In the WSU College of Arts and Sciences (CAS), an Outstanding Senior is defined as one who has excelled in academic performance and in service to their department or school and to the university community.

This year, 23 students were selected to receive the honor by faculty in their respective Pullman campus degree programs and the leadership of their department or school.

“These students exemplify the best qualities of a graduate – including outstanding academic accomplishments and a dedication to learning, leadership and service,” said Matthew Jockers, CAS dean. “Each is a terrific example of the quality of our students at Washington State University.”

Among the selected seniors of 2020 are Regents scholars, National Merit scholars, Fulbright award recipients, Honors College graduates, researchers, writers, musicians, artists, scientists, poets, student leaders, athletes, adventurers, world travelers, advocates and activists.

Many of the students traveled during their WSU careers to study in places around the world, including China, Japan, Indonesia, Guatemala, Mexico, Ecuador, the Netherlands, France, the United Kingdom, Germany, Italy, Greece, Spain, Austria, Croatia and the United Arab Emirates.

Poised for success in careers or in graduate or professional schools, the students hail from communities across the state of Washington, as well as Idaho, California, Montana, Alaska and as far away as Rwanda.

Meet the honorees

Closeup of Kelly Wambui Ngigi
Kelly Wambui Ngigi

Outstanding Senior in psychology, Kelly Wambui Ngigi is a developing mental health researcher interested in parent-child relationships and social and emotional development. At WSU, she was active in community outreach and promoted social justice and equity.

While an intern for the Institute for Community Leadership, Ngigi facilitated group discussions between community members and local political and social leaders, and researched political state policy on career and technical education and created a policy paper for state legislation. As a participant in the Centers for Disease Control’s Undergraduate Public Health Scholars Program in Atlanta, she completed a research project on culturally relevant communication strategies to shift health beliefs, behaviors and attitudes.

Closeup of Thomas LeClair
Thomas LeClair

Thomas LeClair, Outstanding Senior in biology, earned a bachelor’s degrees in biological sciences and music and was named a WSU Top 10 Senior of 2020. He was involved in numerous student clubs, was president of the CAS Student Ambassadors program, a mentor for the Honors College, and more.

LeClair will begin studies at Bangor University in Bangor, Wales, this fall through a Fulbright scholarship to pursue a master of science degree in marine biology. He plans to return to Pullman to earn a doctoral degree in veterinary medicine.

Closeup of Tiffay Kite
Tiffay Kite

The anthropology department’s Outstanding Senior, Tiffay Kite, was a research intern in the Human Osteology Lab, where she examined unidentified skeletons to determine their origin. Her work resulted in a coauthored poster that earned a Novice Research Award in WSU’s undergraduate Showcase. She attained a 3.7 grade-point-average while commuting 25 miles each way to attend classes, raising two small children, nursing her husband through a bout of cancer and recovering from a traumatic injury.

Kite plans to graduate in December, after which she hopes to earn a master’s degree in anthropology and to pursue a career in cultural resource management, with a specific focus on indigenous community collaboration and integration.

Find out more about each of the CAS Outstanding Seniors of 2020 online.