Presidential Scholars Announced at Commencement

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BELLINGHAM – Western Washington University President Bruce Shepard honored seven graduates as Presidential Scholars during Commencement on Saturday, June 15.

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:

Jon Bash

College of Fine and Performing Arts

A gifted composer, Jon Bash graduated Magna Cum Laude with a bachelor’s degree in Music Composition in March and will return to Western in the fall to pursue a master’s degree. Bash wrote dozens of compositions at Western, both acoustic and electronic, including work for the orchestra and wind ensemble. Bruce Hamilton, an associate professor of Music at Western, said that Bash’s senior recital was one of the best student composition recitals he has attended in his 14 years at Western. Bash’s music is drawn from many stylistic influences from around the world including Igor Stravinsky, Maurice Ravel, John Adams, and influences from his everyday life. He also worked as a stage hand and technician throughout his time at Western and was the director of the Viking Band. Outside of school, Bash worked with organizations that assist homeless youth and was a volunteer at the Bellingham Electronic Arts Festival. After finishing his master’s degree, Bash plans to pursue a career in writing music for films and games and creating contemporary art music. Eventually, he would like to get his doctorate degree and teach at a university. He is from Sequim and is the son of Richard and Michele Bash.


WWU President Bruce Shepard
and Jon Bash

María Guzmán

Woodring College of Education

María Guzmán stands out as a talented and unique student in an exceptional class of Woodring students.  She graduates from Western with a bachelor’s degree and a major in Language, Literacy and Culture, along with endorsements in Elementary Education and Bilingual Education, Reading and English Language Learners.  She has a passion for learning that stems from her own curiosity, but also for the benefit of her students and the community she serves. She helped develop and launch the mentorship programs Youth for REAL and ALTO, and took a primary leadership role in Youth for REAL at Shuksan Middle School.  She has mentored younger students though Western’s MEChA club, and served on multiple committees for Woodring, including search committees for tenure track professors.  She has also met with donors and trustees as a representative of Woodring, speaking as a beneficiary of scholarships.  A bilingual student from an agricultural background, Guzmán brought tremendous cultural assets to her work as a student teacher in a bilingual kindergarten class in Burlington. Guzmán is an accomplished spoken word poet, as well.  She performed in Western’s Vagina Memoirs and presented a spoken word piece at the Migrant Youth Leadership Conference.  She was also a part of Western’s Baile Folklorico group for three years, which performed traditional Mexican folk dances on and off Western’s campus. After graduation, Guzmán will be a bilingual teacher in the Seattle Public School District and in a few years hopes to attend graduate school and enter an Educational Administration Program. She is from Dryden, in Chelan County.


WWU President Bruce Shepard
and María Guzmán

Jeffrey Hales

College of Business and Economics

Jeffery Hales graduated Saturday Magna Cum Laude as the Outstanding Graduate in Management. He completed a major in Management with a concentration in International Business as well as minors in Economics and Japanese. Intelligent, creative and curious, Hales won a Boren Scholarship to study in Japan for a year. While there, he worked with his host family planting and harvesting rice and volunteered to help local tourist attractions create better business plans to attract foreign consumers. He also volunteered to help teach English to students and helped to reclaim farmland after Japan was devastated by the earthquake and tsunami of 2011. On campus, Hales was a resident adviser for two years then became the assistant resident director of Buchannan Towers, where he developed an international programming board to create new opportunities for cross-cultural learning. After graduation, Hales plans to return to his home in Ogden, Utah before going back to Japan for a year to teach English.


WWU President Bruce Shepard
and Jeffrey Hales

Nora Jagielo

Huxley College of the Environment

Nora Jagielo graduated Magna Cum Laude with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Environmental Planning and Policy and a Sociology minor. Jagielo is a research assistant for Scott Miles, assistant professor of Environmental Studies, for a study funded by the National Science Foundation on the social impacts of Hurricane Isaac. Miles praises Jagielo’s excitement and acumen for research. Jagielo was recently named the 2012 Volunteer of the Year by the Whatcom County Sheriff’s Office Division of Emergency Management and Whatcom Unified Emergency Management. After graduation, Jagielo plans to spend a week in Boulder, Colo., to attend the Natural Hazards Center Workshop and present her research. She hopes to go to graduate school in the next few years and become a university professor who specializes in the social aspects of disasters. She is from Olympia and is the daughter of Tom Jagielo and Hannele Buechner.


WWU President Bruce Shepard
and Nora Jagielo

Ayana Robinson

College of Humanities and Social Sciences – Social and Behavioral Sciences

Ayana Robinson graduated Saturday Cum Laude as the Outstanding Graduate in the Anthropology Department and with a major in Biology - Anthropology. While excelling in research, Robinson was very active as a mentor, peer adviser and tutor to her fellow students. Her enthusiasm to learn new things and ability to solve complex problems made her a key member of the research team of Clint Spiegel, associate professor of Chemistry. In the Anthropology Department her paper on the prevention and treatment of a common obstetric problem in in Sub-Saharan Africa was nominated for a research award.  She was a mentor for new and diverse Students through the Admissions Office’s HANDS program since October 2011.  Here she helped train and coordinate new mentors and helped coach high school students on how to get admitted into college.  She received the Above and Beyond Award from the Office of Admissions and the Strongest Leader Award by follow mentors. She also participated as a Tour Day Volunteer for Compass 2 Campus and was a peer adviser for the Wellness Outreach Center.  She will attend Boston University in the fall and hopes to get her master’s degree in Public Health.  She will also start working with the Peace Corps next summer.


WWU President Bruce Shepard
and Ayana Robinson

Alyne Sanchez

College of Humanities and Social Sciences – Humanities

Alyne Sanchez is devoted to social justice and serves as a voice for minority students on campus and people in the community. Graduating with a bachelor’s degree in Communication and Political Science, Sanchez’s senior thesis examined how students of color perceived their learning experiences. She investigated the types of communicative messages that devalue students of color and adversely affect students’ participation and learning in classes. She also identified strategies that may enhance the classroom experiences of student of color and all others. Since freshman year, Sanchez was involved in the Latino Student Union, the Black Student Union and MEChA. She served as the co-chair for MEChA and helped create a scholarship for undocumented students at Western. Sanchez has also worked with the Office of Admissions to promote university education among the Latino community in Bellingham. Sanchez participated in Scholars Week and will present her senior thesis at the annual meeting of the International Communication Association in 2014. Sanchez strives to be a role model to her peers and underclassman to show that anything is possible. She is from Tukwila and the daughter of Maria Guadalupe.


WWU President Bruce Shepard
and Alyne Sanchez

Morgan Schurr

College of Sciences and Technology

Morgan Schurr exemplifies a student who truly goes above and beyond. Schurr was chosen for her excellence in the classroom as well as in the research lab. She graduated Magna Cum Laude with a bachelor’s degree in Biochemistry and a minor in Spanish, with a GPA of 3.98. She was active in Western’s Honors Program and in a research group in the Chemistry Department. She co-authored a publication in a peer-reviewed journal and received numerous awards and scholarships during her time at Western, including the Chemistry Department’s prestigious two-year Knapman Scholarship. Schurr was a Chemistry tutor at Western and as co-president of Western’s Chemistry club, she reached out to elementary students to educate them about science. During the summer of 2010, she worked as a quality control checker at a cherry orchard in Oregon where she was able to use her Spanish language skills to learn about the lives of migrant workers. Schurr will begin medical school at St. Louis University in the fall and hopes to become a primary care physician serving diverse populations. Schurr is from Portland, Ore. and the daughter of Scott and Sarah Schurr.


WWU President Bruce Shepard
and Morgan Schurr