2014 spring commencement: Presidential Scholars

Submitted by admin on Mon, 06/23/2014 - 10:25am

Western Washington University President Bruce Shepard honored six graduates as Presidential Scholars during Commencement on Saturday, June 14.

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:

Bodie Happy Cabiyo - Huxley College of the Environment

Bodie Cabiyo graduated Cum Laude with a bachelor’s degree in Environmental Science. An accomplished scholar with an intense love of learning, Cabiyo spent a considerable amount of time as a leader and innovator for cleaning the Earth. He has been studying technology for cleaning up contaminated sediments and spent two summers in India helping and learning about cleanup efforts there. Cabiyo immerses himself in different cultures and brings that knowledge back to other parts of his life. He is committed to service and has organized many events such as a festival to raise funds for victims of the Japan tsunami and served as president of Western’s Meditation Club. He is also a recipient of the Achiever’s Scholarship from the College Success Foundation. After graduation, Cabiyo plans to go back to India for a year to work on a waste management project using a technique called biochar, then return to the U.S. to attend graduate school. He is from Chesaw in Okanogan County, a graduate of Tonasket High School and the son of Kay McDonald and Michael Vilardi.

Andrea Ivana d’Aquino - College of Sciences and Technology

Andrea d’Aquino graduated as the Outstanding Student in Chemistry. Known for her creativity, drive and tenacity for research, d’Aquino has won numerous scholarships, awards and honors, including the Kaiser-Borsari Scholarship for Women in Materials Science, the Gates Millennium Scholarship and the WWU Presidential Scholarship. She served as Western’s chapter president of the Society for the Advancement of Hispanics/Chicanos and Native Americans in Science and coordinated several events to encourage underrepresented groups to consider STEM fields. Her research at Western consisted of investigating a new method to remove sulfur and nitrogen from crude oil. She has helped develop a method that was thought to be a long-shot, but it’s yielding good results so far and is now being investigated by Shell Oil Co. D’Aquino is headed to graduate school in the fall at Northwestern University with the help of the prestigious National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship. A graduate of Squalicum High School, she is from Bellingham and is the daughter of Katherine and Joao d’Aquino and the youngest of five siblings: Aurea, Valentina, Anthony and Anne. Anne, who graduated in June with a degree in biochemistry, will join her at Northwestern and is also a recipient of the NSF Graduate Research Fellowship. Andrea and Anne d’Aquino together were student speakers at their Commencement ceremony.

Rivka Leah Horowitz - Woodring College of Education

Rivka Horowitz, who graduated in December with a bachelor’s degree in Special Education, is an exceptional scholar deeply committed to serving children from low socio-economic backgrounds, those with behavioral or learning disabilities, and children who are learning English. Her publication on improving motivation in students with learning disabilities was accepted by the Council for Exceptional Children for its international convention in 2014, a rare feat for an undergraduate student. For her practicum placements, she sought out schools and classrooms with students with significant behavioral and learning challenges. She completed part of her student teaching requirements at an orphanage school in Ghana, where she found many students needed special education services, but none were available. So Horowitz worked with Special Education faculty at Woodring to learn how to train other teachers at the orphanage about differentiation of instruction. Beginning this fall, Horowitz plans to earn her master’s degree in Reading Education at Boston University, exploring neuroscience and learning disabilities. A graduate of Riverdale High School in Portland, Oregon, she is the daughter of Lewis and Lisa Horowitz.

Margaret Elizabeth McGuigan - College of Fine and Performing Arts

Meg McGuigan, who graduated Cum Laude with a bachelor’s degree in Theatre and a minor in Art History, is known to her professors as a meticulous, high-achieving scholar who engages classmates in thoughtful dialogue. But she might be best known for theatre design work, particularly the 13 horse heads she created for Western’s production of “Equus.” Working with the costume shop supervisor, McGuigan designed a cost-effective head piece that was easy to wear and stunning to the eye. She presented the designs at the U.S. Institute for Theatre Technology’s Student Initiative Committee. McGuigan also spent time as an exchange student at Queen Mary University of London and completed an internship at the Taproot Theatre Co. in Seattle. McGuigan is the daughter of Tom and Jan McGuigan and a graduate of Bishop Blanchet High School in Seattle. After graduation, she plans to complete an internship in scenic design at B Street Theatre in Sacramento, California.

Jordan Olivia Richardson - College of Humanities & Social Sciences

Jordan Richardson graduated Cum Laude with a bachelor’s degree in Communication. A highly intelligent, driven student, Richardson focused her research on a specific topic: sizeism in mass media culture, or discrimination based on size. Richardson explored how sizeism is prevalent in society, but unlike other types of discrimination, is rarely spoken of or studied in academic research. She is working to bring these issues to light in hopes that people will not be treated differently based on their size. Richardson draws on her scholarly insights as an image consultant for Middle Women, a social justice organization that focuses on positive body images for women of all sizes. After graduation, Richardson says she would like to take a little time off from academics, but is looking for a job to stay in the Pacific Northwest. She is a graduate of Mariner High School in Everett and is the daughter of Jocelyn Rehbock of Everett and Callas Richardson of Davis, California.

Paul Gregory Wright - College of Business and Economics

Paul Wright graduated in December 2013 with a bachelor’s degree in Accounting. He now works as an auditor at Moss Adams LLP and volunteers for Children’s Hospital in Seattle as an event speaker. Earning a college degree, giving back to the community and living independently are goals Wright and his family have worked toward since the day he was born. Wright has arthrogryposis, a disability that left him with stiff joints and missing muscles, and doctors told his parents he might never walk. But Wright has always been set on surpassing the expectations of others. Wright credits his family, particularly his mother Susan, with making sure he was independent enough for college. He received academic honors at South Puget Sound Community College, completed an internship at Moss Adams and earned a place in the Beta Alpha Psi honorary society at Western. He also worked hard at Western to reach out to other students with disabilities and advocated for equal rights and access. In 2012, Wright received the Medal of Inspiration Award from the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants. Paul Wright is the son of Greg and Susan Wright and a graduate of Olympia High School. He’s also the brother of Sarah Wright, who taught her little brother to walk when he was 3. 

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