As host of the Saugus, Massachusetts, public access TV show “Know Your Town,” Andrew Whitcomb was invited to broadcast live from town hall on election night in November 2021. Whitcomb had a personal stake in the results; the Manning School of Business student was running for one of five town meeting seats in his precinct.
When all the votes were counted, Whitcomb had to announce live on air that he had missed out on a seat by just 11 votes — losing to his own mother, Maureen, who had joined him for the broadcast.
“That was a humbling experience,” says Whitcomb, who should have been used to the feeling — the previous year, his mother beat him by one vote.
“I don’t want to talk about that one,” laughs Whitcomb, a quadruplet who is attending UMass Lowell with all three of his siblings: Bryce, a computer engineering major and transfer student from North Shore Community College; Collette, a nutritional science major; and Diana, a nursing major.
Whitcomb’s love of hometown politics traces back to his childhood, when he would attend town meetings with his mom, whose cousin is the town manager. By age 10, he was holding campaign signs for family friends who were running for select board or school committee. By age 14, he was on the steering committee for a State Representative candidate from Saugus, Jennifer Migliore, who in spring 2022 invited Whitcomb to Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government to speak to her seminar about the power of small-town government.
While Whitcomb has narrowly missed out on a town meeting seat, the rising senior isn’t lacking in résumé-popping experiences. He has been selected to represent the 75,000-plus students from the five UMass campuses as a student advisor to the Massachusetts Board of Higher Education for the 2022-23 academic year.
“I just want to make sure UMass students have a voice at the table,” says Whitcomb, who will attend monthly meetings and help steward the 29 campuses in the state’s public higher education system.
Whitcomb, the former governance chair of UML’s Student Government Association, plans to work with student government members from the other UMass campuses to address mental health, which he sees as the biggest issue facing students coming out of the pandemic.
“Getting those resources starts at the top, with the governor’s budget,” he says. “We can all push for something together, almost like a lobbying group.”
Whitcomb, whose concentrations are in marketing and management, will balance those duties during the fall semester of his senior year with a full-time digital marketing and customer relationship management co-op job with Keurig Dr. Pepper in Burlington, Massachusetts.
“I’m excited to apply the skills I learned in the classroom,” says Whitcomb, who plans to have coffee with people from as many different departments as possible during the six-month co-op. “I want to learn about their day-to-day responsibilities and how I can translate that back to the classroom.”
The co-op will delay Whitcomb’s graduation until December 2023, but he doesn’t mind. He’s planning to earn an MBA from the Manning School through the Bachelor’s-to-Master’s program. After that, he’s considering law school.
“If I was smart, I’d work in the private sector for the rest of my life. But something’s going to suck me into politics, and I really shouldn’t resist it. I like helping people,” says Whitcomb, whose one regret at UML is not adding a legal studies minor.
Not that he’s second-guessing his decision to pursue business. From his first visit to the Pulichino Tong Business Center on Student Welcome Day, Whitcomb says he knew the Manning School was where he wanted to be.
“Dean (Sandra) Richtermeyer started talking to me like we knew each other, and I looked up at the stock ticker and never gave it a second thought,” he says. “I’ve met so many great people here, from the students all the way to the Chancellor’s cabinet. It’s phenomenal.”