Western Washington UniversityCommunications and Marketing
DATE: June 14, 2012 11:45:44 AM PDT
WWU Names Outstanding Graduates

Contact: WWU Office of University Communications, (360) 650-3350

BELLINGHAM – Western Washington University honored its Outstanding Graduates for the 2011-2012 academic year at spring Commencement Saturday, June 9.

Faculty members from each academic department 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 include:

Bainbridge Island

Sophie Wenzlau, Outstanding Graduate in the University Honors program, earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in Politics, Philosophy and Economics as well as a minor in French. A Magna Cum Laude graduate, Wenzlau was also the Presidential Scholar for the College of Business and Economics. In addition to her academic work at Western, Wenzlau has distinguished herself through significant study-abroad and international-service experiences. In summer 2011, Wenzlau was a research intern in India studying water security in the Thar Desert for the Jal Bhagirathi Foundation. Some of her research work was published in the Times of India. In fall quarter of 2010, she was an exchange student in Geneva studying international relations and Swiss agricultural security. In summer of 2007, Wenzlau volunteered in Madagascar where she conducted rural field interviews in French and taught English. Wenzlau has also been active in local service organizations; she is the vice president of WWU’s Economics Association and is an intern for the local Sustainable Connections nonprofit group. After graduation, Wenzlau will spend the summer as a research intern in agricultural security at the Worldwatch Institute in Washington D.C. Wenzlau is a graduate of Bainbridge High School. She is the daughter of Charlie and Vicky Wenzlau of Bainbridge Island.


Vivian Kwan, Outstanding Liberal Studies Graduate, earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in Liberal Studies with a minor in Sociology. At Western, Kwan was on the President’s List honor roll several times. As a student vice president of the Phi Kappa Phi honor society, Kwan helped create a service learning award. She was also president of Homeroom: A Humanities Club,  an officer for the Chinese Student Association and a member of the Phi Eta Sigma and the National Society of Collegiate Scholars honor societies. During Scholars Week, Kwan presented her senior thesis on the Biblical narrative of Jesus driving the moneychangers out of the Temple of Jerusalem. After graduation, Kwan plans to become a professional organizer in the greater Seattle area. The daughter of Kenneth Kwan and Wai Ling Mak, Vivian Kwan is a 2008 graduate of Newport High School.


Christopher Scott Cawthon, Outstanding Graduate for both the Modern and Classical Languages Department and Linguistics Department, earned a Bachelor of Arts with a double major in Linguistics and French. Cawthon also minored in German. During his time at Western, Cawthon was the president of Western’s Linguistics Club, a research assistant for the American Association of Teachers of French and a member of Phi Kappa Phi. He also developed and modified the database and website for the editor of The French Review, the official journal of the American Association of Teachers of French. He was the recipient of numerous awards including the Bersin and Associates Learning Leaders Initiative Excellence Award and the American Society of Training and Development Excellence in Practice Award. After graduation, Cawthon will attend Indiana University’s graduate program in French Linguistics with the help of the Marvin D. Moody Fellowship. Cawthon is the domestic partner of Doug Wadkins and a graduate of Wade Hampton High School in Greenville, S.C.

Aris Hudson, Outstanding Graduate in both Economics and Mathematics, earned a Bachelor of Arts degree with a combined major in Economics and Mathematics as well as a minor in Political Science. Hudson maintained a 4.0 grade point average at Western while participating in academic research with the Economics Department. His research focuses on environmental economics and limits to growth and he co-authored research papers that will be submitted to scholarly journals. In addition to his academic work, Hudson was a Mathematics Fellow tutoring students in upper-division math courses. This fall, he will attend the University of Michigan on a graduate fellowship to pursue a Ph.D. in Economics. Hudson’s parents are WWU Philosophy Professor Hud Hudson of Bellingham and Tara Blanton Hughes, a member of the English faculty at Whatcom Community College, of Bellingham, and he is a graduate of Bellingham High School.

Shelley Jefferson, Outstanding Theatre and Dance Graduate, will earn a Bachelor of Arts degree in Theatre with an emphasis in Directing and a Bachelor of Arts in Education degree in General Science-Elementary Education. Jefferson is a member of Northwest Writing Teachers Collective, was a keynote speaker at the College of Fine and Performing Arts’ Masked Ball fundraising event and was nominated for Student Employee of the Year at WWU for 2011 and 2012. She also directed “The Christmas Toyshop” at the Claire VG Thomas Theatre with 11 other Western students – the first time such a large number of Theatre students collaborated on one project off campus for their senior project. After graduation, Jefferson will pursue a teaching position in Whatcom County. Jefferson and her husband Francis Jefferson have six children: Joshua, Shae, Alex, Penny, Lilliana and Camille. Shelley Jefferson graduated from Oak Harbor High School and attended Northwest Indian College before attending Western.

Ian Nelson, Outstanding Graduate in East Asian Studies, completed his Bachelor of Arts in December 2011 in East Asian Studies with a minor in Environmental Policy. Initially drawn to Western to study environmental issues, Nelson soon discovered a passion for Chinese language and contemporary society. First-year Chinese was probably the hardest class he ever took, he said, but he was inspired to persevere by Professor Janet Xing. At Western, he was the recipient of the Fairhaven Entrance Scholarship, the Sarah Ann Wirth Scholarship for East Asian Studies and the Chinese Language Program Book Scholarship. Now working in Bellingham, Nelson hopes to return to China in January to continue his language studies. He also plans to apply to the University of Washington’s China Studies graduate program to pursue his research interests in Chinese environmental issues and policy. A graduate of the School of Environmental Studies in Minneapolis, Minn., Nelson is the son of Bonnie and Scott Nelson of Minneapolis.


Jessica Birklid, Outstanding Graduate in Political Science, earned a Bachelor of Arts degree with a double major in Political Science and Social Studies, as well as a minor in Women’s Studies. At Western, Birklid served as a teacher’s assistant in the department. She spent three quarters developing her honors thesis focusing on how U.S. Supreme Court decisions influence public opinion. She also was a member of Pi Sigma Alpha, the national political science honor society. Off campus, she volunteered with a domestic violence support organization in Bellingham. This fall, she will attend the University of Washington’s Master of Public Administration program where she wants to focus on nonprofit management and policy analysis with hopes of working to end intimate partner violence and other forms of violence in communities. The daughter of Janice and Lonny Birklid of Buckley, Jessica Birklid is a graduate of White River High School.


Outstanding Design Graduate Catherine Dimalla received a Bachelor of Arts in Design with an emphasis in Graphic Design. A selection of her design work will be on display at the University and College Designers Association Design Conference in Montreal this fall. The winner of the Vita Brevis Design Scholarship and the UCDA Educational Scholarship, Dimalla was a mentor to other design students and worked as the lead designer for the web and print editions of Jeopardy, Western’s award-winning student-published magazine. She also produced event posters and other promotional materials as an intern for Make.Shift a nonprofit organization that supports music and arts in Bellingham. After graduation, Dimalla will move to San Francisco to pursue a career in branding and marketing. The daughter of Gerard and Arlene Dimalla of Custer, she is a graduate of Blaine High School.


Molly Chrisman, Outstanding Elementary Education Graduate, earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in Elementary Education. Chrisman also minored in Anthropology. At Western, she was a recipient of the WWU Multicultural Achievement Scholarship, a resident advisor for three years and a volunteer conversation partner with Korean exchange students. She also interned at the Islandwood outdoor learning center on Bainbridge Island. Joanne Carney, associate professor and chair of Elementary Education, believes Chrisman will be a “wonderful asset to the teaching profession. She has the capacity to work with children in a warm and confident manner—calmly guiding and supporting their learning.” After graduating, Chrisman will be working at the Woodland Park Zoo, helping to supervise and run their day camps. After that, she will be working at the Evergreen School, a private school in Shoreline. In the future, she hopes to work in Washington’s public school system and attend a graduate program to study environmental education and integrating the arts into the elementary classroom. Chrisman is the daughter of Lori Chrisman of Edmonds and Andrew Chrisman of Seattle; she is a graduate of Ballard High School.


Brittany LaRiviere, Outstanding Graduate in the Department of Finance and Marketing, earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in Finance and a minor in Accounting. LaRiviere not only excelled academically, but stood out through her campus involvement. She served as the vice president of the Financial Management Association, volunteered as a finance tutor in the Tutoring Center and participated in the 2011 CFA Pacific Northwest Investment Research Challenge. She was recognized for her contributions to the College of Business and Economics’ Professional Readiness program. And she contributed to the analysis and presentations for the college’s Investment Scholarship Advisory Board – all while working part time and raising two young children. After graduation, LaRiviere will begin working as a financial analyst with Amazon. She hopes to become chartered as a Certified Financial Analyst and Certified Public Accountant and eventually earn her MBA. LaRiviere is a graduate of Sequoia High School and Everett Community College. She is the mother of Rylee, 8, and Jacob, 3, and daughter of Tiffany and Ben Kolar of Everett.

Federal Way

Maia Kurnik, Outstanding Graduate in Physical Education, Health and Recreation, earned a Bachelor of Science in Kinesiology with a minor in Chemistry. At Western, Kurnik was named an Outstanding Major of the Year by the National Association for Sport and Physical Education. She also served as a personal trainer and group fitness instructor at the Wade King Student Recreation Center and taught CPR and First Aid for Western’s Prevention and Wellness Services program. Off campus, Kurnik interned with PeaceHealth St. Joseph Medical Center’s Nutrition and Diabetes Clinic in Bellingham and with cancer community outreach specialists at Franciscan St. Joseph Medical Center in Tacoma. She also served as a fitness coach for the Federal Way United U-18 Xtreme Boys Soccer Team. Finally, she went on mission trips to El Salvador, Guatemala and Mexico. This fall, Kurnik will enroll at the University of Washington to pursue a Master’s in Public Health degree and prepare for the exam to become a registered dietitian. The daughter of Tim and Lisa Kurnik of Federal Way, Maia Kurnik is a graduate of Todd Beamer High School.


Emily Zach, the outstanding Art graduate, earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in June with a double major in Art History and Cultural Anthropology. At Western, she served as a teaching assistant in several Art History classes. She also served on a faculty search committee for the Art  Department and as a student representative on Western’s Sculpture Garden Selection Committee, which selected the next artist to be commissioned for the university’s internationally-renowned sculpture collection. As an intern at the Whatcom Museum of History and Art, Zach was a curatorial assistant contributing to several exhibitions, including “Lesley Dill’s Poetic Visions: From Shimmer to Sister Gertrude Morgan” in fall 2011. She also curated “Fashion for the Northwest Woman,” her own display of three historic dresses from the museum’s permanent collection.  After graduation, Zach will work as a photo research assistant at becker&mayer!, a publishing company in Bellevue. She hopes to attend graduate school in art history and become a museum curator. A graduate of Kingston High School, Zach is the daughter of Jamie and Sue Zach of Kingston.


David Burgesser, Outstanding Environmental Studies Graduate, earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in Urban Planning. At Western, Burgesser was involved in several environmental clubs on campus, worked as the Associated Students Alternative Transportation coordinator for a year, and interned with Futurewise Whatcom conducting research into rural land use. He also volunteered as a research assistant during summer 2010 helping to collect pedestrian and bicyclist data. After graduation, Burgesser plans to find a job in the fields of urban planning, design or transportation. He also plans to attend graduate school and continue to study sustainability. The son of Douglas Burgesser and Eileen Kadesh, David Burgesser is a graduate of Lake Washington High School.

Gina Cole, Outstanding Journalism Graduate, earned a Bachelor of Arts degree with a double major in Journalism and Communication and graduated Cum Laude in winter 2012. Cole also minored in Psychology. During her career at Western, Cole received scholarships from the Society of Professional Journalists, the Association for Women in Communication and the Journalism and Communication departments at Western. She also received the Northwest Journalists of Color and the Sene and Louella Carlile scholarships. Cole was editor-in-chief of The Western Front, managing editor of Klipsun Magazine, worked for KUGS radio and was a member of the Society of Professional Journalists. Her work for The Western Front, Klipsun and KUGS won several awards, including the SPJ Mark of Excellence and Washington Press Association awards. Cole was just hired as a reporter covering government, social services and other topics for the Skagit Valley Herald. Previously, she worked as a freelance writer and photographer for The Bellingham Herald,  had a story published by InvestigateWest, completed an internship with The Port Townsend Jefferson County Leader and participated in the Investigative Reports and Editors Campus Coverage Project. The daughter of Terry Cole of Kirkland and Melissa Joan Meyer of Bloomington, Minn., Gina Cole is a graduate of Lake Washington High School.


Tyler Bisschop, the Outstanding History Graduate, earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in History. His research interest is primarily in the Ancient and Medieval periods and he presented research papers at several conferences during his time at Western. Bisschop was a Teaching Fellow for an introductory History course, editor of WWU’s SCRIBE History Journal and a member of the Phi Alpha Theta National History Honor Society. After graduation, Bisschop will remain at Western to complete post-baccalaureate graduate-level work to prepare to apply for Ph.D. programs. A graduate of Lynden High School and Whatcom Community College, Bisschop is the son of John and Sheryl Bisschop of Lynden.

Tracy Sager, the Outstanding Graduate in Accounting, earned a Bachelor of Arts degree with a double major in Accounting and Operations Management. While at Western, Sager received the Washington Society of Certified Public Accountants Scholarship and the Schintaffer Family Scholarship. She was also selected to participate in the Fall 2012 College of Business and Economics Leadership Lunch, volunteered with Western’s Volunteer Income Tax Assistance program and completed an internship with Security Solutions. After graduation, Sager plans to work for a local accounting firm and sit for the CPA exam. She also looks forward to spending more time with her family, including husband Randy Sager and children Hank and John. Sager is a 1981 graduate of Tolt High School in Carnation and had hoped to attend Western right after graduation, but did not have the opportunity to attend college until five years ago, when she enrolled at Skagit Valley College and later transferred to Western.


Liza Serova, the Outstanding Music Graduate, received a Bachelor of Music with a concentration in Piano Performance. An accomplished pianist, Serova is the recipient of the Post Presser Scholar award, and the William Sanford, and the Ford Hill piano scholarships. She was a semi-finalist in the department’s 2011 piano area concerto competition and in 2011 was selected for a weeklong camp in Leavenworth to join other gifted piano students and senior faculty from top U.S. and American conservatories. After graduation, she will prepare for auditions to graduate schools while working as an accompanist and piano teacher. The daughter of Yelena Serova and Vasiliy Serov of Lynnwood, Liza Serova is a graduate of Mariner High School in Everett and Shoreline Community College.

Mount Vernon

Kirsten White, the Outstanding Anthropology Graduate, earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in Cultural Anthropology with a minor in Raza Latina Studies. At Western, she served as vice president for the Student Coalition for Immigration Rights and as a mentor to both youth and peers. She worked with middle-school student-storytellers in the Collaborative Digital Storytelling Project and served on the U.S. board of directors for the Dunga Orphanage Project, which collaborates with a Kenyan organization. White earned a 4.0 grade point average at Western and presented her work at the 2011 American Anthropological Association Conference. She co-authored an article about youth engaging in digital storytelling that will appear in the summer issue of Ladders Magazine, a publication for current and prospective teachers. White has been accepted into Teach For America and will teach elementary school in the Phoenix, Ariz., area after graduation. After completing her work with TFA, White hopes to pursue a master’s degree in visual anthropology and or filmmaking. A graduate of Mount Vernon High School, White is the daughter of John and Allison White of Mount Vernon.


Morgan Lynn Jade, Outstanding Community Health Graduate, will earn a Bachelor of Science degree in Community Health when she graduates in August 2012. Jade was the recipient of the Evelyn Ames CHES Award in 2012 for receiving the highest score on the Certified Health Education Specialist proxy examination. She was also the coordinator of the Associated Students Sexual Awareness Center from 2011 to 2012. She is conducting research on Western’s campus about cyber harassment and is a Young Professionals Member with Planned Parenthood. She worked as a volunteer in the Needle Exchange Program with the Whatcom County Health Department and was a clinic assistant for Planned Parenthood. Jade was awarded the Most Inspirational Award at the Associated Students’ Banquet. This summer, she will be an intern at the Whatcom County Health Department’s Communicable Diseases and Epidemiology Division. The daughter of Klaus and Carol Jade of Olympia, Morgan Jade is a graduate of Olympia High School.

Erin Stehr, Outstanding Biology Graduate, earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Biology with a Marine emphasis. Stehr also minored in Chemistry. During her time at Western, Stehr developed a research project studying harbor seals eating salmon returning to Whatcom creek, completed an NSF-funded research internship at Western’s Shannon Point Marine Center and studied tropical marine biology and ecology in Mexico during a faculty-led study abroad program. Stehr also received numerous honors and scholarships, including the June and Charles Ross Undergraduate Scholarship, the WWU Alumni Association Leader Scholarship, the Seattle Business Forum Scholarship and the President’s Scholarship. After graduation, Stehr will work with San Juan Cruises over the summer then travel around the world for 11 months. Upon her return, Stehr plans to attend graduate school. Erin is the daughter of Vernon and Caron Stehr of Olympia and is a graduate of Olympia High School.


Erin Craven, Western’s Outstanding Graduate in Communication, earned a Bachelor of Arts degree with a major in Communication and a minor in French. After being admitted to Western with distinction in 2008, Craven received the President’s Scholarship and made several appearances on the President’s List honor roll. Her Intercultural Communication research paper was nominated to be included in Scholars Week. On campus, Craven was a Compass 2 Campus youth mentor, a volunteer with KUGS radio and Intercollegiate Volleyball Fan of the Year. She also participated in intramural softball and volleyball and was an intern with the WWU Athletic Department where she led and helped develop the Junior Viking and Ball Kid programs. After graduation, she plans to join AmeriCorps to work in community outreach and youth development in hopes of eventually pursuing a career in athletics, particularly youth sports programs. A graduate of Emerald Ridge High School, Craven is the daughter of Michael and Kelly Craven of Puyallup.

Brian Svoboda, Outstanding Graduate in Physics and Astronomy, earned a Bachelor of Science Degree with a major in Physics and minors in Astronomy and Mathematics. At Western, Svoboda served as a research assistant to Assistant Professor Ken Rines, who studies dark energy and galaxy clusters. With the help of National Science Foundation Research Experiences for Undergraduates grants, he also spent summers working with Jeffrey Mangum, a scientist at the National Radio Astronomy Observatory, and with Karin Öberg, a post-doctoral fellow at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics. Svoboda also received a Graduate Research Fellowship from the NSF.  A teaching assistant in the Physics Department, he was president of Western’s Society of Physics Students. This fall, he will enroll at the University of Arizona for graduate work in Astronomy, studying the earliest evolutionary stages of galactic star formation. Svoboda is a graduate of Emerald Ridge High School and the son of Wayne and Elizabeth Svoboda of Puyallup.


Ashley Hales, Outstanding Graduate in the Department of Special Education, earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in Special Education. In April she presented at the Council for Exceptional Children's National Conference in Denver, Colo., on conducting a functional behavior assessment. She was also selected to present her work at Western’s Scholar’s Week and mentored a student through the Big Brothers Big Sisters of Northwest Washington. This fall Hales will be a third-grade teacher at Hazelwood Elementary School in Newcastle, where she completed her internships in special education and elementary education. After gaining several years of experience in teaching, she hopes to return to school to earn a master’s degree and eventually a doctorate in special education. She’s particularly interested in working with students with emotional and behavioral disabilities. Hales is a graduate of Skyline High School. She is the daughter of Cindy Hales and Jim Hamm of Sammamish and Doug and Kathie Hales of Issaquah.


Claire Bomkamp, Outstanding Psychology Graduate, earned a Bachelor of Arts in Behavioral Neuroscience and a minor in Chemistry. During her time at Western, Bomkamp received the Behavioral Neuroscience Program Scholarship, was on the President’s List honor roll, received the President’s Entrance Scholarship and was involved with research with Jacqueline Rose, assistant professor of Psychology. “[Bomkamp] shows great initiative and ingenuity; for example, she established the programming for analyzing fluorescence images of neurons in my lab,” Rose said. “She is incredibly bright and knowledgeable; it has been a challenge to challenge Claire both in the laboratory and in the classroom." Bomkamp also served as the Journal Club Coordinator for NeRDS, Western’s neuroscience club. After graduation, Bomkamp will attend the University of British Columbia, where she received a full four-year scholarship, and will work toward a Ph.D. Bomkamp is a graduate of Garfield High School.


Carly Jalees Schmidt, Outstanding Human Services Graduate, will earn a Bachelor of Arts in Human Services with four minors: Spanish, Political Science, Environmental Studies and International Studies. Schmidt's achievements at Western include receiving an Outstanding Poster Award during Western’s Scholars Week, working as a Disaster Services intern at the Mount Baker American Red Cross, presenting her thesis paper on international sustainable development in Africa at the 2012 Political Science Association Conference, and being a semi-finalist in the 2012 Be the Change Global Health Competition sponsored by the Global Health Nexus initiative of the Washington Global Health Alliance.  Meanwhile, Schmidt accumulated a 3.98 grade point average while working at Carino's Italian Restaurant of Skagit Valley. Schmidt's love of volunteering abroad led her to pursue several different international experiences:  a service-learning trip to the Peruvian Amazon, a volunteer trip to a center in Thailand that serves kids who are at risk for human trafficking, a trip to Ghana to volunteer in orphanages and research poverty alleviation, and an international internship with a peace and social justice organization in Costa Rica.  After graduation, Schmidt hopes to continue such work by applying for Americorps positions and eventually attending graduate school to pursue a career in international sustainable development. She is the daughter of Jim and Ada Schmidt of Sedro-Woolley and a valedictorian of the 2007 graduating class of Sedro-Woolley High School.


Michael Pegis, Outstanding Graduate in Chemistry, earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Chemistry and is the College of Sciences and Technology’s Presidential Scholar. His research explores the conversion of agricultural waste into usable chemicals and fuels. And as the lead Chemistry tutor at the WWU Tutoring Center, he has worked with about 7,000 students in Math, Chemistry, Physics and Philosophy for the past three years. Recently, he served as a volunteer private tutor for low-income students. He said this is an integral method to not only helping students with financial difficulties stay in college but give them the tools necessary to achieve their goals and become successful. He also conducted research on learning styles and incorporated his findings into the center’s tutor training programs. And he volunteered with the Washington Trails Organization’s cleanup efforts and served food to homeless people through the St. Joseph Parish in Seattle. After graduation, Pegis will enroll in the University of Washington’s graduate program, where he will pursue a doctorate in Physical Inorganic Chemistry. Pegis is a graduate of Shorewood High School and the son of Lisa Rensberger of Shoreline and John Pegis of Chicago.


Bailey Scholze, Outstanding Graduate in American Cultural Studies (ACS), earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in ACS with a minor and certificate in Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages (TESOL). Scholze holds a strong academic record in the American Cultural Studies program and is a member of the Phi Kappa Phi Honor Society. She was part of a social justice panel during Scholar’s Week at Western and presented a paper, “Mixed Status Families,” about the challenges families face when one or more members are non-citizens. She also made several appearances on the President’s List honor roll. She worked as an instructor and Student Services assistant for Western’s Intensive English Program, teaching beginning classes to English language learners, administering placement tests and planning activities for international students. This summer, she will teach full-time in the Intensive English Program and later may teach English abroad. The daughter of Brenda Lacey-Scholze and Joe Scholze of Spokane, Bailey Scholze is a graduate of Mead High School.


Mariah Ferraz, Outstanding Canadian American Studies Graduate, earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in Political Science and Canadian American Studies. During her time at Western, Ferraz was on the President’s List honor roll twice, received the Krejci Injukshuk Scholarship, was a teaching assistant for “Introduction to Canadian Studies” and wrote her senior thesis on “Assessing Canada’s Third Order of Government – Self Government in the Nisga’a and Nunatsiavut First Nations.” Recently, she was one of two Western students selected to attend the Pacific Northwest Economic Region Legislative Academy in Victoria, B.C. She studied abroad one summer at the University of Cambridge in the U.K. and urges future and current students to travel or do something amazing if given the opportunity. Ferraz also worked on campus as a resident advisor. After graduation, she plans to spend a year in Tacoma volunteering at Tacoma schools with Americorps and interning with a local government office. After that, she will enter graduate school to pursue a master’s degree in Political Science or Juris Doctor in International Law. Ferraz is the daughter of Frank and Judy Ferraz of Tacoma and is a graduate of Mount Tahoma High School.

Tess Griswold, Outstanding English Graduate, earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in English Literature with minors in Spanish and Anthropology. Working toward a career in community arts and youth development, Griswold spent three years working for both WWU’s Writing Center and the Young Writer’s Studio in Bellingham. She co-founded Western’s Homeless Outreach Club, which organizes drives to distribute clothing and hygiene products to youth throughout the area. This September, she will begin work for Arts for All, a nonprofit agency in Tucson, Ariz., which offers art programming to children and youth, including those with disabilities. One of her main goals is to help design a creative writing program for the organization. The daughter of Michael Griswold and Dolores Haugen of Tacoma, Tess Griswold is a graduate of Stadium High School.

Vancouver, Wash.

Joshua Stein, Outstanding Graduate in Computer Science, earned a Bachelor of Science in Computer Science and a Bachelor of Arts in Mathematics. At Western, Stein received the Mark Lockwood Memorial Scholarship and the President’s Scholarship and was on the President’s List honor roll twice. Stein’s research also included the field of linguistics. He worked closely with Computer Science Professor James Hearne on research involving encrypted messages and the language structure of classical Chinese texts. He also co-authored a paper with Kendra Douglas, assistant professor of Modern and Classical Languages, about how peer-reviewed publications can leverage the flexibility and power of technology. They presented their paper – along with a prototype – at the spring meeting of the International Society for Computers and their Applications. Now Stein is a software engineering intern at Elemental Technologies in Portland, Ore., and preparing to attend the University of Oregon in the fall to pursue a Ph.D. while studying computer and network security. A graduate of Skyview High School who took Running Start classes at Clark College, Stein is the son of Michael and Carol Stein of Vancouver.

Walla Walla

Kyler Knowles, Outstanding Graduate in Engineering Technology, earned a Bachelor of Science in Plastics Engineering Technology with a minor in Spanish in December 2011. Knowles was vice president of the student chapters of two professional societies, the Society of Plastics Engineers and the Society for the Advancement of Materials and Process Engineering, or SAMPE. With these societies, he attended conferences both in the Pacific Northwest and out of state, participating in contests and presenting posters and speeches. In Spring 2011, he received an Outstanding Student Leadership award from SAMPE, one of six students in the worldwide organization recognized for their leadership in the student chapter. For his senior project, he investigated new materials for hydrogen fuel cells with Assistant Professor of Chemistry David Rider. Their paper has been submitted for publication through the American Chemical Society. Knowles will move in August to Hattiesburg, Miss., to attend the University of Southern Mississippi for Polymer and Science Engineering, where he hopes to attain a Ph.D. and perform research related to the aerospace and energy industries. He is now living in Walla Walla prior to his wedding in July to Hanna Moran, a 2011 Western graduate in Business Administration. He is the son of Greg and Shareen Knowles of Walla Walla and a graduate of Walla Walla High School.

Billings, Mont.

Callie Muri, Outstanding Graduate in Communication Sciences and Disorders, earned a Bachelor of Arts degree with a double major in CSD and Spanish. A participant in Western’s Honors Program, Muri earned a perfect grade point average in her CSD coursework. She also gained fluency in Spanish while studying abroad in Costa Rica. Muri served as an outreach worker for the Montana Migrant Council, translating for Spanish-speaking clients in a medical clinic. She also volunteered for Big Brothers Big Sisters of Whatcom County and as a literacy tutor to native Spanish-speaking students at Alderwood Elementary School in Bellingham. After graduation, Muri will attend the University of Texas at Dallas to pursue a Master of Science in Communication Disorders. The daughter of Jeff and Tammy Muri of Billings, Callie Muri was valedictorian of her 2008 class at Billings West High School.

Bozeman, Mont.

Skyler Mavor, Outstanding Geology Graduate, earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Geology with an Environmental Concentration. During his time at Western, Mavor received a Presidential Scholarship, was part of the Honors Program and president of the AS Surf Rider club. He participated in an NSF-funded geology research program in Yellowstone National Park and later conducted further analysis for his senior thesis on the magmatic origins of rocks in the Cooke City area of southern Montana. He was also an active volunteer for Bellingham Mountain Rescue. Assistant Professor of Geology Pete Stelling said, “Skyler represents what we wish all our graduates to become: earnest, hard-working, intelligent and willing to take extra time to help a friend in need, whether in the classroom, in the field, or in the wilderness.” After graduation, Mavor plans to take the National Board of Geology fundamentals exam in the fall. Then, he hopes to drive through Central America over several months with the intent of improving his Spanish-speaking ability. After that, he will apply to graduate school to get a master's degree in geology. Skyler is the son of Doug and Sunny Mavor of Bozeman and a graduate of Bozeman High School.

Corvallis, Ore.

Amelia Yeager, Outstanding Environmental Science Graduate, earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Environmental Science. Yeager also minored in Environmental Policy and French. Yeager was a member of Phi Kappa Phi and a student in Western’s Honors Program. A National Merit Scholar, she won several awards during her career at Western, including the Western Undergraduate Exchange Scholarship, Western Foundation Distinguished Scholar Award, Robert C. Byrd Honors Scholarship and the Huxley College Distinguished Scholar Award. She was a biological technician for the Bureau of Land Management, as well as an environmental education intern for the Corvallis Environmental Center. After graduation, Yeager will return to her hometown of Corvallis to work for the BLM as a biological technician for the summer season. In the fall, she is going to France to teach English through the French Embassy’s Teaching Assistant Program in France (TAPIF). There, she will teach primary school children in the Poitiers region for seven months. Yeager is the daughter of Mark Yeager and Maia Fischler and graduated from Crescent Valley High School.

Phoenix, Ariz.

Joseph Fraley Jr., Outstanding Graduate in Philosophy, earned his Bachelor of Arts degree in December 2011. While at Western, Fraley received the Paul J. and Rebecca Ann Olscamp scholarship for 2010-11. Vice president of the Philosophy Club, Fraley founded the club’s Internet community and organized the WWU Undergraduate Philosophy Conference. Now he is working toward his master’s degree in Philosophy at Colorado University in Boulder. His advice for academic success: “Read everything you're assigned. Check the works cited lists and read all of those. When you have time, talk about what you've read with your friends. For the love of God, talk about what you read!” Fraley is also a graduate of South Puget Sound Community College and Horizon Honors High School in Phoenix, Ariz. His parents are Joe and Jana Fraley of Lacey.

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