All in the (Oredigger) family

by | Oct 14, 2020 | Alumni Network, Alumni Profiles, Fall 2020 | 0 comments

Take a look in Jim White’s home office, and there’s no doubt he’s an Oredigger through and through. Often wearing Mines gear, Jim ’64, who has an engineer of mines degree, will show any visitor his Mines memorabilia, as well as awards for his service to the university.

But Jim’s pride and passion for Mines extends far beyond being an alumnus. His father (Edwin ’36), brother (Joe ’71), two sons and daughter-in-law share his alma mater, and two of his grandchildren are current Mines students, for a total of eight White family members with Mines connections.

Scott ’89 and Eric ’89, MS ’93, twin sons to Jim and his wife, Lee, said these family connections gave them unique insight into what it means to be an Oredigger. “One of the best lessons [I learned] at Mines is that you’re never going to do it alone,” said Eric, who, with Scott, co-owns Denver Machine Shop, a business the White family has owned and operated since 1916.

As students and alumni, members of the White family (which also includes Scott’s wife, Laura ’90) have always been involved in Mines activities, including Homecoming, football games and E-Days. They also remember working with fellow Orediggers through late-night study sessions, getting hands-on drilling experience at Edgar Mine and learning to balance their activities and studies.

And while current Mines students participate in these same activities and traditions that are signatures of the Mines experience, Eric’s son, James—a geological engineering student expected to graduate in 2022—admits there are some differences. “The advancement in technology has created a completely different, more convenient education experience for all students,” he said.

“[There are] a larger number of educational paths than my parents had available to them at the time of their enrollment,” added Heather, Scott and Laura’s daughter who is pursuing a computer science degree at Mines. “There wasn’t a computer science department, so I know that my curriculum is definitely different.”

But despite the few differences, how Orediggers adapt and respond to challenges remains the same. “Mines prepares a student to face whatever situation they’re in,” Scott said. “[At Mines], we learned how to learn.” This critical thinking and adaptability are both crucial to success at Mines and long after graduation, often setting Orediggers apart as leaders and innovators in their careers.

James and Heather are grateful to their family members for sharing their insights about Mines, something that helped prepare the cousins for their own experiences on campus. “Even though Mines is such a rigorous university, I know I can get through it,” Heather said, reflecting on the support and advice she’s received from the fellow Orediggers in her family.

And being the fourth generation of the White family to attend Mines is something James knows is special. “I cherish the opportunity to honor my family legacy,” he said. “Despite the differences due to times changing, we are all Orediggers, and we are proud of that.”