2014 Outstanding Seniors
On the eve of this spring’s commencement ceremonies, the College of Arts and Sciences honored 24 outstanding seniors on the Pullman campus. Each department selected one graduation candidate whose academic achievement and dedication to learning and service exemplified the best qualities of its students.
Among students recognized are researchers, writers of poetry and prose, scientists, musicians, athletes, student leaders, activists, world travelers, and adventurers. The collective array of their experiences includes study abroad in eight countries and numerous internships—from law offices to art museums, hospitals, a pharmacy, an animation laboratory, an insurance company, print and online magazines, and counseling and advocacy services.
These students hail from communities across Washington, three other states, and the United Kingdom. Each is poised to succeed in a career or graduate or professional studies ahead.
Dean Daryll DeWald presented the Outstanding Senior certificates, and faculty from the students’ departments conferred the award medallions.
Michelle Shannon Taylor – Anthropology
Hometown: Olympia, Wash.
BA, Anthropology; BA, History
Michelle grew up in a military family and her parents impressed on her the importance of learning about and understanding other cultures. She developed an interest in anthropology when she was 16 and found it a perfect fit for her educational goals. She chose to study history as a complement to anthropology because “it is hard to understand people without understanding the historical context of their culture and how the past impacts archives/summer2014 times.” Her primary research interest is in biocultural anthropology and archaeology centered on attachment and cooperative breeding cross-culturally in equatorial hunter-gatherer groups.
While at WSU, Michelle was active in the Anthropology Club and served as a research assistant and intern. This spring, Michelle’s poster about infant and child attachment to caregivers was awarded a Crimson Award for Social Sciences at the WSU Showcase for Undergraduate Research and Creative Activities (SURCA). This summer, she will be a member of a field research crew in Ethiopia. Last summer she attended the Institute for Field Research on Spike Island in Cork, Ireland, where she learned field techniques and excavation skills.
Kaitlin McRae – Asian Studies
Hometown: Spanaway, Wash.
BA, Asian Studies
Kaitlin first visited the WSU Pullman campus as a youngster in the Cougar Quest summer camp and, later, as part of the Future Cougars of Color program for high school students. She received a Future Cougars of Color scholarship and began studying civil engineering, but soon found that Asian Studies was a better fit for her.
Kaitlin is a cadet in the WSU Air Force ROTC and was recognized with the Silver Valor Award and the Meritorious Service Award. Following her military activation in September, she will be based at Vandenburg Air Force base in California where she will train to be a missilier officer. She anticipates a career in the military, and plans to earn a master’s degree, probably in cultural studies/Chinese, to prepare her for working in cultural affairs.
Thomas Martin Sexton – Biological Sciences/Botany
Hometown: Cheney, Wash.
BS, Biological Sciences; Honors
While at WSU, Thomas has worked as a research assistant in addition to the seasonal farm work he has done since 2009. For the last two years he has been a researcher in a botany lab, and has worked on independent research projects that have been presented at SURCA. He received numerous awards and scholarships, including the Auvil Undergraduate Scholar Fellowship and a NASA Space Grant Consortium award.
Thomas expressed gratitude for the professors who taught his classes and who embody the passion and excellence that defines WSU. He also recognized the support and encouragement he has received from his parents, and the love he shares with his wife and daughter for giving him “inspiration and motivation every day.” Following graduation, Thomas will begin graduate studies in the botany PhD program at WSU.
Andrew Lloyd Arndt – Chemistry
Hometown: Wenatchee, Wash.
BS, Chemistry; Honors
Even though his sister was already at WSU, Andrew wanted to go elsewhere and “do his own thing.” She kept pushing (as sisters do), brought him to campus, set up a meeting with a chemistry faculty member because of Andrew’s interest in the subject. She even paid his application fee. When Andrew was offered admission to WSU and the Honors College, he began to see the University differently and now appreciates his time here.
Andrew loves the critical thinking and problem-solving aspects in the study of chemistry. He finds it exciting to study the small nature of chemistry, to know that everything has this “life” within.
In addition to award-winning academic achievements, Andrew was active in the campus community. He served as an undergraduate research assistant, tutored organic chemistry, coached youth basketball, and volunteered in a therapeutic horsemanship program. He plans a career in medicine and will spend four weeks this summer in Germany to complete his minor in German language.
Justin Oba – Critical Culture, Gender, and Race Studies
Hometown: Lakewood, Wash.
BA, Comparative Ethnic Studies
Justin always considered himself a “city kid” and had planned to live in the Seattle area, but, in his senior year of high school, he began to open his mind to other possibilities. When WSU sponsored an “Imagine U” program at his school, he was intrigued. His first visit to WSU was with the Future Cougars of Color program—he felt right at home on the Pullman campus.
Justin is an Achiever Scholar with a full scholarship from the Gates Foundation. During his time at WSU, Justin worked as a Cougar Connector and as an intern at the Museum of Art/WSU. He is a student recruiter for CCGRS, treasurer of the College Success Scholars Club, and an organizer of the Revolutionary Mindz. Justin hopes eventually to work in development and fundraising for a fine arts museum or a nonprofit organization. He is also considering working in higher education as an admissions counselor so he can give back, helping other first-generation students as he was helped.
Haley Scott – Criminal Justice and Criminology
Hometown: Edmonds, Wash.
BA, Criminal Justice and Criminology; BA, Psychology
After her first criminal justice class, Haley was “blown away and loved it.” She found a meaningful connection in the department and just completed an internship as a victim advocate for Alternatives to Violence of the Palouse, a regional crisis support center, where she provided victims of sexual abuse and domestic violence with important services such as safety planning, referrals, and connections with staff members. She also worked as a tutor for WSU Athletics and was the recruitment chair for Alpha Phi Sigma, the National Criminal Justice Honor Society.
With an assistantship to work in the Student Financial Services office, Haley will return to WSU this fall to pursue a master’s degree in criminal justice. She hopes eventually to work in the court system or perhaps in the field of corrections.
Julie M. Harrison – Digital Technology and Culture
Hometown: Bellevue, Wash.
BA, Digital Technology and Culture
Julie first learned about the Digital Technology and Culture degree when she attended the WSU Alive! summer orientation before her freshman year. She had always been interested in art but wasn’t sure she could make a living with that degree. She chose DTC as her major “on a whim,” knowing she could change her mind—fortunately, she found it to be the right choice for her.
The DTC faculty praised Julie’s “impressive level of technical proficiency in every software program we expect students to master.” She proved her leadership abilities as president of the DTC Club and in working to organize a portfolio workshop for DTC majors. Her various skills led to several positions and internships, such as web manager for the Critical Literacies Achievement and Success Program, serving low-income, first-generation, and students of color, and animation lab intern. Julie hopes to find a job that will allow her to use her DTC skills to the fullest, perhaps with a gaming company, designing characters or game backgrounds. She is concerned about the ways games represent demographics.
Marcela Rodriguez Campo – English
Hometown: Las Vegas, Nev.
BA, English; BA, Spanish; Honors
A first-generation college student, Marcela always knew she wanted to study English, which is not her first language. She became involved with debate and speech in high school, and it was there that she discovered her “voice” and learned that words and language have the power to move people.
Since coming to WSU, Marcela has stayed busy as a peer mentor in the Native American Student Center; an Honors College Ambassador; a poetry intern for LandEscapes Literary and Arts Journal; an intern manager for The Palouse Review, Honors College online journal; a Global Case Competition team captain; a Mock Trial team member; and a SURCA scholar. She has been employed as a staff assistant at the Holland and Terrell Libraries and as a tutor for the Multicultural Student Services Academic Enrichment Center.
In her award nomination, English faculty members wrote: “We selected Marcela because of her balanced record of strong academic performance and her commitment to serving the WSU community. That she has been selected for Teach for America, and plans to return to her low-income neighborhood in Las Vegas to teach, speaks volumes about Marcela’s overarching dedication to community service and social responsibility.”
Corrin Hamburg – Environmental Sciences
Hometown: Mount Vernon, Wash.
BS, Environmental Sciences
Corrin graduated from high school with an associate of arts degree Skagit Valley College through the Running Start program. She received a McIntyre Scholarship, which honors “selflessness, honesty, and a tenacious attitude.” Her 4.0 grade point average in high school and Running Start, her volunteer work in the community, and her involvement in school sports and Young Life helped her win this prestigious, full-ride scholarship.
Corrin appreciates that her major studies are applicable to her home area in the Skagit Valley and line up well with what she wants to do in her life. As she says, “The natural world is always around us and the things we do to that environment really matter!” She archives/summer2014ly works with the Watershed Integrated Systems Dynamics Modeling project researching the Yakima Basin Water Resource Management Plan. During her time at WSU, Corrin was an intern for Edge Analytical Environmental Laboratories Inorganic Lab; an intern for the Center for Advising and Career Development; and a water systems restoration volunteer. She hopes to find an internship or job in water resource management or public works while she applies to graduate programs in her field.
Kendra Alexson – Fine Arts
Hometown: Kent, Wash.
From the first art history class she took, Kendra was hooked. She appreciates the fact that art history is about more than technique and the production of art; she enjoys the study of culture, the history of artists, and the information that art teaches and reflects directly and through symbolism.
At WSU, Kendra was a resident advisor, an assistant hall director, and a gallery attendant and intern at the Museum of Art/WSU, where she led tours, assisted with handling and examining artwork, glass, and frames for condition reports, and helped promote exhibits. She also worked as the Compton Union Building (CUB) Gallery Programmer for the Student Entertainment Board, planning events and installing and curating exhibits. She has been accepted to three graduate programs in museum studies and will complete an internship this summer at a museum in Florence, Italy. She hopes eventually to work in a museum with older works of art, such as Greek, Renaissance, Pre-Colombian, and Indian.
Anna Breigenzer – Foreign Languages and Cultures
Hometown: Glasgow, Mont.
BA, Foreign Languages and Cultures; BS, Mathematics; Honors
As an Honors College student, Anna was required to take a language and first considered continuing her Spanish instruction. She decided to try something different—Chinese—and found that she both enjoys it and is pretty good at it. After a year in the elite CET Chinese immersion program in Harbin, China, she applied for and received the prestigious David Boren Scholarship from the National Security Education Program (one of only 150 awarded each year to undergraduates in the United States). She also received a Phi Beta Kappa scholarship to study abroad.
Anna has always loved math and found she was good at that, too! She credits her high school teacher who taught her that there are actually real jobs you can get with a degree in math—and you can study something you really like. In Pullman, Anna was a member of Cougs Guys and Gals; a volunteer driver for Women’s Transit; an active member of the WSU Pen Friends Program; secretary of the ASWSU International Students’ Council; vice president of finance for the Alpha Chi Omega sorority; a teaching assistant for Chinese language; and an undergraduate teaching assistant in mathematics.
Haleigh Miller – General Sciences
Hometown: Spokane, Wash.
BA, Basic Medical Science; Honors
A Regents scholar, Haleigh carried the College of Arts and Sciences gonfalon at commencement 2014. She comes from a long line of Cougars, but still carefully considered her choice of university. She chose WSU because of the STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) programs and the support offered to students in those disciplines. Haleigh initially considered majoring in engineering but soon found her passion in biological sciences. She will continue her education in the WSU College of Pharmacy this fall.
While at WSU, Haleigh worked for the Center for Health Promotion at the WSU Health and Wellness Center; as a peer tutor in chemistry, biology, and Spanish; and as a resident advisor for the Department of Residence Life. A member of the Pre-Pharmacy Club, she also volunteered at the Pullman Regional Hospital Pharmacy and as a cholesterol representative for the Cougar Health Awareness Team. Haleigh’s Junior Writing Portfolio earned a “pass with distinction” merit and the Harold and Jeanne Rounds Olsen Writing Across the Curriculum Award.
Andy Zundel – General Studies/Humanities
Hometown: Medford, Ore.
BA, General Studies
Andy attended an Oregon university her freshman year but was drawn to WSU because she planned to major in communication. After trying out several different paths, she chose a major that allowed her the flexibility to study the things she loves. She loves to write and she’s also very interested in nutrition, so the ability to study both English and biology, along with other things that interest her, was perfect.
Andy worked as an office assistant in the Edward R. Murrow College of Communication; as a member services attendant at University Recreation; and as a stand manager for football and basketball concessions. In her spare time, she loves to write fiction and nonfiction, especially things that motivate and inspire others. In her work with the Council on Aging and Human Services, she was able to combine her creative writing skills with the knowledge she gained in her nutrition classes to write health related articles. Andy plans to pursue a job in the health and wellness field.
Alyssa Joy Wold – General Studies/Social Sciences
Hometown: Spokane, Wash.
BA, Social Sciences
During her time at WSU, Alyssa has been active as a leader of the Women’s Volleyball team; as a volunteer coach for Special Olympics; in working with the Little Spikers and numerous volleyball camps; in providing child care for local churches and families; and in volunteering at the local senior center and Albion Elementary after-school program.
She has always been interested in health, wellness, and fitness. Her pursuit of a degree in general studies allowed her to study the things she loves—kinesiology and nutrition. After graduation, Alyssa plans to work as a nanny and yoga and barre instructor while applying to graduate school, probably in sports nutrition. Her long-term goal is to have a happy and healthy family—and that, she says, is enough.
Arianne Katarina Askham – History
Hometown: North Bend, Wash.
BA, Social Studies/Education
Arianne has known since high school that she wanted to be a teacher. She chose to study history and social studies because, as she puts it: “People who lived 1,000 years ago impact us today. History teaches us that we are similar to those who came before us.”
While at WSU, Arianne was a reading literacy tutor for ages 3-10; a special education and student resource tutor for middle school students; and a religious school teacher. She also served as a College of Education Student Representative. After graduating, Arianne will complete her student teaching, and would like to teach or substitute in Whitman County while her husband completes his degree. She is looking forward to the day she has a classroom of her own.
Nicholas Guerra – Mathematics
Hometown: Granger, Wash.
Nicholas has always loved math and planned to become a math teacher, but when he discovered applied mathematics, he knew that was right for him. An active member of the WSU Pullman community, he was a math tutor in the Academic Enrichment Center for Multicultural Student Services; a tutor for the WSU College Assistance Migrant Program, working with first-generation Latino/a freshmen in calculus and algebra; and a tutor for 1st- through 4th-graders at Gladish Community Center. He was also an active member of the WSU Math Club; treasurer of the Black Student Union; and an undergraduate teaching assistant and tutor for the Department of Mathematics.
Nicholas worked as a mathematics researcher with a team conducting original research in mathematical biology, studying blood flow in the brain. He also participated in the College of Arts and Sciences’ inaugural Multidisciplinary Research Challenge, which focuses on local and regional problems that have global impact. His team won second place in this year’s challenge related to Spokane River pollution. He was accepted to the WSU doctoral program in mathematics and plans to focus on mathematical biology.
Sonja Larson – Music
Hometown: Boughton, UK
BA, Music Education; Honors
Sonja chose to attend WSU after a national search. She had never been to Washington and wanted to try something new. The reputation of the School of Music and the Honors College ultimately drew her to WSU where she flourished. Her many activities included serving as vice president of the Collegiate National Association for Music Education and president of the WSU Orchestra. She was a member of the Washington Music Educators’ Association and the National Society of Collegiate Scholars. She also tutored music theory and orchestration students through the WSU Student Support Services program; volunteered as a teaching assistant for a summer enrichment camp for elementary students at an Air Force base in Lakenheath, United Kingdom; and volunteered at Community Child Care Center.
Sonja will complete her student teaching this fall, hopefully in Italy, and will apply to graduate school in bassoon performance. She loves to teach, and is considering teaching at the elementary level or pursuing a PhD to teach at the university level. In her spare time, she also enjoys composing music and writing songs.
Molly Wakeling – Physics and Astronomy
Hometown: Spokane Valley, Wash.
BS, Physics; Honors
Molly chose WSU because it is a research university with many study options and was located near her home. Nonetheless, she was soon traveling widely, studying in Peru and interning twice at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in California. There she assisted with research to find the half-life of thorium-229m, which could be used to build a new clock more accurate than the atomic clock.
While in Pullman, she became a member of the American Physical Society and the Society of Physics Students and mentored lower-division women in physics and leadership skills. She was also a troop leader in Girls Scouts of America and a member of the Cougar Marching Band. She received a number of awards for her academic performance, in addition to the Air Force ROTC Meritorious Service Award; the American Legion Silver Scholastic Award; the Air Force Communications and Electronics Association Honor Award; and the American Legion Bronze Military Excellence Award. Molly has been accepted to the Air Force Institute of Technology in Ohio to work on her master’s degree in nuclear engineering. She hopes her career in the Air Force will one day take her to work on the International Space Station.
Margaret Jane Turnbull – Politics, Philosophy, and Public Affairs
Hometown: Moscow, Idaho
Margaret fell in love with philosophy because she cares about principles, ideas, and our influence on the decisions and policies that affect us all. She enjoys exploring the complexity of philosophical topics. While at WSU, Margaret worked as a grader for Philosophy 201 classes and was a student leader for Campus Crusade for Christ and co-president of the French Club. She received a number of scholarships and awards for her academic achievements.
She will attend graduate school this fall at Boston College in the doctoral program in philosophy. Her goal is to one day teach philosophy at a community college in a low-income area.
Ryan Dickinson – Politics, Philosophy, and Public Affairs
Hometown: Redmond, Wash.
BA, Political Science; BA, Criminal Justice and Criminology
Ryan entered WSU already knowing what he wanted to study. His high school classes in criminal justice, forensics, and U.S. government convinced him that political science and criminal justice was a good fit for him. In high school, he completed an independent research project of firearms crime in Redmond, Wash., using data gathered from local law enforcement organizations. His results were presented to the City of Redmond Technology Commission, including recommendations for technology use and potential future policy.
Ryan has been active in the WSU Pre-Law Society; the Criminal Justice Society; and the WSU Alumni Association. He also completed an internship with the Clark County prosecuting attorney’s office, during which he was responsible for writing all departmental cold-intake files, including recommendation of charging decisions and warrant reviews. He is considering a career in national security.
Katherine Martucci – Psychology
Hometown: Renton, Wash.
BS, Psychology; BS, Neuroscience; Honors
Katherine was home-schooled before she enrolled in Bellevue College through the Running Start Program and entered WSU as a junior with her associate’s degree and a plan to attend veterinary school. She chose her majors in psychology and neuroscience because of her dual interests in veterinary medicine and learning theory. Katherine is one of only 200 students in the nation selected by the Phi Theta Kappa Honor Society to receive a stipend for her exceptional academic performance, leadership, and service.
At WSU, she received the President’s Leadership Award and the Big Ten Senior Award. She was offered early admission to WSU’s doctor of veterinary medicine program. Her research into canine learning abilities received grants from several competitive funding sources and won the SURCA Gray Award. She was active in the campus and Pullman communities as a student ambassador and as a peer mentor for the neuroscience program, the Honors College, and the College of Veterinary Medicine. Her campus memberships are numerous, including the Honors Student Advisory Council; Psi Chi Honor Society in Psychology; and several veterinary clubs. She also volunteered with Pullman community projects. After earning her veterinary degree, Katherine hopes to pursue further graduate training, perhaps in psychology, to eventually do the things she loves most: teaching, research, and clinical work in veterinary medicine.
Amanda Thomson – Sociology
Hometown: Shelton, Wash.
BA, Sociology and Women’s Studies
Amanda was inspired to come to WSU through her involvement in Future Farmers of America during high school. A Running Start student, she graduated from high school and from South Puget Sound Community College in 2012.
At WSU, Amanda worked as a sociology research assistant and on her own research project titled: “Effects of Sexual Orientation on Workplace Evaluation,” which she presented at the 2014 Dr. William R. Wiley Research Exposition, SURCA, and the Spokane Intercollegiate Research Conference. She also served as president of the Sociology Club and as a member of Alpha Kappa Delta, the Sociology Honor Society. Throughout her undergraduate career, Amanda demonstrated a genuine desire to give back to the community. She volunteered as a dispatcher for Women’s Transit, interned with Planned Parenthood, and participated in community service and other educational endeavors outside of the classroom.
Amanda Ostman – Critical Culture, Gender, and Race Studies
Hometown: Sedro-Woolley, Wash.
BS, Women’s Studies and Psychology
Amanda took her first women’s studies course to meet a graduation requirement and immediately fell in love with the course material. She began taking additional classes in the field and decided to pursue a minor—then just kept taking more women’s studies classes until she had a major! She loves how these classes relate to her life and how this major has inspired in her a passion for social justice. Amanda also loves learning about the way the mind works and how the study of psychology relates to everything around us.
At WSU, Amanda has worked as a resident advisor and is a member of the Residence Life Social Justice Committee. She directed recruitment and retention for the National Residence Hall Honorary and was a peer educator and blog chair for the program “Safe is Sexy,” for which she facilitated student outreach initiatives on topics of sexual health awareness and healthy relationships. Amanda recently completed an internship with the dean of students office at WSU. She translated her success in the classroom to the broader community, helping to educate her peers and making a positive change in the world.
Chelsea Marie Gilpin – Biological Sciences/Zoology
Hometown: Seattle, Wash.
BS, Zoology, Pre-Veterinarian; Honors
Chelsea had always wanted to go to veterinary school but was also active and interested in music. She remembers the time her parents sat her down to talk about her options: art school or vet school? WSU wasn’t on her radar at first, but as she began to fully realize what she wanted to do—which was vet school—it became clear that WSU was the place to be. She will always be involved in music, she said. She chose zoology as veterinary preparation because it allows her to learn something new every day.
At WSU, she worked as an Honors College mentor and facilitator; head costume designer for the student-run theatre group; and fashion columnist for The Daily Evergreen. She volunteered for the WSU Grizzly Bear Research Center and the Whitman County Humane Society, and worked for three semesters as an intern at the WSU Veterinary Hospital, completing rotations with large, small, and exotic animals. After completing an internship at the Cannes Tropical Zoo in Australia this summer, she will begin veterinary school in the fall. She hopes to become a zoo veterinarian.