Videos

Western Junior Whitney Fleming knows horses. As president of the WWU Equestrian Team, Fleming has learned to look for nuances in the way riders signal horses and the way horses respond. Tiny movements in the muscles of a riders' legs or hips are often all that's needed to communicate with animals that can reach 1,200 pounds and have personalities as unique and individual as their riders. But Fleming did not realize how close she was to the animals she rides and works with until a traumatic trailer crash toppled her horse into a highway ditch.

All his life, Tony Dominguez wanted to play basketball. As a boy, he practiced four to five hours a day. When he was diagnosed with rheumatic heart disease at the age of 14, he wanted nothing more than to get better so he could get back on the court. When he finally realized he would not reach his potential as a player, Dominguez turned to coaching. He worked for 17 years as an assistant coach for the Western Washington University Vikings.

Brady Olson, a scientist at Western’s Shannon Point Marine Center, holds a flask of seawater and stares intently at the tiny creatures called copepods swimming inside it. They dart about like frenzied boatmen, through water altered to reflect what climate scientists call “the worst case scenario:” that in 100 years, the ocean could become so acidic that seawater literally scours the calcium skins from some of the tiny creatures at the foundation of the oceanic food web.

Twenty-nine-year-old Adam Roberts can't imagine spending hours in stop-and-go traffic. It would kill him to sit behind a desk from nine to five. Roberts has carved out a space for himself beyond the humdrum world of making money and paying rent. He has built a custom home on the truck bed of his Toyota Tacoma so he can live where he truly feels alive - on the mountain. Roberts lives out of his truck, which you can often find on in the parking lot of the Mount Baker Ski Area 50 miles east of Bellingham, Wash. He hikes up the mountain on skins and skis down through massive powder.

Former Washington Gov. Gary Locke, the speaker at the 9 a.m. ceremony, recently completed two years as the U.S. ambassador to China. He also served in President Obama’s Cabinet as the secretary of commerce.

Born and raised in Seattle, Locke is a two-term governor of the state of Washington and a former member of the Washington House of Representatives.

At commencement, Locke received an honorary doctorate of humane letters from Western for his distinguished career of public service at the state, national and international levels.

Jerry Thon, the speaker at the 12:30 p.m. spring commencement ceremony June 14, is the vice president of Astoria Holdings, a fish processing plant in Astoria, Oregon. He’s also the former owner of New West Fisheries in Bellingham and the immediate past president of the Western Foundation.

A longtime supporter of Western, Thon is chairman of the Western at Home committee, which works to help Bellingham community leaders get more acquainted with the university.

Douglas Massey, the speaker at the 4 p.m. commencement ceremony June 14, is a sociologist specializing in international migration and socioeconomic stratification.

Brian O'Sullivan spoke at the 9 a.m. ceremony during spring commencement June 14, 2014.

O'Sullivan graduated with a self-designed concentration from Fairhaven College of Interdisciplinary Studies that incorporates his interests in art and psychology. He hopes to study art therapy in graduate school. O'Sullivan is a graduate of Juneau Douglas High School in Juneau, Alaska.

Christina Van Wingerden, who graduated with a Master of Education in Continuing and College Education, spoke at the 12:30 commencement ceremony June 14, 2014.

Van Wingerden is administrator to the dean of students at Western and earned her bachelor’s degree from Western in 2011.

Twins Anne and Andrea d’Aquino speak at the 4 p.m. commencement ceremony June 14.

Anne is receiving a Bachelor of Science in biochemistry while Andrea is receiving a Bachelor of Science degree in chemistry.

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