Meet the 2022 Outstanding Graduates from Woodring, the Honors College, and University Interdisciplinary Programs

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 Woodring College of Education, the Honors College and University Interdisciplinary Programs include: 

Woodring College of Education

Barbara Granger

Special Education

Granger is a grandmother who dropped out of high school in 1978, and has finally finished the college degree she always wanted. Granger’s work in the classroom was exemplary, scoring at the top on all her course assignments. And she was so well known for her collaboration and problem-solving skills that everyone wanted to work with her. She’s committed to ensuring effective instruction for all students. All her student teaching assignments were at Shuksan Middle School in Bellingham, and she hopes to find a job as a special ed teacher in a local middle school. But first, a cruise to Alaska with her sister.  

Paige Holman

Human Services

Holman, who has a learning disability, went above and beyond in her program every way she could in the interest of serving people better. She attended Associate Professor Hope Corbin’s Anti-Racist Discussion Group during her first year in the major. She interned at FuturesNW, an educational nonprofit, for three quarters writing grants, helping people with disabilities, and facilitating peer mentoring. She’s also been a member of Happy Club for three years. She was a co-presenter at this year’s Washington’s Migrant Youth Conference and presented in both English and Spanish. She plans to teach English in Guanajuato, México and eventually earn her masters in education.

Jillian Mercer

Early Childhood Education 

Mercer’s recommending faculty said, “Her disposition is what we hope a teacher would be.” She has dreamed of becoming a teacher since she was in third grade, and it shows in her performance at Woodring. She created an 11-week study on sound for her preschool practicum and got hired as a substitute teacher at a special education preschool. She was also involved in Tap Dance Club and became one of their co-leaders during online learning. Mercer plans to apply for elementary school teaching jobs this fall.  

Honors College and University Interdisciplinary Programs 

Tower Bert

American Cultural Studies 

Bert experienced a lot of loss during his time at Western, but he prevailed. “I’m proud I pushed through to graduation to make those people proud,” he said. He not only excelled in his courses, but he also worked with his classmates to bring together activists from campus and the community to discuss the importance of intersectional collective justice. They based their questions on the eye-opening book “Freedom is a Constant Struggle,” by Angela Davis. On top of this, he gained valuable life skills through his jobs as a camp counselor and a live crab handler. Now Bert plans to work in direct services. 

Isaac Heiman

Honors College

Heiman earned a 4.0 GPA while he juggled his major in behavioral neuroscience and three minors in psychology, chemistry, and honors interdisciplinary studies. He was dedicated to improving the human condition, as demonstrated by his senior capstone project on the experience of college students with type 1 diabetes. He stood out by investing his time and talents in his fellow students. He was a lead student ambassador for Donor Relations and the lead organic chemistry tutor at the WWU Library Tutoring Center. He will be spending his summer preparing for the Medical College Admission Test, and he plans to work in a clinic while applying for medical schools.

Zoe Hemez

Energy Studies

Zoe worked to serve her fellow students through her role in the Energy Efficiency Tool Library and with her work on the IES Curriculum Committee. She got a grant to build two tiny homes in the Methow Valley. She was a field organizer for the Democratic Party of New Mexico and volunteered for local nonprofits. She helped Assistant Professor Nipun Goel design the next generation of concentrated solar plants with computer modeling. Zoe also minored in energy policy and earned a certificate in climate change leadership; she plans to complete a project on using scientific data to more effectively communicate about climate change. She plans to continue her research with Goel this summer and visit extended family in France.

Barb Granger stands in front of blooming rhododendrons
Paige Holman smiles, holding a black commencement robe over her shoulder and looking back at the camera
Jillian Mercer smiles while wearing her graduation regalia on campus
Tower Bert stands in a corn field holding a corncob above his shoulder with one hand and reaching out toward the camera with his other hand, as if he were preparing to throw a football
Isaac Heiman smiles for the camera
Zoe Hemez smiles and stretches her arms wide to hold the branches of a tree