Thousands of people flocked to the Spokane Veterans Memorial Arena on Saturday to watch their friends and family members participate in a traditional EWU commencement. Videos of both the morning and afternoon ceremonies can be accessed on the Commencement website, or you can view a photo gallery on Flickr.
Nearly 2,200 students from the class of ’22 (undergraduate and graduate students) celebrated the culmination of four years of hard work, much of it through a pandemic, in an event that hadn’t been held in-person since 2019. The mood was festive as grads, decked out in caps and gowns, were pampered, photographed and cheered on by parents, grandparents, siblings and other loved ones.
“She worked hard and did phenomenally,” said Nicole Connors of Spokane, who was at the arena to watch her daughter, Anabella, 21, receive her diploma.
About 65 percent of eligible graduates participated in the ceremony, which is about same percentage as before the pandemic. Another 172 alumni from ’20 and ’21 also opted to walk.
Among the returning grads was Bryn Tennyson. Although she didn’t get to celebrate earning her bachelor’s degree in biology in 2020, the pandemic ultimately influenced her career choice. She is now in the process of finishing a master’s degree in biology and plans to work in a medical laboratory.
Tennyson’s family made the trip from Dillingham, Alaska to commemorate her academic accomplishments – and to celebrate her 26th birthday the following day.
“My whole family is here to celebrate with me,” Tennyson said.
Nathan Murphy, 23, who earned a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering in ’21, talked about mastering remote work skills. Murphy led a team of students who developed a 3D Conveyor Belt Printer as their senior capstone project. The students used Microsoft Teams to design the printer remotely and took turns doing the hands-on construction, with the final project displayed at the department’s Capstone Expo.
“You take it week by week and know that you have to achieve certain things,” the Murphy, who grew up in Federal Way, Washington. The recent grad was hired by Alliance Machine Systems, in Spokane Valley, and is now vouching for another Eagle from his capstone team to get a job there.
Capstone teammate Fernando Cazares, 23, of Duvall, Washington, credits remote learning with helping him find “different ways to communicate with people” that will benefit him professionally. The ’21 grad now works as a technical research specialist at PACCAR Parts, headquartered in Bellevue, Washington.
Accompanied by their proud mom, Angie Perez, twin sisters Des’ree and Deja Henry of Bellingham, Washington, posed for photos while celebrating earning bachelor’s degrees in sociology with minors in Africana studies. The 2022 graduates, age 22, powered through the era of pandemic learning with persistence.
“I’ve always been a hard worker and I always stick to it no matter the obstacles and challenges,” Deja Henry said.