All totaled, 363 men and women earned their undergraduate and graduate degrees at Heritage this academic year.
“Commencement is always a special moment,” said Dr. Kazuhiro Sonoda, provost. “We are all honored to share this moment with them.”
This year’s commencement address was given by Washington State Supreme Court Justice Steve González. He was appointed to the State Supreme Court in January 2012 and subsequently won two contested races for six-year terms starting in 2013 and 2019. Prior to his appointment, González had served as a trial judge on the King County Superior Court.
In addition to González’s address, two graduating students gave their remarks. Cristy Fiander (B.A., Environmental Studies) presented the baccalaureate student address and George Pope, (M.A., Medical Sciences) gave the master’s degree student address.
Fourteen 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: Brenda Cardona, Social Work; Janette Cardona, Social Work; Fatima Delgado, Social Work; Rylie Dixon, Social Work; Kimberling Garibay, Social Work; Delia Garza, Elementary Education; Amanda Goodman, Social Work; Rachel LaBelle, Psychology; Domitila Morales, Social Work; Jennifer Mitchell, Elementary Education; Kelsey Picard, Nursing; Johnathan Schab, Business Administration; Kyle Wandling, Accounting; and Mette Warnick, Accounting.
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 awarded to Shelby Clark, nursing.
Honoring a Role Model
Every year, Heritage honors an alum whose service and professionalism embody the teachings of the university. This year’s Violet Lumley Rau Alumnus of the Year award recipient was Maria Villalobos-Bevins (M.Ed., 1986)
Villalobos-Bevins was one of the university’s earliest students. After earning her education degree, she went on to a 26-year career as a teacher in the Yakima Valley. Additionally, she is active in her community, volunteering as a translator for physicians at the Union Gospel Mission and serving as a visiting preacher working with incarcerated women in the Yakima County Jail. Villalobos-Bevins is also part owner of Hispanavision and leads a weekly television program that airs on several of the station’s channels.