This piece is from a feature writing assignment. We were assigned partners and interviewed each other in order to write a feature writing about them. I was assigned to work with Caitlin Whalen. Written fall 2016.
It’s the final countdown: Whalen’s last year at the University of Dayton
She zip-lined over a canyon in Mexico. She skydived over a beach in the Outer Banks. She had chicken pox three times. She is technically dating a piece of government property.
Yet, she claims she is not that interesting.
I sat down with Caitlin Whalen, a senior communication management major at the University of Dayton, on the first floor of Roesch Library to talk about her life. She dressed simply, wearing cropped workout leggings and a sweatshirt. She described her style as simple and sporty, prioritizing comfort over anything. She wore minimal makeup and admitted she only wears makeup for special occasions. For those special occasions, she likes to get creative and go big with her look.
When Whalen applied to the University of Dayton, it was out of spite. She has a strong relationship with Dayton, Ohio, even though she lives in Tennessee. She was born at Miami Valley Hospital, just up the road from Dayton’s campus. Her mother attended the school as well. Her feelings changed about Dayton when she stayed for an overnight campus visit, and the rest is history.
Whalen has taken full advantage of the opportunities offered at the University of Dayton. She participates in the powerlifting team at school and hopes to be a personal trainer on the side in the future. She was previously majoring in mechanical engineering, then accounting, changing her major a total of three times. She had some catching up to do as a result of the major changes.
“I took 12 credits this summer at home so that I could graduate on time,” Whalen said. “In addition to 18 hours for both semesters of my senior year. Not fun!”
The top three things most important to Whalen are her family, friends, and helping other people. She loves to have aspects of her life planned out, but she is also spontaneous. She spontaneously got a tattoo her senior year of high school with her friend after they found a $100 bill on the ground during their spring break.
“(It was a) bad idea,” Whalen said. “It had to be touched up already.”
A person in Whalen’s life that shares the same passion for living life spontaneously is her boyfriend Alec Myers. Myers, a U.S. Navy sailor, has been dating Whalen for over two years. After graduation, they hope to move to Virginia Beach, Virginia to begin their lives together.
“I think our relationship thrived at first from our spontaneity but flourished through our compassion,” Myers said. “We’ve driven to places with no plan, gone to a suit and tie restaurant in sweats after a workout…we honestly just have fun together. We’re happy.”
A talent Whalen keeps to herself is her singing. She won a first scholarship prize from the Nashville Symphony for her singing voice. According to her roommate since sophomore year, Anna Marchiony, her dancing isn’t too bad either.
“(Whalen) has been my date to several date parties and formals when my boyfriend couldn’t come,” Marchiony said. “She’s a very close second as my dance partner…On her birthday we were getting ready to go out and celebrate…she was dancing around our apartment and all of a sudden she tipped over and my roommates and I were laughing…It was a hilarious time.”
When looking towards the future, Whalen isn’t quite sure about what career exactly to pursue, but she hopes to open a sanctuary for dogs when she’s older. She pretended to be a dog when she was a little girl in hopes of her parents buying one for her and her three younger siblings. Besides her love for dogs, she knows she will be experiencing a lot of “lasts,” especially since it’s her final year at Dayton. It sometimes makes her wish life would slow down just a bit.
“I’ll miss UD a lot – it’s strange to think after this summer I won’t be moving back to school with my roommates into another house or apartment,” Whalen said. “I’m excited for what the future has to hold though and while I’m having the time of my life I believe the best years of my life are just beginning.”