All Caps Another Successful Heritage Commencement
Amid the pomp and ceremony and pride and tears, 214 students crossed the stage to receive their degrees at Heritage's 32nd Commencement on Saturday, May 10, Overall 272 students earned their degrees or certificates from Heritage this year.
Construction on the university campus moved the ceremony to the Yakima Valley Sundome, the first time it has been held off campus since the 1980s.
This year's commencement address was presented by Mimi Gates, who joined the Heritage Board of Directors in the fall.
Gates has had a long and distinguished career in the arts, including serving as the director of the Seattle Art Museum for 15 years until her retirement in 2009. Before that, she was director of the Yale University Art Gallery. Gates was the president of the Association of Art Museums, chaired the Federal Indemnity Panel at the National Endowment for the Arts and served as a member of the advisory board for the Getty Leadership Institute. In addition, she is an adjunct faculty member for the University of Washington Art Department and serves on the boards of directors for UW's Jackson School of International Studies, the Northwest African American Museum and Copper Canyon Press. Gates holds a Ph.D. in art history from Yale University.
During her address, Gates encouraged students to take advantage of unexpected opportunities that arise. She shared how two pivotal opportunities shaped her life and her career: studying in China on a student exchange in the 1960s and accepting a position as a museum director. She used the lessons she learned as inspiration for the graduating class.
"We need women and men who are well educated, [are] engaged in the world, and have the guts to lead with passion and perseverance," she said. "You are the rising leaders of the Yakima Valley and beyond. Take ownership of your Heritage education. Be confident in your intelligence and skills. Step out of your comfort zone. Dare to lead. You will change the world. I know you will."
During the ceremony, several students and alumni were singled out for their academic, civic and professional successes.
Alumni Shawnta DeFalco, Ed.D. (M.I.T., 2008) and Petra Morale, M.S.W. (B.S.W. 2009) were recognized with the Violet Lumley Rau Outstanding Alumni Award. DeFalco is the principal at Kiona Benton Middle and Senior High Schools and an officer candidate in the Washington State National Guard. Morales is a functional family therapist at Behavioral Health Services working with at-risk youth.
Fifteen students were honored with the Board of Directors' Academic Excellence Award, which is given to graduates with cumulative grade point averages of 4.0. This year's recipients were Kelsy Conklin, B.A. in Education; Tracy Kingman, B.A. in Education; Maria Buckingham, B.A. in Education; Brenda Zehnder, B.A. in Education; Jessica Frost, B.S.W.; Anastasiya Agoshkova, B.S.W.; Shurrie Weatherman, B.S.W.; Vicky Ramierz, B.A. in Education; Jennifer Knudson,B.S.W.;; Mackenzie Rehfield, B.A. in Education; Yolanda Arellano, B.A. in Early Childhood Studies; Jeffrey McFadden, B.A. in Education; and Sarahi Maldonado, B.A. in Education.
Additionally, Olivia Marquez ,B.S. in Biomedical Sciences, received the President's Student Award of Distinction. This award is given annually to a student with a distinguished record of academic excellence and service to the campus community.