Whitney Michak '05


Whitney Michak '05
Major: Psychology
Job Title:
Attorney-Advisor (Contracts)
Defense Health Agency
Host Date: Monday, January 8, 2018 and Tuesday, January 9, 2018
Time: 10 a.m. - 2 p.m.
Location: Aurora, CO

*Whitney will be hosting two separate groups of students on two days

What student groups/clubs/activities were you involved in when you were a student at Puget Sound?

  • Poetry Theme House
  • Study Abroad in Dijon, France
  • Trail Clean Up
  • Orchestra

How would you describe your role and organization?

I am an attorney-adviser in the contract law division, supporting the Defense Health Agency, which falls underneath the larger Department of Defense umbrella. The Defense Health Agency primarily administers the TRICARE health care benefit to Active Duty members and their families, at a significantly reduced rate compared to commercial health care plans. As an attorney, I am primarily involved in the competitive acquisition and administration of these health care contracts worth over $60 Billion dollars. Health care contractors who compete for these contracts and are not selected by the DHA, can litigate at the Government Accountability Office, the Court of Federal Claims, and beyond.

How would the skills and competencies gained through a liberal arts education be beneficial in the type of work you do?

When I attended UPS, I was fairly confident I wanted to go to law school, so I was less interested in finding a major that would help me find a job right out of college. I knew as an attorney, I would be counseling individuals, and so I opted for a degree in psychology. I frequently work with high stress individuals and understanding human behavior has helped my develop rapport with my clients. I also knew I would be doing a lot of critical thinking and writing as an attorney, so I opted to take classes that focused on analyzing literature and courses that had paper writing as a requirement. At UPS, I also had the freedom to take many different types of classes, and not solely focus on pre-law, because I took enjoy law classes in law school!

What can a student expect to experience by job shadowing you?

I am a Government attorney, and as an Agency we are funded by taxpayer dollars, so I don't work in a fancy downtown law office building. Most of my colleagues have opted to work in the Government sector because they believe in the mission of providing health care to our military members who deploy. I spend most of my day interacting with clients and advising them whether a particular course of action is legal. I collaborate with other attorneys who work in the same department as I brainstorm resolving problems. Also, Congress dictates the DHA's budget, and so we also spend some of our day deciding how we are going to implement mandates from Congress tied to an appropriation bill.