Meet the 2022 Outstanding Graduates from the CHSS Social Sciences Division

More than 60 Western Washington University students and graduates received Outstanding Graduate honors for the 2021-22 academic year.

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.

The Outstanding Graduates from the Social Sciences Division of the College of Humanities and Social Sciences include: 

Niko Attebery 


Linguistics faculty describe Attebery as outstanding in every way: as a linguist, a mentor, a collaborator, and a colleague. He goes above and beyond in the classroom and in linguistics extracurriculars like the Linguistics Club and the department’s podcast, “The Podling,” which he co-hosted with a goal of bringing linguistics topics and issues to a larger audience. He also worked as a Linguistics Department support staffer for the 2021-22 year. His positive attitude, kindness and generosity are infectious, inviting others into each community he is a part of. With a minor in Japanese, Attebery plans to apply to the Japan Exchange Teaching program to teach English in Japan before applying to graduate schools for linguistics. 

Catherine Baxter

Communication Sciences and Disorders

Baxter is known in CSD as an innovative, flexible and diligent student who plans to become a speech-language pathologist. As part of the Language and Play Every Day Research Team, Baxter helped analyze videos of parents and their children interacting to provide feedback on helping youngsters with language delays improve their language skills. A graduate of the Honors College with minors in psychology and creative writing, Baxter’s capstone project was a mental health awareness and suicide prevention program for the Girl Scouts of Western Washington. She also worked with MAD HOPE in Bellingham to create and run youth suicide prevention trainings in local middle and high schools.  Next, she’ll attend Washington State University, Spokane, for a master’s degree in speech and hearing sciences. 

Khadijah Boyker


Boyker is a proud Gambian American and Muslim Woman, who immigrated to the United States as a young child. She used her talents in the field of psychology to help promote social justice and equity at Western and beyond. She worked with Executive Director Sislena Ledbetter in the Counseling and Wellness Center to arrange talks and create spaces for Black students to access mental health services at a predominately white institution. As a THRIVE wellness advocate, she helped improve accessibility even more  by arranging for winter break care packages and helping to run the Counseling Center’s BeWellWWU Instagram. She employed her social media talents for Black Womxn Revolution as well, which helps empower Black women and non-binary people of color at WWU. Boyker is admitted to a counseling graduate program and plans to start this fall. She plans to make mental health care more accessible for BIPOC people, LGBTQIA+ individuals, and other people with historically marginalized identities.

Aliyah Dawkins 

Behavioral Neuroscience

Dawkins is a phenomenal student who has succeeded in double-majoring in two of the most difficult fields at Western, biochemistry and neuroscience. Her ambition is a career in biomedical research to develop better drugs for people impacted by brain diseases, while building representation of African Americans in medicine and biomedical research. She has already developed a reputation for meticulous organization, observational skills and leadership in the lab while excelling in the classroom with an extremely high grade point average. Dawkins, from North Mankato, Minnesota, is also an accomplished track and field athlete who set a WWU record in the pentathlon, was a two-time All-American in the high jump, and received WWU’s Athletics Scholar Athlete of the Year Award three times.

Tatum Dow

Physical Education and Health

Tatum impressed faculty with her commitment to teaching young people about the importance of leading healthy, active lives. In addition to excelling in the classroom, Tatum was a shortstop on the WWU Softball Team, setting a WWU record with a 20-game hitting streak while completing her student teaching at Whatcom Middle School during her senior season. This spring, she served as a long-term substitute PE teacher in eastern King County and plans to teach middle school PE/health and coach in Issaquah.

Allie Howard 


In the midst of her toughest course load, Howard completed her personal training certification from the National Academy of Sports Medicine. She’s also at work on certification as a strength and conditioning specialist and as a nutrition coach. At Western, she was a tutor and educational assistant in math, biology, anatomy, physiology and biomechanics. She also completed field experiences at the Olympic Sports & Spine physical therapy clinic as well as in the athletic training room in the Student Recreation Center. Next, Howard plans to grow her personal training business and pursue graduate school in physical therapy.

Anna Corinne Huffman 

Political Science

In addition to her exemplary work in the classroom, Huffman was an important part of civic life on campus, leading student lobbying and organizing efforts as the AS Director of Legislative Affairs. She planned Western Lobby Day, recruited students to testify on bills and helped students write to their legislators. She also served as vice president of communication for the Washington Student Association and media director for the Washington Progressive Campaigns Forum. Lobbying the State Legislature alongside other students helped Huffman focus her own academic and career goals. This fall, she begins a graduate program in political communication at American University in Washington, D.C. 

Hailey Maltempi 


Maltempi completed stellar work in her anthropology classes and made significant contributions in research and teaching. Through the Applied Anthropology Lab, Maltempi’s work on a large-scale research project on webcam models earned her an authorship on an upcoming Law and Society Association conference. She was also a teaching assistant in the Anthropology Department, and she contributed to an oral history project called “Public Lands: UnEarthed,” which gives a platform to BIPOC communities in the outdoors. Maltempi’s father passed away in December 2020, which made for a difficult year, she says. “But I did not let it stop me, rather I kept his encouragement for my academic career towards taking up more opportunities.”  A first-generation college graduate, Maltempi hopes to take a gap year before applying to graduate school abroad. 

Jaiya Peaks


Peaks was an exemplary student whose contributions made a lasting impact at Western. She helped build community during the pandemic by creating and hosting virtual events for Recreation Management and Leadership students. She also worked as a teaching assistant in anatomy and physiology and as a lead mentor for Compass 2 Campus. Peaks graduated in December and works as a recreation leader at Max Higbee Center in Bellingham. “I'm most proud of how much I grew while here,” she says. “Through all the trials and tribulations these few years had, I made it out stronger than ever and I couldn't be happier.” Already a Certified Therapeutic Recreation Specialist, Peaks plans to work toward a certificate in disability studies, get a master’s degree in occupational therapy and continue her work in disability advocacy. She will also continue to work on her graphic novel and hopes to travel around the world to engage her interest in international linguistics.

Niko Attebery smiles and looks up to his right with his chin resting on his hand.
Catherine Baxter smiles for the camera with a tree filled with spring blooms in the background
Khadijah Boyker smiles with one hand on her hip, standing before rows of yellow and red tulips
Aliyah Dawkins
Tatum Dow holds a softball glove and smiles
Allie Howard stands in a field of orange tulips
Anna Corinne Huffman smiles for the camera
Hailey Maltempi stands on a street turning to the camera and smiling widely
Jaiya Peaks smiles with a forested mountainside behind her