such as the Republic of the Marshall Islands, the United Nations, the Office of U.S. Senator Todd Young, the U.S. House of Representatives, the Guggenheim Museum, and the Museum of Contemporary Art-Chicago.

In 2018, the couple also made a five-year pledge commitment to establish the Chris and Michelle White Scholarship in Political Science Endowment, which will be matched 1:1 by the Mary Findling Liberal Arts Scholarship Challenge Match. The scholarship is need-based for out-of-state students enrolled in CLA’s Department of Political Science.

“Thanks to Purdue, I gained the confidence to explore the world and never stop questioning,” says Chris. For Michelle, the liberal arts motto rings true: “Thanks to Purdue, I learned to ‘think broadly and lead boldly.’”

Through their giving, the Whites hope to provide real-world opportunities that prepare Purdue liberal arts students for their own inspired careers and bold leadership.

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