DEBORAH DEWEES: I’m Deborah DeWees and I’m the Executive Director for the Western Alumni Association. And I am just so excited for this afternoon. We wait for this celebration all year long, me and my staff, who are here to help host to and celebrate your student. This Is a wonderful event, not only for us, for our greater alumni community, but for the entire university. And the faculty are so proud to share with you why they selected your student to be honored today. We’ve been honoring outstanding grads for 39 years now. It’s a long time. And of those outstanding grads that we’ve recognized each year, they have gone on to change the world in their own way. Some of them have started companies. They’ve sold companies. They’ve hired hundreds of thousands of employees. They’ve impacted the economy in positive ways. They’ve led research teams across the globe. They’ve performed in concert halls and in opera houses around the globe. They’ve served in local, state, and national governments. They’ve been darn good neighbors. And we’re just really proud of them.
And your students, those that we’re going to honor tonight, they’re going to be amongst them. And we are so excited to see what they become and how they impact our globe. So I want to share with you what our students, or our grads, will be receiving because you see these boxes up on the table here. And each one is going to get a crystal globe. Yeah, very nice. And we hope they will proudly display this. But it is symbolic, of course, because it is a crystal globe of our planet. It’s a planet we all love. And we are counting on these outstanding grads to impact that planet in very positive ways, right? And after taking a peek at what our faculty are going to be saying about these recipients of the award today, I know they will be impacting it. And we can all rest easy in that. Now, the reason we wanted you in here before our outstanding grads processed in is because we need your help. I need your help. I would really like it if we celebrated them in a fashion that I believe they deserve. So what I’m going to ask you to do is as soon as they start to come in the door is you stand.
And let’s start clapping. Let’s give them a standing ovation for all that they’ve succeeded at and what they will succeed at. And let’s stand and give them that ovation until the last one is seated. So that’s why we wanted you in here, so you could be part of that experience for our students. So are they coming? SPEAKER 2: They’re ready. DEBORAH DEWEES: All right, let’s go. So we can start recording. Well, I would think you might agree with me that that procession is definitely a hard act to follow. I’m Deborah DeWees. And I’m the Executive Director of the Western Alumni Association. And I am absolutely honored to welcome you to the 2014 Outstanding Graduate Ceremony. This is an honor and a privilege for the Alumni Association to be able to recognize our students, our grads, in this way. We’ve been doing this for 39 years. And it is a privilege each and every year. Western this year is going to graduate almost 3,400 students. Out of that 3,400 students, there are only 38 that have been selected as outstanding graduates, 38.
And they are here before us. Congratulations. Congratulations to each and every one of you. You have done tremendous things during your time at Western. And we know you’re going to do and continue to do tremendous things as you move forward. I want you to remember something. Remember that, at Western, there are opportunities that were afforded you that allowed for you to be as successful as you have been. When you move forward, remember that the strength of this Western community is part of who you are now. And we’d really love it if you would stand in and lean into that pride of your Western community and help us create the strongest alumni community in the nation, dare I say the world. It’s on you. We need you. This is such a special ceremony for so many reasons. But one of the reasons is because each one of our outstanding grads here this evening is accompanied by a faculty host. Our faculty are amazing. I can expand on that statement for hours. But I’ll summarize it for you.
I’ll say that these are the folks that have mentored, educated, inspired, guided, believed in, challenged our students and our outstanding grads that are here before you. And we’re really fortunate to have them here at Western. And we’re fortunate to have them here with us tonight because they’re going to share with us a little bit about why they believe that this year’s outstanding grad should be honored in this way. I believe that our outstanding grads are absolutely amazing. Equally as amazing are our faculty. And in my opinion, it is the combination of the two that affords greatness and affords us to celebrate at this event tonight. So, outstanding grads, thank you for shining so brightly. Faculty hosts, thank you for inspiring and lighting or igniting that torch.
And families, thank you for always being there and being here tonight to help us celebrate. With that, I’d like to introduce our MC for the evening, Professor Johann Neem who is also the President of our Faculty Senate and the esteemed faculty member. Johann? JOHANN NEEM: Thank you, everyone, for coming out today to honor our outstanding graduates. I just have a few words. But before I start, just a little housekeeping. When we get started, each student will be accompanied and introduced by her or his mentor. The important thing is, if you’re the next in line, you’re asked to get on deck on the right or left side and come on up. Exactly. That way we will have– I’ve been told that this works smoothly. So I’m taking it. I’m taking it. these are brilliant students and we can make this happen, OK. So I’m going with that. I want to thank you all for coming out this afternoon to celebrate Western’s outstanding graduates. Each department selects a student who best represents the academic accomplishments and values of that department. These graduates represent the best students from each department in the past academic year.
But in addition to grades, faculty members consider the broader contributions students make to their discipline, to the university, to the community. So it’s a real honor to be named outstanding graduate from your department. The ceremony also celebrates what is best about Western. Each of these students will be represented by a faculty mentor. At Western, students have the chance to work closely with faculty members, many of whom are among the leading scholars in their fields.
It’s a great opportunity which reflects our focus on undergraduate education. But for the parents and family of the audience, I want to turn that around for a second and say that the really amazing part of this ceremony is what it means for us who are the professors. I’ve been a Westerner for a decade now. And I can say that the best part of being here is a chance to work with students like your children. Mentoring is always a two-way process. It is always a relationship. The relationships that form between a teacher and a student are always different and always leave both participants transformed.
Learning and teaching is a human endeavor. It always happens between people. We’re not machines. Each of the students here and each of the professors who will represent them see the connection between what they study and who each of us are. In short, we professors believe in two things, what we teach and the people we teach. And this ceremony to me is a testament to the power of the human element in teaching and how everyone involved can emerge different from where they began.
So I think this is a really powerful ceremony and it means a lot to everyone involved. And with that, I will go ahead and get started. The order of outstanding graduates that I’ve been given is slightly different than the order on your program. But again, I’ve been told that it works out. So the first student is Andrew Wray who will be introduced by Millie Johnson from Mathematics. MILLIE JOHNSON: I just have about six pages. It won’t be too long. I’m so very honored to be Andrew’s faculty host. So I want to tell you a little bit about Andrew. It was a tough choice for him to choose me, I think. He’s very beloved in not only the Mathematics department but also the Physics department. So Andrew has completed a bachelor of science in both Mathematics and also a bachelor of science in Physics. And he’s also graduating with distinction in Mathematics, meaning that he had to pass a comprehensive exam, which is essentially the same as our graduate school exam in Mathematics. And he had to write a project and he had to give a presentation and go through a defense all for undergraduate.
In addition, he did a research project with Dr. Brad Johnson in Physics. And he did another research project with Dr. Seth Rittenhouse in Physics. And he did a project, a research project, with Dr. Amiran in Mathematics. And he was accepted for PhD programs in both Mathematics and in Physics. And it was a very difficult choice but he chose Mathematics. He’ll be starting a PhD program in the fall, which is pretty cool. So that doesn’t tell you much about him. He’s an incredibly humble and kind young man. He works in both the mathematics center as a math tutor and he also works as a physics TA in the physics labs. He’s got it all. He’s the kind of student that could have majored in anything that he wanted to as most of these outstanding grads are. They’re just very, very strong students. So I have some quotations he doesn’t know about because I thought I would ask other people about him. So I asked the math director, the math center director, Kim Ragsdale– oops 30 seconds– and she said he’s an excellent tutor. His friends say that he’s known for being a leader and a collaborator, that he’s apparently both a coffee and a beer connoisseur, and his favorite food is Mac and cheese.
Andrew’s dreams are that he wants to teach at a university and continue to research. But the thing that people don’t know about him is he wanted to be a rock star when he was younger. And I can give you a lot more quotations but I have 10 seconds. So I’m just going to say that all of these students being honored today, including Andrew, have something in common. And that is that they have challenged us and everyone around them to be better. And we’ve all improved and are better because of their presence around us. So thank you to Andrew’s parents. JOHANN NEEM: Next to I’d like to introduce William Enriquez who will be presented by Molly Ware from Secondary Education. MOLLY WARE: Thank you all. This is William Enriquez. And I have just a few words that I’d like to say about him.
And I’m going to say a few things in English and then a few things in Spanish because a really important part of William’s heritage is that he is from Mexico and he has been here, navigating a new culture as part of the experience. And I think that’s a huge part of what makes him very outstanding, because that’s not an easy task. So William Enriquez walked into my class fall quarter a couple of years ago. And the task for the class is you are no longer an awesome, brilliant student. You are going to be a teacher. And that’s a huge transition that requires you to let go of your identity as good student. Because what it necessitates is that you connect with your students, that you listen to and learn from your students, that you allow them, while you still have a clarity of vision, to also shape that vision. And that was not an easy transition. And William just took a huge leadership role in that.
He was able to rapidly make the transition. And he just sees his work with youth in schools as a liberatory endeavor. It’s about freedom for all youth. And he sees potential in youth who others might not see the potential in as readily. And so I would just like to celebrate with you all William’s courage, his clarity, his integration. He’s not just brilliant intellectually but there’s a spirituality and an integrity about him that he brings to his work.
And I think that that stands out in everything that I’ve seen. And his peers and I would like to celebrate that as well I’m sure, Christian. So with that said, I’d like to say just a few words in Spanish before I close. William Enriquez– and my Spanish isn’t so great so forgive me– you have taught us so much. JOHANN NEEM: Next is Benjamin Dale who will be presented by David Gilbertson from Accounting. DAVID GILBERTSON: It’s a real honor to introduce Ben Dale, our Outstanding Graduate in Accounting for 2014. We’ve all probably heard the adage that there’s never a second chance to make a first impression. My first impression of Ben was on January 8th, 2013, first day of class in winter quarter when I called the roll for Accounting for 61 and Ben was not there. My impression of him improved, however. He did show up on the second day and every day after that.
And his academic performance as well as his class participation was outstanding. He ended up with the highest score in the class. But I’ve heard since that he was actually fly fishing in South America when the rest of us decided to go back to school. And I don’t think I’ve ever told Ben this. But I actually smiled at that story because Accounting as a major and as a profession can really consume you. And I’m pleased that Ben has some sense of balance and knows how to have a little bit of fun in his life. So he completed his Accounting major with excellent grades.
But he also completed a Spanish major– so maybe he could have helped with Molly’s translation– including a five-month study abroad in Santiago, Chile, which may have had something to do with fishing as well. I haven’t heard for sure. Ben was the President of Beta Alpha Psi, which is our Accounting honor society, probably the best one I have seen in my 16 years at Western. He graduated in March but he still comes back every week for the meetings and so on to help support the new officers and the new students. 30 seconds, all right. Also, our best students typically have internships.
Ben has had three, one with the state auditor’s office, one with Moss Adams in their Everett office, and he’s presently doing his third internship with Moss Adams in Everett. He plans on starting a career there in the fall. But between now and then, he just bought an old, used sail boat and he’s planning to sail to Alaska. So that’s been Dale. JOHANN NEEM: Next I’d like to call Elie Hartman. And she’ll be presented by Kathy Saunders from Anthropology. KATHY SAUNDERS: Well, hello. The Anthropology department is very proud to present Elie Hartman as are Outstanding Graduate, even though we only can claim a piece of her academic development and achievement. Elie graduated in winter magnum cum laude with the following credentials– and I had to write this down. This is too long to remember– completion of the honors program, a degree in Anthropology with Social Studies, teaching certificates in Social Studies, English Language Arts, and English Language Learners TESOL certification.
OK, service has been the hallmark of Elie’s time at Western, yes, among those, Compass 2 Campus mentor, Secretary of Diversity Inspired Volunteer Educators. She was the budget authority and tutoring coordinator of Students for Education Equality, Vice President of Student Washington Education Association, volunteer at Amy’s Place and Northwest Youth Outreach Services. And because she had a little time, for her senior project in honors, she was the co-founder and President of the Youth Homeless Outreach Program. Well, then you got to wonder, what does she do in her free time, right? Well, in her free time, for three years, she played clarinet for Western’s most prestigious ensemble group. And apparently she managed to practice sometime, yes? Yeah, all right. I don’t know. As she was coming to the end of her educational program, she asked me to attend a presentation she was doing for the Center for Educational Diversity.
And, folks, that was the most outstanding hour of my life. I don’t think I ever heard another academic, not just undergraduate academic, any academic, make such a case for at-risk youth. She’s going to be a marvelous teacher. Thank you. JOHANN NEEM: Next I’d like to call up Patricia Swanson from Art. And Garth Admunson was going to present but he’s not able to be here. But he gave me some words to say so I’m going to move over because I think that’s appropriate. So I’m just going to read what Professor Admunson has to say about you. Patricia Swanson was a double major in English and Art. And in terms of service, she led the charge as the ASWWU SPE club, which is the Society for Photographic Education. She was club President and she helped systematically raise funds and ultimately organize the recent student trip to New York City and Baltimore. She also completed two bodies of work and exhibited both of them. It has been fascinating to watch the development of her photographic work, including the ambitious research and construction of both analog and digital images. Throughout the last several years, she has exhibited strength in a wide variety of areas.
Her work is mature, professional, and effective in technique and content. Patricia has repeatedly demonstrated her ability to work both independently and within a team in a resourceful and creative manner. Patricia has distinguished herself by her ability to work effectively within a variety of media, creating layered and complex work which extends into an exploration of traditional and new photographic media. Her ability to experiment with new materials and techniques helps to articulate her ideas in a truly innovative manner. Her academic achievements are noteworthy as she continues to grow and develop as an artist and professional photographer. So congratulations. Next I would like to call up Andrea Schiller who will be presented by Michael Mana from Behavioral Neuroscience. MICHAEL MANA: Good afternoon. It’s a real pleasure for me to be here today presenting Andrea with the first Outstanding Graduate in Behavioral Neurosciences. I met Andrea when she was still in high school. She came to Western for a visit to see our campus and to learn about what was then a new Behavioral Neuroscience program.
And she left a real strong impression with us. She was bright. She was curious. She was really smart. She was articulate. And we were pretty stoked when Andrea decided to come to Western and join our program. And I was even more stoked to find out that Andrea was interested in doing research with me. For four years, she’s worked in a lab that Dr. Janet Finlay and I have at Western, studying an animal model of schizophrenia. We do genetic deletions and then study the consequences of those deletions in an animal model of some of the cognitive deficits in schizophrenia. Andrea’s done outstanding work. And research always sounds sexy and glorious, but there are times when you want to cry and bang your head against the wall. And as far as I know, that never happened. She was a real trooper. She’s presented her work at Psych Fest, at Scholars Week, and twice at the International Society for Neuroscience meeting in 2012 and 2014. In addition to her academic accomplishments, Andrea is outstanding in the sense that she has a really clear appreciation for the idea that it’s not all about her.
And she has a sense for giving and a sense for being able to contribute to others that really makes her exceptional. She’s been involved for four years with the Neuroscience Research Drives Students club at Western this year, again, the Outstanding Academic Club on Western’s campus, so shout out for the NeRDS. This year Andrea was their outreach coordinator and she was busy all year doing Outreach P-12, busy with Compass 2 Campus, and Brain Awareness Week for the society.
Andrea’s leaving now after five years. I’m not good at goodbyes so I’m not going to say them. She’ll be going to begin a doctorate program in dental surgery at the University of Washington in the fall. I’d just like to thank her parents for the outstanding job that they did raising Andrea. She’s a pleasure. Thank you. JOHANN NEEM: Next I’d like to welcome Miranda Lahman who will be introduced by Jeff Young from Biology. JEFF YOUNG: It’s my great honor to talk to you about Miranda. Ben Franklin wrote that if you want something done, you ask a busy person. And I always think that when I see her working in my lab or in her classes. She’s a student athlete. She was on cross country and track. She’s going to graduate magna cum laude with a degree in Cell as well as Molecular Biology. And she’s taken the time to become a first rate scientist.
And that’s mostly how I know her because she joined my lab. And I have to come clean. I had heard of Miranda. I heard of this great student. And I was looking for students for my lab. And she happened into my office as an advisee. And I think I brushed aside her questions and I said, the number one important advice I can give you is you need to join a lab and I have an opening. And she stepped in and she’s taken over basically graduate student at work. We’re working on a plant pathogen project. She’s on the plant side and she’s doing high-level genetic work and has pushed the project a lot further than what we would have expected. And her co-students and her teachers all want me to point out that she’s not only funded the lab but she’s the leader and a doer.
The grad student she works with says that she’ll try to think of things to do and she’ll look around and they’ll have been done already. And that’s just the type of person she is. She’s heading off to go to graduate school at the crossroads between medicine and doing genetics. And I’m looking for great things from her in the future. JOHANN NEEM: Next is Andrea d’Aquino from Chemistry being introduced by Mark Bussell. MARK BUSSELL: Well, it’s a distinct pleasure to introduce Andrea d’Aquino as the Chemistry outstanding graduate. She’s just a phenomenal person. I first met Andrea when she came and asked if she could join my research group. And at the time, I didn’t have an opening. But I knew once I met her that I was going to create an opening. And so it took a few months. But Andrea joined my research group and has never looked back. I gave her a project that actually has an industrial sponsor.
And I think it’s through her breakthrough in developing a new way to remove impurities out of fuels that this grant was renewed with a large donation of equipment, just phenomenal research. And that’s just scratching the surface of Andrea. I think she really understands the importance of higher education, has embraced all the opportunities that come with it. I just keep presenting her with challenges and ideas and opportunities and she accepts all of them. She gave three presentations at regional or national conferences and came back with two awards of $250 each from two of them for outstanding presentations, one at the National American Chemical Society meeting in Dallas and in April. She also understands the importance of reaching out to the community and the region.
And she co-founded a chapter at Western for the Society for Chicanos, Hispanics, and Native Americans in science and arranged some important events for that. And she also helped me with Compass 2 Campus and we set up a hands-on activities and renewable energy for some of the fifth grade students visiting. On top of that, she simply has an electric personality that’s just going to carry her to the top. Andrea. JOHANN NEEM: Next I’d like to welcome Sarah Nicole Carlson and Kimberly Peters from Communications Sciences and Disorders. Oh, but not Kimberly Peters. SPEAKER 11: It is a pleasure to serve as the faculty host for the outstanding graduate student in the Department of Communications Sciences and Disorders.
The Department prepares people to become speech language pathologists and audiologists. And as such, it is a rather outstanding department because people who come there do so driven by compassion, the compassion to bring others their lost gift of language. presenting today, Sarah Carlson, whose compassion took her up last summer to Guatemala with Dr. Barbara Mathers-Schmidt and 12 other students to participate in a service learning and language immersion experience. Sarah enthusiastically worked hard alongside her peers, providing intensive physical labor as they build houses, cared for malnourished infants in a clinic, and provided educational support to local students in an elementary school.
This is how Sarah described one of her experiences. The families we were helping were living in shacks with dirt floors. In three days, our group was able to build three small homes with concrete flooring, locked doors, and a solid roof. The families we helped were so grateful and full of joy. Throughout the three days, they were very involved in the building process, which was amazing to see. Every time I wanted to complain about the blisters in my hand, I would look at the little girls next to me working just as hard with no shoes or gloves. And suddenly those blisters didn’t hurt anymore. From high school days when Sarah participated in volunteer activities to help Katrina survivors rebuild their homes through a multitude of volunteering activities for international Circle K, Sarah says, for me, a service experience is not successful unless I come home more humble than when I left.
Sarah exemplifies the best of active minds changing lives. The Communication Sciences and Disorders faculty appreciate Sarah’s engaged learning, ongoing services to others through her volunteer work, and her multiple interests that include being an accomplished dancer. We are fortunate that Sarah accepted a spot in our graduate program for next year. We’ll enjoy the opportunity to further mentor her on her path to becoming a speech language pathologist. And we are pleased to have this opportunity to honor her. JOHANN NEEM: I’d like to welcome Courtney Hook from Communication Studies who will be presented by Karen Stout. KAREN STOUT: It’s my honor to introduce you to Courtney Hook today. And it’s especially my honor to be selected as her faculty mentor. It was, I have to tell you, a really easy decision for the Communications department to select her as our outstanding grad this year. At first, you could just look at the GPA and say it’s a done deal. But that quantitative measure of her is really just a quantitative measure of the qualitative love of learning that she brings into the classroom every day.
I asked some of my colleagues if they could provide some perspective to write this little speech today and I’ve got a lot of quotes. And I won’t read them all to you in the sake of time. But all of them talked about what a great contributor to a class conversation she is. Sometimes we have conversations in Communication Studies that are not easy to deal with, discussions of race, class, privilege. And all of them talked about how Courtney provides an important voice in that conversation and how she creates a friendly, safe environment for people to share their perspectives as well as sharing her own. So those two things alone made it an easy decision. But it was also an easy decision because, for three quarters, she served as an instructor’s assistant in our public speaking program. And that program is where more mature students help first year students get through public speaking. And that is a lot of work. You might imagine that this process right here is a little nerve wracking. And Courtney did a really masterful job at helping students deal and cope with anxiety and be the best public speakers that they could be.
And the director of this public speaking program asked me to publicly thank her today for her service and her leadership in that program. So thank you. It was also easy, really easy, to select her because she was one of the very few students who chose to do a senior thesis this year. And I had the pleasure of being her adviser. And I’m seeing the time. And so I need to say that much like the rest of our outstanding graduates today, Courtney has a bright future ahead of her. She is planning on graduate school and will be researching graduate programs this summer and studying for her GREs and hopefully extending the data collection that she did with her senior thesis project. Because as part of that project, she was asked to replicate her study on multiple university campuses.
So I helped her with that. And as her mentor, I just want to say thank you to Courtney for helping me be my best. JOHANN NEEM: Next I’d like to welcome Marya Kampmann who will be introduced by Jeanne Freeman from Community Health. JEANNE FREEMAN: The Community Health faculty are honored to celebrate Maryah Kampmann as our outstanding major. This young woman is driven, observant, diligent, a high-quality leader, and humble. The work she has produced these last two and a half years has consistently stood out as exceptional in all of her major-related courses. Marya also exhibits remarkable traits of a health educator and her service to the community. She has volunteered her time at the Sexual Awareness Center, working to reduce sexual health disparities among the various subpopulations of Western’s culture. Additionally, she has been a peer sexual health educator for Prevention Wellness Services, allowing to serve her student peers by providing accurate information about partner communication, monogamy, hormonal birth control, and abstinence.
She’s also served the older adult population in Bellingham, taught health-related lessons to preschool children, and has helped to develop a campus-wide suicide prevention social marketing campaign that will be implemented on campus this upcoming fall. Through even brief interactions without this outstanding graduate, you’d be able to identify her as a compassionate woman in a heart of service. While outstanding major awards tend to be academic in nature, Marya has so much more than a scholastic record of excellence. Outside of her scholar and volunteer lives, she challenges herself. She regularly engages in conversations with others from diverse backgrounds. She keeps up with current events, regularly works to improve herself, and has been known as a loyal friend. Additionally, with her upbeat nature and poise, she’s able to enjoy the little things in life, even during hectic times. Over the years, the community health faculty have enjoyed our opportunity to learn about the various complexities of Marya. The fact that she loves to paint and draw, go camping and hiking, play Scrabble, go skydiving, and has a unique affection for Pugs all add to the endearing nature of this fantastic young woman.
As her faculty, we would like to think Marya’s family and partner for supporting her and allowing us the opportunity to have their daughter and their partner join us at Western. Congratulations, Marya. I’m so proud of you. JOHANN NEEM: Next I’d like to welcome Clinton Burkhart. And he’ll be presented by James Hearn from Computer Science. JAMES HEARNE: I’d like to introduce you to Clinton Burkhart, our outstanding grad in the Computer Science department.
I’m going to be brief, not just as a courtesy to you. But I’m not going to be brief because a listing of his accomplishments would be short. I mean, he earned a GPA, first student in our department do that in a decade, A. And recently he represented our department at the regional Microsoft Natural Language Processing conference. He acquitted himself very well there. And what really impressed me is we were working on a project to provide computational support to an assyriologist in the History department. And we didn’t have to know the language. We just had to write some programs. But it became evident in the research meetings that Clinton was on his way to teaching himself to read Sumerian. And that’s very unusual in our department.
Anyway, the reason I’m being brief is he told me he hates to be the center of attention. And when he told me that, it put me in a despair because he’s going to have a very unhappy life because everywhere he goes he’s going to distinguish himself for his intelligence, his creativity, and his kindness. Let’s welcome him. JOHANN NEEM: I’d just like to add that not too many people in the History department speak that language either. So that’s quite an accomplishment. Next I’d like to welcome Juliette Machado. And she will be introduced by Nolan Dennett from Dance. NOLAN DENNETT: Juliette’s talents are legion. As a scholar, a dancer, a videographer, and a choreographer, the list goes on. As a dancer, I’ve seen her perform with wit and ingenuous charm. I’ve also watched as she explored serious subjects as a choreographer and then turn right around and put together a delicious romp as sweet as a first kiss. As you can see, Juliette is quite tall. This is so because over the past four years she has transformed herself from a tiny blip on a radar screen into a dancer in possession of a steel-laced fragility that is as commanding as it is ephemeral.
The human body is the repository, the museum if you will, for movement art. And since that is so, Juliette, it rests with you to now take hold of the baton and carry on as one of the stewards of the art form. With me and my colleagues here at Western, you have studied with our teachers, and through us with theirs. All our body memories are now yours. Go forth and help the world to see with clearer eyes. Do what you have done here. Be outstanding. Just last week, I watched you as you appeared out of the darkness at the back of the Mainstage Theater, then walked slowly forward to stop short and, without moving off that spot, proceed with your heart beat, your breath, your flesh, and your bones to lift the ceiling off the theater.
And for one quick, bright moment, you were nine feet tall. That said, neither self-esteem nor talent can be measured in inches or feet or turnout or perfectly executed pirouettes. But I have born witness to your true height, Juliette. And there is no going back now. You have inspired us all. JOHANN NEEM: Next I’d like to welcome up Lesya Lyashenko who will be introduced by Stella Hua from Decision Sciences. STELLA HUA: There is truly no greater joy than standing here and also sitting here listening to all the things that our students have accomplished. And if you are a parent or grandparent, you get to do this, brag about your child or grandchild in front of only a few people and without time constraints. But as professors, we get to do it in front of a whole concert hall of audience and with time constraint.
But still, this week I really look forward to this moment to introduce to you Lesya Lyashenko, our outstanding graduate. She graduated magna cum laude in December 2013 at the age of 20. She maintained and achieved a cumulative GPA of while working part time at Alpha Technologies where she also completed her first internship. And she’s now working there full time. At Alpha Technologies, she not only deals with daily routines of order processing and fulfillment, she also takes great initiatives to design and redesign systems or models such as Outback Power NBR cost model, master pricing, scheduling, freight costs audits, and, off Excel, KPI report. She was on the President’s List six times during the two years she was at Western, and that’s all the quarters we have in two years. And before coming to Western, she obtained her transfer degree through Running Start during her junior and senior years in high school. And she came to the States with her family when she was five years old and still speaks and writes in Russian and Ukrainian.
She is truly gifted and accomplished, well deserves this highest honor at Western. We’re so proud of you Lesya and wish great success in the future. JOHANN NEEM: Next, I’d like to welcome up Kristine Farwell who will be introduced by Steve Henson from Economics. STEVE HENSON: It’s a huge pleasure for me to be able to introduce Kristine Farwell, the Economics department’s outstanding graduate this year. This would have been an extremely difficult year for us to make a decision because we had a large number of outstanding grads. However, Kristine stepped up to the plate and made it a lot easier for us.
Because a student like Kristine comes along maybe only once or twice in a decade. She is outstanding. She came into Economics, like a lot of us, from another social science area, in her case political science from which she brings a passion for public policy, social issues, and a desire to make the world a better place. Last winter and spring she took my Introductory and then Advanced Econometrics courses, which is basically an applied statistics course. And despite her insecurity about her math background, she is one of the best students I’ve had in both of those courses over the last three decades.
She wrote a paper in the advanced course on the male/female gender wage gap and its relationship with child poverty. When I read that paper, I had to keep reminding myself that I was reading an undergraduate paper. She then took the advanced seminar in Applied Econometrics from a colleague of mine, Mohab Ghali. And in that course, she wrote a paper on the impact of the recent financial crisis on the sustainability of micro-finance. That is a huge issue in developing countries, particularly in Latin America and Africa. That paper was one of only three campus-wide to earn Western’s Outstanding Undergraduate Research Award this year. That paper I know is going to be submitted for publication. I was thrilled when Kristine asked me to supervise her honors project which was a revision and extension of her paper on child poverty.
It’s just been an incredible amount of fun working with her on that. And we both had to learn some new statistical techniques that I was unfamiliar with. And it was really fun co-mentoring each other on that project. Kristine has done volunteer work in northern India. She’s now off to China to teach English for a year and will then be heading into a graduate program in Economics. I look forward to future collaborations with her. Thank you and congratulations, Kristine. JOHANN NEEM: Next I’d like to welcome up Kelci Claire who will be introduced by David Carroll from Elementary Education. DAVID CARROLL: It’s my pleasure to introduce Kelci as the outstanding graduate from the Elementary Education department.
Many of us, for some reason, don’t seem very fond of the idea of spending time in a middle school, but not Kelci. She’s middle school all the way. She graduated from our department in December. On January 28, she was offered a part time position in a sixth grade classroom in White River. Exactly four weeks later, they offered her a full time continuing contract for next year. That’s unheard of. But there’s no secret to this. I want to just read an email, part of an email that she sent to me on that day when they offered her that continuing contract. We’ve been talking the last week and a half or so about how being a scientist, which we all are, takes some bravery. We have to be willing to share our ideas and let others help us build them. One student has been so shy since she got here, she would sneak into class, not say a word, would panic if you asked her to participate verbally. Once we started having these conversations, she started taking steps.
She told me her answer and I shared it with the class. Then in her Science Intervention period, my co-teacher told me that in one day, in 35 minutes, she shared what she thought four times. When I talked to her about it later and told her how proud I am of her, her response was a smile, a shrug of her shoulders. And then she said, you said I have to be brave. Yesterday another student asked me to make a poster that says this is a wonderful place of courage and bravery. I’ll be making that poster this weekend. I wish we all had sixth grade teachers like that. Kelci not only has a middle school science and math endorsement, she actually helped create the middle school science endorsement. Faculty in the Science, Math, and Technology Education department here called on her to go with them to the Higher Ed Coordinating Commission to advocate for that position. And they were so impressed by her presentation that they created one. And she is one of the first people to have earned it in this state.
She’s also been a terrific mentor to other students. And I could go on as everybody could. But it’s a great honor to have you. JOHANN NEEM: Next I’d like to welcome up Caitlin Boone and will be introduced by Jeff Newcomer from Engineering Technology. JEFF NEWCOMER: It is absolutely an honor and a pleasure to get to introduce Cait Boone to all of you. She’s a fantastic student and has really been a pleasure to have in the department. And we have just a fantastic group this year. Two years ago I had the fortune to get to teach a sophomore class, which I don’t get to do very often. And I was just overwhelmed with how good the students were. And I was thinking, in two years, this is going to make picking an outstanding graduate really hard. And we have six programs. And it’s hard to get noticed across programs.
But Caitlin rose above everybody. And she did it the way that most outstanding graduates did it, not just by academic excellence but by being a leader in different areas. And in Caitlin’s case, it was working on two different teams. One was our SME, Society for Manufacturing Engineers, competition team. The other was the formula SAE, team which is a small racing car out of our vehicle program. And usually when students get involved with one of those projects, it’s about all they can handle. And often it has some negative effects on their GPA. Caitlin maintained an credibly high GPA and took leadership roles in both teams for two years. So we had this outstanding group this year. And yet Caitlin was hands down everybody’s choice for the outstanding graduate because she had just stood out in so many different ways.
And she’s headed off to The Ohio State University– don’t forget the The– and she’ll be studying Mechanical Engineering in the future. And I just finished a couple of days ago reading her project report. And I can guarantee you that she’s also going to impress them at the Ohio State University. So congratulations, Caitlin. You’ve earned it. JOHANN NEEM: Next I’d like to welcome up Elizabeth Vignaly who will be introduced by Bruce Beasley from English. BRUCE BEASLEY: Ms. Vignaly is not only a brilliant poet and prose writer, she also has a perfect average, having earned an A in every single class she’s ever taken at Western and was the clear choice for our outstanding graduating senior.
Mary Janell Metzger also sponsored her. And I have a statement from her because she couldn’t be here today. Mary Janell writes, it is a teacher’s greatest honor to teach great students. They change us as we can only hope to change them. They come daily to the work of inquiry and learning with a kind of soul hunger that ignites the passion for understanding of all around them. They respect others even as they push them to live fearlessly and with great love. You are one of those students. Your love of language and the ways it transforms us and the world in which we live made everyday I worked with you a rare privilege. I could not be more delighted that Western has honored you today. With great respect and affection, congratulations to you, Liz, and to all of Western for providing you with the space in which you took such remarkable flight.
And now for me. I still have the first comments I wrote on the first portfolio poems Liz turned in for an introduction to poetry writing class where the first thing I wrote was, Liz, each of these poems is of near publishable quality already. And that’s not something I often say. Liz was already writing at a level of ambition and achievement almost unprecedented among undergraduates. She writes of women’s art, sexuality, mythology, and the history of women’s poetry with fierce intelligence, humor, and great technical accomplishment.
Her poems are devastating in their emotional wallop and in the tremendous precision of her wording and details. She has a command of metaphor that exceeds that of almost all the student poets I’ve taught in the last 20 years. And it’s no surprise that Liz has just received news that her first book of poems, Object Permanence, has been recognized in a national competition and will be published soon and that she’s also been honored for her fiction with an award from Harper Collins and will be consulting with an editor on her on her novel in progress very soon. Liz, in the three classes where I’ve taught you, you lit up the room with your intelligence, drive, enthusiasm, and talent every single day of class.
Congratulations. JOHANN NEEM: Next I’d like to invite up Sarah McCarthy who will be introduced by John McLaughlin from Environmental Sciences. JOHN MCLAUGHLIN: So why did the environmental scientist cross the river? To reach the data on the other side. If we were allowed to project images, I would show you an image of Sarah crossing a river swollen with glacial melt, using a staff to support her with a phalanx of other students as people in Swiftwater Rescue courses learn to get to the wood that we are tagging and measuring on the other side. She was repelled by her determination to reach her goal for that day, which gives you a glimpse of her character. Sarah, before coming here, was rapidly rising in a successful career in dance in Los Angeles and realized that it was at variance with her values. She said that she had not touched a living plant in a month and, with profound insight, recognized that she was surrounded by a culture that was divorced from the natural world which gives us life and, in many ways, meaning.
And she, with a tremendous courage, left that life, came to Whatcom Community College, started the program, and then transferred into Huxley College. Here she realized something, that– well, Huxley is a– we have an applied mission, if I could read that briefly. Huxley College addressed today’s environmental issues and prepares tomorrow’s interdisciplinary problem solvers. Sarah achieved that in part by being the coordinator in the Environmental Center, wrangling busy faculty, students who’d rather be snowboarding, and community members doing all kinds of things, helping to achieve solutions to environmental problems. That is an example. Sarah excelled in the classroom but so much more than that. Since then, she’s just graduated in the fall. She’s been traveling in India and Nepal and does not take no for an answer, even if that answer is the bus that just passed her by without stopping. She’ll race for it, jump onto the roof rack, and then climb up on top. And so that’s evidence of tremendous intelligence, incredible commitment to achieve her goals combined with an irrepressible spirit that will transform desire into reality.
And so I’ll leave you with advice that her life story embodies in a different language, and that’s . JOHANN NEEM: Next I’d like to invite up Natalie Boles who will be introduced by Rebekah Paci-Green from Environmental Studies. REBEKAH PACI-GREEN: So it’s wonderful to be here today to introduce Natalie. I was extremely unfortunate in that I had Natalie at the very end of a series of courses. It was the first time I got to see her as she was moving out of our program. But she came into class. She was not boisterous but very serious and very focused. I didn’t know anything about her. I got my first assignment back from her, read it and went, oh, wow. I am talking to a colleague here. I’m not talking to a student. The level of engagement, the thought process behind it, the critical thinking was just outstanding. I then mentioned it to other faculty members and they were like, oh, she’s the student. Yes, she is amazing and she is a joy to have in class.
So I started scheming and immediately. I got to figure out how to get this student back in my life. I had her as a TA the next year in a Natural Hazards Planning course and had the very funniest interaction. I didn’t say it was funny at the time. But I gave the first assignment out, gave her the rubric. she went through and she graded. And then she came back in an email and she said, so what are we supposed to do with all this terrible work? And I went, no, Natalie. That’s average work. It’s fine. They’re learning. Encourage them. And she did. And she encouraged them.
And by the end of the quarter, they were doing much better under her tutelage. But she had a little bit of a shock realizing what the average was. She has definitely pegged out and needs to go someplace else where they can challenge her and where she can get something less than a 4.0. And I’m very excited to see that happen and very excited to work with her over the summer on a grant together. JOHANN NEEM: Next I’d like to welcome up Malorie Kerouac who will be introduced by David Fewings from Finance and Marketing. DAVID FEWINGS: Well, it’s my honor to introduce Malorie Kerouac.
Malorie is a double major in Accounting and Finance. She has a in accounting. Now, that doesn’t happen in Finance. But her overall record is 3.97. So it just about did, you know? You don’t get any closer than that that I know of. Anyway, Malorie is an outstanding student. She is one of the few accounting students who has dared to take my capstone Finance course, which I’m told is unusually difficult. And she did have a in that class, which is quite a challenge. It’s an accomplishment. And I think she has many other honors.
She has spent an internship with one of the big four accounting firms, Ernst and Young and she has a job with her Ernst and Young. And not only that, she will be joining the auditing team at a company working for Ernst and Young, but at a company which I think all of you know about, and that’s Amazon.com. Now, that’s a huge job. They’re perhaps one of the largest retailers in the world. And it takes Ernst and Young’s team a whole year. They work virtually continuously on this job. And so she’s joining a fine team with one of the big four accounting firms, a very, very noteworthy accomplishment. She has been a member of many societies. I have to read these because– but I will– oh, I see another detail here that she was on the President’s List at Western for seven quarters.
She has several scholarships and awards. Words. She has passed the first part of the CPA exam. Oh, yes, membership in Alpha Lamda Gama and in Beta Alpha Psi, the accounting society. She’s also a member of the National Society for Collegiate Honors. So those are just a few of the things that I noted down, knowing that I only had 120 seconds to tell you about her accomplishments and record. So thank you very much for being our student. JOHANN NEEM: And next I’d like to welcome Kyeti Morgan who will be introduced by Colin Amos from Geology. COLIN AMOS: It’s a great pleasure to name Kyeti Morgan our outstanding graduate in Geology for 2014. And in Geology, we typically select our outstanding graduate based on some combination of academic performance, participation and research, presentation at a meeting, things like that and so on. So once Kyeti’s name emerged in our discussion, we agreed that Katherine was Kyeti. Her name quickly rose to the top and stayed there. Not only is she the top graduate in our department with a GPA, she’s really a fixture of our department.
She’s part of its culture. And for the past two years, you could find her in the wee hours of the night in the environmental science department balancing cross-sections, doing three point problems, playing stereo nets, all these good things. So our research interests don’t totally overlap. She is a hard rocker and I’m a dirt guy. But I did manage to entice her to spend some time with me and a graduate student in the Owens Valley where she and my graduate student were hunting down historical earthquake surface ruptures with light IR field observations, all that good stuff.
And not only was she vital to the success of that project, I think it instilled in her one of the core tenants of a field geologist, which is that geology allows you to travel to far flung, beautiful places. So wherever that lands Kyeti next, I’m sure she will have great success. So she is truly our outstanding graduate. JOHANN NEEM: Next I’d like to welcome up Sydney Anderson who will be introduced by Amanda Eurich from History. AMANDA EURICH: I have to say that this is bar none the best way to finish a school year. So it’s really wonderful to have Sydney standing next to me. Anyone who has had Sydney in class can speak to the diligence with which she approaches any task she is given. She is a remarkable scholar athlete with several national records for swimming to her credit.
And if I were to list them all, my time would be up. I did just learn that, since she graduated in March of 2014, she went on to become our new national champion in the freestyle mile. In addition to that, she was a remarkable student in the classroom. The kind of singular devotion required to compete at the national level in swimming also serves Sydney well in the classroom. Sydney followed up an exemplary performance in my Film and History course on France in World War II with one of the best senior capstone theses that I have advised at Western. She came into my office the first week of fourth quarter of this year and told me that she had spent her summer vacation in Hawaii, reading the diary of Helen Berr, a diary that only recently surfaced and that describes the experience of a Jewish student at the Sorbonne who worked with the French resistance before her arrest and execution in 1944.
So as I talked with Sydney, it was clear that she had already worked out most of her argument. She had read a lot of theoretical work she needed to read. She went on to work her way through an amazing literature that now exists on modernity and gender roles in 20th century France. And she used it to write an extremely nuanced and original reading of several war memoirs and diaries of women who fought in the resistance, as she discovered men as well as women manipulated gender identities to evade detection suggesting more broadly that the clandestine nature of the resistance itself problematized clear distinctions of gender, race and social status. You see I had to read my comments because of the complicated nature of the conclusions that she arrived at. Sydney is a very focused woman whose studies and extracurricular activities have prepared her for a life of civic engagement beyond the university.
And the History department fortunately, with my colleague here, Johan Neem, who is also one of my dear colleagues in the department, is very pleased to recognize Sydney this year for her exemplary achievement. JOHANN NEEM: Next I’d like to invite up Jared Ibarra who will be introduced by Hope Corbin from Human Services and Rehabilitation. HOPE CORBIN: Thank you. I am here today on behalf of the Human Services Program to introduce Jared Ibarra as the outstanding graduate for Human Services. And I’ve prepared a few words so I can try to be concise. And Gio, you’ll appreciate this because I take my own speech writing advice. When thinking of how to introduce Jared, three words came to mind to describe why we on the faculty who unanimously agreed that Jared was our outstanding Graduate believe him to be outstanding.
The first is leadership. The second is perseverance. And the third is focus. So for leadership, Jared is a true leader. He’s an organizer and motivator of his peers and colleagues. It’s fun to work with Jared. He’ll make you laugh while challenging you and requiring you to rethink your take on the world. He is able to inspire people to believe in their own strengths and abilities. He’s developed and contributed these skills in his work as an ALTA mentor and through his integral and yearly contribution to the Migrant Youth Leadership Conference. Perseverance. Jared’s success as a student is the direct result of his ability to stay the course in the face of obstacles. English is not Jared’s first language. The US is not where he was born. When he first tried to apply for the Human Services program, he was unable to complete the paperwork because he had no social security number to fill the form in.
But Jared is not allowed such obstacles to stop him. Rather, it seems to ignite a fire within him to work even harder because he recognizes the value of his education. It drives him to seek out new opportunity and to persevere for the best possible outcome. Perhaps his most outstanding quality is his focus. In his two years in the Human Services program, he’s faithfully pursued his passion for social justice and higher education.
He’s sought out and created opportunities to encourage, mentor, educate, and support students of under-represented groups to attend and stay in college. Through his work in the admissions office, he’s introduced Spanish language tours on campus, he served as an intern in the Continuing College Education program, helping under-represented students go on to graduate school. I could go on but I’m out of time. So I will just leave with this last word that, through his leadership, perseverance, and focus, he has left the Human Services program in a better position to help students. As he would say, he’s left a ladder for others to follow in his footsteps.
JOHANN NEEM: Next I’d like to welcome Mindon Win who will be introduced by Stephen Howie from Journalism. STEPHEN HOWIE: So I’m here today to honor Mindon Win whose our outstanding graduate in the Journalism department. He’s going to graduate tomorrow with a degree in Visual Journalism. I’ve worked with Mindon for the past two years as an instructor in the Visual Journalism sequence as well as the faculty adviser for Clipson, an award winning student written and produced magazine which I hope you all will read. Let me first say that Mindon is the kind of student who I worry about a little because I think, as a faculty, we can rely too heavily on the extremely adept and accomplished students in our departments. It’s easy to forget that Mindon Win is a senior in college and not a colleague with years of experience in the field. I’ve taught on and off for close to 20 years. And I have never come across someone so passionately and so unreservedly devoted to excellence and professionalism. He served for two quarters in a row as Editor in Chief of Clipson magazine, something that, to my knowledge, has never been done before and will probably never be done again.
And that’s after serving the previous quarters as Clipson writer, photographer, and photo editor. In short, he devoted almost two years of his life to making Clipson an excellent student magazine. In addition, Mindon has been an eloquent ambassador to the Department of Journalism and to the university at large, serving as a department rep both for Western scholars and the Western preview events. He also served on the Student Publications Council and worked on the Back to Bellingham Committee and as an officer of the WWU student chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists. When I had Mindon for a video production class called Digital Storytelling, I asked him at one point to think outside of the box to come up with an idea for his video subject. He turned to me and said, Howie, I am the box. So congratulations, Mindon. You have created the frame around which all those who follow you will be judged.
JOHANN NEEM: Next I’d like to welcome Jake Kysar who will be introduced by Linda Keeler from Kinesiology and Physical Education. LINDA KEELER: It’s my pleasure to introduce Jacob Kyser. He’s receiving his degree in Kinesiology with his specialization in Sports Psychology. He’s graduating magna cum ladude and is a member of Phi Kappa Phi society. While at Western, he helped to revitalize the strength and conditioning program for the men’s basketball team. And he served two field experiences in that capacity as a strength and conditioning coach.
He’ll tell you that he got a near-perfect GPA. He let one class get away from him. He got an A minus in that class. So I’d like to give him three points of contexts in which will highlight Jacob’s award. First, within our department, the Kinesiology Physical Education program is actually the largest program on campus. We have over 550 majors and pre-majors. So, therefore, Jacob had the most competition for this award. So it’s a good thing that he majored in Sports Psychology, so he can handle the pressure of that competition.
The sports psychologist specialization is unique in that a student is required to take several Physical Science and Behavioral Science classes. And in my experience, students often excel in one or the other but rarely excel in both. Jacob is one of those rare ones. In fact, it’s so rare that he is the first sports psychology specialist to actually receive this award ever. Second point, Jacob was a native Bellinghamster. He graduated from Squalicum in 2003 and attended Whatcom Community College for one year. He then joined the workforce. He got married. He had a life. He always had a dream of earning his college degree and often wondered what it would be like to be part of our Kinesiology program. He went back to college seven years later and finished his degree at Western. So this award is 11 years in the making. Those of us who left a career to go back to school know that that’s a major life event. It requires many sacrifices and it is a huge adjustment, not only for Jacob but I’m sure for his wife, Danielle, as well.
Third point, Jacob is a first generation college student. Not only is he a first generation college student, his parents never graduated high school. So I think it goes on said how impressive his achievements are given this fact. On a personal note, Jacob was one of my first official advisees. When I joined Western’s faculty, he will tell you that, since that time, I often challenged him but in a good way. And I’ll tell you the same with him. So, therefore, it’s an honor to present this award. JOHANN NEEM: Next I’d like to welcome Ryan Logan Evans who will be introduced by Scott Pearce from Liberal Studies. SCOTT PEARCE: It’s a great pleasure today to honor Logan Evans as the Liberal Studies department’s outstanding student of the year for 2014 and to acknowledge his contributions. He has over the last several years brought a distinctive mixture of insight, humor, and vivacity to the departments, classrooms, and to our hallways and no doubt to other places as well.
The capstone of his work here is a senior paper that is a sophisticated study of how a facet of modern American popular culture is a syncretic borrowing from the utopian visions of Tolstoy, Gandhi, and the Chinese Taoist philosopher Lao Tzu. I greatly enjoyed guiding Logan in this research. And I learned a great deal in this process as well. Logan is a wonderful combination of intelligence and creativity, courage, and compassion. He’s going to do a great job. And his family has done a great job for him as well. So congratulations, Logan. JOHANN NEEM: Next I’d like to welcome at Lisa Brisbois who will be introduced by Judy Pine from Linguistics. JUDY PINE: I’m going to try and read so I keep to time here.
And it is a pleasure and an honor to be introduce Lisa Brisbois, the outstanding Graduate for the Interdisciplinary Linguistics program. Lisa, you stood out in a very competitive pool, a cohort containing a number of excellent students. So for you about to graduate, we salute you. My colleagues and I in the programs selected Lisa on the basis of her intellectual depth, her enthusiastic commitment to her research topics and especially the topic of language revitalization in the Pacific Northwest and her persistence in studying topics from every angle, producing well-crafted, informative final products. It is a pleasure to work with her as a student. And that’s not just my pleasure but everyone I talked to about her prior to putting this together. She takes suggestions and feedback very seriously, responding to the underlying logic rather than the surface content. One always has the sense that she is looking for critical feedback, intent on finding new approaches, new understanding, new angles from which to approach scholarly work.
Her scholarship has a professional quality done with an attention to the work itself and not to the grade or the credits or the peripheral considerations. I have no doubt that Lisa will prove an excellent teacher of English as a second language. Her empathy, compassion and sense of humor will stand her in good stead as she helps people negotiate the challenges inherent in what I think of as high stakes second language learning. I hope that Lisa has the opportunity to continue her work in the reversal of language shift in local indigenous languages as well. Her care, professionalism, and cultural sensitivity will make her a significant asset regardless of her future path. And I have no doubt that she will bring her linguistics training and scholarly skills to bear on any problem she confronts in the future. JOHANN NEEM: Next I invite up Joshua Arthur Lozensky who will be presented by Tom Roehl from Management.
TOM ROEHL: I’m Introducing Josh Lozensky, the international business student who’s the outstanding student in the Management department. I’m reflecting a little bit about what sets our WWU outstanding students apart from those of other universities. They have high academic achievement, of course. And they always make us better teachers. Josh, be quiet for a while. I’m never going to get through my slides unless you just let me work for a while.
We can all relate to that, right? All these guys are going to do this to us. But outstanding Western students like Josh share a willingness to take chances, a sense of intellectual adventure, and an enthusiasm to challenge situations that are complex and require them to combine, in a liberal arts tradition, their knowledge of different fields to make some progress. And Josh is just a great example of all these Western traditions that gives me great pleasure to introduce him.
Josh picked up any challenge I threw at him. I assigned him to lead a team that would look at ways to market new seed potato varieties from New Zealand intellectual partners that were developed from a local firm. Now, Josh, because he’s a good student, he could have turned up his nose. What? You’re assigning me seed potatoes? But yet from this seemingly mundane assignment, he instead embraced it.
He looked for a variety of different public and private sources. He sometimes had to beg for the data, but he got it. He guided his team as they combined the data to show where consumers might pay the extra price that they needed in order to sell those varieties. Responding to questions from the CEO, they quickly drew from their data the necessary information. They visually put it up so this guy can understand exactly what was going on. And they even added a few whimsical brand names to what they could use in order to take those chances. Josh takes a lot of chances to develop his skills. He started a painting business, ended with quality and customer satisfaction, even though painting was his least favorite. Even on vacation he took the challenge, cycled 400 miles to a country of Japan with no roadsigns and managed to get back. Amazon has recognized his capabilities and experiences and picked him to join their global talent search team after graduation.
Congratulations. JOHANN NEEM: Next I would like to welcome Nadia who will be introduced by Paqui Paredes from modern and classical languages. PAQUI PAREDES: So it is my great pleasure to introduce Nadia to you. I should first say that Nadia had hoped that Professor Michiko Yusa will be able to be here to introduce her today. But professor Yusa had a previous professional engagement. So she’s now in Barcelona and I’m here. So Nadia is the outstanding graduating senior in the Department of Modern and Classical Languages and the first to be selected from the Japanese major since its inception in 2007. Nadia is a double major in Japanese and linguistics.
Her outstanding performance in all of her Japanese classes and her academic profile in general embodies what MCL seeks to nurture in its majors. Nadia is a global citizen with an extensive international background. She has studied abroad twice. She studied Arabic in Lebanon for one semester in 2010. And she also studied Japanese and Linguistics at Nanzan University in Japan for one semester in 2012. These experiences have helped her gain not just fluency in those languages but have also helped her gain a deeper understanding of their cultures. Nadia has been accepted to the JET program and will be teaching English as an assistant language teacher in Japan starting in July. She wants to pursue a career in English teaching and or Japanese English translation.
And if you talk to Professor Tomasi who has taught Nadia a lot of her upper division Japanese courses, he will tell you that in 30 years of college teaching, he’s never seen an undergraduate student being able to produce the translations that Nadia is able to produce. We anticipate that whatever path she chooses to follow, be it teaching or as a translator, she will be tremendously successful. So thank you. JOHANN NEEM: Next I’d like to welcome up Madeline Slettedahl who will be introduced by Jeffrey Gilliam from Music. JEFFREY GILLIAM: I’m very proud to say a few words about Madeline, about our past together and about her present and future.
In my email inbox I have an email from her former piano teacher from her Auburn, Tacoma days, Tim Strong of Pacific Lutheran University writing to me in 2009 saying, I have this young lady named Madeline whom I think is the most talented student I’ve ever taught. And should she pass the audition at Western, he would like for me to become her teacher. Well, she passed the audition. And four years later, I have the privilege of saying that I after 22 years of teaching at Western and three at the University of Michigan and one at Juilliard consider Madeline to be the most talented, prolific student I’ve taught at any of those institutions.
And I’d like to give just a few short examples of what she has done to earn those accolades. In case I’m out of time, I’d like to say that of the many universities that accepted her on full scholarship and stipend, she will go to a special master’s degree program at the Shepherd School of Music at Rice University in Houston. It’s special because she’ll pursue two concentrations, both to be a concert pianist and also in collaborative work. She is stellar beyond words in both fields. And so that’s where she’s going.
Now, looking backward to the recent past, why she is so beloved, last Saturday, Roger Briggs, the head of our Composition program, composed a new piano work dedicated specifically for Madeline which he premiered. I won’t mention things like a complete Viola recital last night at the Whatcom Museum or a complete voice recital on Tuesday night because that’s just a snapshot of her life. This is her stage. And in February, we were used to playing concerts here and not speaking. But her senior piano recital, Ford Hill, our Patron Saint of Piano, said it was the finest recital given in 40 years, including his own era at Western. And she’s a delightful person and bubbly and fun. And I think I’ve covered some Highlights. So she’s so used to taking a bow while playing the piano. We could have wheeled out the piano but there wouldn’t be time for that in the two minutes and it’s time to stop.
So Madeline, will you take a bow as the recipient of this award? JOHANN NEEM: Next I’d like to call up Thomas D. Hall Jr. who will be presented by Ryan Wasserman from Philosphy. RYAN WASSERMAN: Thanks. It’s a real pleasure to be here today to introduce you all to Thomas Hall. It’s no exaggeration to say that Thomas is the very best student I’ve taught in my nine years here at Western. And I think he’s one of the very best philosophy students that have graduated from our school. In fact, he’s such an outstanding student, I don’t really think of him as a student anymore. Having Thomas in class is just like having another professor there joining in on the class discussion. In addition to earning a in our major, Thomas has earned a number of scholarships and awards including the President’s Scholarship, the Departmental Tuition Waiver Scholarship, the Paul J.
And Rebecca Ann Olscamp Philosophy Scholarship, and the Downing-Montague Scholarship for Philosophy, Health Care, and Technology. Outside of school, Thomas has also been very active in the profession. He’s given talks at half a dozen philosophy conferences. And one of his papers on some of the puzzles introduced by time travel was recently published in Cornell’s Undergraduate Journal for Philosophy. I also just learned last week that a version of that paper has now been accepted at a professional philosophy journal, which is just unheard of. It’s not normal in our field for undergraduates to be publishing in professional journals. But then again, Thomas is not normal. In addition to all of his scholarship work, Thomas has also been very active serving our department and the university and the community.
Among other things, he’s been a teaching assistant, an editorial assistant, a study group leader, the philosophy club president twice. He’s also been the lead organizer for Undergraduate Philosphy Conference, an assistant organizer for our Summer Philosophy Conference, and an assistant for the Bellingham Lectures in Philosophy and Religion. Thomas was also one of the first students to get involved in our department’s efforts to get philosophy being taught in the public schools here in Bellingham. And his service there has been just invaluable. This fall Thomas is going to be heading down to start the PhD program at USC which is one of the very best programs in our field.
And while we are going to be missing him tremendously, we’re even more excited to see what he accomplishes next. Congratulations. JOHANN NEEM: Next I’d like to go up to Tyko Shoji who will be introduced by Jenelle Leger from Physics and Astronomy. JANELLE LEGER: All right, it’s wonderful for me to be able to introduce Tyko as the Department of Physics and Astronomy’s outstanding graduate from this year. I’ve known Tyko for just over two years, I would say. And he came to me in the summer before he joined Western, wanting to do research with me. And I said, well, let’s see how your first quarter goes, see how you transition to Western.
And obviously it turned out to be a successful transition in many ways. So he joined my research group and has been working with me ever since. Tyko has the kind of performance in both his classes and research that only comes from somebody who’s got natural ability, who works extremely hard, and who has a very mature approach to everything that he does. So his attention to detail and just everything, there’s nothing bad to say about Tyko. So all of that has led him to a large number of achievements including having the highest GPA in the department amongst the graduating seniors and then a bunch of stuff in research, too. So I’ll just list a few of those things. Tyko co-wrote a proposal with me to do research in eastern Washington at Pacific Northwest National Lab which was awarded.
And he went out and did research there which resulted in him publishing a peer-reviewed, first authored publication in a respected journal earlier this year. He wrote a proposal, an internal proposal, which gave him $500 of research money which he blew on 20 milligrams of material. It was well spent. He’s also presented his research many times internally in Scholars Week, winning the Best Poster Award. But also twice he’s presented at the national Big Physics Meeting, the American Physical Society Meeting, giving talks there with mostly graduate students. He was given a poster at the Materials Research Society Meeting which is a national/international venue. Well, I could go on and on. But I just want to say one more thing, which is that not only did Tyko win this award but he won the other big award in physics which is the Outstanding Student Service Award, which is voted on by both the students and the faculty to a student who’s not only excellent but also contributes to the culture of the department, who’s kind and helpful, and just a wonderful all around colleague for us.
And so that speaks to Tyko’s many wonderful qualities. So I’m very proud of him and I can’t wait to see what he comes up with next. Congratulations. JOHANN NEEM: Next I welcome come up Megan Fowler from Political Science who will be introduced by Shirin Deylami. SHIRIN DEYLAMI: So Megan just said to me let’s get in and out quickly. I’ll try to make it short. She does not like being the center of attention. But it’s such an honor to introduce the Department of Political Science outstanding senior, Megan Fowler. I had the privilege of teaching and working with Megan for the last few years. She was my TA. She was my research assistant. Frankly, my book wouldn’t have come out without Megan because I couldn’t have done any of the work, to be honest with you. I can guarantee to you that she deserves this award. She’s graduating tomorrow with honors in Political Science and a degree in Psychology. And she’s done exceptional work in the Department of Political Science. She, just at the beginning of the week, defended an honors thesis that was really the best thing I have read and seen from an undergraduate in a very, very long time.
As a student, Megan is everything a professor could wish for. She’s exceptionally bright, engaged at a level one rarely sees, and generally cares about the stakes and understanding the world of politics. But more than that, she is someone whose worldview is infectious. She brings vigor and optimism to every problem. She brings curiosity to every text. She brings to every conversation a kind of vision that makes you believe that things can be different. And I kept finding myself telling her, no, you can’t be this optimistic.
But she continues. And somehow she’s made me more optimistic. So I want to just end with the great political theorist Sheldon Warren. He wrote this book called Politics and Vision where he makes a distinction between regular political theory which he says tries to change your view about the world and epic political theory that tries to change the world. And I have this feeling that Megan will turn out to be the epic political theorist.
Thank you. JOHANN NEEM: Next I’d like to welcome up Carter Anderson who will be introduced by Jay Teachman from Sociology. JAY TEACHMAN: Well, after listening to all these presentations, I finally understand why when I graduated from Western 40 years ago I was not an outstanding graduate. But it’s a great pleasure to be up here as a mentor today. I’ve been teaching for 35 years. And in that time, I’ve met maybe a handful of students that are going to make a difference in the discipline. And one of those is Carter. I first met Carter about two years ago when she took a stats class with me.
And at the end of the class, she said she had fun. So I knew she was a little bit different. And I had an NIH grant that had an opening on it and I asked her to join me on that grant. And she started off doing the usual things such as going to the library, xeroxing copies and so on. Flash forward two years, she’s become a colleague. In this time she’s published a book chapter, two journal articles. She’s presented her research at various national conferences all by herself. And recently she was accepted into the PhD program at the University of Washington with four years of funding.
She’s quite an accomplished young woman. And in 10 years, when I’m retired, I hope I’ll be able to look back and say, I knew Carter when she was just a kid. Congratulations, Carter. JOHANN NEEM: Next I’d like to welcome up Jason Winston who will be introduced by Keith Hyatt in Special Education. KEITH HYATT: Hi, it’s my pleasure to introduce Jason Winston to you. Jason will be earning his bachelor’s and leading our program with a teacher certification as well as an endorsement to teach in the area of special education and elementary education which makes him a real rarity out there in the field, having those endorsements. But he’s just an exceptional student. We have many fine students in our program. And when we met as a faculty, Jason’s performance just rose above everyone.
Because a few reasons are his consistency throughout the program. For the three years he’s been with us in classes, in assignments, he’s always been right there challenging, applying, taking information, synthesizing information. He’s also been very dedicated in the field. He’s worked with Compass 2 Campus for three years, served as a role model for some young students and try to encourage them to come to Western to seek higher education. Jason’s scholarship, he’s presented at three Scholars Week presentations on instructional design, working with families and curriculum-based assessment in mathematics.
In fact, that presentation that he did here for curriculum-based measurement in mathematics was accepted in a national presentation at our Council for Exceptional Children. And it’s not a real easy place to get a paper accepted. I’ve had them rejected. So congratulations. Just one last thing. I wasn’t quite done yet. But before graduating, he has a job in Seattle school district with a target school that they’re really working to turn around. This has been a school that’s really been struggling. And Jason was the first Special Education teacher they brought on to really help with this program. And he’s already got plans to or been asked to teach some of the faculty some of the skills that he’s picked up here. JOHANN NEEM: Next I’d like to welcome Aaron-Jeremy Evangelist Alonzo who will be introduced by David Saxton from Theater. DAVID SAXTON: Aaron Alonzo is the stage manager. A stage manager is the person responsible for every facet of a live entertainment production. It requires patience. It requires incredible attention to detail and the ability to remain imperturbable when the entire world is coming down all around you.
Before I became a college professor, I worked as a professional stage manager. So I can say with some authority that Aaron is one of the best stage managers I have ever worked with. Aaron and I worked on a project earlier this year and it involved a whole bunch of people dressed up as horses and naked actors and a bunch of smoke and an insane lighting designer that decided he was doing Def Leppard live on stage. And I came to him after rehearsal one night and said, you know, cue 487, could you call that maybe just a half second earlier? Now, most stage managers would look at you and look you in the eye, and then they would wait a period of time that was just a little bit not appropriate and say, OK. Aaron’s response was great. Absolutely, I’m right on it. And then the next night he came to me and asked me was that what I wanted.
This is truly phenomenal in a stage manager. I did a poll of all of my colleagues to find out what they wanted to say about Aaron. What they talked about, every single one of them was his optimism, his wonderful sense of humor, his sense of character. And one person summed it up very well. I have never before worked with a student who has cared so deeply and sincerely for every person he is working with, be it the faculty director, the staff TD, or the student actors and designers. He is not only skilled as a stage manager but he is truly invested in every single person in his life.
Honestly, I don’t think we can let him graduate. I have not learned enough from him yet. Congratulations. JOHANN NEEM: And finally, last but not least, I would like to welcome up Tobias Osterhaug who will be presented by George Mariz from the University Honors Program. GEORGE MARIZ: You already heard his name so I don’t have to repeat it. I think one of the things that stands out for all of us in a ceremony like this is that, for all these students, academic excellence is the given. It is necessary but not sufficient to be outstanding. And as I look back on Tobias Osterhaug’s career here, a couple of things stand out. One of them is that he is a student willing to step forward to lead in a bunch of different venues. And he is somebody who has a rare ability to be outspoken without being irritating. The first exposure I had to him at any length was in the first course that students take in the first year in Honors.
It’s an introduction to ancient culture. And by about halfway through that term, Tobias and maybe a handful of other students had hijacked the course in the sense that I really didn’t have to do any more work because they really took care of leading the discussions. I didn’t tell anybody about this so I continue to be paid. But they were doing the work. For the past two years, Tobias has been a member of the Honors Board. That’s a nine-member board composed of six faculty, three students in the program who actually govern the program. It’s not fair to say gone toe to toe, but he has certainly held his own with faculty.
And there have been meetings where, in fact, he was the outstanding voice. He also has been the lead student in the last year or so in creating a sense of community among students in a program that’s expanding rapidly and where that’s difficult. He’s created an activity called Pizza and Profundity. The program provides the pizza. Students provide the profundity. Once upon a time, he told me he wanted my job. Tobias, I hope you get it. You’ll do it better than I do. JOHANN NEEM: Before we close tonight, I just want to offer some undesired and unsolicited advice to our outstanding graduates. And I want to go back to David Gilbertson’s story about when he walked into class that first day and was looking for Ben and Ben wasn’t there. And when you have an expectation like that and it’s not fulfilled, that leads to a sense of emptiness. And, in fact, it can actually produce existential crises, that sense of absence, that sense of nothingness.
And so the simple advice I have for you is to help your professors out is write them. Send them a postcard during your gap year. Send an email. Let them know what you’re doing. Write them because you will be missed. Your absence will be noticed. They will cry. And I really mean that. So write them. And with that, let’s give another round of applause for these outstanding human beings and then we’re out of here. .