Drover Alum Since Day One: Whitney Palesano

Whitney Palesano

A lifelong Chickasha resident, Whitney Palesano found choosing a college incredibly easy given how powerful a force the University of Science & Arts of Oklahoma is in the local culture. She had attended summer camps on campus, the annual Droverstock Music Festival and other university events throughout her childhood, so the place felt very familiar already. While she initially thought she would transfer after a year or two, she fell in love with the school, the faculty and the friends she made, and so decided to stay a Drover.

Graduating in 2010 with a bachelor’s degree in psychology with minors in business administration and the liberal arts, Palesano worked in banking and insurance at the start of her career. She even obtained her Oklahoma insurance license and worked at a local agency for a decade. But her entrepreneurial spirit and passion for public service eventually led her to bigger things. She currently serves as the membership director for the Chickasha Chamber of Commerce.

“My husband and I also own several small businesses located in Chickasha, and when I’m not working, I enjoy reading, gardening and hiking,” she said. “We live just outside of town with our three children and two dogs.”

Palesano’s close connection to the Chickasha community was furthered thanks to her time at USAO. While so many young people dream of travelling far from their hometown when they attend college, transformative experiences can be had nearby as well.

“USAO taught me that I didn’t need to go far away to live a life of my dreams,” said Palesano. “I obtained an excellent education and made connections that will last a lifetime.”

Even though it was not part of the school’s marketing at the time she attended, Palesano feels that the “Do Different” motto really embodies what makes USAO such a special university. The culture on campus encouraged her to forge different paths throughout her life and not be afraid to learn new things.

“I have never been afraid to ask questions or share my thoughts,” she said. “It’s a quality that has taught me a lot of hard lessons, but it also allowed me to show what I bring to the table.”

Palesano was active in the Student Government Association and Droverstock committee during her time as an undergraduate. The skills she gained in event planning and parliamentary procedure have easily translated to her current work with civic organizations. She notes that an SGA retreat in Tulsa is a trip she would take over and over again if she could. But one of her favorite memories from college is the semester she spent abroad in London studying sociology.

“I now have a much better understanding of how other parts of the world handle their communities and government, not to mention the opportunity to see parts of the world that I might never have!” she said.

In her role at the Chamber of Commerce, Palesano is instrumental in organizing the monthly Professional Women’s Networking events that bring together female community leaders. Her experience with SGA and other student-run organizations at USAO laid the groundwork for her success in this endeavor.

“The ability to surround myself and others with strong, intelligent women has been amazing,” she said. “As our slogan says, ‘empowered women, empower women!’”