Heritage University Alumni Connections
After years of sacrifice, of late night study sessions and countless hours spent in the library and computer labs, Heritage graduates celebrated earning their degree at the 2018 Commencement in May.
All totaled, 325 men and women earned their undergradaute and graduate degrees at Heritage this academic year.
In addition to Alvord’s address, two graduating students gave their remarks. Jesica Alvarez (B.A.,Chemistry) presented the baccalaureate student address and Alfredia Thompson, (M.I.T., Elementary Education) made the master’s degree student address.
The Violet Lumley Rau Outstanding Alumni Award was given to Colleen Sheahan for her work establishing and running a private Christian school in Yakima. Fifteen graduates received the Board of Directors Academic Excellence Award, which is given to undergraduates who completed their degree with a perfect 4.0-grade point average. This year’s recipients were: Aryell Adams,Social Work; Kayli Berk, English/Language Arts; Aimee Bloom, Education; Meagan Gullum, Social Work; Tifanny Macias, Education; Daniela Medina, Education; Itzamary Montalvo, Education; Debra Olson, Education; Alexandra Orozco, Social Work; Perla Perez, Social Work; Karima Ramadan, Early Childhood Studies; Filipp Shelestovxskiy, Education; Jessie Shinn, Accounting; Ana Tapia, Social Work; and Ashley Zahn, Education. The President’s Student Award of Distinction, which is given to an undergraduate with a distinguished record of academic excellence and service to the university, was given to Aleesa Bryant, Biomedical Science.
Heritage University Inaugurates its Third President
A whirlwind of events in March brought together a campus and a community to celebrate the
inauguration of Heritage University’s third president, Dr. Andrew Sund.
Over the course of three days, the university hosted several events, each designed to celebrate different aspects of the university, its mission, and the people from the campus community and beyond.
“Inaugurations are as much a celebration of the universities and the communities that they serve, as they are of the incoming president,” said David Wise, vice president for marketing and advancement.
The university opened its festivities with the President’s Inauguration Prelude, an event that honored its relationship with the Yakama Nation and the founding of the university by two Yakama women, Violet Lumley Rau and Martha Yallup, along with Sister Kathleen Ross. During the Prelude, the university dedicated the permanent installation of the Heritage teepee. The teepee now serves as a learning center and is a significant part of the university campus.
Later that evening, the university moved its celebration to the Columbia Basin College (CBC) campus for a reception with faculty, staff, students, alumni and friends of the university. The event was an opportunity for those who are tied to the regional site to meet Dr. Sund and hear about his vision for the university and its partnership with CBC.
On its second day of the celebration, Heritage hosted educators from around the Yakima Valley at a luncheon with the president. The event brought together school counselors, principals, superintendents, as well as faculty from the university’s College of Education.
In the evening, Heritage hosted the President’s Inauguration Jubilee at the Yakima Seasons Performance Hall. It was an arts and cultural event that celebrated the richness of the Yakima Valley and the people who call this area home. This multicultural repertoire of music, poetry,
and dance featured some of the Yakima Valley’s most talented artists. A mariachi band welcomed guests as they arrived and a pre-show reception featured a gallery filled with works by local artists and Heritage students. Performances that night included a classical violin solo by Denise Dillenbeck, smooth jazz by the Yakima Valley College Jazz Ensemble, readings by poet Dan Peters, choral works by the Yakima Symphony Chorus, traditional Native American dancing by The Four Seasons Travelers, pop and rock music by the Latino band Avión, and contemporary indie music by Naomi Wachira.
“The Jubilee was especially meaningful,” said Wise. “The Yakima Valley is a vibrant tapestry of rich cultures, which was demonstrated through the performances at the Seasons. It was a beautiful night.”
The celebrations capped off with the formal installation during a ceremony steeped in academic tradition. The event began with the grand procession of regalia-clad faculty, visiting dignitaries from other colleges and universities, members of the platform party, student representatives, and the Yakama Warriors color guard marching across campus from the Kathleen Ross snjm Center to Smith Family Hall in the Arts and Sciences Center. They marched down the aisle to a recording of the “Heritage University Tribute Anthem,” composed for the university by Joan McCusker, IHM and performed by the Yakima Symphony Orchestra. Davis Washines, chair of the Yakama General Council and Dr. Kathleen Ross, snjm each presented an invocation and Dr. Keith Watson, president of Pacific Northwest University of Health Sciences, and Norm Johnson, WashingtonState Representative, 14th District (R) presented greetings. Before representatives from the Student Government Association, Faculty Senate, Staff Educators Senate, and university alumni make their remarks, students from the Wapato High School Choir “En Vox” performed an interlude of choral music. They later sang the university’s alma mater Lift High the Banner! , written by Dr. Curtis L. Guaglianone and arranged by Aaron L. Jameson. David Cordova, friend and former colleague of Dr. Sund, made the introduction before Heritage Board of Directors Chair Pat Oshie presented Dr. Sund with the chain of office during the Ceremony of Investiture.
During his presidential address, Dr. Sund shared his appreciation of the deep roots that the university has with the Yakama Nation and the importance of that relationship. He spoke of the importance of building academics that prepare students to meet the needs of the businesses in
the Yakima Valley.
“We can become even more of an institution that responds to the needs in the Valley for an educated population that serves the growth and benefit of this wonderful region, but also serves the aspirations of our students,” he said. “In doing that we will be successful.”
Dr. Sund joined Heritage University in July 2017. He succeeded Dr. John Bassett, who retired after serving as president for seven years. President Sund came to Heritage University from St. Augustine College in Chicago, where he served as president from 2008 to 2017. Before St. Augustine, Dr. Sund was Dean of Workforce and Community Education at Olive Harvey College, one of the city colleges of Chicago, from 2004 to 2008.
Toppenish, Wash. –Heritage University and Pacific Northwest University of Health Sciences have come together with the Mt. Adams School District and the Yakama Nation Tribal School to create a unique science-focused program for young people living on the homelands of the Yakama Nation.
The five-week long Summer Program for Yakama Students (SPYS) encourages and rewards young people in the Valley to enroll and succeed in science classes. Dr. Maxine Janis, president’s liaison for Native American affairs at Heritage University, and Dr. Mirna Ramos-Diaz, assistant professor of family medicine at PNWU, and Dr. Naomi Lee from Northern Arizona University created SPYS. Dr. Janis and Dr. Ramos-Diaz co-wrote a proposal to the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and received notice of funding days before the program began in the Yakima Valley.
“I just want to emphasize that our collaboration is the only way this program is possible,” said Dr. Ramos-Diaz, SPYS co-director. “What makes my heart sing is the work from everybody so we could build this pathway program for our underrepresented youth.”
The intent of the program is simple – build and strengthen the scientific knowledge and motivation of students to enter the health sciences and do well in their science curriculum. Upon successful completion of the program, the high school students may be able to participate in a two-month internship at the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS) at the NIH in Bethesda, Maryland.
Dr. Janis and Dr. Ramos-Diaz have worked closely for years on both the summer internship program and the Roots To Wings program that involves both schools. “I am thrilled to be working with partners who feel as passionately as I do in developing programs that will benefit the Native peoples of our Valley.”
SPYS is a comprehensive science-based education program which integrates traditional ecological knowledge (TEK) as part of the curriculum. The program will also offer instruction on how to apply for college, seek scholarships and financial aid, and learn successful study habits. Local culture is also woven into the curriculum, such as incorporating the knowledge of various foods into the study of chemistry, and integrating Native traditions and values into science. “We know that combining culture with science makes the course of study more accepted by students, who in turn will do better in these types of programs,” said Ramos-Diaz.
The SPYS program is designed to provide opportunities for underrepresented youth to seek health professions pathways. Native Americans and Mexican-Americans under the age of 18 living on the Yakama Nation are participating in SPYS. Once they complete the program, these students will be in the position when they turn 18 to complete a competitive application for a summer internship at the NIH in Bethesda.
Guest lecturers from across the nation will join Heritage and PNWU faculty for SPYS. Dr. Rita Devine, program coordinator for NINDS and Dr. David Wilson, director of the Tribal Health Research Office at NIH will visit the students and observe their progress. Dr. Wilson’s office coordinates NIH research related to the health of American Indians and Alaska Natives (AI/AN) at NIH institutes and centers. “Dr. Wilson’s presence at SPYS will bring a great deal of prestige to the program,” said Ramos-Diaz.
“The NIH always seeks to support pilot programs such as SPYS to demonstrate how underrepresented students in health sciences disciplines can conduct research that will impact health, disease and health care outcomes,” said Dr. Janis. “Support for the SPYS preparatory education program offers opportunities for our Native youth to become active participants as scholars in the health sciences.”
Heritage University in Toppenish will host the first week of SPYS beginning July 9, 2018. PNWU in Yakima, Wash. will host the second and third week, with the program returning to Heritage for the final two weeks.
For more information, contact:
Maxine Janis at (509) 865-0737 or Janis_M@Heritage.edu
Mirna Ramos-Diaz at (509) 249-7796 or MRamosDiaz@pnwu.edu
Fraternity and Sororities Set the Bar High in Academics and Service Over spring break, with classes on hiatus, a group of young men hunched over 30,000 plastic eggs, filling each with candy. Later they would scatter them around campus to the delight of hundreds of children who came for the third annual Easter Egg Extravaganza. Sponsored by the Omega Delta Phi […]
YAKIMA, Wash. — On various weekends during the upcoming school year, high school juniors across the Yakima Valley will cram into classrooms to take college entrance exams.
Taking those exams can be harrowing. Some students study endlessly for the SAT and ACT, thinking their chances of getting into college — and thus securing a financially stable future — ultimately hinge on their scores.
Read more at YakimaHerald.com.
Local middle school and high school students have a better understanding of the business world after participating in Camp S.E.E.D. Marketing Day at Heritage University last month. Several dozen students from area schools spent two weeks with Heritage University Enactus members to learn marketing skills. With the help of mentors, they researched, developed, manufactured and marketed products which they sold to the campus community on June 28. The students also sold lunch and snack items.
This is the fifth year for Camp S.E.E.D. (Social, Economic and Environmental Development) at Heritage. Several of the mentors, including Grandview High School student Agustin Cortes, attended Camp S.E.E.D. as a student, and is glad to be giving back to the program.
To see pictures from Market Day, visit the Enactus Heritage University Facebook page by clicking here. Camp S.E.E.D. will host a second cohort of students the first week of July at Heritage.
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.
Steve 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.”
Kimberly 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!
FIELD 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.
MAKING 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
Annual Heritage University event raises $678,250 for student scholarships
The Bounty of the Valley Scholarship Dinner, the premier annual event in the Yakima Valley dedicated to raising scholarship funds for Heritage University students, brought in $678,250 this past weekend.
This year marked the 32nd anniversary of the event that celebrates the many talented men and women who are transforming their lives and our communities enabled by the gifts of the generous individuals who make it possible for them to earn their college degrees.
Heritage University students served as hosts for the 250 guests of the event, welcoming them as they arrived on campus, sharing their Heritage experiences and expressing their gratitude for their ongoing investment in the university. Heritage mathematics major Brandon Berk, who served as the student speaker during the event, was honored to represent the many students like him who have excelled because of the scholarships they have received. “I had thought of going to college but didn’t think I’d ever have the opportunity to attend because of money,” said Brandon during his speech. “I was very close to joining the military like others in my family, but then I received the Act Six scholarship, which has led to numerous opportunities including being published in a peer reviewed journal as an undergraduate; receiving internships at prestigious universities, including the University of Virginia and the University of Chicago; and working with mentors who are guiding him to his goal of earning a Ph.D. in Mathematics. Without Heritage and the Act Six scholarship, attending college would have been almost impossible,” he said.
Virginia S. Hislop, an organizer of the very first Bounty of the Valley event 32 years ago and who has attended every year since, was overjoyed by the turnout and generosity of longtime donors, new supporters and guests. “The scholarship monies raised at this event level the playing field for our students who are every bit as capable and talented as any student in the country, but who often do not have the same financial resources, “said Hislop. “By giving to our scholarship fund, our donors are making an investment in their community because our students go on to become the doctors, nurses, teachers and business leaders who will work here, in the Yakima Valley,” she said.
Since its inception 32 years ago, more than $5.7 million has been raised at the event, with every dollar going directly to student scholarships. Senior Director of Donor Development and organizer of the Bounty of the Valley, Dana Eliason, said it’s an amazing experience to watch our donor community and our students get together at this event year after year. “Our donors often experience a strong emotional response when they meet the students and hear their stories of accomplishments made possible by their generosity. It’s magical!” she said.
For more information or to make a donation to student scholarships, contact Dana Eliason at (509) 865-0441 or email@example.com.
Heritage University, Whitman College students collaborate on RADLab digital story
During the month of June, ten students from Heritage University and and ten students from Whitman College (Walla Walla, Wash) will participate in a unique month-long digital story-telling initiative called the Rural American Digital (RAD) Lab. With guidance from Seattle-based tech start up PopUpJustice, the students will bring to light often-ignored or forgotten stories of the non-urban part of Washington state.
RADLab will run from June 2-29, with the first gathering at Heritage University. and kicks off with the students gathering at Heritage University to begin their work on stories. Members of both cohorts will be able to collaborate on those stories with faculty from both institutions. During the second and third weeks, the cohorts will communicate from their home campuses with the other through video-conferencing software. The students will gather at Whitman on the last day to present their stories.
PopUpJustice is working with the students to create the stories. The company provides services including consultation and project management on assignments relating to technology, equity and cultural competency audits, strategic planning, organizational and community development, among others. Founder Aurora Martin worked in the legal system for 20 years as a public interest lawyer; her experience includes starting as an intern and rising to executive director at Columbia Legal Services.