Costco Co-Founder’s Family Foundation Selects Second Cohort of Scholarship Recipients at Heritage University

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Costco Co-Founder’s Family Foundation Selects Second Cohort of Scholarship Recipients at Heritage University  

Toppenish, Wash. – The Sinegal Family Foundation, created by Jim and Jan Sinegal, has selected five students who will comprise the second cohort of Sinegal Scholars at Heritage University. These five students will receive the Sinegal Family Foundation Scholarship, which includes full tuition, fees and a $500 stipend for books for up to four years of study toward the completion of a bachelor’s degree. The cohort will also receive regular mentoring opportunities with Heritage alumni who work at Costco headquarters in Issaquah, Wash. and with Jim Sinegal, the co-founder of Costco, himself.

The recipients and the high schools from which they graduated are Rebecca Gomez, AC Davis High School; Jason Grajales, White Swan High School; Nansi Iniguez, Toppenish High School; Miguel Mendoza, Toppenish High School; and Kareli Mora, Granger High School.

These five students will join the five Sinegal Family Foundation Scholars already pursuing their degrees at Heritage as a result of a $1.14 million donation by the Sinegal Family Foundation to Heritage University in 2017.  Each year five new scholarship recipients are selected and by 2021, the fourth year of the program, there will be a cohort of 20 Sinegal Scholars on campus. Sinegal and his wife Jan created the scholarship to assist students in pursuing their educational goals as well as being a partner with Heritage University in serving students and developing accomplished alumni.

The five recipients were chosen by a panel which included Mr. Sinegal and Heritage University graduates who now work at Costco headquarters in Issaquah. Selecting only five scholarship recipients was a daunting task. “The five named as the second cohort left long-lasting impressions on us all,” said Sinegal. “We can’t wait to work with them as they pursue their education, and watch them excel and succeed.”

Nansi Iniguez, who also has a twin brother who will attend Heritage this fall on a different scholarship, says receiving the Sinegal Family Foundation Scholarship is life changing for her family. “We are very thankful to Sinegal Family Foundation and Heritage for giving us this opportunity. This scholarship will make the dream of a college degree possible for me and my brother.”

Miguel Mendoza, who wants to pursue either an engineering or a medical degree, says the Sinegal scholarship will also make college possible for his family. “As a first-generation college student, my parents and I are thrilled to have this opportunity.  My parents work in agriculture, and those jobs are changing rapidly too. What once required mostly a strong back and determination, now requires advanced education. Nearly all the students of the valley will need a college degree in the future and I am so thankful for the Sinegal Family Foundation and Heritage for making college possible for me.”

For more information, contact David Wise, VP of University Advancement and Marketing at (509) 865-0717 or wise_d@heritage.edu.

 

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Coming Full Circle

 

Freshman Connie Batin was scrolling through her Facebook news feed when an announcement caught her eye and changed her life. It was a post about Heritage’s new Full Circle Scholarship, a guaranteed award for enrolled Yakama tribal members who have not previously attended Heritage that covers the cost of tuition at the university.

It had been 20 years since Batin had been in school. In that time she raised seven children, built a career working for the Yakama Nation, and served on the Washington State Health Advisory Council. She had long wanted to go to college, but something always seemed to get in her way— most often it was the expense. When she saw the message, she knew that it was time to get moving.

“Every excuse I had ever had that stopped me from going to college to get my degree was gone,” she said. “I was inspired.”

Connie Batin started her first semester of college with three classes: English, math and a drawing elective.

Batin is one of a dozen new Yakama college students who started at Heritage in January because of the Full Circle Scholarship. Most are nontraditional students who, like Batin, had long dreamed of earning their degree, but were unable to afford the gap left between traditional financial aid – federal and state grants – tribal scholarships and the cost of tuition. These students are exactly why the scholarship was formed, said David Wise, vice president for Advancement.

“Heritage sits on the Yakama’s ancestral lands. We were formed by the vision and tenacity of two Yakama women. Our history and our future are tied to the people and the prosperity of the Yakama Nation,” he said. “Heritage is honoring our relationship with the Yakama Nation the best way we can, by providing educational opportunities for its citizens. The Full Circle Scholarship removes what is one of the biggest barriers that keep tribal members from going to college, the expense.”

The establishment of the Full Circle Scholarship was driven, in large part, by Heritage’s President’s Liaison for Native American Affairs, Maxine Janis.

“Maxine is one of the biggest advocates for our Native American students and was steadfast in her efforts to get this scholarship established,” he said.

The university works closely with the Yakama Nation’s Department of Higher Education to ensure that the application and selection process runs smoothly. The scholarship is open to enrolled Yakama tribal members who have to also apply for scholarships from the Yakama Nation and the Bureau of Indian Education.

Elese Washines (GORDON KING/Gordon King Photography)

“Heritage University is the first choice for Yakama students pursuing Higher Education,” said Elise Washines, program manager at Yakama Nation Higher Education Programs. “the university’s commitment to putting students first, to helping them achieve academically is demonstrated year after year with the number of Yakama students graduating from Heritage exceeding any other 2-year or 4-year college. With the Full Circle Scholarship in place, our students will be able to obtain their educations with full tuition support of both the University and Yakama Nation Higher Education.”

Initially, Heritage administration planned on launching the scholarship for fall semester 2019. But when word got out, the response was so overwhelming that they went into high gear and opened it up for a spring start. Given the timing of some of the requirements, applicants have to complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) as well as apply for the two Yakama Nation scholarships, the window to apply was only a few short weeks. Still, Batin and her fellow cohorts of incoming students jumped at the opportunity.

“I called the university the next day and started my application,” she said. “The whole process was great. Everyone, the admission counselors, my financial aid officer, were so helpful and made sure that I was getting everything done that I needed to do to start college.

Now, two decades after opening a textbook, Batin is fulfilling a dream and a promise made.

“I’m doing this to honor my mother. She would always say ‘You need to go to school. When are you going to go to school? I would tell her ‘I’ll do it someday.’ I’m so glad someday is here. I know she’d be proud of me.”

Student for a Day – Trading Briefcases for Backpacks

Washington State Senator Curtis King

There was a different kind of student roaming Heritage’s campus and classrooms last fall. This one had already earned his degree and had built a lengthy and impressive career of service. It was Washington State Senator Curtis King, and it was his time to dust off the old book bag and don the college colors as he was a Student for a Day at Heritage University.

Student for a Day is a new program at Heritage that gives university supporters a first-hand account of the day in the life of HU students. Participants spend several hours with students, attending classes, having lunch in the café, or participating in any one of the on- campus activities. The goal, said David Wise, vice president for Advancement, is to give some of the university’s greatest supporters a deeper understanding of the academic experience that students undertake here at Heritage.

“Our supporters are committed to Heritage because of the students we serve,” said Wise. “They are truly interested in them, their goals, and their experiences at this institution. There is no better way for them to connect with our students than by spending time with them here on campus and in the classroom.”

The Student for a Day experience includes one-on-one time spent with students.

King’s visit was the first in what Wise hopes will become a regular occurrence at Heritage.

During his visit, the senator sat in on a fisheries course with a few environmental studies and sciences majors. After class, he sat with them for lunch and got to learn a bit more about their lives and hopes for the future.

“It was a great experience getting to see what happens inside the classroom, getting insights into the professor and how he reaches the students,” said King. “And mostly, it was great to be able to connect with the students, to hear about what inspires them, how they see life and where they want to go after college.”

King’s visit included just one classroom visit, but, he said, next time he’d like to expand that and visit two or three. With the flexibility of the program, King could do just that. Wise points out that his goal is to connect supporters in ways that are most meaningful. Classes can be chosen based on interest area, as can the duration of time spent on campus.

 

Senator King got to know more about salmonids, fish such as salmon and trout, during Dr. Alexander Alexiades’ Intro to Fisheries class.

“We are striving to build an authentic experience with Student for a Day,” Wise said. “Each participant’s experience will be unique. What you will experience in the classroom will depend upon the scheduled activity of that day, whether it is a lecture on the works of J.R.R. Tolkien or a science lab looking at simple-celled organisms.”

To learn how you can participate in the Student for a Day program, call (509) 865-0700.

Quizfolio: Innovation Through Introspection

Dr. Robert Kao teaches biology Jan. 22, 2019 at Heritage University in Toppenish, Wash. (GORDON KING/Gordon King Photography)

Dr. Robert Kao leads his Biology 111 class through their lab exercise. (GORDON KING/Gordon King Photography)

Weekend homework in Dr. Robert Kao’s biology class looks a little different than other science classes. There are chapter readings and typical quiz questions about scientific terminology and functions. But using an innovative tool he developed called “quizfolio,” students are also asked to broaden their thinking by reflecting on and then writing about challenges, reactions and questions the material generates inside themselves.

Dr. Kao was inspired to create quizfolio through his own experiences as a student a few years earlier studying for a certification in Native American education. As part of his coursework, he was encouraged to journal and spend time thinking about his own thought processes, a term called metacognition. It’s a discipline he still uses every day, to grow in self- awareness about the personalized needs and experiences of those within his classroom and how he’s addressing them.

“I wanted to listen to our students about how they think and find ways to connect with individual learners.”

QUIZFOLIO QUESTIONS ENCOURAGE INTROSPECTION AND CLASSROOM DISCUSSION

Quizfolio is aptly named because it’s both a quiz and a mini-portfolio of open-ended questions based on the homework. Assigned every Friday, quizfolios are completed over the weekend and turned in on Monday before class, influencing class discussion. Students are asked to reflect on what they are learning and to recognize it’s okay to feel vulnerable when you don’t know all of the answers. He regularly reminds his classes that all scientists have vulnerable moments when they don’t know the answers and are unsure how to find them.

“Many times, when reading a text or analyzing data, something doesn’t quite make sense,” explained Dr. Kao. “It’s hard to admit we don’t know something. Some students might have a particular term that doesn’t make sense to them. Others have another. The quizfolio helps me realign and re-adjust so I can clarify the chapter readings and create more meaning for individual students.”

Vanessa Tahkeal (left) and Maria Soto review their biology lab work. (GORDON KING/Gordon King Photography)

He’s quick to point out that he doesn’t regurgitate what he’s already taught, however. He presents new information to make the material clear and relevant to them, whether it’s relating it to lived experiences in the communities of Toppenish or the Yakama Nation or in the wider world. If a student wonders how doctors develop chemotherapy, Dr. Kao might bring in a real-world example to explain the concept. Or create a quiz question on the spot, based on the class discussion. This tool provides the doctor with real-time insights into student comprehension and confidence that allows him to reshape that learning experience as he goes to meet their needs and build resiliency.

One week, students may be asked to watch a video on a first- generation scientist and write a reflection on it. Another week, they are assigned reading and writing prompts about the challenge of managing acute kidney malfunction, and then they go into the lab to study planaria, an organism that regenerates its own tissue.

“In that example, we used the quizfolio as an entry point to delve into the molecular and cellular machinery of how different organisms regenerate upon injury,” continued Dr. Kao.

QUIZFOLIO RESHAPES CLASSROOM CONVERSATION, LAB EXPERIMENTS

Considered a community of scholars, with Dr. Kao himself a member of that dynamic community, students regularly work together in teams, building relationships of trust with one another while learning to use their voices to speak up and to, conversely, take notice of the unique voices of other students.

The quizfolio often serves as a stepping-stone for the classroom teams to design their own experiments to rule-in or rule-out different possibilities. Dr. Kao knows not every student will become a scientific scholar, but he points out that critical thinking skills apply far beyond biology… into areas like test taking and later, into the students’ careers.

Dr. Kao uses quizfolio in about half of his classes and is gratified to see the level of sophistication it has developed in his upper-level students as they formulate research proposals and plot their career path.

“The quizfolio fosters student curiosity and teaches them it’s ok to ask questions,” said Dr. Kao. “The questions they are asking are questions even scientists might ask! It’s pretty neat to see that. It’s part of a journey, not the destination.”

Welcome to the Jungle

In a balmy rainforest in Costa Rica, frequented by big cats, poisonous snakes, screeching monkeys and exotic fauna, four students from Heritage hiked along dirt paths, collected water and plant samples, set up wildlife tracking cameras, and had the experience of a lifetime  over  winter break. The reason they traveled so far on their time off from school was to conduct environmental and biological field studies at the Las Cruces Biological Research Center, about three miles from the Panamanian border.  Founded in 1962 as a botanical center and nursery, it is the home of the Wilson Center, the country’s best-known botanical garden. In 1973, it expanded its emphasis to include tropical research, particularly in conservation.

Welcome to the JungleSteve Dupuis, the IMSI director at Salish Kootenai College in Pueblo, Montana, reached out to Dr. Jessica Black about the trip, which he had done the year before. It was structured to bring tribal students in the sciences together from  colleges across the country. Heritage University’s  participation was made possible by a partnership with the All  Nations Louis Stokes Alliance for Minority Participation program, in conjunction with the Organization for Tropical Studies.

“Research shows that when students are given the chance to travel internationally for study abroad experiences, it has a profound impact on their academic performance, empowering students as they work towards completion of their degrees and ultimately leading to higher GPAs,” said Black. “It’s something we were really lucky to do, and my hope is that it will become an annual event for our Native American STEM majors.”

Welcome to the JungleKimberly Stewart and Zane Ketchen were two of the students invited to travel to the Central American country.  When Stewart received the text from Black, she was immediately intrigued – not just about the chance to dig into field work in such a rich environmental location but also because she would meet and work with other Native  American students from around the country.  “I had traveled, but never to Central America,” said Stewart, a junior who is interested in working with the Yakama Nation Department of Natural Resources when she graduates. After an 11-hour flight to San Jose, the team hopped aboard a bus for the six-hour journey into the Talamanca Mountains the next day. Taking the coastal route, Ketchen had his first look at Costa Rican wildlife, including crocodiles, macaws, and Black’s favorite, the toucan!

Welcome to the JungleFIELD WORK GIVES STUDENTS HANDS-ON RESEARCH SKILLS

The students faced a much different culture and climate in Costa Rica. The weather was more humid than at home. the hikes were challenging, long and windy, up steep and muddy paths. And, the wildlife! Ketchen recalls stumbling across snakes on several occasions, and one was the fer-de-lance – a deadly pit viper!

The research projects pushed all the students out of their comfort zone, in a good way. There were 14 participants from all the colleges involved, and they met as a group to brainstorm about potential projects. From there they whittled down a whiteboard of ideas to a few, and students could self-select the one they were most interested in: invasive species, water quality  or botany. They spent most days in the field and then summarized their  findings in a poster and presentation at the program’s conclusion.

Stewart and Corbin Schuster, who graduated this year with a B.S. in Biomedical Science, chose an invasive species project. Their team measured the severity of a plant fungus to determine if humidity levels contributed to its spread. They took samples from different elevations and used software to calculate the area of each leaf that was compromised. Stewart is excited to continue  with research in the next phase of her education. “I’ve been nervous about going to grad school,”  she admitted. “Now I feel certain I can do it.”

Ketchen and Robyn Raya’s field project centered on hydrology, the study of water movement, which is one of Ketchen’s career interests.

“On another field trip with Dr. Black, a hydrology expert told us if you fix the water, you’ll fix everything else,” said Ketchen. That resonated with him. At the center, his team tested water samples and took temperatures at different locations, learning that the tributary waters were warmer than the water in the main river. That was a surprising discovery because it’s typically the opposite in the Yakima Valley.

Welcome to the JungleMAKING CULTURAL CONNECTIONS WITH LOCAL TRIBE

This trip was about more than science, however. It was also about connections with other Native Americans across the country and globally. The teams took a day off from their research to meet members of a Panamanian indigenous tribe called the Boruca. The tribal elders shared about family life, traditions, and gave a demonstration in purse making, in which they grow and weave the cotton and use leaves to create different dye colors. Students also painted traditional  masks, used to warn potential conquerors away, and they participated in their tribal dances.

“We learned that the tribal members in Costa Rica are experiencing many of the same issues as the Native American tribes,” said Black, who pointed to their concerns about water usage and land sovereignty.

“It was cool to see how much respect they have for the land,” said Stewart. “And how self-sufficient they are.”

Ketchen particularly valued the time spent networking with other Native American students, mentors and even visitors to the center.

“Well, I really liked the whole trip, but meeting other people was what I liked best,” said Ketchen. “While we were in the field, we ran into a family from France bird watching on the grounds. I don’t think they had ever met a Native American before, and they were excited … It was nice.”

He also found it surprising that the other Native American students on the trip, including his lab partner who was from Montana, had tastes and stories that were so similar to his own even though they lived in different places.

“For me, it was great to get a different type of education – to meet other people who are culturally like me – while getting an education,” concluded Ketchen.

Pictures courtesy of Brian Amdur Photography

“College in the High School” for Yakima School District

Primary Provider of “College in the High School” for Yakima School District

Yakima School District (YSD) and Heritage University have administrators signed a memorandum of understanding that will make Heritage the primary provider of free college credits for College in the High School (CHS) classes for YSD’s A.C. Davis and Eisenhower students. YSD Superintendent Dr. Jack Irion and Heritage University President Dr. Andrew Sund signed the agreement at YSD’s administration office last month.