June 4, 2023

Dora Whiting: “It’s Friday!”

It’s Friday!

Well, almost. But tomorrow, it really will be Friday, and anyone who isn’t already celebrating the end of the work week will start if they walk past the Eagle’s Nest around noon. That’s when Dora Whiting performs her weekly ritual on Campus Walk – with her whistle, her megaphone and her amazing, infectious, incredibly upbeat attitude.

Dora Whiting takes a minute at her job at the Eagle's Nest to hug Yasmin Cox, who will receive her master's of education degree next week. Whiting has worked at UMW's Eagle's Nest for more than two decades.

Dora Whiting hugs Yasmin Cox, who will receive her master’s of education degree next week. Whiting, who’s worked at the Eagle’s Nest more than two decades, uses her incredible energy to help prop up students – especially on Fridays!

“It’s Friday! You made it!” she yells, high-fiving students on the way to class at the end of another long week. “The paper you turned in that you thought wasn’t good? It was good! When you thought you couldn’t do it, you did it. When you thought you were going to give up, you kept on moving. You’ve got this!”

Whiting started work as a cashier long before the University Center and its bounty of food offerings stole the Nest’s thunder. She’s straightened shelves, stocked fridges and run the register for 22 years. But she sees her job as much more. Her pep perks up sleepy students, pumps them up for tests and keeps them from quitting work, quitting classes and sometimes, Whiting whispered – beaming smile failing for just a moment beneath her black visor – quitting all together.

“I’m full of joy because they can come to me and tell me anything,” she said. “I treat them like I would my own.”

For each generation of Eagles she’s helped feed at the Nest, she’s felt like a sister, a mother, a grandmother, she said. And when freshman Octayvia Johnson – one of Whiting’s eight grandchildren – stops by, she really is.

Whiting’s family, in fact, is what started her Friday routine at UMW. She hadn’t seen her youngest son, who was serving in the Middle East, for more than a year, and she couldn’t stop crying. “I wanted them to tell me why they took my son away,” she said of a dream where she saw herself on the White House lawn. “He was fighting a war he didn’t know anything about.”

Dora Whiting helps a UMW student at the Eagle's Nest.

Dora Whiting helps a UMW student during a recent shift at the Eagle’s Nest.

Then one Friday morning at work, something on her keychain caught her eye. Not the tiny Eiffel tower or the outdated Sodexo swipe-card. It was a whistle.

“I blew it, and it was like a burden was blown off my body,” said Whiting, who’s sent each week out with a bang ever since. Her “You made it!”s and “You did it!”s will be even more poignant tomorrow, as another exam week draws to a close and graduation creeps close.

“I get out there and give them a little pep talk on my blow horn. I try to give them a boost,” she said. “It gives me a boost too.”

Q: How do you stay so cheery?
A: I just know I’ve been blessed. Better than blessed. The main thing is to enjoy life. Time is too short.

Q: What do you love most about your job?
A: Coming to work to see the kids. If it wasn’t for them, I don’t think I’d be here. It’s been that kind of a job.

Q: What’s most challenging?
A: I don’t like to say “no.”

Q: What would people be surprised to learn about you?
A: I drive a motorcycle, a Honda Shadow 

Q: Any mottos you live by?
A: “You don’t come this far and give up.” I don’t want to see someone left behind. If they quit, they did everything for nothing. I tell them, “I don’t think God brought you this far to let you down. You don’t come this far and give up. You just don’t.”


  1. carole garmon says

    I love Dora and the Friday salutations! Thank you Dora!!!!!