Nearly 2,000 graduate at spring commencement

Monday, June 17, 2013 - 3:41pm

Roughly 1,975 students graduated from Western Washington University in three spring Commencement ceremonies in Carver Gymnasium on June 15.

Main speakers were Jane Carten (’01 and ’06), president and director of Saturna Capital Corp., Will Braden (’01), a writer and filmmaker, and Shari Campbell (’83), vice president of JayRay.

Western Washington University also honored four people for their contributions to Western and to the community. Craig (’77) and Susan Cole (’73) received the President’s Award during the 9 a.m. ceremony, and Fred Kaiser and Grace Borsari received the President’s Award during the 4 p.m. ceremony.

Carten, the speaker at the 9 a.m. ceremony, is the president and director of Saturna Capital, an investment firm in Bellingham. Western’s 2013 Young Alumnus of the Year, Carten is a 2001 graduate of Fairhaven College of Interdisciplinary Studies and earned an M.B.A. in 2006. Carten got her start as an entrepreneur in the late ‘90s when she launched and ran an Internet services company while she was still a student. With her husband, Terry, she established the Carten Family Scholarship for Fairhaven students who have dreams of becoming entrepreneurs. Students apply for the scholarship by developing a website to showcase their plans for a business or nonprofit organization.

Braden, the speaker at the 12:30 p.m. ceremony, is the producer of a series of very popular videos on YouTube featuring Henri, a French-speaking cat ridden with existential angst. The short, black-and-white videos, which can be seen at, have been viewed millions of times. Braden, a Creative Writing major, produced the first Henri video as a parody to entertain his fellow film school students. But Henri’s success has resulted in a book deal as well as other professional opportunities for Braden.

Campbell, the speaker at the 4 p.m. ceremony, is vice president and part-owner of JayRay, a communications company in Tacoma. Campbell worked in health care settings and for the state of Washington before joining JayRay. She is now vice president of the Western Alumni Association and has been active with the association’s community engagement efforts. She will speak at her daughter’s graduation.

Recipients of the President’s Award, Craig and Susan Cole have a long history of community service in Whatcom County. Craig Cole is a member of the University of Washington Board of Regents and a former member of Western’s Board of Trustees. Susan Cole is vice chair of the Board of Trustees at Whatcom Community College and a member of the boards of the St. Luke’s Foundation and the Interfaith Coalition. The Coles, who met at Western, support philanthropic causes including education, sustainability, health care and social justice.

Fred Kaiser, chairman and CEO of Alpha Technologies, Inc., and Grace Borsari, Chairman and CEO of Altair Advanced Industries, Inc., also received the President’s Award. Kaiser and Borsari have been involved with Western for two decades. The Kaiser-Borsari Educational Trust funds several scholarships in Computer Science, Engineering Technology and Advanced Materials Sciences, including those for women and people from diverse backgrounds. Kaiser also helped establish the Kaiser Professorship of International Business at Western.

The 9 a.m. ceremony included candidates from the College of Business and Economics, the College of Fine and Performing Arts, Fairhaven College of Interdisciplinary Studies and Huxley College of the Environment. At 12:30 p.m., candidates from the College of Humanities and Social Sciences (Humanities Division) graduated along with those from Woodring College of Education. At 4 p.m. was the ceremony for the College of Humanities and Social Sciences (Social Sciences Division) and the College of Sciences and Technology.

In addition to the keynote speaker, a WWU student spoke at each commencement ceremony.

Matt Slattery spoke at the 9 a.m. ceremony. Slattery, of Colorado Springs, Colo., is an Environmental Science major who worked for Western’s Admissions Office, giving campus tours. He is a graduate of Air Academy High School in Colorado Springs.

The 12:30 p.m. speaker was Alison Cooper, who graduated with a Bachelor of Arts Degree in English and a Creative Writing concentration. Cooper, from Ferndale, served as the chief editor of Western’s literary magazine, Jeopardy.

Anastasia Carlson, the Outstanding Graduate for the Department of Psychology, spoke at the 4 p.m. ceremony. Carlson was involved in several research projects at Western, including one that examines the psychological, social and environmental factors that can influence cardiovascular health. Originally from Burlington, she is a graduate of Burlington-Edison High School and Skagit Valley College.

Following WWU tradition, graduates proceeded to the path in front of Old Main after the completion of each ceremony, where they passed through a corridor of faculty and deposited their Western identification cards in a box that is later cemented into Memory Walk.


Nicholas E. Beichley (left) takes a snap shot of his niece Hailie Beichley (age 9) as they celebrate the elder's graduation on June 15, 2013. Beichley is a computer science major from Tacoma. Photo by Dan Levine | for WWU