WWU Announces 2012-13 Outstanding Graduates
Contact: Office of University Communications and Marketing, (360) 650-3350
BELLINGHAM – Western Washington University honored its Outstanding Graduates for the 2012-2013 academic year at spring Commencement Saturday, June 15.
Faculty members from dozens of academic departments and programs select one graduate to honor as the Outstanding Graduate of the year. Selection is a high honor based on grades, research and writing, service to the campus and community, and promise for the future.
This year’s Outstanding Graduates, grouped by city, include:
Ellis Roe, Outstanding Graduate of the Department of Physics and Astronomy, graduated Cum Laude with a Bachelor of Science degree in Physics and minors in Math and Astronomy. Roe was a well-respected physics lab teaching assistant who assisted Physics and Astronomy Professor Brad Johnson with computational and theoretical physics research. Roe’s work was presented at international conferences and at Western’s Scholar’s Week this year. He is also preparing a paper for publication in a peer-reviewed professional journal. After graduation, Roe will attend the University of Oregon to pursue a doctorate degree, studying either condensed matter or particle physics. He is the son of Dave and Sarah Roe and is a graduate of Bainbridge High School.
Alison Leake, Outstanding Graduate of the University Honors program, graduated Magna Cum Laude with a Bachelor of Arts degree in English Literature and a minor in Mathematics. During her time at Western, Leake received a scholarship from Wells Fargo Bank as well as the English Department Tuition and Fee Waiver Scholarship. At Western she worked as a student ambassador, representing students at events hosted by President Bruce Shepard and the Western Foundation. Leake also worked as a freelance editor for the nonprofit publisher Childhood Cancer Guides and was a part of a team responsible for copy editing “Childhood Leukemia: A Guide for Families, Friends and Caregivers” and “Childhood Cancer Survivors: A Practical Guide to Your Future.” After graduation, Leake will work as a content developer at Microsoft. Leake graduated from Squalicum High School and is the daughter of Lewis Leake and Nancy Keene.
Remy Levin, Outstanding Graduate in the departments of Economics and Mathematics, graduated Magna Cum Laude with a Bachelor of Science in Mathematics, a Bachelor of Arts in Economics and a minor in Political Science. Levin was involved in several research projects in Economics and was the lead author for a published, peer-reviewed article on international and constitutional law. He received many academic awards and scholarships from the departments of Mathematics, Economics and Political Science. Outside of class, Levin served as the elections coordinator for the Associated Students of WWU for two years. He also spent three summers working as a wilderness ranger for the National Park Service. After graduation he plans to spend a year hiking the Pacific Crest Trail and travel internationally, then plans to begin a Ph.D. program in either economics or statistics. He hopes to become a college professor.
Jamie Halpin, Outstanding Graduate in Environmental Science, graduated Magna Cum Laude with a Bachelor of Science in Environmental Science. Halpin volunteered in University Residences as an EcoRep, working to promote sustainable living practices among fellow residents. She was a water quality intern for the Surfrider Foundation at Larrabee State Park and interned as a field technician for the Skagit River System Cooperative. After graduation, Halpin plans to work in environmental restoration and wildlife rehabilitation. Halpin graduated from Burlington-Edison High School and Skagit Valley College before coming to Western. She is the daughter of James Halpin and Jeanne Gardner.
Tessie Goheen, Outstanding Graduate of the Special Education Department, earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in Special Education along with a K-8 Teaching Certificate. Goheen completed her degree at Western’s extension campus in Bremerton, where faculty members describe her as a “born teacher,” humble, generous, kind and intelligent. A cancer survivor, Goheen was still undergoing treatment when she started her teacher education program in 2010. Since then, she has completed an Elementary Education internship at Jackson Park Elementary School in Bremerton and fulfilled hundreds of hours of practicum work in local schools. Meanwhile, she has been a strong voice in the region advocating for cancer research and patient rights. During her time at Western, Goheen volunteered as a team leader for the American Cancer Society’s Cancer Action Network. She travels to Olympia and Washington, D.C. to speak to lawmakers about research funding, programs that protect uninsured or under-insured patients, and the rights of cancer patients. For her senior project, she wrote a book for children who have been diagnosed with cancer and hopes to get it published for distribution in children’s hospitals. Genet Simone, senior instructor of the Teacher Education Outreach Program, says that Goheen “has touched so many people’s lives. Yet, she doesn’t broadcast her efforts or her accomplishments.” After graduation, she will be a Montessori teacher in the Bremerton School District while pursuing a Master’s in Teaching degree through Miami University. She graduated from Bremerton High School and attended Olympic College before coming to Western. She is the daughter of Beth Goheen.
Tyna Ontko, Outstanding Graduate of the Art Department, earned a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in Printmaking and completed a minor in Art History. During her time at Western, Ontko received many scholarships, including the Oscar Olson Arts Scholarship, the George W. Keagle Arts Scholarship and the Southern Graphics Council Undergraduate Scholarship. She was also president of the AS club the Darkside Printmakers organizing fundraisers to support students’ trips to the Southern Graphics Council International Conferences. She worked as a gallery attendant at the Viking Union Gallery and as a cashier at Labels Consignment, and volunteered at the Whatcom Museum of History and Art. This summer Ontko will attend an artist residency at the Black Church Print Studio in Dublin, Ireland, where she will build a large installation artwork out of many hand-printed editions. Then Ontko will pursue a career as a practicing artist while building a greater portfolio and eventually attend graduate school. Ontko graduated from Bremerton High School and attended Olympic Community College before coming to Western. She is the daughter of Michael Ontko and Diana George.
Sean Guynes, Outstanding Graduate of the Linguistics Department, graduated Magna Cum Laude with a Bachelor of Arts degree and a double major in Linguistics and Anthropology. A student of six languages, Guynes’ work was published in a scholarly journal in Kosovo, where he also spoke at an international seminar on Albanian studies. He published several articles in undergraduate journals and presented at more than a dozen conferences nationwide. He received an award for Best Undergraduate Presentation at a linguistics conference in Texas. On campus, Guynes was a teaching assistant for classes in Anthropology and the Classics, was a Linguistics tutor and was president of the Linguistics Club. Next, he will attend the University of Massachusetts, Boston, for a master’s degree in American Studies. He hopes to write his thesis on literary and cultural themes in American comic books today. After that, he would like to earn a master’s in Comparative Media Studies at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and then a doctorate. A graduate of John F. Kennedy Catholic High School in Burien, Guynes is the son of Jennifer P. Haas and Patrick Haas.
Anastasia Carlson, the Outstanding Graduate in Psychology, graduated Magna Cum Laude with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Psychology and spoke at Commencement. Carlson worked in research labs in the Psychology Department, studying social biases on race, gender and sexual orientation. She also worked as a research analyst for Skagit Valley College. This summer will be her third year as a camp counselor for children with autism. She also advocates for people with autism by helping them to reach educational goals and to become more independent. In her spare time, she was a member of Western’s swing dance performance team. Carlson will return to Western in the fall to work on her master’s degree in Experimental Psychology and plans to conduct research on how social support services affect the cardiovascular health of people with developmental disabilities. A graduate of Burlington-Edison High School and Skagit Valley College, Carlson is the daughter of Tamara Carlson and Greg Carlson.
Cassandra Helms, Outstanding Graduate for the Finance and Marketing Department, graduated Magna Cum Laude with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Business Administration and a concentration in Marketing. During her time at Western, Helms was the vice president of operations for the Student Marketing Association, coordinating the association’s Excellence in Marketing Competition, and a member of Beta Gamma Sigma, the international honor society of business programs. Helms was a business planning intern for Boeing, an intern for Zaahah and a project management intern and project coordinator for Sterling Health Plans. She has also earned several scholarships throughout her time at Western, including the Sunshine Brooks Foundation Scholarship, the Alumni Association Leader Scholarship and the People’s Bank/LeCocq Family Scholarship. After graduation, she will work as an integrated scheduler for the 777 Program at Boeing. Helms graduated from Enumclaw High School and is the daughter of David and Leslie Helms.
Brian Schiller, Outstanding Graduate for the Department of Computer Science, graduated Magna Cum Laude with a Bachelor of Science degree in Computer Science and Mathematics. During his time at Western, Schiller participated in many competitions, including the William Lowell Putnam competition, Kryptos Cryptanalysis, International Collegiate Programming Competition and COMAP Math Modeling competition. He worked as a Math Fellow at Western’s Math Center and a program coordinator for the Computer Science tutoring center. In 2012 he was an intern at Amazon.com. After graduation, Schiller will marry his fiancée Morgan Schurr, Presidential Scholar for the College of Sciences and Technology, and move to St. Louis where he will work as a software engineer and Schurr will attend medical school. Schiller is a graduate from Hockinson High School and is the son of Aaron and Lee Schiller.
Matthew Pollock, Outstanding Graduate of the Department of Music, graduated Cum Laude with a Bachelor of Music in Music Composition and Music History. He served as coordinator for the Composers of Western Concert during his senior year and completed his Senior Composition Recital in May. After Western, he plans to compose and play music in Portland, Ore., before applying to graduate school to study music composition or musicology. He is a graduate of Kalama High School and the son of Bob and Patty Pollock.
Harveen Sandhu, the Outstanding Graduate of the Community Health Department, will earn a Bachelor of Science in Community Health in August. She has shown her mastery of a variety of skills that will enhance her abilities as a community health educator. She traveled to Uganda to work with the organization The Real Uganda to help to educate people about HIV/AIDS care, reproductive health, and general hygiene and sanitation. She also worked as a nursing assistant at Bellingham’s Sean Humphrey House and as a health education outreach assistant at Sea Mar Community Health Center, where she led classes in tobacco cessation, nutrition and diabetes education. She hopes to eventually combine her Community Health Education degree with a nursing degree. She is the daughter of Dail and Jaswant Sandhu and a graduate of La Center High School.
Lake Forest Park
Mario Orallo-Molinaro, the Outstanding Graduate for Theatre, earned a Bachelor of Arts in Theatre Arts with concentrations in Acting, Directing and Theatre Education. At Western, Orallo-Molinaro played Sir Toby in “Twelfth Night,” Mortimer in “The Fantasticks,” and several roles in “Soapbox.” He was a performing ensemble member of Western’s nationally award winning improvisation troupe, The Dead Parrots Society and a touring member with The Multicultural Outreach Tour (MOTley). Orallo-Molinaro also served as the Communications Director for Western’s Associated Students and as AS Vice-President for Activities. He collaborated with WWU Prevention and Wellness, the WWU Counseling Center, and the AS club To Write Love on her Arms to create Walk of Hope, a yearly suicide awareness event. Orallo-Molinaro is now a tour actor/director with the Missoula Children’s Theatre. A graduate of Shorecrest High School, he is the son of Lisa Molinaro-Yallup and Wallace Yallup, and Sam Orallo and Melinda Heller.
Kristi Gross, Outstanding Graduate of the Department of Decision Sciences, graduated Magna Cum Laude in March with a Bachelor of Science degree in Manufacturing and Supply Chain Management. During her time at Western, she was a member of the national honorary and professional management fraternity Sigma Iota Epsilon, and a member of the collegiate honor society Phi Kappa Phi. She participated in a leadership luncheon as one of the top business students at Western and received the Boeing Manufacturing Management Scholarship and the Manufacturing and Operations Management Advisory Board Scholarship. Gross also mentored a class of fifth-grade students at Mary Purcell Elementary in Sedro-Woolley and interned at PACCAR and Physio-Control. Finally, she was a pole-vaulter for Western’s Track and Field team. Gross is now an associate commodity manager at PACCAR in Bellevue. She graduated from Lynden Christian High School and is the daughter of Dan and Marilyn Gross.
Melinda Schultz, the Sociology Department’s Outstanding Graduate, graduated Magna Cum Laude with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Sociology. During her time at Western, Schultz impressed faculty members with her academic strengths and dedication to becoming a sociologist. She recently presented her research on white supremacists at the annual meeting of the Pacific Sociological Association in Reno, Nev. She also worked as a research assistant with Glenn Tsunokai, an associate professor of Sociology, and collaborated on a manuscript for publication. She is a paid research assistant for Lucky Tedrow, director of the Demographic Research Laboratory of the Sociology Department, and Jay Teachman, a professor of Sociology, on a study funded by a grant from the National Institute of Health. Schultz will attend Pennsylvania State University this fall to pursue her doctorate in Sociology. She was homeschooled in Marysville, and went to Everett Community College before attending Western. A third-generation Western student, Schultz is the daughter of Ray and Rita Schultz.
Jacob Price, Modern and Classical Languages Outstanding Graduate, graduated Cum Laude with a Bachelor of Arts in Spanish and minors in History and Latin American Studies. He presented an essay at Spanish Matters at the University of Puget Sound, another for the national history honor society Phi Alpha Theta at University of Portland and was involved in Sigma Delta Phi. At Western, he was a teaching assistant in Spanish classes as well as a tutor and facilitator of Spanish conversation classes. He also did translation work through his church and was involved in the Se Habla program, helping in Spanish classes in area high schools. After Western, Price will attend the University of Kansas – Lawrence to study for a master’s degree in Hispanic Literature.
Craig Fredrick, Outstanding Graduate in Engineering Technology, graduated Cum Laude with a Bachelor of Science and a double major in Plastics Engineering Technology and Applied Mathematics. Fredrick was awarded many scholarships while at Western, including the Ivy Roth Memorial Plastics Scholarship and the Boeing Engineering Technology Scholarship. He also was active in student clubs such as the Society for the Advancement of Materials and Process Engineering and Society of Plastics Engineers, and participated in many intramural sports. After taking a few weeks off, Fredrick plans to move to Oregon and begin work as a project engineer. Fredrick graduated from Rogers High School in Puyallup and is the son of Kelly and Lisa Fredrick.
Brittany Splinter, Outstanding Graduate for the Dance department, earned a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in Dance and a Bachelor of Arts degree in English Literature. At Western she worked with Denise Vale of the Martha Graham Dance Company, and with the Liz Gerring Dance Company. She also attended Alonzo King’s LINES Ballet Summer Intensive in 2011. Splinter received the Monica Gutchow Dance Scholarship and the Louise Settlemeyer Scholarship. She was a member of the honor society Phi Eta Sigma as well as Western’s cheerleader squad. Finally, she volunteered in a first-grade Sunday school class at Christ the King Church in Bellingham. After graduation, Splinter hopes to join a professional dance company in Seattle, California or New York. She is a graduate of Cascade Christian High School and the daughter of David and Elizabeth Splinter.
Rebekka Mantegna, the Outstanding Graduate of the Communication Department, graduated Cum Laude with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Communication with a minor in Sociology. She was a teaching assistant and a student leader, as well as a volunteer with the Japanese exchange students program. Communication faculty members describe her as insightful, thoughtful, articulate and altruistic. While at Western, Mantegna was active in intramural soccer, basketball and flag football. Outside of Western, Mantegna owns her own sheep shearing business, which she started when she was 15. She was a project leader for the Lacamas Valley 4-H Club and volunteered at the Cascades Camp and Conference Center. After Western, Mantegna plans to work for a few years and hopes to go to graduate school. She is the daughter of Carl and Beth Mantegna and graduated from Evergreen Lutheran High School in Mankato, Minn. She also attended Bethany Lutheran College in Mankato and Minnesota State University before taking a year off to work as a ranch intern at Cascades Camp and Conference Center. She is the daughter of Carl and Beth Mantegna.
Rachel Ashby, Outstanding Graduate of the East Asian Studies Department, graduated Magna Cum Laude with a Bachelor of Arts degree in East Asian Studies and Linguistics. The faculty of East Asian Studies describes Ashby as “meticulous and intellectually curious.” One of Ashby’s most rewarding experiences at Western was volunteering with the Asia University America Program, where she helped Japanese study abroad students learn English and discover American culture. Immediately after graduation, Ashby plans to go on a summer study abroad trip to Tokyo through the KCP International Japanese Language School. When she returns in the fall, Ashby hopes to earn a TESOL certificate and then return to Japan to work as an English teacher. Ashby was homeschooled and attended Shoreline Community College before coming to Western. She is the daughter of Marijane Sutton Ashby.
Katherine Ehlers, Liberal Studies Outstanding Graduate, graduated Magna Cum Laude in March with University Honors, earning a Bachelor of Arts in Humanities with a concentration in History of Culture and a minor in French. Ehlers received the President’s Scholarship, and scholarships from the Liberal Studies Department. She was on the President’s List several times and was a member of the National Society of Collegiate Scholars, Circle K and La Table Fançaise. She was also offered membership in the Phi Kappa Phi Honors Society. She won high praise for her senior thesis on 19th century author Maria Edgeworth’s progressive treatment of femininity in her novels “Belinda,” and “Patronage.” After graduation, Ehlers plans to work and save money to attend graduate school in fall 2014 to earn a master’s degree in Library and Information Science. A graduate of Ingraham High School, Ehlers is the daughter of Harald Ehlers and Carolyn Hughes.
Eric Messerschmidt, the Outstanding Graduate in Environmental Studies, earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in Environmental Education and a Bachelor of Science Degree in Environmental Science. Messerschmidt worked as a trip leader and excursions coordinator for the Associated Students Outdoor Center and co-founded WOOT, WWU Outdoor Orientation Trips. He was also a resident adviser and teaching assistant for Environmental Education’s Spring Block field courses. Among his other accomplishments at Western: not using cars for recreation for one year, skiing the Northwest Couloir on Mt. Shuksan, biking 240 miles in 24 hours, running past seven lakes in the Chuckanuts and back home in one night, and twice completing the “Bellingham Marathon” of biking up Mount Baker to the snow, skiing up then down the mountain, then biking home. After graduation, he plans to “play in the woods while continuing to develop a meaningful life philosophy and learning how to live it.” Messerschmidt is a graduate of The Northwest School in Seattle.
Laura Tompkins, the Outstanding Graduate in History, graduated Cum Laude in December 2012 with a Bachelor of Arts degree in History. At Western, Tompkins presented a paper on Kosovo’s secession from Serbia at a conference of Phi Alpha Theta, the national history honor society. Faculty members praised her senior thesis on Germany’s political involvement in the Persian Gulf War. She tutored students at Sehome High School in English and history and served a five-month internship with a non-profit organization in Orleans, Mass. focusing on water quality issues. She is now working as an assistant teacher at a preschool in Issaquah and plans to pursue a teaching certificate. Tompkins is a graduate of Snohomish High School and attended Franklin College in Switzerland before coming to Western. She is the daughter of Anne Tompkins and Ray Tompkins.
Ayana Robinson is the Presidential Scholar for the College of Humanities and Social Sciences – Social and Behavioral Sciences Division and Outstanding Graduate in the Anthropology Department. She graduates Cum Laude with a major in Biology - Anthropology. While excelling in research, Robinson was very active as a mentor, peer adviser and tutor to her fellow students. In the Anthropology Department, her paper on the prevention and treatment of a common obstetric problem in Sub-Saharan Africa was nominated for a research award. She was a mentor for new and diverse students through the Office of Admissions’ HANDS program, where she helped train and coordinate new mentors and helped coach high school students on how to get admitted into college. She received the Above and Beyond Award from the Office of Admissions and the Strongest Leader Award by follow mentors. She also participated as a Tour Day Volunteer for Compass 2 Campus and was a peer adviser for the Wellness Outreach Center. She will attend Boston University in the fall and hopes to get her master’s degree in Public Health. She will also start working with the Peace Corps next summer. A graduate of Arlington High School and Everett Community College, Robinson is the daughter of Debra Robinson and Michael Tross.
Anna Attaway, the English Department’s Outstanding Graduate, graduated Magna Cum Laude with a Bachelor of Arts in English Literature and a minor in Spanish. She was nominated for Western’s Scholar’s Week in 2012 and completed two independent study courses focusing on religious themes in the work of writers such as Ezra Pound, James Joyce and Flannery O’Connor. She also worked at the Black Drop Coffeehouse in Bellingham to help pay for college. After graduation, she will attend Harvard Divinity School, where she received a full tuition waiver and a living stipend. She hopes to get a master’s degree in Religion, Literature and Culture. After Harvard, Attaway hopes to get a doctorate in English and teach at a university. She is the daughter of Thomas and Nola Attaway and graduated from Riverside Christian High School and Yakima Valley Community College in Yakima.
Sydney Gunnarson, Outstanding Graduate for the Geology department, will graduate Magna Cum Laude in August with a Bachelor of Science degree in Geology and minors in French and Mathematics. Faculty members call her smart, inquisitive and thorough; she was selected to be a Teaching Fellow in a geomorphology course. For her senior thesis project, Gunnarson is conducting a study in glacial geomorphology by taking sediment cores of Bellingham’s Lake Padden to narrow down the last glacial advance in Whatcom County. Gunnarson also presented a geomorphology study that she designed and conducted in beach sediment transport at the 2012 conference of the Geological Society of America. Finally, she was a member of the women’s Ultimate Frisbee team. After graduation, Gunnarson plans to travel for a few months around the United States and Canada and then hopes to attend graduate school to continue to study glacial geomorphology. Gunnarson attended West Anchorage High School and is the daughter of Peter and Patty Gunnarson.
Cora Braun is the Kinesiology and Physical Education Outstanding Graduate. She graduated Magna Cum Laude in March with University Honors and a Bachelor of Science in Kinesiology with a focus on pre-Physical Therapy. She volunteered as an intern at physical therapy practices in Bellingham as well as with the adapted aquatics program at Bellingham’s Arne Hanna Aquatic Center. She was also a route monitor for the 2012 Human Race in Whatcom County and a volunteer at the Bellingham Food Bank. In addition to maintaining a high grade point average, Braun performed with Western’s female a capella club, Major Treble. During her senior year, Braun worked with Instructor Wren Cunningham in the functional anatomy laboratory and led one of the labs. She has been accepted to Northern Arizona University’s Doctor of Physical Therapy program where she will study for the next three years before becoming a physical therapist. She graduated from Tri-Valley School in Healy and is the daughter of Susan and David Braun.
Ian Faulds is the Outstanding Graduate in Canadian-American Studies. He graduated with University Honors, a Bachelor of Arts with a double major in Canadian-American Studies and Geography and a minor in International Studies. He received many awards at Western, including the Patrick L. Monahan Memorial Scholarship, Western Undergraduate Exchange Scholarship, 2011 Deans Fund for Excellence recipient, Huxley General Scholarship, Chuckanut District Garden Club Scholarship and Canadian American Studies 40th Anniversary Scholarship. He was a teaching assistant for Introduction to Canadian Studies, worked as a research assistant for the Border Policy Research Institute and as a peer adviser for International Programs and Exchanges. In 2011 he studied abroad in Wellington, New Zealand. Faulds will be working with the Border Policy Research Institute through the summer conducting driver surveys at the U.S/Canadian Border. He is the son of Connie Bebout and Jim Faulds and is a graduate of McQueen High School in Reno, Nev.
Heather Rees, Outstanding Graduate of the Human Services Department, earned a Bachelor of Arts degree with University Honors in March, with a major in Human Services and a minor in Spanish. During her time at Western, she served as a board member of the Sehome Neighborhood Association and collaborated with the Campus Community Coalition to conduct the Off Campus Student Life Survey. The report, which she presented to the Bellingham City Council Planning Committee and several neighborhood associations, documented major shortcomings in the quality of housing available to student renters. Rees interned for the Opportunity Council, providing promotional material for the council’s early childhood program, and for the Community Boating Center developing online marketing material. She is also a part of Western’s sailing team. Diana Jones, assistant professor of Human Services and Rehabilitation, said that Rees is “an exemplary young woman who has put her critical thinking to work for the benefit of her community.” After graduation, Rees hopes to work as an AmeriCorps VISTA volunteer for a year and to pursue a career in community organizing or data collection and analysis. Rees is a graduate from Gresham High School and is the daughter of Glen and Monica Rees.
Jeffery Hales, the College of Business and Economics’ Presidential Scholar and Department of Management’s Outstanding Graduate, graduated Magna Cum Laude with a Bachelor’s Degree in International Business and minors in Economics and Japanese. He was a Boren Scholar and studied in Japan for a year, where he worked with his host family planting and harvesting rice and volunteered to help local tourist attractions create better business plans to attract foreign tourists. He also volunteered to help teach English to students and helped to reclaim farmland after Japan was devastated by the earthquake and tsunami of 2011. He was as a Resident Advisor and Assistant Resident Director for University Residences. After graduation, he plans return to Japan to teach English for a year. After that he hopes to go to graduate school and eventually work for the Department of State. He is a graduate of Bonneville High School in Ogden and the son of Heather and Robert Hales.
Olivia Henry, Journalism’s Outstanding Graduate, will earn a Bachelor of Arts degree in Journalism with a minor in Political Science in August. Henry received many scholarships including the Jane Pancoast Scholarship and Western Provost’s Scholarship. She was a member of Phi Kappa Phi and won the WWU Academic Achievement Award. She presented two projects at Western’s Scholar’s Week: One on media coverage of the Gateway Pacific Terminal proposal, and another examining media coverage of women political candidates. The Gateway Pacific Terminal project was accepted for presentation at the Northwest Communication Association Conference. She also served on the editorial staff of two student-run publications, Klipsun and Occam’s Razor. She was awarded second place in general news reporting from the 2012 Region 10 Society of Professional Journalists’ Mark of Excellence Awards and is completing an internship with the independent journalism studio InvestigateWest. She spent a year studying at Bogazici University in Istanbul, Turkey. After graduating from Western, Henry plans to work as a strategic communications program assistant at the Friends Committee on National Legislation in Washington D.C. She also hopes to attend graduate school to get a master’s degree in communication.
Matthew Hill, Outstanding Graduate in Biology, graduated Cum Laude with a Bachelor of Science in Cellular Biology. He also earned a minor in Chemistry. Hill worked with Western Senior Instructor of Biology Jose Serrano-Moreno on characterizing the gating characteristics of Connexin-38 hemichannels, and conducting research on Pannexin-1. He also served as an undergraduate teaching assistant in microbiology and cellular biology laboratories. Hill received numerous awards at Western, including the Outstanding Poster Award at Western’s Scholar’s Week and the Sigma Xi Research Society Poster Competition. He was awarded the Biology Alumni Student Fellowship, the Biology Faculty Fellowship, Biology Department Tuition Wavier Scholarship and the Declan Barron Memorial Scholarship. Hill credits Serrano-Moreno for being his mentor and motivating and inspiring him toward a career in biomedical research. After Western, Hill plans to attend Baylor College of Medicine to pursue a doctoral degree in Developmental Biology, focusing on Stem Cell Biology and Gene Therapy. Hill is the son of Stuart and Lisa Hill and a graduate from Natrona County High School in Casper, Wyo.
Raymundo César Cortés Rodríguez, Outstanding Graduate in Elementary Education, in March earned a Bachelor of Arts in Elementary Education Studies and Language, Literacy and Culture, with a minor in Bilingual Education. Cortés’ vision, tenacity toward academic performance and intellectual engagement caught the eye of his instructors. His passion for equity fuels him to work for social justice. He showed a clear love of teaching and is committed to helping immigrants from his home region of Mexico. During his internship in Mount Vernon he worked in an English-Spanish bilingual school. He also volunteered with the Migrant Youth Leadership Conference, interpreted for parents on conference days, and performed and taught with Danza Azteca, introducing many young people to ancient cultural traditions of Mexico. Cortés graduated from Madera High School in Madera, Calif., and then graduated from Everett Community College before coming to Western. He started his Teach for America service in June.
Mahfuza Sobitova, Outstanding Graduate of the Department of Secondary Education, earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in Education with concentrations in Chemistry and General Science. During her time at Western, Sobitova was a Mathematics and Chemistry tutor at the Tutoring Center and a student-teacher in a chemistry class at Blaine High School. Last summer, she taught an online course in critical writing and reading in English to students in Khujand, Tajikistan. Sobitova was tutored by her father and entered Khujand State University to study Chemistry and Biology. She then was selected for the Undergraduate Exchange Program through the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs of the U.S Department of State. This allowed her to study abroad at Bemidji State University in Minnesota. Sobitova then transferred to Edmonds Community College before attending Western to finish her degree. After graduation Sobitova plans to visit her family in Khujand, Tajikistan and teach Science and English at local high schools and help prepare new science teachers in Khujand State University before she returns to the U.S. in 2014. She hopes to become a chemstry teacher in the U.S. She is the daughter of Olim and Rano Sobitov and the wife of David Holzmeyer.