WOU’s 159th Commencement

Congratulations to the class of 2016! Today marks the 159th Commencement for Western Oregon University. Check out some of these interesting stats about our graduating class and stories about many of them. The graduating class of 2016 totals 1,323 individuals that have earned a total of 1,333 degrees. 900 are attending commencement today. 83 percent of [more…]

Mario & Alma Pastega Award in Staff Excellence: Sharyne Ryals

Sharyne Ryals
An unexpected incident led Sharyne Ryals, this year’s Mario and Alma Pastega Award for Staff Excellence recipient, to Western Oregon University. Ryals had always worked in the private sector, and her previous job was at a silicon wafer manufacturer. This industry became an unstable environment to work in, and closed like many other businesses in [more…]

Maria & Alma Pastega Award for Excellence in Teaching: Cheryl Beaver

Cheryl Beaver
Dr. Cheryl Beaver has found a way to balance her academic interests at Western Oregon University: mathematics and education. This year’s Mario and Alma Pastega Award for Excellence in Teaching recipient, she has flourished as a math educator. She and her husband, Dr. Scott Beaver, joined WOU in 2005. Prior to becoming a collegiate educator, [more…]

Julia McCullough Smith Award: Han Vu Gia Nguyen

Han Vu Gia Nguyen
The year before she came to Western as a freshman, Han Vu Gia Nguyen had moved to the United States from Vietnam with her parents. Now, just five years later, this year’s Julia McCulloch Smith award recipient for outstanding senior female is fluent in a new language, achieved significant academic and extracurricular success, and is [more…]

Delmer Dewey Award: John Goldsmith

John Goldsmith
Some students find comfort in classes, some in sports, some in extracurricular activities, while others are happiest with a mix of involvement during their college career. John Goldsmith, this year’s Delmer Dewey award recipient for outstanding senior male, took advantage of as many academic and leadership opportunities as his time and interest afforded. On the [more…]

Golden Lamp Award: Kayla Corwin

Kayla Corwin
There is no traditional route to Commencement, as Kayla Corwin learned. This Oregon Health & Science University (OHSU) graduating student has been an undergraduate for nine years. “I had a long road getting here,” she said. Science has always been a strength of Corwin’s. In high school she took an anatomy class and while her [more…]

Alumni Award of Excellence: Dennis Tichenor

Dennis Tichenor
Dennis Tichenor has dedicated his life to serving others. This year’s recipient of the Alumni Award of Excellence, Tichenor has made a lasting impression on the lives of countless children and young adults. He learned that lesson from his parents, who told him, “If you’re going to do anything, give some things back.” He found [more…]

Grad profile: Sarah Duhart

Fully set on going to another college, Sarah Duhart changed her mind last second after being offered a position at the WOU’s Writing Center straight out of high school. She says that she hasn’t regretted her decision one bit because it gave her opportunities she would not have had otherwise. Because of the support provided [more…]

Grad profile: Ashley Baxter

Ashley Baxter
Ashley Baxter Hillsboro, Ore. Community health education major Undergraduate Ashley Baxter is a graduating community health major. Baxter chose WOU because she heard it was affordable and when she toured the campus, she fell in love with the beauty.  “I just knew I’d be happier here at this type of university.” Baxter enjoyed the amount of [more…]

Grad profile: Matt Turner

Matt Turner
Matt Turner Prince George, British Columbia Applied exercise science major Undergraduate Matt Turner is a graduating applied exercise science major. He chose WOU because his academic advisor from Chemeketa Community College suggested it for what he was doing, which at the time was pre-physical therapy. His advisor said that WOU was a great school with smaller [more…]

Grad profile: Mashael Alansari

Mashael Alansari
Mashael Alansari Saudi Arabia Master’s in Education Graduate Mashael Alansari is a graduating masters student getting her master’s in education. She chose WOU because her close friend studied here before her and talked about classes that were interesting. Her friend then encouraged Alansari to apply. She looked at the program and liked the description of [more…]

Grad Profile: Dominik Heidemeyer

Dominik Heidemeyer smiling and and leaning on a fence with ancient Ruins in the background
Many move great distances to attend school, but not many in this year’s graduating class traveled as far as Dominik Heidemeyer. Heidemeyer is originally from a small town called Hülm that is on the outskirts of Goch, Germany. He came to Western because it was close to where he ended up living with his wife [more…]

Grad profile: Kaylee Church

Name:  Kaylee Church Age: 21 Major/Minor: Mathematics/psychology Hometown: Damascus, Ore. Favorite campus event: New Student Week/Wind Down Wednesday Best study spot: Study room in Math building Advice to incoming freshman: “Don’t doubt yourself, go with what you like in your activities and studies.” Affordability is what put WOU on Church’s radar when she began searching for colleges. Out-of-state tuition deterred her from [more…]

Grad profile: Conner Williams

Name:  Conner Williams Age: 22 Major/minor: Humanities/economics Hometown: Molalla, Ore. Favorite campus event: New Student Week Best study spot: Terry House Advice to incoming freshman: “Get involved a little earlier. As a freshman, you can easily get caught up in the mindset of having a college experience as it’s shown in movies, but there’s much more to your time in college.” For [more…]

Grad profile: Shay Guyton

Name:  Shay Guyton Age: 21 Major/Minor: Community health education/psychology Hometown: Hillsboro, Ore. Favorite campus event: New Student Week Best study spot: Floor of residence halls, or study rooms in Hamersly Library Advice to incoming freshman: “Keep doing the things you love. Don’t let other people tell you not to do them. I was hesitant to join things as a freshman, but [more…]

Grad profile: Bella Borja

Bella Borja in her office at PCL smiling
College is never easy especially for those of us that have taken a longer road. Bella Borja is an amazing and personable woman who is graduating in this year’s class of 2016 as a first generation college student. Like many, she has worked her way through college often holding up to two full time jobs [more…]

Grad profile: Cassie Owens

Picture of Cassie Owens
Cassie is originally from Lakewood, Wash. and majored in American Sign Language (ASL) studies and minored in special education and chose Western Oregon University because of its location which was close to home. While completing her undergraduate degree Cassie was involved in many things to help the campus. She enjoyed that as a small university [more…]

Grad profile: Megan Cabison

Megan Cabison
Megan Cabison is graduating from Western Oregon University with a double major in business management and communication studies, and a minor in entrepreneurship. Cabison is from Hilo, Hawaii and chose to come to Western because of the undergraduate exchange program for Hawaiian students. She had never visited the university before move in day, but as soon as she [more…]

Grad profile: Amanda Stevens

University is often where people find their passion and that is no exception for Amanda Stevens. Stevens has a great passion for health and in particular women’s health. She originally came to Western for its nursing program, but soon found that community health education was her true passion after finding it frustrating the amount of [more…]

Grad profile: Sabrina Riggs

Sabrina Riggs
Sabrina Riggs Salem, Ore. Political science major Undergraduate Sabrina Riggs is a graduating political science major. She was born in New York, but with her father being in the Navy, they moved all around the states until he retired. In 2006, she moved to Oregon and has been here ever since. She has been very [more…]

Grad profile: Tuyen Bolton

Name:  Tuyen Bolton Age: 22 Major/Minor:  Interdisciplinary studies with focuses in humanities, social science and health/physical education Hometown: Raised in Eugene / born in Soc Trang, Vietnam Advice to incoming freshman: “Remember that it’s important to maintain a solid GPA throughout college to graduate and get into graduate school and beyond, but they are not [more…]

Grad profile: Hannah Towle

Picture of Hannah Towle
Hannah Towle works as one of our advocate staff leaders as the sexual violence resource coordinator. She has assisted on multiple projects related to the Campus Against Sexual Assault grant associated with Abby’s House. Additionally, Towle has initiated her own projects in the realm of sexual violence prevention playing a key role in the CounterACT Violence campaign [more…]

Grad profile: Emmi Collier

Name:  Emmi Collier Age: 22 Major/Minor: Exercise science/focus in physical education Hometown: Warrenton, Ore. Favorite campus event(s): Home Track & Field meets, WOUMania, and New Student Week Best study spot: Third floor of Hamersly Advice to incoming freshman: “Make friends with new people while at Western! You may come here with friends from high school, but make sure you get out [more…]

Grad profile: Audrey Loudenback

Name:  Audrey Ramirez-Loudenback Age: 35 Graduate program: Masters of Arts in Interpreting Studies Hometown: Milwaukie, Ore. Favorite campus event: First Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Celebration at WOU Best study spot: First floor study rooms in Hamersly Advice to incoming freshman: “Enjoy the ride. Enjoy the unknown, there’s no way you can predict your path. Go easier on yourself.” Back in 1999, Ramirez-Loudenback [more…]

Grad profile: Stephanie Stuckey

Stephanie Stuckey
Stephanie Stuckey is a dedicated, hardworking student who has worked very hard to get where she is today. She exceeds the expectations of others despite the circumstances she has overcome. She took the time out of her busy schedule to answer a few questions for us while she was in Florida for the NCAA Outdoor Track & [more…]

Grad profile: Josh Henderson

Josh Henderson
Josh Henderson is graduating Western Oregon University this June with a Bachelor’s of Arts in Anthropology. Henderson is from Salem, Ore. and chose to attend WOU for the campus involvement and the close relationships with professors that a smaller university can offer. His favorite lunch to treat himself to is Momiji’s; his favorite WOU event [more…]

Grad profile: Madison Malot

Name:  Madison Malot Age: 21 Major/Minor: English literature/American Sign Language Hometown: Central Point, Ore.  Favorite campus event: Performance by Dip-Hop rapper WAWA, part of Western Accessibility Awareness Month (WAAM) Best study spot: Rick’s Place or the second floor of Hamersly Library Advice to incoming freshman: “Be more confident and don’t freak out if you make changes [more…]

Grad profile: Elani Elkins

Elani Elkins
Elani Elkins is a 2016 Western Oregon University graduate, graduating with a degree in business. Coming from Albany, Ore., Elkins originally chose WOU because it was close to home and she was interested in the education program. Like many other college students, after taking a few college classes she decided that she was more interested in [more…]

Grad profile: Nikole Davis

Nikole Davis
Nikole Davis from Salem, Ore. will be graduating from Western Oregon University this June with a major in ASL/English Interpreting and a minor in Special Education and Rehabilitation Counseling. Davis chose to go to WOU because of the highly regarded interpreting program and has enjoyed the opportunities for growth and learning the university has provided. [more…]

Grad profile: Emily Peterson

Emily Peterson
Name:  Emily Peterson Age: 22 Major/Minor: Psychology/American Sign Language studies Hometown: Tualatin, Ore. Favorite campus event: Holiday Tree Lighting Best study spot: Beside the piano in the WUC Advice to incoming freshman: “Have fun while you’re at Western, this is your independence. At the same time, be responsible. This school has a lot to offer so set a time to [more…]

Grad profile: Kevin Alejandrez

Kevin Alejandrez
Name:  Kevin Alejandrez Age: 22 Major/Minor:  Sociology/sports leadership Hometown: Independence, Ore. Best study spot: Lounge in the Werner University Center Advice to incoming freshman: “Do your thing! Be honest with what you want from college and go for it.” Growing up in Independence, Alejandrez felt some ambivalence about staying close to home for university and was considering out of state [more…]

Grad profile: Becca Hazel

Becca Hazel standing near a body of water wearing a denim vest.
Becca Hazel Hillsboro, Ore. Community health major Undergraduate Becca Hazel is a graduating community health major. She has been very involved and interested in the community health projects here at Western. She chose to come to WOU because it has the OHSU nursing campus and the really small class sizes. Another reason for choosing Western [more…]

Grad profile: Joleen Braasch

WOU grad Joleen Braasch
Joleen Braasch is a student from Salem, Ore. who will be graduating from Western Oregon University with a Bachelor of Arts degree in English Literature. She decided to come to WOU because it is close to home, she liked the idea of small class sizes, and at the time, she was interested in becoming a [more…]

Grad profile: Tabitha Mortensen

Tabitha Mortensen
Tabitha Mortensen is graduating from Western Oregon University this June with a major in American Sign Language studies and a minor in psychology. Mortensen is from Salem, Ore. and is a full time mother to Zoe and Ezekiel. Her favorite lunch spot in Monmouth is Yang’s, and her favorite study spots on campus are the [more…]

Commencement speaker: Betty Komp

Betty Komp
WOU alumna, Representative Betty Komp, did not start college right after high school. At age 18 she got married and started a family. Seventeen years later she was raising four kids on her own and wanted a life change. It was time to go to college. Komp knew she wanted to be an educator and [more…]