Preparing for the Front Line

When COVID-19 hit Washington State, Karina Borges was a few weeks away from completing her first year of study in the Physician Assistant program. Heritage University shut down its campus in compliance with orders from the governor’s office. In what seemed like a blink of an eye, everything she and her cohort were working towards was now uncertain. How would they finish their courses so they could move into their clinical rotations? And, what would happen to those rotations? Would hospitals and medical clinics want to have students in their practices during a global pandemic?

“When the pandemic started, we were on spring break. We were ready to go back to campus to take two more exams and leave for clinicals, well that didn’t happen,” said Borges. “We didn’t get a chance to get back to campus and say goodbye to our classmates that we probably will not see until graduation; it was hard.”

Heritage University’s Physician Assistant cohort at the start of their first year of study in fall semester 2019.

Borges’s story is a familiar one as colleges nationwide shuttered their campuses and sent faculty, staff and students home to shelter in place following directives from state officials. While campuses closed, classes didn’t end. Like many colleges, Heritage shifted its classrooms from a physical location to a virtual platform, moving lectures and discussions online through Zoom. While this dramatic change provides challenges for all, some majors, such as those preparing students for careers in health care, have complexities that make remote education particularly daunting.

There are four degree programs at Heritage specifically geared towards preparing students for health care careers: Nursing, Medical Laboratory Sciences (MLS), Physician Assistant (PA) and Master of Arts in Medical Sciences (MAMs). All but the Master in Arts in Medical Sciences, which is a one-year didactic program designed to help students bolster their applications for medical, dental and other post-graduate health sciences schools, require a combination of classroom lectures, hands-on labs and clinical rotations. Transferring classroom lectures into the virtual space, while not ideal for all, is has been accomplished with some modifications. However, lab work is much more difficult. And, the clinical rotations where students meet with real patients in medical facilities under the supervision of licensed professionals is not only critical for preparing students, it is also required by the programs’ various accrediting bodies.

When issuing the order to stay home and stay safe, Washington’s governor included provisions for essential business to function and its workers to continue to go to work. Education in the broad sense was not included in these provisions; however, certain academic programs such as those training health care professionals received special dispensation. This gave Heritage’s nursing, MLS and PA programs greater leeway in academic delivery.

The impact felt by students in these three programs depends upon the program in which they are enrolled and their academic year within that program.

NURSING PROGRAM

There are 60 students studying to become nurses at Heritage, between those who have been accepted into the program and those who are pre-nursing, which means they have declared nursing as their major and are taking some nursing classes, but have not yet been accepted into the program.

Last September, nursing student Anitramarina Reyna assisted with the flu shot clinic at the Central Washington State Fair.

In Nursing, graduating seniors like Anitramarina Reyna were the luckiest of their peers. Senior-level nursing students complete 160 hours of clinical practicums during their final two semesters. In their final semester, they have to pass a comprehensive skills assessment exam called the HESI before they can graduate. Seniors completed all of their clinical rotations prior to the shutdown and only had didactic course work and their final exam left to complete.

“We were supposed to take the test when we returned to campus after spring break, but that was when all of the shutdowns began. We weren’t sure when, or if, we’d be able to take the test. Our professors were telling us ‘just keep studying, you will be taking it as soon as we figure out the logistics,’” said Reyna. “It was a very stressful situation, but one that we understood couldn’t be avoided.”

Junior and sophomore nursing students, on the other hand, were a bit more impacted. Several juniors’ clinical rotations ended early, meaning they have to make up the lost hours during their senior year. Additionally, Heritage pulled all sophomores from their rotations and scheduled them to make up those hours over the summer months. This started in June when students traveled to Seattle to spend time at Children’s Hospital.

“Our primary concern was for the safety of our students,” said Christina Nyirati, chair of the Nursing Program. “We told them to stay home and stay safe. We just didn’t have enough scientific data yet.”

Once word came from the governor’s office that health sciences programs could continue to operate in person with safety protocols in place, Nyirati and her team got to work building a plan to minimize academic interruptions and to get students to graduation on time. They developed a plan where on-campus activities, such as labs and seniors’ exit exams, could take place with strict hygiene, mandatory masks and social distancing guidelines. Nyirati worked with the program’s partnering healthcare facilities to reschedule clinical rotations. Only a very few partners dropped out because they are unable to accept students.

“Our clinical partners have been amazing! Particularly our rural hospitals,” she said. “They believe that we all, together, are responsible for raising up highly-skilled, competent, safe and effective nurses. They also see our students as part of the movement to create safe and effective care for our communities.”

Only a very few partners dropped out because they are unable to accept students.

“Our clinical partners have been amazing! Particularly our rural hospitals,” she said. “They believe that we all, together, are responsible for raising up highly-skilled, competent, safe and effective nurses. They also see our students as part of the movement to create safe and effective care for our communities.”

MEDICAL LABORATORY SCIENCE

For Medical Lab Science students, the pandemic brought a unique learning opportunity and a chance to be part of the fight against COVID-19. Students in this one-year program completed their on-campus course work in December and were deep into their clinical rotations in labs at area hospitals several months before COVID-19 shut down nonessential businesses.

Medical Laboratory Science student Lauren Breymeyer at her practicum at Kadlec Regional Medical Center.

Medical laboratory scientists process tissue, blood and other bodily fluid samples to aid physicians in diagnosing diseases. Labs throughout Central Washington are stretched thin as COVID-19 testing increases the demands placed on these scientists.

“What makes us different from other medical professionals is that we deal with infectious materials every day. This is our job. The labs where our students are placed never asked us to leave because this is what we do. They realized that our students are highly-trained and can be a lot of help as the demand for lab services increases,” said Terese Abreu, director of the MLS program.

For their part, the students report that they feel like they are getting an education unlike any other. They are working as part of the team of lab professionals, guiding the proper collection of samples for COVID testing, assisting with the validation of new equipment and testing protocols, and processing units of convalescent plasma for transfusion to critically ill patients, among other activities, which are needed to support the work of the providers and nurses.

“This year has turned out to be a lot more than I expected. Being in the medical field during a pandemic has definitely been interesting and has opened my eyes to some of the intricacies of the healthcare field in America. It has only strengthened my passion for what I am doing and my passion for public health and lab medicine,” said MLS student Lauren Breymeyer.

This year’s cohort graduates in August, and next year’s cohort begins at the same time. The challenge for Abreu really lies with the incoming class. As in years past, the program will start with lectures and on-campus labs. However, students will attend classes virtually and meet on campus once every two weeks instead of the previous all- day, every-day model. In January, when they enter into their practicum, they will spend six weeks in a lab and one week on campus receiving “just in time” training around specific study areas. With only three or four students in a study area at a time, this will limit the number of students in classrooms and campus labs at a time.

“What our program is known for, why students seek us out, is the intense, hands-on community-based training that we provide, and the individualized training. If anything, they will be getting more of both,” said Abreu.

PHYSICIAN ASSISTANT

The Master of Science in Physician Assistant is a two-year program that has students on campus during their first year, then in clinical rotations
for their final year of study. Because Heritage’s program took a year off from enrolling students to build improvements in administrative practices, there was only one cohort enrolled in March. They were a few months away from completing their didactic studies and most were placed and ready to start their clinical rotations in mid-May. When the COVID-19 shut down began, the didactic portion of their studies went online. While online classes are challenging for some who prefer face- to-face models, the greater challenge is the clinical rotations. Students complete rotations in a variety of study areas: primary care, maternal health, pediatrics, emergent care, among others. Some practices chose to close their clinics to students in the wake of COVID.

“A third of our students’ primary care rotations were delayed and five were outright canceled. With a clinical cohort of 30 students, half were left without a clinical rotation at the start of the summer. We had to get creative and worked closely with our accrediting agency to ensure that the alternatives we came up with would still meet their requirements,” said Dr. Linda Dale, chair of the Physician Assistant Program.

Borges was one of the third whose clinical rotations were interrupted.

“I was supposed to start my primary care rotation at Farmworkers Clinic on May 18. As we were approaching my start date, I got an email saying that due to COVID-19 my rotation was delayed until June, then in June, I got another email stating that I was delayed until August. It was very heart breaking. Farmworkers clinic was my top choice to do my primary care rotation since I was going to serve a high number of Spanish-speaking patients,” she said.

Dale and her team scrambled to help students like Borges find alternatives. In her case, she was able to move to a rotation at the Union Gospel Mission in Yakima. Others were placed in rotations in other specialty areas. Where those couldn’t be found, the team got creative. One of the faculty members, Holly Clark, PA-C, MPH, developed a COVID-19 clinical rotation that addresses the specifics of the pandemic. Additionally, the program contracted with PA Excel, a national provider of virtual rotations that is approved by the PA Programs’ accrediting agency.

Through virtual rotations, the teaching physician sees a patient in the morning. The doctor will write notes about the case and send them to students. The students then spend the afternoon researching the case and writing what is essentially a medical chart note with their observations and suggested treatment plans. The entire cohort then meets virtually to critique three of the submitted notes chosen at random.

“This is a stop-gap,” said Dale. “We’re looking at this company as a possibility for our obstetrics and pediatric rotations. These are both extremely difficult to get students placed into during normal times. You can imagine the difficulty now when clinics want to limit the number of people coming in contact with their patients. The beauty of our clinical year is that our students see kids and women’s health patients during their family practice rotation, so they do get the experience. The online program can supplement this and help us meet accreditation standards.”

For students entering the program in May, Dale and her team established similar protocols as those set by Nursing and MLS. Lectures will take place online; the hands-on labs and testing will take place on campus using strict distancing and hygiene guidelines. The newest cohort has already expressed discontent with the online education and are eager to return to campus where they can build relationships with their classmates and support each other through this rigorous program.

WORKING TO FILL THE CRITICAL NEED

Dale, Abreu and Nyirati all agree that the work they are doing, what their students are doing, is critical to the health and well-being of the entire community.

“This thing (COVID-19) isn’t going away anytime soon,” said Dale. “I’m afraid that physicians, physician assistants, nurses, our lab scientists, are going to get burned out. Even worse, some will fall ill, maybe even fatally. We need to get replacements, our students, trained and well prepared so they can be there to protect us all.”

Heritage in the time of Coronavirus

Dining rooms and bedrooms become classrooms as COVID-19 forces Heritage to take student learning online through Zoom. Here, Professor Corey Hodge leads one of her social work classes.

Dr. Melissa Hill, vice president orders limiting gatherings of more that all non-essential businesses for student services, vividly recalls the days leading up to the closure of Heritage University’s campus in response to the COVID-19 global pandemic. On February 27, she and her fellow vice presidents and President Andrew Sund were traveling to Seattle for a leadership conference. Just two days prior, Seattle and King County officials confirmed the first United States COVID-19-related death of a patient in a nursing facility. By the time the team returned to campus a few days later, the number of cases had climbed to 14, and deaths associated with the disease had increased to six. News reports were filled with stories of concerned citizens calling for the closure of Seattle-area businesses, schools and universities.

“We realized that we were entering into an unprecedented time and that we needed to move rapidly to build our plan of action,” said Hill.

The university’s leadership team started meeting daily to prepare a contingency plan in case they had to close the campus. As they worked to figure out how to minimize the impact on students’ education, the rate of infection in western Washington state continued to climb. On Friday, March 6, three Puget Sound area colleges announced they were closing their campuses and moving instruction online, just as Heritage students were wrapping up their midterms and heading off to spring break. By the following Wednesday, the World Health Organization declared the coronavirus a global pandemic, and Washington’s governor made his first orders limiting gatherings of more than 200 people.

“We were watching things escalate pretty rapidly in western Washington,” said Hill. “As the number of cases climbed higher and higher in the Seattle area, we seemed pretty isolated here in the Yakima Valley. Still, we knew it was just a matter of time before it would come across the Cascades and into our community.”

By the end of spring break, it was clear that the university had to move instruction online, at least for the short term. Sund announced on Friday, March 13, that spring break was extended by one week to give faculty and students time to prepare to move to small group meetings, where social distancing could be observed, and remote learning. The plan was to resume the semester on Monday, March 23, with campus offices open and staff in place, but almost all instruction online for the next two weeks. However, on the day classes were slated to begin, the governor issued an executive order that all non-essential businesses were to close their physical spaces, and workers were to stay home. By 11:00 that morning, everyone was sent home, the campus was shut down, and all classes and business functions were moved online.

“One of the things that we did well was responding rapidly when it became clear that we were going to have to dramatically change the way we do business,” said Sund. “Things were shifting daily, sometimes hourly, and we needed to be flexible. We had to ensure the health and safety of our students, faculty and staff, and we needed to build ways that everyone could remain safe and complete their education.”

Miles apart but still close together, Heritage’s various departments continue to operate through virtual meetings.

MOVING INTO THE VIRTUAL WORLD

Moving from traditional classrooms to remote learning took a team of individuals with varying specialties. Luckily, much of the infrastructure was in place for distance learning and telecommuting. The university’s Information Technology (IT) department rebuilt its infrastructure following the 2013 fire that destroyed Petrie Hall. The new system contained redundancies to protect critical data from future catastrophes. A by-product of this precaution is that there is more than enough space available to handle the demands of an entire campus working remotely.

Remote learning and telecommuting had been in existence on some level for years at Heritage. Many faculty and staff could already access their desktop computers remotely. MyHeritage, the university’s academic platform, was in place and used to varying levels of its full capacity by faculty and students. Much of the work preparing for the campus closure was training those who were not already familiar with remote access and assisting full time and adjunct faculty who were not fully utilizing MyHeritage with moving their entire curriculum onto the platform. While the university’s Center for Intercultural Learning & Teaching provided MyHeritage training and support, IT secured Zoom accounts for all faculty, staff and students to use for meetings, team projects and group study, and virtual classrooms.

Dr. Yusuf Incetas – photo right – and his ED 496 Senior Capstone students meet virtually online through Zoom.

“By far, our biggest challenge was ensuring that everyone had access to computers and Wi-Fi from off-campus,” said Aaron Krantz, director of IT. “We distributed every laptop we had at our disposal, and we’re purchasing additional laptops for distribution when fall semester opens.”

Aside from the academic challenges, Heritage had to build its strategies surrounding student services. Even during normal times, the demand for student services such as the Academic Skills Center (ASC) and tutoring, CAMP and TRIO, and the HU Cares program is high.

“Many of our students need these extra supports to succeed in college. Tutoring is critical and our ASC moved rapidly to open virtual face-to-face tutoring,” said Hill. “As the semester progressed with virtual classrooms, we received an increasing number of referrals to HU Cares (a safety-net program that assists students in crisis with extra support such as emergency funding, mental health counseling, food and transportation assistance.)”

Hill explained that the issues students faced varied from food insecurity to greater need for assistance with mental health issues, to struggling with being able to work well in the new environment.

“A major challenge for our students is identifying a safe and quiet place to study,” said Hill. “Not only were they at home trying to stay connected and learn, many of our students have school-aged children or younger siblings who were also home needing to access computers and study areas to do their work. When we would ask students, ‘where is your quiet space to do your work?’ we were frequently told, ‘I don’t have one.’ It’s a real challenge when you share a small space with your active family, juggling everyone’s needs.

“On top of that, we have a higher number of students who share their homes with essential workers, particularly in agriculture. This is an area that is being particularly hard- hit by the pandemic. We saw an increase in mental health issues such as stress, depression and anxiety as students dealt with these pressures.”

Heritage addressed these needs through a variety of means. The university contracted with a licensed therapist to provide additional mental health services through remote access. Funds received from the government’s CARES Act Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund helped address food insecurity. Every Heritage student received $500 to assist with financial hardships brought on by the pandemic. The money came from a combination of private contributions to the university’s Emergency Fund and funding received from the federal government’s CARES Act Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund. DACA students, who were explicitly excluded from receiving assistance through the CARES act, were provided assistance through giving by several private donors who wanted to ensure they had the same level of support as non-DACA students.

Throughout it all, communication was, and remains, key throughout the shutdown. Heritage hosted several live Zoom information sessions in both English and Spanish. Some were specific to university operations and academic delivery during the shutdown. Others focused on the virus and safety precautions everyone can take to limit its spread.

Enzo Eagle helps Heritage Admissions distribute new student welcome packets during a drive up session at the university.

RECRUITING FOR THE CLASS OF 2024

It isn’t just the current class of Heritage students impacted by the pandemic. At the time of the campus closure, admissions counselors were hard at work bringing in the upcoming class of Heritage Eagles. While many universities’ application and acceptance periods were passed, Heritage maintains open admissions. Students can and do, apply for admission throughout the year, sometimes as close as a few days before the start of the semester.

The months before high school graduations tend to be among the busiest for Heritage recruiters as they help incoming students complete their application requirements and reach out to other prospective students who are just beginning to consider their options.

The order to close campus meant admissions counselors could no longer meet prospective students in person, on campus. However, it didn’t mean the face-to-face meetings stopped. Counselors and student ambassadors moved their work into their home offices, meeting with future Eagles virtually through Zoom.

Additionally, the university modified some admissions requirements to remove barriers that could keep students from enrolling. For example, the university changed the requirement for official transcripts. The closure of school districts made it difficult for students to access official transcripts. However, they do have access to an online grade book that shows the courses taken and the grades received throughout their high school career. Heritage is now using these in place of the transcripts until official transcripts can be acquired. Additionally, the requirement for placement testing to determine students’ level of college readiness is waived. Instead, placement for math and English are being determined through SAT or ACT scores, when available, or through documents being used as transcripts.

Incoming students like Viviana Phillips, from A.C. Davis High Schoo, took advantage of Admissions’ drive-up pick-up option to receive their new student welcome packets over the summer.

“The burden of these times shouldn’t be placed on these students’ shoulders,” said Gabriel Piñon, director of Admissions. “Heritage University is all about access and equity. We are going to do everything we can to ensure that those who want to earn a college degree can do so.”

Where things got a little tricky for Admissions was the public celebrations of full-ride scholarship recipients that’s become a tradition for the university.
Each year in the early spring, Heritage makes surprise visits to the homes and schools of the winners of its full-ride scholarships to announce their award. Each recipient is celebrated and presented with an oversized check in front of an audience of their family, teachers and peers. That couldn’t happen this year. What also couldn’t happen was in-person, on-campus presentations of college starter gift boxes to every accepted and enrolled new student.

“These personal, high-touch interactions with our incoming class are an important part of welcoming students and getting them introduced to the campus culture,” said Piñon.

The Admissions team adjusted to the “new normal” by setting up drive-up awards. Recipients came to Heritage with their families in their cars to receive their accolades and gifts. Heritage shared their stories with the rest of the HU community through social media postings.

Despite the challenges, the outlook for new student enrollment is good. The university is on course to enroll 350 new students for fall 2020. This is 10% above last year’s incoming class.

SILVER LININGS

While the changes to business practices and academic delivery had to happen rapidly and did cause some disruption in the short-term, some of the outcomes have the potential to be beneficial to students in the future.

Dr. Kazu Sonoda, provost and vice president for Academic Affairs, points to the university’s growing ability to implement blended models of traditional, in-person classrooms with synchronous and non- synchronous course delivery.

Working from home is the new normal for Heritage faculty and staff, including Enedeo Garza III, one of our student ambassadors who work in Admissions.

“Our students have a lot of challenges and demands on their time that can interfere with their schooling. For example, a broken- down car can make it difficult for a student to get to a class,” he said. “If a student misses one or two classes, it can be challenging to catch up. Being able to provide a blended model of education, where students can attend class in real-time in person or online, or to revisit the class virtually at another time, can keep them engaged and keep them from falling behind.”

The university is working with an outside consultant this summer to make improvements to its distance learning delivery both to address the immediate needs as well as for planning for future applications.

2020/21 ACADEMIC YEAR

In late spring and early summer, much of Washington state began to see cases of COVID-19 flatten. Counties were able to move into Phase 2, meaning some businesses could start to open. However, such was not the case in Yakima County, where Heritage is situated. In June, Yakima had the dubious distinction of having the highest infection rate in the western United States. What this means for the university’s ability to return to business, as usual, remains unknown.

“We are watching this situation very closely and following the directives put forth by the governor,” said Sund. “Heritage will definitely have classes in session this fall. We’re working on contingencies for every possibility, from continuing with online courses to transitioning back into the classroom. Ultimately our goal is to provide a quality academic experience for our students so that they can remain on track to earn their degrees and begin their careers.”

Incoming freshman and Soar Scholarship recipient Bryana Soto-Guillen and her family drove up to Heritage to receive her big celebratory check from Admissions Director Gabriel Piñon.

Heritage University to safely reopen campus for classes for the fall 2020 semester

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Heritage University to partially reopen campus for classes for the fall 2020 semester

Toppenish, Wash. – Heritage University President Dr. Andrew Sund announced a plan to partially reopen campus for fall 2020 semester classes, at the main campus in Toppenish and its regional site at Columbia Basin College (CBC) in the Tri-Cities. Dr. Sund said one of the developments that led to this decision is Washington State governor Jay Inslee’s proclamation allowing colleges and universities to reopen. Sund also said Yakima County’s recent progress in containing the spread of the virus, resulting in its classification in Phase 1.5, is another reason for the partial reopening.

Dr. Sund said there is another set of circumstances for Heritage students that require a campus presence. “Heritage exists to serve students who face difficulties accessing higher education for various reasons, one of which is that they want to stay in this wonderful valley we call home. However, many students do not have the conditions in their homes to conduct significant academic work. Internet connectivity is unreliable and space is limited – especially if they have siblings in the home all of whom need quiet study space and access to high-speed Internet,” Sund said. “For them, access to higher education means coming to campus.”

Under Heritage’s safe reopening plan approved by the Yakima Health District, many courses will offer a combination of face-to-face instruction as well as remote learning. When on campus, steps will be taken to ensure that class sizes are kept small to allow for safe social distancing. In many cases, classes will be divided into subsections where one group comes to class and the other learns online one day, and then the groups switch for the next day. Students will also determine their ability to come to campus based on health-related concerns for themselves and their family members.

The majority of student support activities will be offered online. However, students who want in-person tutoring at the university’s Academic Skills Center will be accommodated by setting up Plexiglas dividers between the tutor and student.

Dr. Sund said every precaution will be taken to ensure the safety of all students, faculty and staff while on campus. “While we recognize that it is important to open our campus for instruction because of the needs of our students, we must do so while following the strictest safety protocols,” Sund said. Other protocols include the requiring of wearing facemasks at all times and the constant cleaning, disinfecting and sanitizing of classrooms and other locations in use.

“Above all else, we must continue to lead with our mission, always acting in the best interest of our students across all aspects of their beings, their health and safety and their determination to continue to move forward with their lives and education,” said Sund.

More details on the safe opening plan can be found at heritage.edu/coronavirus.

To request an interview, please contact Davidson Mance at (509) 969-6084 or mance_d@heritage.edu.

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Reflection by Heritage University President Andrew Sund

Dear Heritage Community:

These past few days have been days of deep reflection for me. The brutal death of George Floyd, the subsequent demonstrations, and the violence around them have changed our nation in ways we are not fully prepared to understand.

The United States promises a society of opportunity and equity for all. We have always known that this promise is incomplete. Yet, since last week we have seen this incompleteness explode before our eyes. We have seen how there is no one United States, but many. Far too many of our citizens live in a United States of inequity and fear. The opportunities that many take for granted are completely absent for others. The agencies  that lead many to feel safe are forces of fear and violence for others.

These past few days I have also been reflecting about my own life. Am I doing enough to confront injustice and build a better society?  I hope that in these times we all ask ourselves similar questions.

This is perhaps an incomplete answer but I do believe in Heritage University. I do believe in our mission and that through a strong education we can make a difference in our world. Our graduates and our students represent the best of the United States and help us get closer to its promise.

However, I am deeply aware that Heritage is also imperfect. Our society still suffers from multiple forms of racism, overt and subtle, and Heritage University is not immune to this. Many times we fall into traps that lead, inadvertently, to unfairness.

My commitment is that as a University will work every day to overcome our own limitations and every day get closer to the promise of the United States.

 

Andrew C. Sund, Ph.D.
President

Heritage University to present the annual Bounty of the Valley Scholarship Dinner on KAPP and KVEW TV Saturday, June 6 at 7pm

HU President Andrew Sund as he appeared through a camera viewfinder during the recording of segments for the virtual Bounty of the Valley Scholarship Dinner (Ross Courtney Photos).

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Heritage University to present the annual Bounty of the Valley Scholarship Dinner on KAPP and KVEW TV Saturday, June 6 at 7pm

Toppenish, Wash. – For 34 years, the annual Bounty of the Valley Scholarship Dinner has been hosted on the Heritage University campus in Toppenish on the first Saturday of June.  This year because of the coronavirus safety protocols in effect, the University has had to create a virtual scholarship dinner.  The one-hour event will air on KAPP/KVEW TV in Yakima and in the Tri-Cities as well as stream online at heritage.edu/sd2020 on Saturday, June 6 at 7 pm.

The Bounty of the Valley Scholarship Dinner is the University’s most important fundraiser of the year.  All of the proceeds go directly to student scholarships in the coming academic year and according to David Wise, Vice President of University Advancement the need for scholarships has never been greater. “In the changed world that we find ourselves in at the moment, so many students and their families have lost their jobs, which they count on to help pay for college.  In order for our students to stay in school, the need for scholarship support will be more critical now than ever.”

The event will feature stories from Heritage students and alumni, as well as appearances from many community, business, and political leaders. Wise is optimistic about the event and its ability to raise the funds needed.  “If there is one thing I know about the Yakima Valley it is about the generosity of the people who live here.  I think it is the nature of this special place we call home.  There is a pride in this valley and a desire to help the community thrive.  They see education as vital to continued growth and demonstrate their belief in the Heritage mission through their giving.

Dana Eliason, Senior Director of Donor Relations at Heritage is usually the chief architect of the annual dinner and was both melancholy and excited about this year’s virtual event.  “I will so miss seeing all of our amazing friends who gather on campus each year in June.  But I know in my heart it is not the dinner that they come for, it is the stories of our students.  That is why they come each year and that is why they give.  The students they invest in go on to contribute to our wonderful community in meaningful ways.  That is the dividend our donors reap from their giving.”

President of Heritage University, Dr. Andrew Sund thinks that not only does the virtual scholarship event have the potential to raise the necessary scholarship funds needed for students, but has the potential to introduce Heritage to a wide audience across the valley, who may have heard about Heritage but not know much about it. “I will miss the annual gathering on campus, it is always such a joyful evening.  But I think we will make many new friends across the valley as a result.  I know they will be encouraged by what they learn, and I hope, find a new place in their hearts for Heritage.”

For more information, contact Davidson Mance, Director of Media Relations at Heritage University, (509) 969-6084 or mance_d@heritage.edu.

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New Yakima Valley education initiative secures $11,000 in grants to help Yakima Valley families impacted by Covid-19

Toppenish, Wash. – A $10,000 grant secured by the Yakima Valley Partners for Education (YVPE) will be used to help 220 families in the Lower Yakima Valley impacted by the Covid-19 virus. The Latino Community Fund of Washington, one of the members of YVPE, secured the grant from the Communities of Color Coalition, and will use the money to give food vouchers to families in Mabton, Grandview and Sunnyside hardest hit by business closures due to the virus. Fiesta Foods in Sunnyside is also providing $1,000 to help with this emergency relief.

Micaela Razo, project manager for Latino Community Fund in central Washington, said many low-income migrants in Mabton, Grandview and Sunnyside now have no incomes to feed their families after losing their jobs. “These families have no other way to provide for their loved ones, and are in need of the economic support this grant will bring,” said Razo.

Latino Community Fund is a member of YVPE, an organization formed by Heritage University to tackle the challenges of educational attainment faced by communities in Yakima County across the cradle to career continuum – also known as collective impact.

In administering this specific grant, the organization will work with the school districts of Grandview, Mabton and Sunnyside to identify the families impacted by Covid-19 to provide them with food vouchers they can use immediately.

Heritage University to implement distance learning in response to Coronavirus concerns

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Heritage University to implement distance learning in response to Coronavirus concerns

Toppenish, Wash. – Heritage University is taking precautions to protect the health of its students, faculty and staff, their family members as well as the community beyond campus. Today Heritage President Dr. Andrew Sund announced protocols that follow closely the guidelines of the Yakima Health District, the Washington State Department of Health and the Center for Disease Control, to minimize the spread of the virus.

The first will be to extend Spring Break for undergraduate students through Sunday, March 22, 2020. There will be no classes the week beginning March 16, 2020. “During this time, we expect faculty and students to prepare to continue their programs using available online platforms, making other arrangements for distance learning or other mechanisms that maintain social distancing protocols,” said Dr. Sund.

Sund said beginning March 23, 2020, Heritage will deliver almost all instruction online for a two-week period through April 5, 2020. “Instructors will communicate with students electronically on how to obtain study materials, turn in assignments, and participate in a remote instruction environment,” he said.

Dr. Sund also announced all events taking place on campus between March 13, 2020, and April 30, 2020 will either be canceled or postponed. Decisions will be made whether to hold events scheduled for after April 30 as changing conditions warrant.

As a point of social responsibility, Dr. is strongly discouraging Heritage community members from traveling or attending events with large numbers of individuals. “We are taking these measures so that we may minimize the spread of the virus.”

For more information, contact Davidson Mance, media relations coordinator at (509) 969-6084 or Mance_D@heritage.edu.

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Heritage University to offer Master of Education in Reading which prepares teachers to help students overcome dyslexia and other reading disorders

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Heritage University to offer Master of Education in Reading that will prepare teachers to help students overcome dyslexia and other reading disorders

Toppenish, Wash. – Heritage University is now offering a master’s and undergraduate degree, as well as a certificate program that prepares teachers to help students overcome dyslexia and other reading challenges. The Master of Education in Inclusive Education: Dyslexia, ESOL and Cultural Competence provides students with in-depth training  on the theories, practices, pedagogy and technology in the field of reading education.

Kari Terjeson, chair of the Department of Teacher Education, said the program was developed after educators and school administrators told her there was a great need for expertise in this field. According to Terjeson, “Candidates who complete the program will know  how to identify, evaluate and deliver specialized instruction to students who, for reasons of language barriers or learning disorders, are struggling to learn how to read and write.”

According to Terjeson, the M.Ed. in Reading degree program at Heritage was developed according to the Washington Educator Standards, along with the Knowledge and Practice Standards for Teachers of Reading from the International Dyslexia Association and the International Literacy Association. “Reading and writing are fundamental skills that all students need to build a lifetime of success, and this program will train teachers to help their students overcome their challenges and build their love of learning,” she said.

The flexibility of this master’s degree allows students to complete classes in on-campus lectures, online classes, and show competence in subject matter, which involves completing a portfolio assignment and an objective exam proving mastery. Students completing the program coursework or demonstrating proficiency and receive a passing score on the necessary Washington Educator Skills Test (WEST-E) and/or National Evaluation Series (NES) can earn endorsements in ELL/BLE and Reading, which qualifies them to teach reading across all grade levels within their area of concentration.  A Reading or ELL/BLE only endorsement option is available for teachers who already hold a master’s degree. Those completing the program will be able to demonstrate several learning outcomes, which ultimately act in the best interests of struggling readers and readers with dyslexia or other reading disorders.

The Master of Education in Reading program is open to current educators who hold a Bachelor of Arts in Education or a Bachelor of Education. For more information, contact Shari Foster at (509) 865-8623 or Foster_S@Heritage.edu, or Kari Terjeson at Terjeson_K@Heritage.edu. For interviews, contact Davidson Mance at (509) 969-6084 or Mance_D@Heritage.edu.

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Heritage University announces Fall 2019 Dean’s List

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Heritage University announces Fall 2019 Dean’s List

Toppenish, Wash. – The following are students who earned a place on the Heritage University Dean’s List for the fall 2019 semester. To qualify for the Dean’s List, students must be full-time, matriculated undergraduates who have earned semester grade point averages of 3.5 or better.

Marisa Abarca-Perez, Kennewick Brisel Acuna, Yakima Gissell Aguilar, Sunnyside
Paulina Alcala, Yakima Deyci Alejandre, Toppenish Maritza Alvarez, Sunnyside
Yessyca Alvarez, Grandview Yanett Alvarez, Yakima Carmela Andrade, Mattawa
Eilee Andujo, Prosser Ana Aparicio, Yakima Adrian Araiza, Yakima
Rosalinda Arreola, Toppenish Hema Balderas, Wapato Yosi Barajas, Yakima
Michelle Barba, Union Gap Anjuli Barragan, Toppenish Maria Barrios, Union Gap
Grace Bennett, Kennewick Sulem Bernal, Sunnyside Alyson Blair, Kennewick
Jeanne Blakeman, Pasco Abigail Bravo, Sunnyside Chandler Brimley, Kennewick
Alyssa Buck, Mattawa Jesus Buenrostro, Yakima Ruben Bustamante, Toppenish
Daisy Bustamante Orduno, Granger Roma Cantu, Toppenish Jennifer Cantu, Prosser
Brooke Capetillo, Toppenish Jenny Careaga, West Richland Juan Castaneda, Toppenish
Marlene Castillo, Yakima Leslie Castillo, Sunnyside Andrea Ceja, Toppenish
Jocelyn Celis Torres, Wapato Kevin Cervantes, Pasco Jesus Cervantes Valencia, Yakima
Diana Chavez Cerda, Yakima Maria Ciriaco, Toppenish Noemi Cisneros, Wapato
Isaiah Cisneros, Toppenish Ana Cisneros Chavez, Sunnyside Karina Colin, Sunnyside
Yuliana Colin-Flores, Pasco Madison Contreras, Pasco Melissa Correa, Pasco
Esmeralda Correa, Pasco Guadalupe Cortes, Wapato Almarosa Cortez, Wapato
Estefani Cruz, Wapato Vanessa Cruz, Pasco Alondra Cruz-Valladares, Yakima
Ashley Davis, Naches Xavier Day, Toppenish Connie Delacruz, Yakima
Esperanza Delgado, Toppenish Katherine Di Biase, Kennewick Keila Diaz, Granger
Irvin Diaz Tapia, Yakima Ginger Dingus, Kennewick Chestina Dominguez, Toppenish
Amanda Donelson, Kennewick Ashley Douglas, Yakima Kaylee Drummond, Richland
McKenzie Durand, Yakima Taylor Ebbelaar, Grandview Amanda Epler-Alegria, Kennewick
Jocelyne Espinoza, Yakima Kaulin Everham, Kennewick Sandra Feria, Grandview
Krisana Fernandez, Sunnyside Artemio Flores, Toppenish Erick Flores, Toppenish
Julia Flores, Toppenish Zahira Flores Gaona, Yakima Luis Garcia, Outlook
Evelyn Garcia, Wapato Leticia Garcia, Granger Esmeralda Garcia, Wapato
Jose Garcia, Wapato Jacqueline Garcia-Hernandez, Outlook Marlenne Garibay, Sunnyside
Dorothy Garwood, Prosser Anahi Garza, Richland Rigoberto Garza, West Richland
Enedeo Garza-Ramirez, Toppenish Samantha Gilmore, Yakima Irwin Godinez-Cruz, Toppenish
Lesly Gomez, Yakima Tania Gomez, Pasco Carmen Gonzales, Toppenish
Anayeli Gonzalez, Othello Zoe Gonzalez, Prosser Mariah Gonzalez, Toppenish
Noe Gonzalez, Toppenish Sandra Gonzalez, Kennewick Heather Gooss, Yakima
Kamimsa Goudy, Toppenish Jason Grajales, Brownstown Heidy Granados Lopez, Kennewick
Steven Greenwald, Richland Anna Griffith, Kennewick Shelby Groth, Selah
Sonia Guerrero, Toppenish Yazmine Guido, Yakima Kaylyn Gunnier, Zillah
Alexis Guzman, Pasco Martha Guzman, Yakima Yuli Guzman, Yakima
Anayeli Hermoso-Sedano, Yakima Stephanie Hernandez, Wapato Lizbeth Hernandez Islas, Yakima
Maira Hernandez-Gonzalez, Sunnyside Paola Herrera, Kennewick Ruby Herrera, Sunnyside
Bethany Herring, Kennewick Pete Herron, Yakima Tracie Hicks, Kennewick
Christina Holland, Kennewick Samantha Horvath, Kennewick Nansi Iniguez, Zillah
Guadalupe Iniguez, Zillah Kaneeta Jeffery- Zack, Zillah Leonila Jimenez, Toppenish
Zuzeth Jimenez, Toppenish Samanta Jimenez, Pasco Irene Jimenez, Toppenish
David Juarez, Yakima Kathleen Kasper, Richland Ekman Kaur, Kennewick
Wendy Kleppin, West Richland Viktoriia Konko, Kennewick Valentyn Konko, Kennewick
Julia Korotkov, Richland Maria Lechuga, Wapato Shiraz Lefeber, Pasco
Ilse Leyva Manzanarez, Yakima Yovana Leyva-Carmona, Wapato Andres Lima Elias, Othello
Mark Litka, Richland Elvira Lopez, Toppenish Yezie Lopez-Perez, Yakima
Kassandra Luna, Union Gap Daisy Luna, Wapato Jennifer Macias, Toppenish
Yareli Madrigal Luna, Pasco Herminia Magdaleno, Yakima Yaritza Maravilla, Toppenish
Elisa Mariscal, Toppenish Natalie Martinez, Sunnyside Alondra Martinez, Wapato
Dulce Martinez, Sunnyside Daisy Martinez, Wapato Andrea Martinez-Santiago, Toppenish
MaKayla Mathews, Richland Christina Mattson, Richland Stephanie Maybee, Selah
Judit Medina, Kennewick Luis Medina, Zillah Kailyn Mendez, Yakima
Debbie Mendez, Yakima Miguel Mendoza, Toppenish Andrea Mendoza, Yakima
Yesenia Mendoza, Mattawa Guadalupe Mendoza, Umatilla Jazmin Mendoza, Pasco
Stephanie Mendoza, Mabton Valentin Mendoza, Grandview Juan Mendoza Mendoza, Yakima
Alondra Mendoza-Gomez, Pasco Diana Meraz, Tieton Cassandra Mercado, Kennewick
Celine Michael, Yakima Priscila Montiel, Yakima Brenda Montoya-Roman, Yakima
Payton Moore, Richland Shamira Moore, Yakima Elizabeth Moreno, Yakima
Gabriela Moreno, Toppenish James Muggli, Kennewick Diana Najera, Union Gap
Susana Naranjo, Yakima Joselin Navarrete, Yakima Guadalupe Navarro, Sunnyside
Carrington Nevard, Richland Edith Noriega, Sunnyside David Olden, Yakima
Arlene Olea, Sunnyside Meaghan Oliver, Richland Elizabeth Orozco, Grandview
Kitzely Ortega, Pasco Esther Osorio Rangel, Parker Liliana Padilla, Grandview
Joaquin Padilla, Toppenish Miguel Palma, Yakima Yerim Park, Yakima
Marlene Paz, Kennewick Yolanda Penaloza, Grandview Ana Perez, Pasco
Hunter Perez, Kennewick Eric Philipp-Petrick, Yakima Allison Platsman, Sunnyside
Angela Ponce, Zillah Ruby Prieto, Grandview Kristina Prikhodko, Kennewick
Hunter Pryse, Yakima Dennise Quebrado, Yakima Maria Quezada, Grandview
Blanca Quiroz Marin, Prescott Stephanie Rabanales, Sunnyside Adrian Ramirez, Toppenish
Alexandra Ramirez, Yakima Elizabeth Ramirez, Toppenish Stephanie Ramirez, Pasco
Viridiana Ramirez, Pasco Briceida Ramos, Grandview Olivia Ramos Alvarez, Kennewick
Rosa Rangel, Connell Anyssa Rebollero, Yakima Rocio Regis, Toppenish
Araceli Regis, Toppenish Karen Reyes, White Swan Gloria Reyes, Granger
Juan Carlos Reyes Francisco, Buena Anitramarina Reyna, Yakima Makenzie Richardson, Selah
Viviana Rico, Pasco Rosa Rios, Moxee Morgan Roberts, Kennewick
Adriana Rodriguez, Kennewick Marisol Rodriguez, Yakima Lizbeth Rodriguez, Wapato
Cassandra Rodriguez, Grandview Karina Rodriguez-Escalera, Yakima Monica Romero Castro, Grandview
Leidy Rosales, Pasco Eva Rosenow, Kennewick Rosario Ruiz, Yakima
Milca Ruiz M, Richland Ella Ryadinskiy, Kennewick Rhonda Ryan, Richland
Ana Saldana-Carrillo, West Richland Kathleen Sanchez, Toppenish Jenny Sanchez, Toppenish
Katellin Santiago, Toppenish Angelita Santillan, Pasco Aiyh Sarama, Sunnyside
Danielle Sauceda, Pasco Robert Schreiber, Yakima Delia Serna, Sunnyside
Karly Serrano, Yakima Ida Shock, Toppenish Gabriel Sillas Ramos, Grandview
Yanna Slutskaya, Kennewick Jeniya Slutskaya, Kennewick April Smith, Selah
Jacob Snell, Kennewick Daniela Solis, Yakima Diana Solorio, Granger
Gerardo Soto, Toppenish Maria Soto-Galvan, Yakima Miriam Soto-Guillen, Wapato
Cody Stamper, Pasco Anothony Stewart, Yakima Nathan Thompson, Yakima
LisaLyn Tormey, Yakima Maribel Torres, Richland Yanet Torres, Zillah
James Torres, Grandview Yoana Torres, Sunnyside Brayan Torres Gutierrez, Sunnyside
Daisy Vaca, Wapato Maria Vaca, Yakima Maria Valencia, Toppenish
Jazmin Valencia, Yakima Anakaren Valenzuela, Toppenish Jacquelyn Vargas, Yakima
Maria Vargas, Sunnyside Brenda Vasquez, Toppenish Teresita Vega, Yakima
Angelica Vela, Yakima Paola Villanueva, Sunnyside Alejandra Villasenor, Kennewick
Citlaly Villegas, Wapato Dawn Waheneka, Wapato Tori Wapsheli, Toppenish
Whisper Weber, Yakima Robyn Webster, Yakima Morgan White, Kennewick
Devin Williams, Kennewick Sara Wilz, Pasco Miranda Yale, Brownstown
Sonja Young, Kennewick Amarani Zamora-Portugal, Kennewick

 

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Heritage University announces a new director for its Tri-Cities branch campus at Columbia Basin College

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Martin Valadez

Heritage University announces a new director for its Tri-Cities branch campus at Columbia Basin College

Toppenish, Wash. – Heritage University President Dr. Andrew Sund has announced a new director for its Tri-Cities branch campus at Columbia Basin College. Beginning January 6, 2020, Martin Valadez, currently the Director of Workforce Education at Heritage, will lead the regional site.

The former director of the Tri-Cities operation, Dr. Marisol Rodriguez-Price had expressed a desire to return to the professorate within the College of Education. Dr. Sund saw this as an opportunity to make structural changes in the operation that would better align the CBC campus with the main campus in Toppenish. “Our regional site will be directed by an administrator reporting in the same chain as the Director of Admissions. This will allow for closer collaboration between Admissions and the regional site,” Sund said.

In announcing this administrative change, President Sund praised Rodriguez-Price for her excellent work over the last four years at CBC. “Heritage is grateful to Rodriguez-Price for her commitment to the Tri-Cities regional site.  She is an invaluable contributor to the Heritage University community and her dedication to the University’s mission is estimable,” said Dr. Sund.

Valadez will report to David Wise, the VP of Admissions, Marketing and Advancement; Valadez, Wise and Admissions Director Gabriel Pinon will form a team sharply focused on recruitment and admissions at the CBC campus where Heritage offers five Baccalaureate degrees: accounting, criminal justice, elementary education, psychology and social work, as well as a Master in Teaching graduate degree.

Valadez is exceptionally involved in both the academic and business communities in the Tri-Cities, where he has lived since 2006. Valadez has extensive higher education experience as both a professor and as an administrator. His most recent higher education work was at CBC where he served as a professor of history and intercultural studies and then as the Vice President for Diversity and Outreach. He also has strong business connections through his work as the former CEO of the CBC Foundation. Just this month, Valadez returned to the role of president of the Tri-Cities Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, where he has served in various roles for more than ten years. He is also Board Chair with Communities in Schools Benton-Franklin; a board and executive committee member with the Tri-Cities Economic Development Council (TRIDEC); a trustee and vice-chair for Mid-Columbia Libraries, and a member of the Washington State Complete Count Committee.

Valadez will continue his work in Workforce Education through a period of transition. Rodriguez-Price will transition back into the College of Education, where much of her work will continue to be in the Tri-Cities.

For more information, contact David Mance, Media Relations Coordinator at (509) 969-6084 or Mance_D@heritage.edu.

 

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