2023 Outstanding Graduates: CHSS Social and Behavioral Sciences

Psychology, Behavioral Neuroscience, Recreation Management and Leadership, Linguistics, Political Science, Kinesiology, Communication Sciences and Disorders, Anthropology, Sociology and Women, Gender and Sexuality Studies

This year's Outstanding Graduates from the CHSS Social and Behavioral Sciences Division, selected by their faculty, include a fierce debate competitor, a small business owner, and an archeologist heading to a dig in Cyprus after graduation.

WWU Communications reached out to all the 2023 Outstanding Graduates to share their stories and photos. We've been celebrating these grads on social media and here at WWU News. 

Meet the Outstanding Graduates from the College of Humanities and Social Sciences Social and Behavioral Sciences Division: 

Clemente Armendariz


Clemente Armendariz, Psychology

Clemente channelled his interest and skill in research to study the concepts of public education and the significance of high school-to-college “bridge” programs for Latinx and other under-served students with Assistant Political Science Professor Melina Juárez Pérez. His two sons were highlights of his experience at Western, too. Clemente’s older son, Enrique, sometimes joined him in class, and his younger son, Miguel-Santiago, was born in spring quarter 2021. Clemente works at the Boys and Girls Clubs of Skagit and hopes to get a master’s degree in school counseling.  

Caitlin Bannister

Behavioral Neuroscience

Caitlin Bannister, Behavioral Neuroscience

Caitlin was inspired to major in neuroscience when she came to Western after working as a caregiver. An accomplished student, Caitlin participated in the Honors College, completed extracurricular research and won the Goldwater Scholarship. She also served as president of the NeRDS neuroscience student club and interned at University of Washington—all while commuting from Everett. Next, Caitlin will begin work on her doctorate at Brown University through the National Institutes of Health’s Graduate Partnerships Program. 


Recreation Management and Leadership

Berti, Recreation Management and Leadership

Berti was president of the Recreation Club, helping the student organization get back on its feet after the COVID-19 pandemic. Faculty were impressed with Berti’s commitment to creating community among her classmates, and her classmates selected her to speak at the department graduation celebration. A stellar student, Berti also connected with many local organizations through their internship with the Bellingham Parks and Recreation Department. Next, they’ll work as the Community and Camp Program coordinator at Camp Fire Central Puget Sound. 

Royce Gibson


Royce Gibson, Linguistics

Royce is described by faculty as a “true scholar” and “academically brilliant.” He is an intuitive teacher, and superb student with a passionate love of learning. After graduation, he plans to continue his linguistic research on Korean modality. Motivated by his faith and desire to support youth in the foster care system, he volunteers with Royal Family Kids in Skagit County during the school year and summers. In fighting to overcome anxiety, he strives to make the most of every day and forge deep connections with friends in order to live with no regrets.

Lyd Haindfield

Political Science

Lyd Haindfield, Political Science

Over their time at WWU, Lyd held a GPA of 3.94, and was a member of the political science honors society Pi Sigma Alpha. In 2021, Lyd iterned with State Sen. Mark Mullet and presented at the 2022 Political Science Association Conference. They also participated in over 35 tournaments with the WWU debate team, including CEDA Nationals, where Lyd and their debate partner made it into elimination rounds and won their first round. After graduation, Lyd will attend law school at Seattle University.

Matthew Keene


Matthew Keene, Kinesiology (left)

Matthew is an inquisitive student whose questions help drive classroom discussions deeper into the material. He also contributed to research in the department, including a study examining hip and shoulder positioning and arm movement. One of Matthew’s strongest motivators to succeed is the personal training business he owns with his wife, Iron Mountain Strength and Conditioning. After graduation, he’ll continue to run Iron Mountain and offer internship opportunities to kinesiology students and graduates to gain further professional experience. 

Alliyah Olegario

Communication Sciences and Disorders

Alliyah Olegario, Communication Sciences and Disorders

Alliyah worked on the Communication Science and Disorders Diversity, Equity and Justice Committee to make clinic materials more acessible. And as vice president of the Filipino-American Student Association, Alliyah helped put on the club’s annual Heritage Dinner. Alliyah also worked hard to help create an archive of WWU’s former Ethnic Studies Program and worked with a faculty member to preserve historic Filipino activist newspaper clippings. Next, she’ll enroll at the University of Washington to begin a master’s degree in medical speech-language pathology. 

Jack Tillman


Jack Tillman, Anthropology

After excavating a Bronze Age site in Cyprus during summer 2022, Jack completed a directed independent study on the Chalcolithic-Bronze Age transition, weaving together many concepts he had studied at Western in anthropology, philosophy and history. He was also president of the Anthropology Club, helping to revive the group following the COVID-19 pandemic. This summer, Jack returns to Cyprus for another excavation with the University of Cyprus and Leiden University. He’ll then attend graduate school in global archeology at Leiden, in the Netherlands. 

Sarah Welti

Women, Gender and Sexuality Studies

Sarah Welti, Women, Gender and Sexuality Studies

Sarah’s professors say she has a lovely way of bringing people together and has shown great academic excellence in her classes. She’s thankful for the opportunity to learn and grow in the WGSS program, particularly in classes about disability studies, food sovereignty and Indigeneity. After graduation Sarah, who also majored in environmental studies, plans to enjoy her time in the Pacific Northwest and continue to learn how to be a good steward of Lummi and Nooksack land. She looks forward to applying what she learned in the WGSS program to engage in more activism around Whatcom County. 

Elliott Windrope


Elliott Windrope, Sociology

Faculty praise Elliott’s deep engagement and intellectual curiosity in the Sociology Department. He truly enjoyed conducting his own research and contributing to faculty members’ work. He presented his own research, “The Trump Effect on Black Attitudes Towards Social Mobility” at the Pacific Sociological Association Conference. Elliott also majored in French and excelled in the Honors College. He studied abroad in France and worked on farms in France and Switzerland. After graduation, he is moving to France to teach English through the TAPIF program.

More 2023 Outstanding Grads



Coming up: 

  • College of Science and Engineering
  • Woodring College of Education
  • Interdisciplinary Programs
  • College of the Environment
  • Honors College