Outstanding Grads give advice to the next generation of Vikings
We asked the Outstanding Graduates of 2013, selected by their departments for excellence in academics, scholarship and service, for advice they would give to incoming students.
Tyna Ontko, Art
From: Bremerton High School, Olympic Community College
At Western: President of the AS club Darkside Printmakers, gallery attendant, Viking Union Gallery
Advice: “Branch out. Study abroad. Get involved in the greater community. Initiate dialogue with students and non-students from many different backgrounds.”
After graduation: Artist in residence at Black Church Print Studio in Dublin, Ireland.
Rachel Ashby, East Asian Studies
From: Homeschooled in Seattle, Shoreline Community College
At Western: Volunteered to help Japanese study abroad students learn English and discover American culture.
Advice: “It’s important to be flexible and not limit yourself. You can miss out on incredible experiences that could change your life if you’re too focused on following ‘the plan.’”
After graduation: Spent the summer in Tokyo studying abroad, plans to earn a TESOL certificate to teach English in Japan.
Brian Schiller, Computer Science
From: Hockinson High School
At Western: Coordinated the Computer Science Tutoring Center.
Advice: “Instead of ‘101’ classes, take the introductory classes required for a major. They give you a much better idea of what the subject is like. “
After graduation: Working as a software engineer in St. Louis.
Anastiasia Carlson, Psychology
From: Burlington-Edison High School, Skagit Valley College
At Western: Student Commencement speaker, camp counselor for children with autism, member of the swing dance team.
Advice: “If students don’t go out and experience college for all it has to offer they may miss out on a lot of personal growth. I’m so glad I worked hard every day, but still found time to attend events, participate in clubs and be involved."
After graduation: Back at Western working toward a master’s degree in Experimental Psychology.
Ian Faulds, Canadian-American Studies
From: McQueen High School, Reno, Nev.
At Western: Studied abroad in New Zealand.
Advice: “Take chances and talk to your professors and department leaders. They have connections and can help you make connections of your own. By talking to my professors, I landed my job with the Border Policy Research Institute, became a TA, found scholarships and made many friends and colleagues.“
After graduation: Worked with the BPRI to survey drivers at the U.S.-Canada border. Now a visual data specialist with Google Maps.
Sydney Gunnarson, Geology
From: West Anchorage High School.
At Western: Senior thesis on geomorphology at Bellingham’s Lake Padden.
Advice: “Take yourself seriously as a student, but play hard outside.“
After graduation: Travel in the U.S. and Canada.