SUU to Everywhere

Melinda Whitaker (’71)

Melinda Whitaker (’71)
SUU to Educator

Originally published on February 10, 2023.

Melinda Gale Whitaker has always loved children, and knew from her early teenage years in Beaver, Utah, that she wanted to teach them. So, as a child of a BAC family, she knew just how to go about doing that.

Enrolling in the elementary education program here in 1967, she was happy to find personalized attention and small classes, and shined on campus, reigning as the 1969 homecoming queen, serving as a student body officer and standing out in her studies.

And she gained the knowledge and skills to become just what she set out to be: a teacher.

“I left campus prepared to make a difference in the world,” she says. “I learned to organize and gain leadership skills that have benefited me all my life. I gained confidence in my abilities, and my education prepared me for my profession, while the leadership skills I learned have served me well personally and professionally.

She is especially proud to have taught hundreds of children to read in her 27 years as a kindergarten and first grade teacher, and since her 2015 retirement has continued to give back in many ways, mentoring pre-service teachers and young adults, and smoothing the path to success for many youngsters.

She has also given back to her alma mater, as she and her husband Ted (also ’71), have greatly supported the Alumni Association—particularly in building chapters—and these citizens of Orem, Utah, have also been cultivators of students for the University over the years. Their own daughter Monica Whitaker Jensen matriculated at the University, as has daughter-in-law Mandy Gillespie Whitaker. And, Melinda never fails to point proudly to the fact that she’s part of a three-generation legacy here.

The Whitakers are parents to four grown children and grandparents to 15, and one shouldn’t bet that there are not future Thunderbirds among them.