WSU’s alumni ranks swelled by more than 5,000 following the completion of commencement exercises at university campuses statewide last week.
The new graduates bring the total number of WSU alumni to an estimated 225,000 worldwide.
The graduation events began Thursday with the College of Pharmacy commencement and College of Nursing convocation, continued Friday afternoon with the WSU Spokane commencement and large Saturday ceremonies in Pullman, Vancouver and Tri-Cities. The final commencement of the season comes Saturday, May 12, when WSU Everett will graduate its third class. See the details about all of the commencement activities.
Below are some highlights about this year’s graduating class:
An expected 2,959 students participated in three commencement ceremonies on Saturday in Beasley Coliseum on the Pullman campus. WSU President Kirk Schulz conferred degrees at all three ceremonies.
The graduates include the top 10 seniors, a Pullman campus tradition for more than 80 years. The students include:
Denzel McCray, who received a bachelor’s degree in psychology/general studies, with a focus on medical science. He was selected for his community service, which included serving as a patient registration representative at Pullman Regional Hospital and as a member of Men for Social Change. He plans to attend medical school.
Alyssa Norris, who received a bachelor’s degree in civil engineering. She was selected as a top 10 senior for her campus involvement, which included serving as the student representative on the WSU Board of Regents and in leadership roles with several student organizations.
Norris recently accepted a job with LONG Building Technologies in Fairbanks, Alaska, where she will work primarily on improving energy efficiency and air quality for commercial and public properties.
Shanelle Briggs, who received a bachelor’s degree in pre-medicine and Spanish. She was selected for her academic achievements. She completed research for the Department of Psychology, served as third author on a paper published in the peer-reviewed Journal of Adolescence and was an ambassador for the Office of Admissions, among other accomplishments. Briggs will attend the University of Washington School of Medicine in the fall.
Also of note:
College of Veterinary Medicine
The graduating class from the Doctor of Veterinary Medicine program includes 11 students who make up the first cohort of Montana residents admitted to the Washington, Idaho, Montana, Utah (WIMU) program in veterinary medical education.
There are several graduates of note from the School of Molecular Biosciences. Gates (Steven) Scott overcame personal challenges involving addiction to return to WSU. He received a bachelor’s degree in biochemistry with an interest in human medicine. Krystle McKenzie, a native of Australia, served as one of three co-captains of the WSU women’s basketball team despite being sidelined by a debilitating health issue. She graduated with a bachelor’s degree in genetics and cell biology. Goldwater scholarship recipient Keesha Matz received a bachelor’s degree in microbiology and then head for Rocky Mountain National Laboratories next year to study infectious diseases.
College of Education
At a young age but as the oldest child of a large family living in rural Oregon, Beth Buyserie became the designated caretaker for the rest of the family when her mother died. As a result, Buyserie didn’t attend school of any type until she enrolled at a community college. On Saturday, Buyserie, now a WSU clinical assistant professor and interim director of composition, received a doctorate of education in educational leadership.
Of the 24 individuals graduating from the superintendent certification program, nine already have accepted positions as superintendents and five have accepted jobs as assistant superintendents.
At WSU Tri-Cities, the College of Education graduated the first cohort of alternative route teacher candidates. The 18 students who completed student teaching this spring graduated with elementary education degrees plus endorsements in some of the state’s highest-need subject areas—English language learners, bilingual education and special education. The students completed the same classes and met the same standards as the university’s traditional students while working fulltime in local partner school districts.
College of Agricultural, Human, and Natural Resource Sciences
The graduates from CAHNRS represent a diverse range of backgrounds and interests. Among the notable graduates:
After working incredibly hard, Carly Henning graduated at the age of 19 with a degree in apparel, merchandising, design and textiles. She was nominated for the CAHNRS Family & Consumer Scientist of the Year in 2018.
Caleb Wiebe and Collin Kirk-Patterson are WSU’s very first graduates to major in fermentation. They were friends in high school in Chewelah, Wash. Wiebe completed a fermentation internship with Hunga Dunga Brewing in Moscow, Idaho. Kirk-Patterson did a fermentation internship with a brewery near his hometown. They both now have job offers.
Henry Yabbey Sintim received his doctorate in soil science. He was brought up in a farming community in Ghana. His research focuses on the use of biodegradable mulch and its impact on agricultural soil ecosystems using pumpkins as an experimental crop at the Puyallup Research & Extension Center. He will be in Pullman for commencement.
Coming into economic studies from the world of cooking and restaurants, Melissa A. Wright received a doctorate from the School of Economic Sciences. A specialist in agricultural economics and food policy, she will teach undergraduates about economics as a visiting assistant professor at the College of William & Mary after she graduates.
McNair Scholar and new graduate Keena Hudson researches plus-size fashion, retail and body image. The McNair program supports first-generation college students and those from underrepresented segments in graduate education with great potential.
Two new doctoral grads from the School of Economic Sciences, Jiehong Qiu and Xinlong Tan, are returning to China to co-found their own startup, Bayes Data Intelligence, analyzing the best locations for viability of retail and other businesses.
Jesus Rodriguez, a first generation student from Lake Chelan, Wash., graduated in fruit and vegetable management. After graduation he will enter the tree fruit industry, working for Washington Fruit & Produce.
WSU Spokane graduated 395 students this semester, with more than 200 participating in the ceremony. Degrees include pharmacy, pharmaceutical sciences, and nursing, speech and hearing sciences, nutrition and exercise physiology, and education.
The new graduates include Callie Roseland, who will use her new master’s degree in nutrition and exercise physiology to keep the more than 50,000 active duty military personnel stationed at Fort Bragg, North Carolina, healthy. Roseland will be part of the Gatorade Sports Nutrition Immersions Program (SNIP) at Fort Bragg, collaborating with the medical team to increase awareness of the importance of nutrition for real-life application while deployed.
Roseland was a sports nutrition intern last fall with the WSU football team.
Wessi Abebe from Gondar, Ethiopia, received a bachelor’s degree in nursing. Not knowing a word of English, Abebe left Ethiopia to come to the United States in 2009 to seek a better educational opportunity. She says nursing school has taught her about the importance of quality care and teamwork, and the need to treat all patients with respect and dignity.
The College of Nursing’s Doctor of Nursing Practice program graduated its largest-ever class: 33 students from across the WSU system.
Patrick Muturi received a doctoral degree in nursing after previously earning bachelor’s and master’s degrees in nursing at WSU. He came to WSU from Kenya on a track scholarship, and later became a professional marathoner, U.S. citizen and a soldier in the U.S. Army. He also competed in the World Military Games and U.S. Olympic trials.
The College of Pharmacy’s commencement on Thursday featured one Ph.D, one master of pharmaceutical sciences, and 132 Doctor of Pharmacy graduates.
For the second year in a row, WSU Vancouver graduated 1,014 students—tying the record for its largest graduating class. The graduates include 865 bachelor’s candidates, 125 master’s candidates and 24 doctoral candidates.
The Chancellor’s Award for Student Achievement was presented to Raj Lamichhane. The award recognizes a student’s love of learning, persistence to overcome barriers in pursuit of academic goals, leadership potential and involvement in campus life.
Lamichhane was orphaned at a young age and grew up at Bright Horizon Children’s Home School and completed high school and two years of college in Nepal. Beverly Questad, an English teacher from Vancouver who was volunteering in Nepal, helped him come to the United States to continue his education.
Lamichhane was secretary of the student senate in 2016-17 and is currently a student ambassador and student affairs intern. He served as president of the International Students Association, volunteered with the Student Diversity Center and helped bring Diwali, a Hindu festival of lights, to the campus. He hopes to use his new degree in business administration to work in the renewable energy field and ultimately to improve the quality of life in Nepal.
WSU Vancouver also honored Vancouver native and attorney Steve Horenstein with the Chancellor’s Award for Service to WSU Vancouver. The honor is granted periodically in recognition of selfless dedication and commitment to the WSU Vancouver community.
Decades ago, Horenstein recognized the need for access to higher education in Southwest Washington and helped bring it to fruition through WSU Vancouver. Since then, he has remained a powerful advocate for the university, serving as a member of the WSU Vancouver Advisory Council since 1995 and chair since 2004. He has donated and raised money for scholarships and helped strengthen ties between the university and the community.
WSU Tri-Cities awarded 403 degrees to graduating students—the largest graduating class since the campus was founded in 1989.
WSU alumna Vicky Gordon, owner of Gordon Estate Winery presented the keynote address. Another WSU alumna, Kayla Stark, sang the national anthem.
WSU Everett will graduate the largest class in its brief history—96 students—during a May 12 commencement ceremony. Fifty-six students will receive bachelor’s degrees in engineering and 31 will receive bachelor’s degrees in integrated strategic communication.
U.S. Coast Guard Chief Petty Officer Crystalynn Aurora Kneen, who is on active duty in Florida, will participate in the ceremony through a livestream from a phone. She graduated from Everett Community College in 2016, transferred to WSU Everett for her junior year and finished her degree in integrated strategic communication through the Global Campus program when she returned to the fleet in Miami.
An estimated 353 Global Campus students, who are free to walk in the commencement ceremony at the physical campus of their choice, also graduated. The total includes 249 undergraduate students (such as Kneen, mentioned above) and 109 graduate students.
Global Campus will host receptions for its graduates in both Seattle and Pullman.
Invitation to new graduates
New graduates are encouraged to stay connected to WSU through the Alumni Association-sponsored Cougar network of 53 chapters and clubs worldwide. More than 300 volunteers have helped host 650-plus activities this year to keep Cougs connected.