Whitney Kerutis chose to double major in French and physiology because she wanted college to be hard. It’s this drive that landed her an academic scholarship from the Marshall Foundation in partnership with the University of Arizona Foundation.
“I feel like I could relax and go through life doing something I excel at, or I could challenge myself and end up being a well-rounded person,” she said. “I really want to push myself.”
At 19, Kerutis is interested in redirecting the discipline she honed as a competitive dancer toward academics. Though she finds French pronunciation daunting and chemistry class a test of will, she’s determined to succeed and unafraid to ask for what she needs.
She has found support at the University of Arizona every time she sought it — whether it was academic advisors lending insight into classes and majors, leadership programs developing her professional skills, or a fellow student willing to walk her to an office where she could find the right enrollment forms.
“I think you have to be very proactive,” she said. “I make calls every day, asking questions. There are just so many resources here.”
Kerutis added she eventually wants to help people in need. Realizing that one way to do this is through medicine, she met with an advisor — and that meeting confirmed her decision to major in physiology in preparation for nursing school.
Then she went to speak to a Peace Corps recruiter, who recommended she stick with French to improve her competitiveness in the Peace Corps admissions process, and her impact in an overseas assignment. One day she hopes to serve in a French-speaking African country, perhaps helping AIDS patients.
The Gilbert native is grateful her family didn’t need to take out a second loan to help her achieve her dreams. With a stepfather and sister in college and a brother slated to begin next year, her family’s finances were already stretched thin.
“It was really a blessing,” she said of the Marshall Foundation scholarship. “I feel lucky.”