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Washington State University

Top Ten Senior Awards

Class of 2018 | Pullman

For more than 80 years, Washington State University has recognized ten of the top seniors in each graduating class. These women and men represent the highest standards in specific aspects of the college experience, including academics, athletics, campus involvement, community service, and visual and performing arts.

Alice Hiemstra

Alice Hiemstra

Visual and Performing Arts

  • Honors College, College of Arts and Sciences
  • Music (oboe performance)
  • Zillah, Washington

Involvement

Served as principal oboist and secretary for the WSU Symphony Orchestra, co-president and co-founder of the WSU Double Reed Corps, performed with the WSU orchestra and Washington-Idaho Symphony Orchestra, featured soloist in many pieces and winner in local, regional, and statewide competitions, served as a mentor to Honors freshmen, won the WSU Concerto Competition, performed as a guest soloist with the WSU Symphony Orchestra as well as with the Spokane Symphony

Favorite WSU experience

One of the most fulfilling components of being at WSU was being a member of the WSU Honors College. It was thrilling to be in classes where the students and faculty were constantly engaged and as excited about learning as I am. My favorite experience was presenting and listening to research at the Western Regional Honors Conference in Riverside, California. It was a joy to be able to listen and learn about current research from across the Western United States.

Future plans

I will be attending Indiana University Bloomington for my master’s in music in oboe performance, and will eventually pursue a doctorate in music history. I plan on becoming an oboe and honors professor and play in a professional symphony orchestra.

Alivia Brown

Alivia Brown

Athletics

  • Carson College of Business
  • Business Management Innovation and Change
  • Gig Harbor, Washington

Involvement

Four-year member of the WSU women’s golf team, team captain for her senior season, Women’s College Golf Academic All-American, Pac-12 Academic Team, WSU Academic Team, selected to compete at the NCAA Regional Championships during her freshman and junior years, won the 2017 Cougar Cup Individual Title, holds school records for women’s golf in player career scoring average, player career par or better rounds, player single season scoring average, player single season par 4 scoring, and player single season par or better rounds

Favorite WSU experience

My teammates and I spent many days and evenings together in the Pullman sunshine at Palouse Ridge playing golf and having fun together. I have had countless laughs and great conversations on the golf course that I will cherish as some of my favorite memories.

One of the highlights was qualifying for the national championship my freshman year. Getting the opportunity to see the Coug flag flying at the national championship was a surreal moment. Ultimately, my WSU experiences have been about the community and friends around me. I have been blessed to make some friends and mentors that will last a lifetime.

Future plans

Following my student-athlete career at WSU, I plan on pursuing a professional career in golf. To make a career out of something I love is definitely a dream of mine. Getting a degree in business has also left the door open for me to pursue another dream of mine, which is opening a bakery and coffee shop.

Joanne Kunze

Joanne Kunze

Community Service

  • College of Veterinary Medicine, Honors College
  • Neuroscience
  • Maple Valley, Washington

Involvement

Conducted surveys on access to medical care while serving as research associate in the National Association of Research Associate Programs, American Medical Student Association where she organized blood drives for the Inland Northwest Blood Center, Honors College ambassador, completed the certified nursing assistant program through Lewis and Clark State College, program leader for Cougar Safe Rides, Birth Place volunteer at Pullman Regional Hospital, interpreter and general volunteer for Hearts in Motion in Guatemala

Favorite WSU experience

Serving as a medical interpreter in Guatemala really opened my eyes to the importance of communication in medicine and community health. That feeling was surprisingly mirrored when I returned to Pullman and worked as a research associate in the local hospital. It showed me that lack of access and lack of communication exist here as well, especially in rural underserved areas. It was a really good experience overall and motivated me toward the goal of medical school.

Future plans

I’m applying to several medical schools including WSU’s Elson S. Floyd School of Medicine. I want to become a physiatrist—to help amputees or those with neurological disorders achieve a higher quality of life—or a family physician. I definitely want to practice in Washington state in an underserved area.

Celena Hansen

Celena Hansen

Visual and Performing Arts

  • College of Arts and Sciences
  • Music (vocal performance), Anthropology
  • Global Studies
  • Hollywood, Maryland

Involvement

Performed in Italian, French, German, Spanish and English, placed in the highly competitive senior women’s division at the Inland Empire National Association of Teachers of Signing auditions, lead roles in many productions within the School of Music, president of WSU Concert Choir, officer in the student chapter of National Association of Teaching of Singing, volunteered at the annual Choral Festival and Music Major for a Day events, worked as a stage technician on various productions

Favorite WSU experience

My favorite WSU experience was when the School of Music put on “The Addams Family.” I was fortunate enough to play Grandma Addams, which is an outrageous character. She was so much fun to play and I was able to be as ridiculous as I wanted. After the show, people came up to me and told me they were shocked when they saw in the program that I was Grandma Addams because it was such a stark difference from me as a person.

Future plans

I’m moving to the D.C. area to continue performing. My plan is to continue working in theaters as either a stage hand or a production assistant while I audition and work on honing my singing and dancing skills.

Shanelle Briggs

Shanelle Briggs

Academics

  • College of Arts and Sciences
  • Pre-medicine, Spanish
  • Olympia, Washington

Involvement

Research for the WSU Department of Psychology, third author on a paper published in the peer-reviewed Journal of Adolescence, captain on the WSU Spirit Squad, ambassador for the WSU Office of Admissions, Cougar Health Awareness Team, volunteered in Guatemala (feeding families, constructing a school building, and working in a nutrition center and orphanage)

Favorite WSU experience

One of my favorite experiences was going with WSU faculty and students to Guatemala on the Hearts in Motion medical mission trip. My mom is a nurse so she volunteered with me for two years. I got to translate for healthcare professionals, observe rare surgeries, and volunteer in underserved villages. I had always wanted to be a physician, but helping people who had no access to medical care gave me a new perspective on my career goals.

The support that I’ve received from my professors, advisors, and cheer coach has been incredible and has allowed me to embrace many opportunities at WSU. I was on a psychology research team with Dr. Chris Barry, did research at the Pullman Regional Hospital, and helped with an iron study in Guatemala. I served as a student ambassador for the Office of Admissions and worked as a tutor for athletes. I also went abroad four times during my time here at WSU and wound up getting a second major in Spanish. Also, being a cheerleader and spending my Saturdays with 30,000 Coug fans was incredible.

Future plans

I will attend the University of Washington School of Medicine this fall and plan to do their Global Health Pathway so I can continue serving abroad. My goal is to eventually set up a medical practice in the United States and spend time every year bringing medical care to people in developing countries.

Alyssa Norris

Alyssa Norris

Campus Involvement

  • Voiland College of Engineering and Architecture, Honors College
  • Civil Engineering
  • North Pole, Alaska

Involvement

Student representative on the WSU Board of Regents, president of Society of Women Engineers, several leadership roles within ASWSU, ambassador for the WSU Honors College, radio host for the Crimson Report on KZUU, participated in Leadership WSU, recipient of a US-UK Fulbright Commission award and studied at the University of Bristol in the United Kingdom

Favorite WSU experience

My favorite experiences at WSU have revolved around working with passionate individuals to accomplish a goal. One of my best experiences was serving as the Society of Women Engineers president last year and working with fellow students to put on Kids Science and Engineering Day for the community.

Another favorite experience was working to increase mental health awareness and sexual assault prevention on campus. This year, seeing the ASWSU Cougar Health Fund Endowment come to fruition and raise over $50,000 for programming and events to help educate and engage the WSU community has been one of my favorite experiences.

Future plans

I recently accepted a job with LONG Building Technologies in Fairbanks, Alaska, and will work primarily on improving energy efficiency and air quality for commercial and public properties. My long-term goals are to improve air quality in rural parts of the United States, primarily in Alaska.

Denzel McCray

Denzel McCray

Community Service

  • College of Arts and Sciences
  • Psychology, General Studies with focus on medical science
  • Clarksville, Tennessee

Involvement

Served as patient registration representative at Pullman Regional Hospital, volunteered in the emergency department at Gritman Medical Center, member of Men for Social Change, research assistant in the Affective and Cognitive Influences on Decisions Lab. Denzel is also a member of the Army Reserves, served as a combat medic, and will soon be promoted to the rank of sergeant

Favorite WSU experience

One of my favorite experiences was working at University Recreation where I met a lot of different students from different backgrounds—and made a lot of friends.

I’m also grateful for the chance to be involved in psychology research on decision making and framing. I presented a poster at SURCA undergraduate research expo and have discovered that it’s fun to be a scientist.

Another great experience was when I got the opportunity to work as a medic on a Native American reservation in Montana. I was lucky to have that experience as it showed me that the medical field is where I want to be.

Future plans

I’m applying to several medical schools including WSU’s Elson S. Floyd College of Medicine. I hope to go into clinical research as well as medical practice specializing in psychiatry or cardiology.

Monae Hendrickson

Monae Hendrickson

Athletics

  • Carson College of Business
  • Marketing, International Business
  • Ephrata, Washington

Involvement

President of the WSU women’s rugby club since 2016, coordinated the first overseas tour for a WSU sports club team in over 30 years, vice president of the International Business Club, served as a Sports Club Federation board member

Favorite WSU experience

My favorite experience was when the WSU women’s rugby team traveled to London. It was the first sport club to travel outside North America. As a team, we raised more than $27,000 in less than eight months to make it happen.

I believe in making a difference and this trip not only impacted my individual teammates’ lives, but it also carved the path for sport clubs to travel like this in the future. It not only proved WSU women’s rugby can compete at an international level, but also that with enough hard work and will, you can accomplish almost anything.

Future plans

I plan to work for Mutual of Omaha as a financial consultant. I believe in the art of persuasion and can’t wait to start a career where I can be my own boss and meet personal goals. I love working with people and believe this path is a fundamental start to a fun and challenging career.

Garrett Kalt

Garrett Kalt

Campus Involvement

  • College of Arts and Sciences, Edward R. Murrow College of Communication, Honors College
  • Political Science with an emphasis in pre-law, Strategic Communication with an emphasis in public relations
  • Fallon, Nevada

Involvement

ASWSU vice president in 2017-18, Boeing Scholar, helped lead the “It’s on Cougs” campaign aimed at reducing sexual assault through awareness and violence prevention education, active Cougar Lobby Team member, internship with the Thomas S. Foley Institute for Public Policy and Public Service, internship with Nevada Governor’s Office, resident advisor, campus tour guide, one of 16 students selected nationwide for leadership program at George Washington’s Mount Vernon, volunteer with Women’s Transit, Environmental Sustainability Alliance, Hugh O’Brian Youth Leadership, Sigma Phi Epsilon fraternity

Favorite WSU experience

Being student body vice president was the culminating experience of my time at WSU. It gave me the opportunity to serve my peers and practice internal communication skills, while also addressing two issues that are prominent on the WSU campus as well as at universities across the nation: sexual assault and mental health.

A defining moment for me came during a backpack journalism trip to Cuba that was sponsored by Murrow College. I made a friend there who had lost so much faith in his government that he risked his life trying to cross the ocean on a rubber tire. His story inspired me to work towards ensuring that people are connected to their government institutions.

Future plans

This fall, I will begin the masters of science in politics and communication at the London School of Economics and Political Science. I then plan to enter a career in public service as a communications professional within state and local government, with a particular focus on rural and underserved communities.

James Whitbread

James Whitbread

Academics

  • College of Arts and Sciences
  • Theoretical mathematics
  • Sociology, chemistry, molecular biosciences, biology
  • Colville, Washington

Involvement

President and founder of the National Alliance on Mental Illness at WSU, organized events at WSU to promote awareness of common mental health difficulties, assisted physicians and nurses and socialized with patients at Pullman Regional Hospital, Health and Wellness Services holistic wellness facilitator, recipient of the President’s Award for Leadership, Regents Scholarship

Favorite WSU experience

It’s incredibly difficult to nail down a single experience at WSU that was my favorite. This campus and this community is something unlike anything I’ve ever experienced. From the intense school spirit that united Martin Stadium as the Cougs won in double-overtime against Boise State this year, to the amazing camaraderie with my fellow students in the math department and the sciences, there is nothing quite like being a Coug. My favorite experience here was living in a close-knit community with many people that I met along the way. The people here make the WSU experience, and their friendship and working relationships are the things I am most grateful for coming from this university.

Future plans

I will attend Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine starting in August. My long-term goal is to become a cardio-thoracic surgeon at the Johns Hopkins Hospital. I hope to be a professor of surgery at Johns Hopkins so that I may continue teaching, which is something I care deeply about.