WWU Names 2014-15 Outstanding Graduates

BELLINGHAM – Western Washington University honored its Outstanding Graduates for the 2014-15 academic year at spring Commencement Saturday, June 13.

 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:

Bainbridge Island

Sara Crowell, Outstanding Graduate of the Department of Anthropology, graduated cum laude in June from the University Honors Program with a major in Anthropology with a Biocultural concentration. Crowell got to combine her passion for nutrition, food security and health education when she studied abroad in India, where she designed and taught nutrition classes and conducted a nutrition assessment at a school there. Later, for her Honors project, Crowell presented some of the work on the assessment and helped conduct a fundraising effort to raise money for the school, located in Arunachal Pradesh.  Crowell also interned at Centric Brand Anthropology in Seattle and conducted research on consumer culture for natural and organic foods and health products. Meanwhile, Crowell rowed for Western’s women’s crew team and was in the Varsity 4 boat that placed third at the NCAA Division II National Championship. Crowell plans to pursue a master’s degree in global health. A graduate of Bainbridge High School, Crowell is the daughter of Gloria Satur and Mark Crowell.

Battle Ground

Jacob Boucher, the Outstanding Graduate of Communication Studies, is expected to graduate magna cum laude in August with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Communication Studies and a minor in Creative Writing. JD Boucher’s academic research focuses on comic book studies, particularly the ways in which race, gender and sexuality figure into the contemporary comic book industry, representations and audience engagements. He presented his research at two academic conferences and worked with a WWU alum to build a website, homerica.house, featuring American companies that make building materials, home furnishings, furniture and appliances. Meanwhile, Boucher was a resident adviser, co-president of the Communication Club, and a technology volunteer for the Bellingham Center for Independence. After graduation, Boucher will work as a freelance writer and web designer in addition to full-time employment. A graduate of Battle Ground High School, Boucher is the son of Karen and Daniel Boucher.



Nathan Bradshaw, the Outstanding Graduate from the Department of Chemistry, graduated in June with a Bachelor of Science in Chemistry. He was actively involved in research through a joint project between the research groups of Associate Professor of Physics and Astronomy Janelle Leger and Assistant Professor of Chemistry Amanda Murphy. He is the second author on a paper published in the journal Advanced Function Materials and two more publications are in the works. He has presented his work at regional and national conferences, including the national American Chemical Society, the Materials Research Society, and he American Physics Society. Bradshaw is also passionate about outreach, active in the Chemistry Club and the WWU Society for Advancement of Chicanos and Native Americans in Science and serving as an ACS Science Coach. He’s the recipient of the Denice (Ambrose) Hougen Chemistry Undergraduate Fellowship, the WWU Advancing Chemistry through Service Award and the Scholar’s Week President’s Award for Outstanding Posters. Next, he will attend Northwestern University to work on a doctorate in Material Science and Engineering. A veteran of the U.S. Navy, Bradshaw is the son of Nicole Bradshaw and a graduate of Live Oak Academy in Buda, Texas and North Seattle Community College.

Isaiah Ryan, the Outstanding Graduate in Electronics Engineering Technology, graduated magna cum laude with a Bachelor of Science degree in Electronics Engineering Technology. Ryan was the top senior in the EE program, with an overall GPA of 3.97. He was active in research, helping to develop novel laboratory components for an upper-level undergraduate course, research that has been accepted for publication in the 2015 American Society of Engineering Education annual conference. He received numerous scholarships, including two that helped fund a year of study at Yonsei University in Seoul, Korea. He also completed two internships and volunteered as secretary of Western’s Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers student branch. He hopes to start working in Bellingham as soon as possible. A graduate of Meridian High School and Whatcom Community College, Ryan is the son of David and Valerie Ryan and the husband of Nanhee Ryan.

Sydney Schlotterback , the Outstanding Graduate in Environmental Studies, graduated magna cum laude in March with a Bachelor of Arts degree and a double major in Environmental Policy and Environmental Education.

Courtney Taylor, the Outstanding Graduate in Human Services, graduated in June with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Human Services and a minor in Psychology. She served as an advocacy counselor and intern with Womencare Shelter in Bellingham and as an intern with Western’s Building Resilience and Voicing Empathy (BRAVE) suicide prevention program. She also served as a Helpline advocate and volunteer with Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault Services and was a recipient of the Jerry House Human Services Scholarship and the WWU Alumni Association Scholarship. She worked closely with Associate Professor of Human Services Trula Nichols to develop a new graduation requirement that focuses on transforming students’ understanding of “helping others” from an act of charity to an act of solidarity. She also studied abroad in India where she helped coordinate women’s developmental education classes with community members and educators in Arunachal Pradesh at Jhamtse Gatsal Children’s Community.

Quy Ton, the Outstanding Graduate in Theatre, graduated in June with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Theatre. She worked in management on several productions at Western, most recently “/faust,” a devised production which she stage-managed. Ton also completed a self-directed research trip to Vietnam, where she studied Vietnamese theatre and LGBT lifestyles. As a member of the Departmentally Related Activities Committee, Ton also championed for the support of the performing arts at Western. She was also a student representative on the Student and Activities Fee Committee, which allocates more than $4 million in student fees each year. This summer, she’ll work at Everett Kidstage Theatre then spend a year-long internship with Seattle Repertory Theatre. A graduate of Bellingham High School, she is the daughter of Thanh Ton and Khanh Nguyen.



Cecilia Guzmán Castro, Outstanding Graduate of the Department of Elementary Education, graduated in June with a Bachelor of Arts in Education with a concentration in Spanish/Elementary Education and endorsements in Bilingual Education and English Language Learners. Guzmán Castro grew up in a family of farm-workers, has always worked diligently to give back to her community, and is an advocate for culturally and linguistically diverse students. She earned her elementary teaching certification with an endorsement in bilingual education – and completed teaching internships in both English and Spanish. She worked as an after-school mentor of Latino students as a lead mentor in the ALTO program at Shuksan and Kulshan middle schools, recruiting and training more than 20 mentors and providing programming for over 40 middle-school youth. Besides this, Guzmán Castro has been a part of the Building Bridges to Migrant Youth program, and presented research on a study of language attitudes of Latin@ students in local schools at the national conference of the Association of Middle Level Educators in Minnesota. This fall, she will begin teaching second grade in the “Spanish side” of a bilingual program at Madison Elementary in Mount Vernon. She is the daughter of Albino and Carmen Guzmán and a graduate of Cashmere High School.



Lauren Gage, the Outstanding Graduate in Linguistics, graduated magna cum laude in June with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Linguistics with a minor in Spanish. She was a leading officer in Western’s Linguistics Club and was a linguistics tutor. She was nominated for the Taylor-Anastasio Award for her research and paper on people’s perception of males who use HRTs – or “high rising terminals,” known more colloquially as “uptalk,” or “Valley girl,” a type of speech more commonly associated with women.  She was a volunteer teaching assistant in an upper-division Linguistics class and contributed to the dialectology studies of Bert Vaux at the University of Cambridge. This fall, she’ll move to Ireland to pursue a master’s degree in Speech and Language Processing at Trinity College, Dublin, with a focus in either Speech Science or Experimental Phonetics and Phonology. She is considering a career in forensic phonetics or in the improvement of electronically originated speech. A graduate of Kentwood High School in Covington, she is the daughter of Helen Newman and Bruce Gage.



Jenica Barrett, the Outstanding Graduate in Communication Sciences and Disorders, graduated magna cum laude in June with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Communication Sciences and Disorders and a minor in Spanish. Barrett studied abroad in Argentina and volunteered in Costa Rica, educating a preschool staff on hygiene and nutrition for undernourished children. She also volunteered for many organizations, including Operation Smile, the Puget Sound Blood Center, the Bellingham Food Bank, The Arc of Whatcom County, the Arne Hanna Aquatic Center and Reading Corps of Washington. She was a member of the Western Homeless Outreach Club, La Mesa Spanish Club and Western’s National Student Speech Language Hearing Association chapter. She is passionate about working with bilingual people and hopes to travel abroad to work and volunteer in countries where speech language pathologists are limited. She also wants to obtain a master’s degree in bilingual speech language pathology. Barrett is a graduate of Mount Baker High School and Whatcom Community College and the daughter of Blake and Ruth Barrett.



Rachel Hsu, the Outstanding Graduate in Art, graduated in June with a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree with a major in Art and a minor in Art History. Hsu’s work was part of nine exhibitions during her senior year, including two solo exhibitions. She also led the development of the first BFA catalogue for the Art Department. Art faculty members say Hsu is one of the best students they’ve seen in the department in recent years and a promising young artist. Hsu plans to partake in artist residencies and work before attending graduate school. She is the daughter of David and Rose Hsu and a graduate of Inglemoor High School in Kenmore. 

Corena Sharp, Outstanding Graduate in American Cultural Studies, graduated in June with a Bachelor of Arts degree. She completed a major in American Cultural Studies as well as a Fairhaven College of Interdisciplinary Studies concentration in Law, Diversity and Justice: Transnational Advocacy – along with minors in International Studies, and Education and Social Justice. Sharp presented her research at Scholars Day and at an event for Fairhaven Alumni at Back2Bellingham. She is the recipient of a Libraries Undergraduate Research Award and a Public Anthropology Award for Excellence in Writing. She studied abroad in the Dominican Republic, volunteered at the Womencare Domestic Violence Shelter and worked as a seasonal fruit inspector for the Washington State Department of Agriculture. This fall, she will attend Syracuse University’s Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs, where she will major in International Relations. Sharp is the daughter of Sally and Gary Sharp and a graduate of Inglemoor High School in Kenmore.



Katherine Bareman, Outstanding Graduate of the Department of Accounting, graduated in June with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Accounting and a minor in Mathematics. Bareman’s involvement at Western has been extensive, including her roles as reporting secretary, executive vice president, and president of Western’s chapter of Beta Alpha Psi. She has participated and led teams of students in case competitions both regionally and nationally, including second-place winners of the KPMG Financial Accounting Case Competition, semi-finalists in the national IMA Student Case Competition and the winners of the College of Business and Economics Excellence in Marketing Challenge. Bareman also served as secretary for the Fraser Valley Young People’s League executive board, and in 2014 was the only undergraduate student selected to participate in the EY Global Mindset Immersion Program, a WWU international program in London sponsored by one of the four major global accounting firms. After graduation, Bareman plans to attend Vanderbilt University to obtain her Masters of Accountancy and become a valuation specialist. She is the daughter of James and Stephanie Bareman and a graduate of Cornerstone Christian School in Lynden.

Julianne Seely, the Outstanding Graduate in Design, graduated cum laude in June with a Bachelor of Fine Arts Degree in Design. Seely engaged in diverse visual communication and problem solving, from conventional branding, website and print collateral design to information visualization, motion graphics, promotional video production and user experience. She and a teammate developed and presented Hapi, a water bottle concept meant to address dehydration in seniors, to Scholars Week/Design Days. She and her group also participated in Design Wars: Food Truck Challenge and worked with Hand Crank Films to create a promotional video for Make.Shift art space. She also coordinated the annual senior design shows and interned with Life Center in Tacoma and with Ratio LLC in Seattle. Her freelance work includes projects for Western’s Collegiate Washington Music Educators Association, Happy Feet Fun Run, and Maasai School 121. She is a recipient of the Babcock Memorial Scholarship Fund in Design Production and the President’s Scholarship. Meanwhile, she taught ballet and contemporary dance at A Gift of Dance in Lynden. After graduation she plans to work for a design firm in Seattle. The daughter of Jeff and Renee Seely, Julianne Seely is a graduate of Lynden High School.


Mercer Island

Erika Bro, the Outstanding Graduate in Community Health, will graduate in August with a Bachelor of Science degree in Community Health, a Bachelor of Arts degree in Spanish, and a minor in International Studies. Bro won first place in the Society for Public Health Education Student Case Study Competition and served as president of Western Students Against Violence. She volunteered at SeaMar Community Health Centers, serving Spanish-speaking migrant workers, and was a violence prevention peer health educator through Western’s Prevention and Wellness Services. She completed a public health internship in Peru, studied abroad in Thailand and India, and helped organize a fundraiser to build a school for Dalit caste girls in India. She was also a recipient of the Marian Hamburg SOPHE 21st Century Student Scholarship and the Paul Woodring Arts and Sciences Scholarship.  After graduation, she plans to complete the Camino de Santiago, a 500-mile pilgrimage across Spain, with her mother, and spend a year abroad gaining field experiences. She also plans to apply for a Fulbright grant to conduct sexual and reproductive health research in Brazil and apply to the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine to pursue a master’s degree in Public Health. Bro is a graduate of Mercer Island High School and is the daughter of Peter Bro and Barbara Bro.


Mount Vernon

Alicia Faires, the Outstanding Graduate in East Asian Studies, graduated in June with a Bachelor of Arts degree in East Asian Studies and Bachelor of Science degree in Applied Mathematics. Faculty members were impressed with Faires’ commitment to education, the quality of her academic work, her seriousness of intent and her respectful demeanor. She made significant contributions to upper-level seminars and has a nuanced understanding of Japanese culture. This fall, she will return to Western for graduate work in Mathematics. A Navy veteran, Faires is an Earth Science graduate of the University of Northern Colorado and the wife of fellow Navy veteran Christopher Corbitt. She works full time at TLD, a Boeing contractor in Everett.

Teylor Wilbur, the Outstanding Graduate in Kinesiology and Physical Education, is expected to graduate magna cum laude in August with Bachelor of Science degree in Kinesiology. Wilbur has a perfect grade point average and is a classroom leader with a long record of community service work. She was a coach for Girls on the Run and volunteered at the Arne Hanna Aquatics Center and in the Early Enrichment program at Western. She helped organize the medical tent for the Bellingham Bay Half Marathon and the Tour de Whatcom events and helped put together several other events in the community and on campus. She was a student teacher in Anatomy and Physiology classes and a member of Phi Kappa Phi Honor Society and Circle-K International Club and helped organize the Kinesiology Club. Wilbur completed internships at Performance Physical Therapy and at North Cascades Health and Rehab Center. She’s a recipient of scholarships from the Muckleshoot and Swinomish tribes. She’s headed to Seattle University to become a family nurse practitioner and wants to give back to her Swinomish Tribal Community by making a difference in the health care system. Wilbur would also like to provide healthcare abroad to under-served communities. A graduate of Mount Vernon High School and Everett Community College, Wilbur is the daughter of Maureen Wilbur.



Mitchel Lange, the Outstanding Graduate in Japanese, graduated in June with a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Japanese and a minor in International Studies. Lange completed an exchange program at JF Oberlin University in Tokyo and was twice on the Honor Roll. His professors were impressed with his excellent Japanese language proficiency and his ability to render a complex Japanese passage into English in an accurate, engaging style. After graduation, Lange plans to work in Tokyo. The son of Gary Lange, he is a graduate of Kamiak High School.


Oak Harbor

Rachel Dailey, the Outstanding Graduate in German, graduated magna cum laude in June with a Bachelor of Arts degree in German and Music. Dailey, a graduate of the University Honors Program, has truly exceptional German language skills and is a talented musician. She won the WWU Concerto Competition and presented a winning poster at Scholars Week. She also collaborated with another student to give a piano recital as part of the Firehouse Piano Series and was a recipient of the President’s Scholarship. She volunteered with Campus Christian Fellowship and worked at Western’s Writing Center for three years. She is the daughter of Jim and Monica Dailey.



Mia Nafziger, Outstanding Graduate of both the departments of Economics and Political Science, graduated in March magna cum laude with a Bachelor of Arts degree. A graduate of the Honors Program, Nafziger completed a combined major in Economics and Political Science as well as a minor in French. In addition to her academic work, Nafziger was deeply involved at Western, serving as a student lead ambassador for the Western Foundation, a research assistant for the Border Policy Research Institute, an intern for Congressman Denny Heck in Washington, D.C., and a research aide for the Washington State Institute for Public Policy.  She also traveled to Senegal to intern with the Peace Corps, received an Outstanding Delegate Award with the National Model United Nations and volunteered to raise funds for micro-finance programs with the Slum Doctor Programme. Nafziger is a research assistant at the Washington State Institute for Public Policy, working on projects exploring the effects of employment training and the effects of legalizing cannabis in Washington. She plans to pursue a Master’s degree in Public Policy. Nafziger is the daughter of Rich Nafziger and Kristin Swenddal and is a graduate of Olympia High School.



Talicia Miller-Poole, Outstanding Graduate in Special Education, graduated in June with a Bachelor of Arts in Education degree with teaching endorsements in Special Education and Elementary Education. Miller-Poole was a Woodring Diversity Scholar and a Woodring Peer Mentor. She presented at Western’s Scholars Week and interned as a special education-resource room teacher and as a fourth-grade classroom teacher. At one of her schools, she helped a group of students who were struggling in math to get up to grade level in subtraction. Miller-Poole is devoted to multiculturalism, equity and social justice for students. She is also active in service to the university and the community, assisting with the Homework Club in Nooksack and with fire recovery events in her hometown of Pateros. Miller-Poole plans to move to Battle Ground to teach fourth grade and then return to school for her master’s and doctoral degrees in education. A graduate of Pateros High School, Miller-Poole is the daughter of Tracy Miller and Thomas Miller.



Anneliese Krautkraemer, the Outstanding Graduate in French, graduated magna cum laude in December 2014 from the University Honors Program and with a Bachelor of Arts in French and Economics/Environmental Studies. Krautkraemer volunteered as a discussion group leader in a second-year French class at Sehome High School and taught introductory French for the Western Employee Language Program. She also spent a semester at the University of Grenoble in France. She has been accepted into the Teaching Assistant Program in France and will be an English teaching assistant in the Académie de Versailles beginning this fall. She is a graduate of Pullman High School.



Kodiak Murphy, Outstanding Graduate in Physics and Astronomy, graduated magna cum laude in June with a Bachelor of Science degree in Physics and Mathematics. He spent three years working in the lab of Associate Professor of Physics and Astronomy Janelle Leger, making significant research contributions in their work on plasmon polariton waveglides, and presenting results at national conferences. He was also very active in outreach, diversity and community-building across STEM disciplines, notably through his work with the Physics Club, the Women in Physics club and the Society for the Advancement of Hispanics/Chicanos and Native Americans in Science. He was also a teaching assistant in Physics and the recipient of the Oscar Edwin Olson and James and Joann Albers scholarships. Next, he’ll move to California to begin the Ph.D. program in Physics at the University of California, Berkeley, where he will do research in atomic, molecular and optical physics. Murphy is a graduate of Quilcene High School and Olympic College and the son of Debbi Gottschalk.



Mauricio Romano, the Outstanding Graduate in Industrial Design, graduated in June with a Bachelor of Science degree in Industrial Design. Romano received the Senior Merit Award at the Industrial Designers Society of America western conference, one of just five students to receive the award across the country. He spent a year as an intern at Intel in Oregon, where he worked on a range of products, including laptops, tablets and pocket PC’s. He was the industrial designer on the Intel team that created the world’s first 14-nanometer fanless mobile PC reference design at the 2014Computex tradeshow in Taipei, Taiwan. The tablet, called Llama Mountain, is based on Intel’s upcoming Broadwell processor.  He holds two utility patents, one provisional patent and five design patents. Meanwhile, Romano’s “Walk Talk” two-way radio design concept was featured in a magazine in Singapore and as a freshman he won an international design contest to make a custom arcade stick. After graduation, he’s traveling across the United States before moving to San Francisco to work for Astro Studios, one of the most successful small design firms in the nation. A graduate of Redmond High School, he is the son of Guillermo Romano and Gabriele Ibarra


Rachel Wulff, the Outstanding Graduate in the University Honors Program, graduated magna cum laude in March with a Bachelor of Music degree in Music Education and Vocal Performance. At Western, Wulff has been a student, guest conductor, presenter, employee, leader and teacher. She performed with the Western Opera Studio, with the Concert Choir and Western Voices ensembles, in guest masterclasses, in two solo recitals and in a variety of other concerts. She was also involved with the Western chapters of the American Choral Directors and Collegiate Washington Music Educators Association. This fall, she will begin work as a music teacher in Mount Vernon. A graduate of Redmond High School, she is the daughter of Dion Yahoudy and Kevin Wulff.



John Levy, the Outstanding Graduate in the Department of Biology, graduated in June with a Bachelor of Science degree in Biology with an emphasis in Ecology, Evolution and Organisms. Levy worked in the lab of Associate Professor of Biology Marion Broadhagen, becoming a reliable researcher and student leader who helped train other students in laboratory practices.  He also worked on a collaborative project in the lab of Professor of Biology Jeff Young, where he carried out experiments with skill. He was the recipient of a Research and Creative Opportunities for Undergraduates grant and presented his research at Scholars Week. A graduate of Eastlake High School, he is the son of Mary Lambe and Mark Levy.  

 Lindsay Skinner, the Outstanding Graduate in Liberal Studies, graduated magna cum laude in June with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Humanities – History of Culture and a Bachelor of Science degree in Mathematics. She also completed minors in French and Latin. A graduate of the University Honors Program, Skinner was a recipient of the President’s Scholarship, the Liberal Studies Departmental Scholarship, and a Graduate Student Fellowship. She was also a Math Fellow, a member of the Liberal Studies Leadership Team and Mock Trial, and captain of an intramural volleyball team. Skinner will continue at Western for a master’s degree in Mathematics. A graduate of Skyline High School in Sammamish, she is the daughter of Dana Wood-Skinner and John M. Skinner.



Haley Anne Herrin, Outstanding Graduate of the Department of Management, graduated cum laude in June with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Business Administration with concentrations in Management and Management Information Systems. She is also a graduate of the University Honors Program. A CBE Leadership Scholar, Herrin showed her exemplary leadership skills through her involvement in Western’s College of Business and Economics. She served on the leadership team of Sigma Iota Epsilon and was program coordinator of the Money Sense personal finance seminars for students. She also completed internships with Grant Thornton LLP, the Whatcom Dispute Resolution Center, and the BIG Idea Lab. After graduation, Herrin will begin a full-time position in IT audit at Grant Thornton LLP.  She is the daughter of Julie and Hilton Herrin and a graduate of Seattle Christian School.


 Hannah Newman, Outstanding Graduate in English – Creative Writing, graduated magna cum laude in June with a Bachelor of Arts in English – Creative Writing and a minor in Psychology. She served as student volunteer manager for Western’s Children’s Literature Conference, was editor-in-chief of Jeopardy Magazine and was a student employee in the English Department. She was a recipient of two Teaching and Learning Association awards and a Centrum Scholarship. She has co-founded a literary magazine, The Sweet Tree Review, which will open for submissions in September and release its first issue next winter. She also hopes to earn a Master of Fine Arts degree in Creative Writing and become a professor. The daughter of Christy Newman and Anthony Rider, she is a graduate of Shoreline Community College.



Alastair Duncan, Outstanding Graduate of the Department of Decision Sciences, graduated magna cum laude in June with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Business Administration with a concentration in Management Information Systems. Duncan worked closely with his faculty mentor, Senior Instructor Kraig Pencil, to “flip,” or restructure, one of Pencil’s Management Information Systems classes, writing assignments and recording lectures to be posted online. His involvement at Western included his membership of Beta Gamma Sigma and the Management Information Systems Association. He was also appointed to Management Information Systems’ IT Leadership team. He interned for Moxi Works in Seattle and continued to work remotely with the company while completing his studies. Post-graduation, Duncan will work in the Technical Development Program at Liberty Mutual Insurance. He is the son of Bob and Mary Jane Duncan and is a graduate of Sequim High School and Whatcom Community College.



Ellen Olsen, the Outstanding Graduate in Geology, graduated magna cum laude in March with a Bachelor of Science degree in Geology and a minor in Anthropology. Olsen is a recipient of the President’s Scholarship and the James Talbot Scholarship. She received grant funding for her thesis research on the formation conditions of Skagit gneiss rocks called migmatites in the crystalline core of the Cascades Range, using cutting-edge geo-chemical analytical tools. She is working with Geology Research Associate Brian Rusk to continue her research and plans to submit a manuscript to present her work at the Geological Society of America Annual Meeting in Baltimore. She hopes to begin graduate school in fall of 2016 in either igneous or metamorphic petrology studies. A graduate of Shorewood High School, Olsen is the daughter of Patti and Norm Olsen.



Holden Matheson, the Outstanding Graduate in Computer Science, graduated magna cum laude in June with a Bachelor of Science degree in Computer Science. In addition to his nearly perfect grade point average, Matheson completed a senior project with Alpha Technologies through the Corporate Alliance Program. A veteran of the U.S. Marine Corps, Matheson is a graduate of Snohomish High School and the son of Woosi Wildwood and Graydon Matheson.



Brynn Hofer, the Outstanding Graduate in Dance, graduated in June with a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in Dance. She has performed in Fall into Dance, Winter Dances, the Faculty Dance Concert, Cabaret and New Music New Dance. She performed in the BFA Capstone performance both as a dancer and a choreographer. She represented Dance on the Department Related Activities Committee, which decided on student-related spending within the department, and was the recipient of a grant for undergraduate research to explore the question, “How does someone learn a new movement style?” Meanwhile, Hofer has been a dance teacher in Bellingham for three years and recently became certificated in Pilates training. She was accepted for a dance apprenticeship at the Polaris Dance Co. in Portland. The wife of William Hofer and the daughter of Dori and Keith Nielsen, Brynn Hofer is a graduate of University High School in Spokane.



Hannah Ricker, Outstanding Graduate of the Department of Finance and Marketing, graduated in June with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Business Administration with a concentration in Marketing. During her time at Western, Ricker dedicated herself to the local community, serving both as a campus tour guide and working at a locally-owned clothing store, Garys’. Ricker had the opportunity to spend part of her senior year studying abroad in Spain on scholarship, allowing her to explore part of the world and feed her curious mind. After graduation, Ricker aspires to work at an advertising agency in the field of digital marketing, particularly in the areas of search engine optimization (SEO) and interactive strategy.  She is the daughter of Rosemarie and Alan Ricker and a graduate of Skyview High School in Vancouver, Washington.



Victoria Monreal, Outstanding Graduate in Environmental Science, graduated magna cum laude in June with a Bachelor of Science degree in Environmental Science with a Marine Ecology emphasis and a minor in Environmental Education. Monreal started at Western in the 2013 Multicultural Initiative in the Marine Sciences Participation program, where she impressed faculty with her willingness to explore a variety of topics, her drive to succeed and her remarkable time management skills. Before enrolling at Western, she spent nine months volunteering in Peru at the Taricaya Animal Reserve and Rescue Center and on an organic farm, an experience that solidified her desire to study the environment and prevent its destruction. At Western, she served as office coordinator of the Office of Sustainability and as a lab assistant in the Biology Department. She presented her research on eelgrass habitat at a meeting of the Pacific Estuarine Research Society and at an international conference of the Association for the Sciences of Limnology and Oceanography, winning a competitive grant for the trip and an award for best student presentation. She also won a highly competitive position in the National Science Foundation Research Experiences for Undergraduates program, where she completed her senior thesis on mosquito developmental ecology. A graduate of Wenatchee High School and Wenatchee Valley College, Monreal is the daughter of Conrad Monreal and Kynne Williams.  



Celina Muñoz, the Presidential Scholar for the College of Humanities and Social Sciences – Humanities Division and the Outstanding Graduate in History, graduated cum laude in March with a Bachelor of Arts degree in History. Intrigued by a fifth-grade research project, Muñoz recognized her passion for history at a young age and fulfilled that desire through her research at Western. Her scholarly work often explores the historical and cultural contours of gender, class and race in Western civilization. Muñoz took on leadership roles in the local chapter of Phi Alpha Theta, an honor society for History majors, and worked to establish a peer-review writing center for students in lower-division History courses. She participated in the Phi Alpha Theta Northwest Regional Conference in 2014 and 2015, and was honored that her essay on the role of apothecaries in the 1665 London plague was nominated for best undergraduate paper. Muñoz works diligently to call attention to the needs of marginalized groups, promoting awareness of issues surrounding exclusion and multiculturalism. She was also involved in efforts to reach out to Bellingham’s homeless community, knitting hats, encouraging donations, and generally creating awareness among the college community. As a desk attendant in the residence halls, Muñoz helped to organize events that foster community and move toward models of success and achievement. Muñoz, from Yakima, is the daughter of Roy and Sandra Muñoz. She is considering graduate school and plans to work in a field where she can promote the importance of history and social sciences




Daniel Miller, Outstanding Graduate in Journalism, graduated in June with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Visual Journalism. Miller won awards for his photography from the Society of Professional Journalists, the Associated Collegiate Press and the Washington Press Association. He served as a photo intern at the Skagit Valley Herald, the Bellingham Herald and the WWU Athletics Department. On campus, he was a photographer for The Western Front and the Planet and Klipsun magazines. He was also a Student Admissions Representative, president of Western’s chapter of the National Press Photographers Association, which saw unprecedented growth during his tenure. Now, he’s headed to Flint, Michigan, for an internship on the photo staff of the Flint Journal. He hopes to continue developing his skills as a visual storyteller to become a staff photographer at a newspaper. Miller is a graduate of Arcadia High School in Phoenix.




Jasmine Strode-Elfant, the Outstanding Graduate in Sociology, graduated magna cum laude in March with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Sociology and Art. Strode-Elfant worked with Sociology Professors Jay Teachman and Lucky Tedrow on a National Institute of Child Health and Human Development grant. She also presented research at the conference for the Pacific Sociological Association two years in a row. Meanwhile, she was vice president of the Demography Club and a recipient of the Ingeborg Paulus scholarship. She had an art exhibit of her work in Western’s B-Gallery. A graduate of Western’s Honors Program, Strode-Elfant is now working as a research assistant in Western’s Sociology Department, co-authoring a book chapter on veterans and families and revising her honors thesis, “’Expertly Crafted with the Finest Ingredients’: Authenticity and Social Class in Food Advertisements.” She hopes to pursue a doctoral degree in Sociology; her research interests include mixed methods research, particularly the construction and presentation of gender in food culture.  The daughter of Poppy Strode and Michael Elfant, she is a graduate of Davis High School.



John Rosenbaum, Outstanding Graduate in Philosophy, graduated magna cum laude in December 2014 with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Philosophy and a minor in Accounting. Rosenbaum worked as a logic grader, served as treasurer of the Philosophy Club, helped to found the Theistic Thinkers student club and co-organized the Bellingham Lectures in Philosophy and Religion series. He was a recipient of the Paul J. and Rebecca Ann Olscamp Philosophy Scholarship and worked as a contract editor for Cengage Publishing Co. and as a tax accountant. Next, he’ll pursue a Ph.D. in Philosophy at Baylor University, where he has received a generous fellowship. The husband of Rhiannon Rosenbaum, he is a graduate of Modesto Christian School.




Michelle Runyan, the Outstanding Graduate in English – Literature Emphasis, graduated cum laude in June with a Bachelor of Arts degree in English Literature and a minor in Diversity in Higher Education. Runyan served as the Associated Students representative on Western’s Committee on Undergraduate Education, as a board member for the Northwest Hawai’i Ohana, and vice president of internal affairs for the WWU Professional Women’s Association. Her “Coriolanus and Early Modern Notions of Self” was published in Occam’s Razor and her “Emily Dickinson’s Poetry as Religious Experience” was a nominee for Scholars Week. She is the recipient of the John and Elizabeth Moore Education Scholarship, the Whatcom Educational Credit Union Scholarship and the WWU Presidential Scholarship. Her plans include working in higher education, earning her master’s degree in English Literature and teaching at a community college. The daughter of Lou-Ann Couch and Rod Couch, and Noel Runyan, Michelle Runyan is a graduate of Centennial High School in Boise, Idaho, and of Whatcom Community College.


Jasmine Wilhelm, the Outstanding Graduate in Recreation, graduated cum laude in December with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Recreation and Studio Art with a minor in Sociology. Wilhelm participated in the first Western Outdoor Orientation Trips (WOOT!) and later became a head trip leader, leading first-year students on six-day backpacking trips and helping them transition to college. She worked as a resident adviser and a student ambassador for the Western Foundation for two years and a peer mentor for Student Outreach Services for one year. She was a speaker at two TEDx events as well as at the graduation ceremony for the Recreation Program and received the Jake Merrill Outdoor Leadership Scholarship. She interned with Environmental Traveling Companions, leading people with disabilities and at-risk youth on one- to three-day river trips on the South Fork of the American River. After graduation, she worked for a season taking youth from Los Angeles into the mountains to teach them about Earth science, nature and leadership. Now, she’s working in the Apostle Islands on Lake Superior to lead four- to seven-day sea kayaking trips for people with mixed abilities. A graduate of Boise High School, she is the daughter of Jeffery and Peggy Jo Wilhelm.




Julia Barnes, Outstanding Graduate in Canadian-American Studies, graduated in June with a Bachelor of Arts degree with a double major in Canadian-American Studies and French. During her time at Western, Barnes became fluent in French and developed an expertise on Quebec and cross-border identity, studying abroad in Montreal during her junior year. She is also known as a natural leader among her peers. After graduation, Barnes plans to stay in the Pacific Northwest. Her parents, Don and Linda Barnes, met while attending Western. She is a graduate of Poolesville High School. 




Daniel Krupicka, Outstanding Graduate in the Psychology Department, is expected to graduate in August with a Bachelor of Science in Psychology. He spent four quarters as a research assistant in the lab of WWU Psychology Professor Deborah Forgays, helping with research on cell phone usage. He also works at Pediatric NDT and SI Therapy Services, an occupational therapy clinic in Bellingham. He started in maintenance and now also works with therapists to gain skills in occupational therapy and working with children -- he often walks children on therapy horses. He’ll continue to work at the clinic after graduation and complete requirements to apply to graduate school in occupational therapy. The son of Kristen Krupicka and Steven Krupicka, Daniel Krupicka is a graduate of Whatcom Community College and Creighton Community High School. 




Rebecca Scheurich, Outstanding Graduate in Behavioral Neuroscience, graduated magna cum laude in December 2014 with a Bachelor of Arts in Behavioral Neuroscience and Music. Scheurich also served as lab manager in Assistant Professor of Psychology McNeel Jantzen's Language and Neural Systems Research Lab at WWU, orchestrating several research projects at once. She co-authored two peer review publications with Jantzen and is working on a third.  Additionally, she presented her research at the Human Brain Mapping Conference and completed a neurosurgical internship with Dr. David Goldman. Meanwhile, Scheurich was an integral member of Western’s orchestra and worked in the Tutoring Center. Since graduation, Scheurich has been working as a research assistant at ILABS at the University of Washington. She has been accepted into the doctoral program in Psychology at McGill University where she will be working with Professor Caroline Palmer and colleagues at the Brain, Music, and Sound (BRAMS) International Laboratory, studying the neural mechanisms behind music production. She is the daughter of Leslie and Larry Scheurich, fiancé of pianist Michael Refvem, and graduate of Tigard High School.

Tuesday, June 30, 2015 - 12:43pm