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Washington State University

Top Ten Senior Awards

Class of 2021

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

Dallas Hobbs

Dallas Hobbs

Athletics

  • College of Arts and Sciences
  • Digital Technology & Culture, Fine Arts
  • WSU Pullman
  • Cedar Rapids, Iowa

Involvement

Executive board member, creative director, and co-founder of the Black Student-Athlete Association; defensive line on WSU football team; Outstanding Senior for Digital Technology & Culture; Pac-12 Conference Fall Academic Honor Roll; representative on the Pac-12 Student-Athlete Leadership Team; graphic designer for the Cougar Athletic Fund; representative on the Student-Athlete Advisory Committee; freelance graphic designer; co-host for podcast, Showing Colors, with baseball player Danny Cervantes and soccer player Kelis Barton

Favorite WSU experience

The summer in Pullman is the best time for athletes. We do our workouts and hang out at the Dunes or at someone’s house. It’s a great time to bond with the freshmen and some of the older guys.

Working with Cougar Athletic Fund and seeing my work for Night with Cougar Football up there was a good memory. WSU has been a great experience from all aspects. I’ve squeezed everything dry until I get everything out of it.

Future plans

Although he originally sought to become a creative director at an athletics program, his plans changed some. “I’m planning to start my own business as well as doing marketing and design in the brewing industry,” said Hobbs.

Crystal Campbell

Crystal Campbell

Community Service

  • Carson College of Business
  • Accounting
  • WSU Vancouver
  • Vancouver, Washington

Involvement

Coordinated a holiday card campaign for the residents of the Era Living Retirement Community; President of the Volunteer Income Tax Assistant Club, which she founded at WSU Vancouver; Volunteer at the Oregon Food Bank; Server for Share, a poverty alleviation program that serves hot meals to homeless and low-income families; Army veteran

Favorite WSU experience

The holiday card campaign for sure. I was inspired by a WSU Granger Cobb Institute for Senior Living seminar series. The presenter, Marla Becker, the executive director at Aljoya Mercer Island, was talking with a current resident about how COVID affected retirement homes, how costs were increasing and how the limitations on visitors were going to make the holiday season very restrictive. After the presentation, I reached out to Marla and started a holiday card campaign. There were around 40 volunteers to make cards for 78 residents throughout six different Era Living facilities for Thanksgiving and Christmas. My mom and I ended up sending cards as well as handmade bookmarks and keychains to all the residents. It was magical, to know you could brighten someone’s holiday with something as small as card. I’m going up to meet all the residents soon because they’re finally able to have visitors. I love the elderly, there’s just this spot in my heart for the elderly and what you can learn from them. I’m sending cards this year as well. After graduation, my mom and I are making the trip up to Aljoya Mercer Island to finally meet and have lunch with Marla Becker and the residents now that the restrictions have eased and they can finally have visitors.

Future plans

I’m looking to get hired with the Washington Department of Revenue. I’ve always loved math and numbers.

Brandt Fisher

Brandt Fisher

Visual/Performing Arts

  • College of Arts and Sciences, Honors College
  • Music Performance in saxophone with an emphasis in jazz
  • WSU Pullman
  • Edmonds, Washington

Involvement

WSU Jazz Big Band; SaxBand; Saxophone Quartet; Latin Ensemble; vice president of the WSU Jazz Society; Presser Scholar Award; President’s Honor Roll; Phase 1 Scholarship; top university saxophone soloist at the Lionel Hampton Jazz Festival for three years in a row; intern at the Edmonds Woodway Jazz Colony Summer Camp for three summers; camp counselor/instructor at the Edmonds School District Summer Music School for four summers; and Student Entertainment Board concert committee member

Favorite WSU experience

As a freshman and sophomore, I was part of a band led by Raul Blanco called Jazz Wires. When I came to WSU as a freshman, I didn’t know anyone. But this grad student, Raul—he’s originally from Cuba—wanted to put together a jazz group and invited me to be part of it. During the two years he was here, we just created a great family within the band. We played venues in Moscow and Pullman, including Rico’s, and recorded three albums of original music in the WSU recording studio. This year, I applied for some funding for my senior recital and capstone project, and I was able to purchase plane tickets for Raul, who now lives in Houston, and Noah Austin, who’s in Nashville doing a doctorate. The band hadn’t played together in two years. In early April, we all met up in the studio and recorded part of my recital. I didn’t think it was going to happen, but the stars aligned. Luckily, we were able to go into separate rooms in the studio and safely record about an hour of music. We also played at Rico’s together again. My freshman and sophomore years, we played there a lot—probably every other week. It was Rico’s first live music in over a year.

Most of all in this pandemic, I miss playing music in the same room with other people. I miss the feeling of interacting in the moment. We’ve been doing projects in the School of Music where we record our parts separately, send them in virtually, and then they assemble it. But I’m excited to get to the point when we can play music together in person regularly.

Future plans

My future plans were interrupted because of COVID. I was initially going to apply to graduate school for music education or music performance. For now, I’m going to move back to Edmonds and work for the summer and maybe a semester. However, I’ll be preparing for graduate school in the near future. I’m hoping to go to New York or Chicago on an assistantship or fellowship. After that, I would like to come back to the Pacific Northwest and teach saxophone, jazz, and music theory as a professor. I feel inspired by my WSU mentor, Horace Alexander Young, to be training and supporting young musicians.

Patrick Robichaud

Patrick Robichaud

Academics

  • Voiland College of Engineering and Architecture, Honors College
  • Civil Engineering
  • WSU Pullman
  • Moscow, Idaho

Involvement

Outstanding Junior and Senior in the Department of Civil Engineering; Outstanding Junior and Senior for the Voiland College of Engineering and Architecture; observer at the UNFCCC Conference of the Parties 25 in Spain; team leader and officer for Engineers Without Borders in Panama; study abroad at Swansea University in Wales; chair of the ASWSU Environmental Sustainability Alliance (including organizing TEDx WSU Countdown event); WSU Sustainability and Environmental Committee undergraduate representative; teaching assistant for Honors and civil engineering courses; Honors Advisory Council member; Honors College Head Ambassador; undergraduate research peer mentor; president of Tau Beta Pi Washington Beta; Truman Scholar finalist; Carson Award for WSU Undergraduate Research; adventure facilitator for University Recreation; research assistant with top WSU researchers and has worked to write his own position paper on water resource management; policy internship with ASTM International; coordinator with National Youth Science Camp

Favorite WSU experience

Traveling down to Panama with Engineers Without Borders was one of my favorite experiences, as we created a meaningful difference for those community members, with a new water system. As chair of the Environmental Sustainability Alliance, we put on a Countdown event through TED last fall, which was well received at WSU. All of the different talks were around climate change and potential solutions and effects. That was an amazing experience especially because we had some WSU professors give presentations as well.

My research experiences have been a big part of my time at WSU. I worked for two different professors, Dr. Jenny Adam and Dr. Julie Padowski. Completing these research projects taught me the value of grit and the importance of collaboration as you don’t know what you’re going to find.

Future plans

This summer I’m completing an internship with the North American Youth Parliament for Water working on the Columbia River treaty renegotiation between the US and Canada. I’m also going to be working for the National Youth Science Foundation, which runs a science camp for graduating high school seniors. I’m looking for other opportunities before I attend graduate school in the fall of 2022. My broad career goal is to increase access to water as the climate changes. Where I end up down the road could potentially be the State Department, the United Nations, or maybe at some other international nonprofit such as the World Resources Institute or Stockholm International Water Institute.

Ariel Medeiros

Ariel Medeiros

Community Service

  • College of Agricultural, Human, and Natural Resource Sciences, College of Arts and Sciences
  • Wildlife Ecology and Conservation Science, Psychology
  • WSU Pullman
  • Reno, Nevada

Involvement

Secretary and board member of the Washington Food Coalition; president of the LaDow/Garfield Food Pantry Board; co-chair Whitman County Food Coalition; WSU All-Campus Food Drive; WSU Center for Civic Engagement Palouse Fresh Food project coordinator— diverting 15,769 pounds of food from the landfill so it could be repurposed into meals for local families

Favorite WSU experience

A formal evening at The Museum of Flight in Seattle to receive the President’s Civic Leadership Award from Washington Campus Compact was one of Medeiros’ most memorable experiences during her time at WSU. She was recognized for efforts to reduce food insecurity in Whitman County and met other college students focused on civic engagement in their communities. “It was great to talk with other students about the different kinds of service projects they were working on all across the state,” she said. It was also a chance for Medeiros and her mom to spend some time together exploring Seattle.

Future plans

Medeiros will begin working as a planning aide for the City of Pullman after graduation. In the future, she plans to attend graduate school for food systems. Through graduate work, she hopes to work with food pantries in rural areas to improve access to food nutrition.

Kyle Kopta

Kyle Kopta

Visual/Performing Arts

  • College of Arts and Sciences
  • Digital Technology & Culture
  • WSU Tri-Cities
  • Hermiston, Oregon

Involvement

Phi Kappa Phi Honor Society; President’s Honors List, summa cum laude; ASWUTC Perseverance Award; Douglas P. Gast Fine Arts Scholarship; member, committee of the Washington State Arts Commission overseeing the Washington State Art Collection; graphic designer for ASWSUTC; marketing intern for WSU Tri-Cities; teacher’s assistant and tutor in the digital technology and culture program; host of biweekly community radio show; and WSU Tri-Cities Student Employee of the Year for the 2020-2021 academic year

Favorite WSU experience

The WSU Tri-Cities Undergraduate Research Symposium and Art Exhibition is held at the end of each semester. What stands out most to me is really those shows. Our students are making just incredible work. I helped put it on when we were in-person. Being able to showcase their work and my work is always the most fun event. I’m currently 3D modeling a space for us so we can hold it virtually this semester. I’m doing it in my free time; I’m not doing it paid or part of any job. It’s something I know how to do and can donate. It’s just so important for students to have this kind of culmination for all their hard work. They create all this amazing work, and they have to be able to somehow show it.

WSU Tri-Cities also has a lot of mentors who helped me navigate the higher education world and the art world. I grew up in a rural area. There were zero galleries. Neither of my parents graduated from college, but they have been so supportive of my journey in higher education. I couldn’t have done it without them and my professors, who helped me succeed inside and outside the classroom. I think art in general has been a vehicle for self-growth in my professional, personal, and academic life. Through video, photography, and painting, I can learn about myself and my community and how I fit into it and I can help other people. Sometimes the things you don’t expect can end up having the most impact and being the most rewarding. Limitation can breed innovation.

Future plans

I’ve really found a love for marketing. It’s not something I expected to love as much as I do. I came to WSU Tri-Cities putting myself in a box, saying, “I’m going to become a videographer or graphic designer,” but I’ve been awarded so many opportunities to collaborate with so many different WSU departments that I’ve found I have a real love for creating things for the community with other people. My plan now is to get a marketing job. I contemplated whether I should move to a bigger city or stay local, and I think I’ve kind of settled on staying local because it’s really important to me to foster this small but tight-knit arts community. I really want to contribute to the Tri-Cities community what I wish I had growing up in Hermiston.

Samantha King-Shaw

Samantha King-Shaw

Academics

  • College of Arts and Sciences
  • Women’s, Gender and Sexuality Studies
  • WSU Pullman
  • Sparks, Nevada

Involvement

Women’s Cross Country and Track and Field athlete; Women’s Cross Country Team Representative for the Student-Athlete Advisory Committee; Social Justice Peer Educator for the Office of Outreach & Education; Secretary-Treasurer for the Queer Intersections Association; Outreach and Events Coordinator for PERIOD @ WSU

Favorite WSU experience

During my freshman year, we hosted the Track and Field dual meet against UW and we won. Just being part of my team, who I miss so much, and celebrating a win we pulled off against the Huskies. It was awesome.

Another memory was the Take Back the Night march during the last fully normal semester at WSU in October 2019. I was there with my fellow Queer Intersections Association members and the larger umbrella of the Coalition for Women Students. It was a nice evening of solidarity and community-oriented interactions.

Future plans

I will be starting graduate school in the fall at the University of Buffalo. I’ll be pursuing a PhD in Global Gender Studies. One day, I want to be able to teach or be a professor.

Charisma Taylor

Charisma Taylor

Athletics

  • Carson College of Business
  • Hospitality Business Management
  • WSU Pullman
  • Nassau, Bahamas

Involvement

Board member and team representative on the Student Athlete Advisory Committee; treasurer of Black Student-Athlete Association; WSU track and field team member, triple jump and sprint hurdles (WSU record holder for triple jump and 60m hurdles); NCAA first-team all-American in the triple jump and Bahamian national record holder in triple jump; assisted with the Lauren McCluskey Memorial 5km race to support women’s safety on college campuses; volunteer with Food Not Bombs of the Palouse; entrepreneur and owner of The Pastry Château in Nassau, Bahamas (her specialty is a tropical cheesecake)

Favorite WSU experience

Arriving at WSU, it was not what I expected. It was a very small town, but then I met the coaches and people around the community and they were so welcoming. I got a feeling that I am home. I could see myself making lifelong friendships, graduating, and becoming a better version of myself. I’m a very shy person, and my friends have peeled back the layers and helped me break out in a way.

Future plans

I’m going to the University of Tennessee to get my master’s in entrepreneurship and innovation. I also have two more years of eligibility left so I’m going to be competing for the University of Tennessee. It’s bittersweet because I have to leave here. WSU’s always going to be in my life and I’m going to rep whenever I can. I’m also working on my own company back in the Bahamas. I want to go pro in track and field, and have my eyes set on the Olympics coming up. I’m confident that I can be an Olympian for my country and try to get on that podium.

Mikayla Beckley

Mikayla Beckley

Campus Involvement

  • College of Veterinary Medicine
  • Genetics and Cell Biology
  • WSU Pullman
  • Arlington, Washington

Involvement

Vice president of the Disabled Students and Allies Club; founder of a DSAAC mentorship program for both undergraduate and graduate students; Access Center representative on WSU’s Transit Advisory Group; Access Center 2021 Student Leadership Award; secretary of WSU’s Shark Conservation Club; member of the Beta Tau Chapter of Delta Alpha Pi Honor Society; President’s Honor Roll; George S. Allen Scholarship; Crimson Transfer Award; COVID-19 contact tracer certified through Johns Hopkins University; Top Scholars mentor; student learning liaison for general microbiology; undergraduate research assistant in Michael Griswold’s lab; virtual wellness coordinator for Special Olympics; emergency department volunteer at Pullman Regional Hospital; front desk volunteer at Cascade Valley Hospital in Arlington; volunteer summer camp counselor at Camp Oasis; volunteer for Crohn’s and Colitis Foundation of America; and founder and host of the Disability Experience Podcast in collaboration with KUGR radio.

Favorite WSU experience

My favorite WSU experience has truly been a culmination of all the tiny moments and interactions within the Cougar community. When WSU announced that classes would remain online for the entire 2020-2021 academic year, I was overwhelmed with support. My professors made sure I had the resources I needed and were always available when I had a question or just wanted to check-in. The same goes for my classmates. Rather than isolating themselves, they created group chats, additional Zoom meetings, and discussion posts. The unwavering and unconditional support and guidance from the WSU community makes it hard to leave. I’m blessed to have called this place home. And, like (singer/songwriter) Andy Grammar says, I’ll “always find my way back home.”

Future plans

My primary professional goal is to utilize my passion for medicine and genetics to reduce health disparities among minority groups as a pediatric cardiologist. To achieve this goal, I plan on pursuing a combined MD/PhD program. I aim to reduce health inequities by identifying genetic variants that may contribute to poor health and to continually advocate for patient access to health care throughout my medical practice. Immediately following graduation from WSU, I will be taking a gap year, which I’m extremely excited about. I will work as a post-baccalaureate fellow in the Division of Cardiology at Seattle Children’s Hospital prior to attending medical school. Specifically, I submitted a grant to work with Dr. Portman as part of the Portman Research Group and Kawasaki Disease Program at Seattle Children’s Research Institute, which will allow me to grow as a clinical researcher.

Alicia Campos Macias

Alicia Campos Macias

Campus Involvement

  • Voiland College of Engineering and Architecture
  • Electrical Engineering
  • WSU Everett
  • Marysville, Washington

Involvement

Senator and secretary for ASWSU Everett; MESA (Math, Engineering, and Science Achievement) student ambassador; secretary for WSU Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers; Society of Women Engineers; worship leader, Sunday school teacher, and treasurer assistant at Iglesia Manantial De Agua Viva

Favorite WSU experience

“One of my favorite experiences during my years at WSU was going on an airplane for the first time,” said Campos Macias. She received a scholarship to attend the Society of Women Engineer’s annual conference and flew to Anaheim, California. As a DACA student, she had some fears about flying but was grateful for the support of her WSU community. “I had a fear of going on the airplane just because I didn’t know what was going to happen, so I was thankful they were able to assure me and that they were going to do what was best for me.” At the conference, she also had the opportunity to meet many fellow engineering students. “A lot of them were electrical engineering seniors, so I got to bond with them. They kind of guided me for the rest of my junior year. I made a lot of good friendships that continue to this day.”

Future plans

After graduation, Campos Macias is planning to continue the job search. She is open to opportunities in the field of electrical engineering, whether they are close to home or may take her someplace new. “I’m excited to graduate, especially because I’m a woman of color who is going into electrical engineering, a field that is mainly dominated by men,” she said. “In my graduating class, there’s about 30 of us. And there are only two females—and I’m one of them. I’m also going to be the first in my family to graduate. Just having that experience where my family, especially my parents, who have worked hard and helped me get to this point, to see them watch me graduate will fill me with pride.”