PULLMAN, Wash. — Two Liberal Arts Highlight students and the college flag bearer will share the spotlight at commencement May 10, but they share other things as well. Tahjanae Northcutt, Elizabeth Pena and Melissa Scammahorn are all excellent scholars and first generation college graduates with a connection to Women’s Studies.
Liberal Arts highlight student Tahjanae Northcutt is a native of Los Angeles where she was a straight A high school student. At Washington State, she double majored in Biology and Women’s Studies. During her academic career Northcutt has been a full time student while holding down a job and being a single mother to a three-year-old son with special health needs. “I take one day at time and just do it and don’t look back,” she says. Northcutt sees a world of difference between the woman she is today and the young, big city girl who came to campus from L.A. “I find myself more analytical, I’ll take any topic and dig in to it. I’m more objective in my views. Critical thinking…. I didn’t even know what it was until I came here and took courses in Women’s Studies.” Northcutt plans to pursue her Masters in Women’s Studies and then attend medical school at UCLA with the goal of becoming an OBGYN.
Elizabeth Pena, the second Liberal Arts highlight student this spring, was born and raised in Puerto Rico and moved to Lynnwood, Washington her senior year in high school. Pena will tell you Washington and Pullman were a drastic change for a young island girl but now says, “I’ve made so many friends here and have so many ties to the community. It’s really been a wonderful place to be.” Pena has been active with volunteer work for the Pullman chapter of National Organization for Women (NOW) and was the organizer of the Palouse Women’s Art Festival in April. Pena will graduate with three majors: English, Women’s Studies and Comparative Ethnic Studies.
Melissa Scammahorn will carry the Liberal Arts banner during commencement. Scammahorn was born and raised in Cashmere, Washington and was a good student in high school but says she never thought of herself as a potential college graduate or scholar until she came to Washington State University. “I wasn’t on the college track in high school,” Scammahorn says. “I love being a student now and am actually kind of sad to graduate. I’m looking forward to Graduate School.” After a year off, Scammahorn is hoping to get her masters in Women’s Studies with an emphasis on health services for women. While not in class, Scammahorn was involved with GLBT, an ASWSU Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgender, and Allies awareness group, and with Freshman Seminar, a program that helps new students acclimate and excel in the University environment.