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Whitney Stockett: Future Senate Member or Minister?

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By Tammy Marshall Cardwell

What do you call a homeschool graduate a few years down the road?

“Senator”

Well, that may not be the case for Whitney Stockett, but it is something she’s considering. This young lady is keeping all of her options open.

Whitney is the oldest of six children, all of whom were homeschooled from the beginning. Mom, Eva, always in pursuit of new ways to convey her love of life and learning, tried a variety of approaches through the years. These pursuits led them into such things as unit studies and classically-driven studies, but eventually she settled on ACE Paces as the best option for their large crew. Even so, when Whitney reached Junior High she began, with Mom’s oversight, to develop her own curriculum, building it around her personal passions and interests.

Whitney assures me that her homeschool days were not idyllic, that she and her mom shared many tears over her trouble learning to read (Whitney is dyslexic), memorize multiplication tables, and master chemistry. They conquered all, however, and the dyslexic finally had her mom supplying her with fiction, non-fiction, The Wall Street Journal… “The what?” you ask? Well, I did say that you might one day call her, “Senator.” Whitney is now an avid reader with an intense desire to learn as much as she can. Though she is only 23 years old, she already possesses a library of hundreds of books that she adds to weekly.

While still technically in high school, Whitney chose to attend her local junior college. Here she was immediately accepted into the Honors Program. (Note: The Honors Department secretary strongly recommended I profile Whitney for this series of articles.) She says she found that her homeschooling background set her apart here because, “I already knew how to study, how to budget my time well, and how to conduct in-depth research.” She also credits these two years with shaping her love of learning into, “a focused excellence in academics.” Whitney says, “Lee College gave me opportunities I had never had while homeschooling and provided what I felt was a safe place to be in my first venture into traditional learning.” She found that she not only loved the traditional classroom setting, but that it was also a place where she could thrive.

This beginning prepared her for a move, prior to her Junior year, that took her far from her home in Texas to Washington, D.C., where she attended The American University and graduated in the spring of 2007 with a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science and a minor in International Studies (Her specialization: U.S. Foreign Policy and Executive-Congressional Relations).

Then she got straight to work, right? Wrong! She and her sister Courtney had spent years saving toward a dream. They’d set aside leftover scholarship funds and other money so that now they were able to follow their fascination with foreign countries and travel on a three-week visit to experience London, Paris, Versailles, Pisa, Florence, Rome, Vatican City, Venice, and the island of Fusina. “Incredible!” is the word Whitney used to describe that trip. To me it’s one more thing that sets this young woman and her sister apart. Their time investment and the self-discipline involved in saving so much money, and at such young ages, is impressive.

After taking some post-graduation time off, Whitney returned to D.C. where she spent a month applying for jobs and going on interviews before landing an entry-level position as a Staff Assistant in the late Congresswoman Jo Ann Davis’ office (Virginia’s First Congressional District). Says Whitney, “I worked for Rep. Davis until her death in October 2007 and was subsequently hired by the Member elected to fill her seat – Congressman Rob Wittman. I’m currently Congressman Wittman’s Office Manager and Scheduler. I handle most all of the administrative functions of the office as the Office Manager. I handle all accounts payable, manage different aspects of our D.C. office and our three district offices, and handle Congressman Wittman’s public and private schedules. A lot of what I do is constituent services related as well—responding to meeting requests, coordinating events, responding to constituent mail, etc.”

So Whitney has “arrived,” right? Not hardly. Remember her passion for learning? That passion has taken her on into the U.S. Naval War College where she is pursuing a Masters degree in National Security Policy and Strategic Studies. After completing her time there, she is considering pursuing a Masters degree in public policy, public communications, public administration, and/or international relations. She may even opt for law school, since she is very interested in international law.

“Long-term I would like to run for political office. My lifelong dream has always been to run for a seat in the U.S. Senate. While that would be a long road, I think it would be a worthwhile one if I am able to help shape and direct U.S. policy.”

She also says, however, “I would love to go into full-time ministry to work with college students and young adults. I’ve found that ministry is the only thing that elicits more passion in my heart than politics. I might also decide to pursue a degree in theology or ministry following my time at the Naval War College.”

So Whitney Stockett really is keeping her options open and anticipating an exciting future. In closing, when I asked how she felt homeschooling prepared her for this life, she answered, “I believe strongly that homeschooling and the individual attention that I received is what has placed me in the position I am now in. I was required from a young age to show initiative, to manage my own education, and to do it all with excellence. I think that these principles are what have really allowed me to achieve the things I have so far. Homeschooling (and being the oldest of six) really created a strong work ethic in me that I’m realizing is becoming less and less common in my generation.”

I offered her a chance to share her heart with homeschoolers and their parents, and she came back with, “I really feel that the reason I have been so successful is because my parents both homeschooled me AND taught and encouraged me to dream big. They never ever stifled any dream I had, whether it was taking off for a mission trip to South Africa the summer I was 13, working for our church part-time as the youth pastor's secretary, or participating in morning prayer and other ministry opportunities with a ministry internship program in our church. As long as I was getting my schoolwork done, they not only made sure that I had opportunities to learn and grow at home, but they pushed me to explore the world outside our schoolroom through service, friendships, and travel.

“Their desire to homeschool stemmed from a desire to shelter us and take an active part in our spiritual development, but they didn't allow fear to limit our opportunities. They never smothered us; instead, they encouraged us to live and grow in the real world. Once they felt they had instilled truth in us, they gave us the opportunity to use that truth to affect our world. As a result, I never went through a rebellious period or walked away from my faith... it was rock solid. Often I'm told that people would have never known I was homeschooled from interacting with me... I feel like homeschooling has a very negative reputation at times because homeschoolers sometimes can't adjust to interactions in the real world. I'm so thankful that my parents made sure that I had a solid Christian upbringing and that they took the time to pour love and wisdom into me, while also encouraging me to walk into situations where I would need to utilize such wisdom.”

Whitney is an outstanding young lady, one who seems to have attained the unattainable. The point of this article is to show homeschoolers and their parents that the future really is wide open and our homeschooled students can become whatever they wish to be. While Whitney is special, I can assure you that her past is no different from most. I’ve known Whitney’s family for years and herself most of her life. Her mother first drew me into the homeschool world. Other than the fact that Mom, Eva, has a passion for learning that has kept her in school for much of her adult life, this family really is your typical homeschooling family—if you can use the word “typical” in reference to any homeschooling family. What Whitney is doing, your student can do too…if their passion lies in the same direction.

I asked Whitney if I could share her contact information and she assured me that, “I love chatting with parents who aren't sure if homeschooling is the way to go—because I feel like I'm proof that homeschooled kids can grow up to do and be anything!” You may email her at Whitney Stockett.

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