Presidential Scholars Announced at Commencement

BELLINGHAM – Western Washington University President Bruce Shepard honored seven graduates as Presidential Scholars during Commencement on Saturday, June 135.

Presidential Scholar awards honor top students in six colleges for their exceptional scholarship and service to the university and community.

Shepard presented each of the following Presidential Scholars with a medallion:


Susanne Elizabeth Lange Hancock

College of Business and Economics

Susanne Hancock is graduating this spring with a bachelor’s degree in Accounting and a perfect grade point average. She is known for her insightful and incisive mind and a great willingness to help other students. Hancock dedicates her time to volunteering with programs that support literacy, English language learners and children with learning challenges. In her other home community of Kauai, Hawaii, she volunteered in a special education program at an economically disadvantaged elementary school. She enjoys teaching art classes in elementary schools both here and in Hawaii and was instrumental in creating art programs that integrate multicultural themes, art history, math and science. She raised funds to purchase art supplies for classrooms, recruited professional artists to teach mini-classes and organized an all-school gallery showing at the end of the year. At Western, she was a part of the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance program, helping low-income people file their tax returns. She also participated in the most recent College of Business and Economics dean search. Hancock has a strong sense of community and believes, together, we are stronger than the sum of our parts. She is inspired by her husband David, an elementary school teacher, and her two daughters, Ellie and Kate. After graduation, Hancock plans to study for the Certified Public Accountant licensing exam and continue volunteering in her community.


Brenda Helen McGarrity

Woodring College of Education

Brenda McGarrity graduates this spring with a major in Human Services from Woodring College of Education, and a minor in Education and Social Justice. She also completed a concentration at Fairhaven College of Interdisciplinary Studies called “Staging the Marginalized Narrative.” McGarrity is the first of her family to attend college, and carried a heavy academic load while working multiple jobs and being a family caregiver. She is driven by a deep commitment to service and social justice, and recognizes the need to initiate and sustain social change rooted in the values of parity and equity. McGarrity has demonstrated this throughout her college career, including internships, in-class learning projects and research. She was an intern for six months at Catholic Community Services Recovery Center, where she showed initiative in recognizing the need to serve pregnant women and members of the LGBTQ community. McGarrity’s knack for community organizing led her to help create Autonomous Students United for Reducing Tuition (ASURT), which organizes around the impact of tuition costs on students, and she was the president of the Students for Social Change club on campus. McGarrity is actively involved in many social justice actions both on and off campus, and she tries to have a presence to stand in solidarity with a variety of struggles. After graduation, McGarrity will attend the graduate program in social work at the University of Washington. A resident of Custer and a graduate of Windward High School in Ferndale, McGarrity is the daughter of David McGarrity and Tracy Farmer and the partner of Jordan Quinn.


Celina Muñoz

College of Humanities and Social Sciences

Celina Muñoz graduated cum laude in March with a Bachelor of Arts in History and is this year’s Outstanding History Graduate. Intrigued by a fifth-grade research project, Muñoz recognized her passion for history at a young age and fulfilled that desire through her research at Western. Her scholarly work often explores the historical and cultural contours of gender, class and race in Western civilization. Muñoz took on leadership roles in the local chapter of Phi Alpha Theta, an honor society for History majors, and worked to establish a peer-review writing center for students in lower-division History courses. She participated in the Phi Alpha Theta Northwest Regional Conference in 2014 and 2015, and was honored that her essay on the role of apothecaries in the 1665 London plague was nominated for best undergraduate paper. Muñoz works diligently to call attention to the needs of marginalized groups, promoting awareness of issues surrounding exclusion and multiculturalism. She was also involved in efforts to reach out to Bellingham’s homeless community, knitting hats, encouraging donations, and generally creating awareness among the college community. As a desk attendant in the residence halls, Muñoz helped to organize events that foster community and move toward models of success and achievement. Muñoz, from Yakima, is the daughter of Roy and Sandra Muñoz. She is considering graduate school and plans to work in a field where she can promote the importance of history and social sciences


Sadie July Normoyle

Huxley College of the Environment

Sadie Normoyle graduates this spring magna cum laude with a bachelor’s degree in Environmental Policy and a minor in American Indian Studies. Normoyle’s decision to major in Environmental Policy stems from her passion for working within the political system and advocating for environmental and social justice. As a freshman at Western, Normoyle worked as an intern in the Associated Students Environmental Center and later served two years as the AS Green Energy Fee education coordinator.  As a senior, she directed the AS Environmental and Sustainability Programs, overseeing the Outback Farm, the Green Energy Fee, Alternative Transportation and the Environmental Center. Normoyle has worked hard during her time at Western to create a more inclusive community on campus. She has been involved in workshops and events that address social justice issues and helped create and facilitate a workshop on diversity and inclusion. Her studies explored environmental and social justice, particularly the connection between climate change and discrimination, water quality issues and Native fishing rights. “We cannot begin to solve our issues of climate change without also addressing issues of human rights and looking at the connections between the two,” Normoyle wrote. “We need to address the unfair environmental burdens placed on communities in poverty, such as Native communities.” After graduation, Normoyle plans to return to her hometown of Olympia and spend a year exploring the world and gaining more job experience in environmental work. She then plans to apply to law school to specialize in environmental law and American Indian law. She graduated from Black Hills High School in Olympia and is the daughter of Brent and Tre Normoyle. Her three siblings include two fellow alumni: Eli Normoyle, a 1998 Western graduate, and Jill Stewart, who attended Western in the ‘90s.


David Nathaniel Nuqul

College of Science and Engineering

David Nuqul graduated magna cum laude winter of 2015 with a Bachelors of Arts in Elementary Mathematics Education and an additional Secondary Mathematics Education Certification. Originally from Jordan, Nuqul is dedicated to serving communities around the globe: His summers included time in Austria as a camp counselor, English teacher and Bible instructor, in Jordan volunteering with at-risk youths and refugees, and in Sri Lanka working in community centers providing food and education to low-income families and single mothers. He has also worked with elderly residents at the Alderwood Convalescent Center in Bellingham and with homeless people at the San Francisco Rescue Mission. An excellent mathematician, Nuqul tutored students as a Math Fellow at Western for three and a half years and feels a calling to teach – he served as a student teacher at an elementary school in Burlington while completing his degree requirements. Now, he’s working as a substitute teacher in Burlington and Bellingham and hopes to become a high school mathematics teacher in Bellingham. The son of Hani and Julia Nuqul, David Nuqul plans to marry his fiancée, 2013 graduate Megan Milford, this summer.


Evan Victor Rumble

College of Fine and Performing Arts

Evan Rumble, who graduated this winter with a bachelor’s degree in Art Education and a minor in Art History, is devoted to the scholarship of teaching and learning and is passionate about multicultural education. Through his research, he explored the concept of "nomadic consciousness," which rejects a Eurocentric orientation in favor of the view that every culture, identity and belief is as deserving as the rest, or, as Rumble writes, there is “no high, fine, or low arts and no high or low culture, just what exists and what has not been discovered." Rumble plans to use this philosophy in the classroom as he embarks on a career in art education.  Since graduating, Rumble has been working as a substitute teacher in Bellingham. But he hopes to become a high school art teacher in the Southwest. He knows the Southwest is a challenging socioeconomic environment for many immigrants, and he believes he can help make a difference.  At Western, Rumble made great strides as an artist, consistently impressing his instructors with his talent and work ethic. Rumble also has a long record of service, including volunteering in Sehome High School’s art program, at Whatcom Museum’s Family Interactive Gallery and as a student representative on Western’s One World Committee, which is dedicated to internationalizing the curriculum. Rumble is a graduate of Ridgefield High School and Clark College in Clark County. He is the son of Barb Kusik and Newt Rumble and has one older sister, Morgan, a 2009 graduate of Western.


Maverick Tang

College of Humanities and Social Sciences

Maverick Tang graduated magna cum laude in winter with a bachelor’s degree in Sociology and a minor in Communication. Tang is described by his professors as an extremely driven and passionate student, and he graduated with a nearly perfect grade point average. Even more, Tang has contributed his skills, compassion and engaging personality to benefit others. Sociology Professor Karen Bradley notes that Tang’s insights and willingness to help others contributed to the learning environment and academic success of many of his classmates. Tang spent two quarters working as an intern at the Lighthouse Mission homeless shelter in Bellingham. His papers and journals about his time working at the mission displayed a deep intellectual and compassionate understanding of the issues surrounding homelessness. Tang has demonstrated that he is deeply committed to social justice through his work in the community, and is devoted to finding ways to improve the lives of others. Now that he has graduated, he hopes to travel and become a program director for a nonprofit organization – or start a nonprofit of his own -- that combines humanitarian aid and the outdoors. A graduate of Inglemoor High School in Kenmore, Tang is the son of Jane and Stanley Tang.