Mikal J. Thomsen, president of Western Wireless Corp., will speak at Washington State University‘s fall commencement set for 10 a.m. Saturday, Dec. 11 in Beasley Performing Arts Coliseum. A 1979 WSU business administration graduate, Thomsen is a founder, president and a director of Western Wireless, which has its headquarters in Bellevue. About 575 graduates are expected to participate in the ceremony, said Teri Nelson, the university’s commencement coordinator. In recent academic years, about 4,400 undergraduates and some 900 graduate students have earned degrees from WSU. During the ceremony, WSU President V. Lane Rawlins will “highlight” these graduates:

Brooke A. Reese, College of Nursing
Thanks to her resilience, perseverance and the support she has received, Brooke Reese of Spokane will graduate with a Bachelor of Arts degree in nursing, thus moving one step closer to her goal of becoming a labor and delivery nurse. She is a 1999 graduate of Spokane‘s Rogers High School and also studied at Spokane Community College. Her parents are Deborah Black of Spokane and Norman Reese of Portland, Ore. She has had a life of turmoil and heartbreak.   Now age 23, she became a single mother at 17, when her son, Kobe Reese, now age 6, was born. Initially, she and her son lived in her mother’s home.  During that time, she pushed — sometimes through the snow — a stroller with Kobe in it to daycare and then she walked on to high school. Later, before the end of her senior year in high school, she and her son moved into a low-income apartment. She credits two Rogers High School teachers — Jamie Oleson and Frank Capillupo — with encouraging her to earn a high school diploma. She knew an education was important not only for herself but for the well-being of her son. After high school, she attended SCC, 1999-2001, and then entered the WSU College of Nursing in Spokane. In addition to the challenges of being a single mother, she suffered personal tragedies. In 2002, a friend was murdered. In 2004, she suffered a major burn injury when a confused psychiatric patient threw boiling coffee at her while she was working in a community group home. Despite the setbacks, she was not deterred. At the College of Nursing, she found good classmates who are supportive friends and faculty members, who are mentors and friends, too.  And the family of her murdered friend has also been of great help, she said. Kobe and her friends will be among those applauding when she proudly receives her WSU nursing diploma.

For additional information:
Brooke Reese, 509.467.0371, brookereese@hotmail.com
Anne Hirsch, associate dean of academic affairs, WSU College of Nursing, 509.324.7335, hirsch@wsu.edu

Justin P. Jacob, College of Engineering and Architecture
Justin Jacob of Wapato will earn a Bachelor of Science degree in civil engineering after studying in the WSU Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering. A 1993 graduate of Wapato High School, he is the son of Therese and Roger Jacob Sr. of Wapato. Jacob is a Yakama Tribal member with strong ties to his community. In 1998, he earned a degree in mathematics and a secondary teaching certificate while at WSU. His honors in 1998 included being selected to the USA Today All-American Academic Team. Following graduation, he returned to his hometown and taught mathematics for four years at his alma mater, Wapato High School. Following WSU fall Commencement, Jacob; his wife, Alicia, and their newborn son, Quintic, will return to the Yakima area and he will work for the Yakama Nation as a civil engineer.

For additional information:
Justin Jacob, 509-332-7119, jpjacob13@hotmail.com
Char Grimes, College of Engineering and Architecture student services, 509.335.1584, char2@wsu.edu
Tina Hilding, College of Engineering and Architecture communications, 509.335.5095, thilding@wsu.edu

Patrick M. Hines, College of Veterinary Medicine
Patrick Hines of Pasco will graduate with two Bachelor of Science degrees, one in neuroscience and the other in psychology. A 2000 graduate of Pasco High School, he is the son of Margo and Michael Hines, Pasco. After earning the WSU undergraduate degrees, he plans to begin graduate studies in behavioral neuroscience. His goal is to become a neuroscientist. As such, he wants to devote his life to scientific and medical research. Hines found his “calling” in an unusual way. Born with ribs and a sternum that caused cartilage to grow into his heart and lungs, he spent his youth suffering from heart pains, fatigue and recurring blackouts. In the spring of 2003, doctors at the University of Washington Medical Center in Seattle developed a new procedure that alleviated his condition by reconstructing his ribcage and allowing his heart and lungs to re-situate into their appropriate locations.  As a result of this experience, Hines feels he gained a greater devotion to scientific and medical research. With his education, Hines wants to aid those afflicted with physiological ailments and develop ways to help others restore or maintain the health that many of us take for granted.

For additional information:
Patrick Hines, 509.302.0393, phatpat09@yahoo.com
Sandi Brabb, neuroscience assistant director, 509.335.2190, brabb@wsu.edu

Renee Marie Hadley, College of Sciences
Renee Marie Hadley of Sumner will earn a Bachelor of Science degree in geology with a minor in biology. A 1997 graduate of Sumner High School, she has also studied at the College of St. Mary in Omaha, Neb., and earned an Associate of Arts degree (1999) from Green River Community College in Auburn. She is the daughter of Wanda and Kirk Hadley of Sumner. Following her graduation from WSU, she will be involved in environmental education and awareness while serving in the Peace Corps in West Africa. Hadley, president of the WSU Geology Club, has taken advantage of every opportunity to do research and get hands-on experience at WSU.  She has worked with WSU faculty member David Gaylord in geology, analyzing sediment samples to determine stream flow patterns. Also, she has worked with School of Biological Sciences faculty member Richard Mack and graduate student Lynn Kinter on an invasive barberry species that is a host to wheat stripe rust. And, in the WSU Ownbey Herbarium, she mounts and processes specimens.  These experiences and her persistence and desire to be a productive, contributing employee won her a job as a  consulting geologist this past summer in the Kennewick office of Kennedy and Jenks, a San Francisco-based consulting firm. There she helped analyze the Walla Walla aquifer to determine ways to replenish it in an effort to boost summertime stream flows. Outside of the classroom and labs, she works as a yoga instructor at the WSU Student Recreation Center.

For additional information:
Renee Marie Hadley, 509.334.7196, rmarieHadley@hotmail.com
Valorie Fisher, academic coordinator-senior, College of Sciences, 509.335.4549, fishervk@wsu.edu
Sharon Hatch, senior communications coordinator, College of Sciences,  509.335.4262, hatch@wsu.edu

Jose A. Cuellar, College of Agricultural, Human, and Natural Resource Sciences
The son of Rosa and Jose Cuellar of Royal City, he is a 1999 graduate of Royal City High School.

In May 2003, he earned a WSU bachelor of arts degree in agricultural economics. During this commencement, he will receive a master’s degree in agricultural economics. His master’s thesis is on Mexican consumer preferences for biotechnology and retail food outlets.   For this project, he went to Mexico to conduct a consumer survey, cooperating with Mexican census workers.  Cuellar’s thesis research was funded by the IMPACT (International Marketing Program for Agricultural Commodities and Trade) Center at WSU. His family is originally from Mexico. Cuellar grew up in Royal City and is the first in his family –– he has two brothers and a sister — to attend college, responding in part to encouragement from his parents that he get an education. At WSU, he was a member of the first cohort of Chateau Ste. Michelle Scholars at WSU. As a result of his excellent academic performance, he was awarded the scholarship for two additional years. What if he had decided not to go to college? His father, who manages an apple orchard
, used reverse psychology to encourage his son. “You have a job here,” his father told him.  “You can always come back and work for me.” Jose always responded, “No way!” Why? The answer is because his father always gave him the worst jobs.

For additional information:
Jose Cuellar, cuellar_jose@hotmail.com, 509.335.1490/ 509.334.0838, cuellar_jose@hotmail.com
Jill McCluskey, faculty member, School of Economic Sciences-WSU College of Agricultural, Human, and Natural Resource Sciences, 509.335.2835, mccluskey@wsu.edu

Ana M. Cabrera, College of Liberal Arts
Ana Cabrera of Longmont, Colo. — a 2000 graduate of Skyline High School in Vancouver, who also attended Heritage High School in Littleton, Colo. — will earn two WSU Bachelor of Arts degrees. One will be in communication and the other in Spanish. She is a member of the prestigious WSU Honors College. After graduating from the university, she plans to be a television reporter in a mid-size market and hopes to eventually become a network TV news anchor. She believes working in TV news will allow her to positively impact others.  Although she did not grow up speaking Spanish in her home, she believes a Spanish degree will help her reach more people. Majoring in Spanish has helped her to appreciate her own heritage — her paternal grandparents immigrated from Mexico — and also to be accepting of and sensitive to other cultures.  As a senior at Skyline High, she was anchor of the Clark County School District cable news. Her interest in TV news made her choice of WSU a natural. Not only was she recruited as a WSU Cougar student-athlete — she is a distance runner, and is now a member of the WSU track & field team and member and captain of the WSU cross-country team — but, she could study in the nationally renowned Edward R. Murrow School of Communication. The daughter of Judith and Ronald Cabrera, Longmont, Colo., her family believes in the values of education and hard work.  As a WSU student she, indeed, has worked very hard.  In addition to practicing and competing in athletics, she is a track team representative on the Student Athletic Advisory Committee and an Association for Women in Communication mentor. She works for WSU’s student-run Cable 8 TV station, is a National Society of Collegiate Scholars member, a volunteer reading tutor at Pullman’s Jefferson Elementary School and visits residents of an area nursing home.

For additional information:
Ana Cabrera, 509.332.5561 (Pullman), 404.774.0355 (Colorado), amcabrera@wsu.edu
Arlene Parkay, academic coordinator, College of Liberal Arts, 509.335.6708, parkaya@wsu.edu