If you haven’t been to the annual ‘Pass Through the Pillars’ to welcome incoming students, or the ‘Senior Send-Off’ celebrating the achievements of soon-to-be Eastern graduates, you are missing out! These Eastern traditions are filled with just as much support, energy and enthusiasm as a home football game.
On Thursday, June 6, EWU students, faculty and staff cheered on the sidelines as hundreds of seniors walked down the brick pathway (known as the ‘Hello Walk’) from Showalter Hall and back through the Herculean Pillars, signifying the beginning of the next chapter in their lives.
Afterward, we caught up with students from the class of 2019 and asked them to share a few of their memories of Eastern and their plans for the future.
Degree: Visual Communication Design
An Anchorage, Alaska native who worked for more than two years as a resident assistant in EWU student housing, Madison Cranmer says her experience at Eastern was so full that it’s impossible to describe in a sound bite.
Suffice it to say, she says, that her time at the university was so gratifying that she’s decided to stay on as a graduate student. “I love Eastern so much I just couldn’t leave,” Cranmer says.
Degrees: Criminal Justice and Sociology
Like her friend Cranmer, Hannah Hitterdal also worked in student housing.
“I changed a lot through the experience of being here at Eastern,” says the senior from Everett, Washington. “Part of that was college, but another part was working in housing for three years. The community was really tight knit, which really help me to grow as a person. Everybody is family now.”
Academically speaking, she says, the size of EWU’s student body was a real plus. “In the classes you feel like you actually get to connect with your professors, it’s not like one of those 200-people in a class kind of things.”
After receiving her diploma, Hitterdal plans to begin her career working in Spokane to provide rehabilitation services for those recently incarcerated. “I actually have an interview at a half-way house tomorrow,” she says.
Degree: Mechanical Engineering
Coming from Miami, Florida, Louis Blanquicet says that adjusting to Cheney’s cold winters was a challenge, but that the quality of Eastern’s engineering program more than made up for any weather-related discomfort.
Blanquicet echoes Hitterdal in his praise for the intimacy of Eastern’s academic life. “The small class sizes were really great,” he says. “Especially in my mechanical engineering classes, we were able to do a lot of ‘hands on’ work.”
After graduation, he plans to move to Houston to begin a series of certification programs that, when completed, will allow him to return home and join his father’s business.
Riley Osborn (right)
Degrees: Journalism and Community Relations
It isn’t only engineering classes offering an a supportive and tight-knit atmosphere at Eastern according to Spokane native Riley Osborn.
“What brought me to Eastern was that it was close to home and it’s a really small community, and I like that in a college,” says Osborn. “Your professors know your name and I really like that about the size of Eastern.”
Osborn just accepted a paid summer internship with Numerica. After that she says she plans to become a U.S. Peace Corps volunteer, living abroad for two years.
Degree: Social Work
After earning her A.A. degree at Wenatchee Valley College, Marina Guerrero-Romero wanted to explore the possibility of a four-year college. One that offered the right student support programs was top priority. That is why she chose EWU. Guerrero-Romero is thrilled to be earning her Eastern degree because, “it means that I have come a long way. I never thought I’d come to a university but I’m glad I made that decision.”
She will work at EWU this summer in the Center for Academic Advising, helping with the New Student Orientation program. Come fall, Guerrero-Romero will return to Wenatchee and look for a job in social work while also researching graduate programs that would allow her to pursue a master’s degree.
Jantz Garza (right)
Degree: Secondary Education
Just finishing his student teaching, Jantz Garza of Kennewick, Washington is looking for a permanent teaching position in the fall.
He has a passion for working with high school students and says he had a great experience student teaching at Spokane’s North Central High School. “It’s a great place, I got very lucky getting placed there. It was fantastic.”
Patricia Goldbach and Gressa Eide
Degrees: Film (Goldbach) and Secondary Education and English Language Arts (Eide)
These friends know exactly what they’re doing after graduation. For Patricia Goldbach, it is a graduate program in screenwriting. She praises Eastern for setting her on a good path from the beginning.
“I chose to come to Eastern because I found a very supportive, collaborative film department,” she says.
Goldbach is also thankful for Eastern’s partnership with Running Start, which helped her get a head start on college courses while in high school.
For Gressa Eide, her next step will take her closer to home. This fall the Tacoma native will start teaching 9th grade English at a high school in Western Washington.
Degree: Social Work
Maria Rivera, who grew up in Pasco, Washington, came to Eastern because of its highly recognized social work program. She’s already accepted a job at Daybreak Youth Services in Spokane, a non-profit provider of adolescent addiction and mental health treatment services.
But she may not be done with her education just yet. Rivera says she hopes to apply for graduate school soon.
Degree: Mechanical Engineering
It was another acclaimed program that attracted Christian Williams to Eastern Washington University, mechanical engineering.
“I would like to get into the materials industry,” says Williams. “Materials testing, alloys, composites, stuff like that.”
While he’s still searching for a job, this Wenatchee, Washington, native hopes to stay in the Northwest. He has his sights set on Portland.
Lauren Kuharaski, Katy Moos, Dyana Poffenroth and Polina Yasinskaya
Degrees: History and Anthropology (Kuharaski), Biology (Moos), Humanities (Poffenroth) and Anthropology (Yasinskaya)
This group of friends all grew up in the Spokane area. And for Lauren Kuharaski, the decision to pick Eastern was almost preordained.
“Both my parents graduated from here, and so did my brother, and so I kind of felt I had to follow tradition a little bit and stay where I’m comfortable and close to home,” she says.
With a degree in anthropology in hand, she plans to apply for graduate school in the fall.
Katy Moos has plans to do seasonal jobs for now, she says, while gaining enough experience to land a full-time job as a wildlife biologist.
Dyana Poffenroth may be graduating with her bachelor’s, but she’s not leaving Eastern just yet.
“I’m coming back to Eastern for a master’s in critical GIS and public anthropology,” she says. “And then, after two years, I’m going to try to be in a PhD program in Britain.”
And for Polina Yasinskaya, she has plans to use her anthropology degree abroad. After taking a year off, she says she hopes to teach English in Bali.
Degree: Public Health
Coming all the way from Kettering, Ohio, McKayla Elliott adjusted to life at EWU with the help of family in the area.
The next step after graduation is finding a job. “I’m hoping to get a job in higher ed, like at a health and wellness clinic,” says Elliott.
Micalayn “Micki” Williams
Degrees: Visual Communication Design and Computer Science
For this senior from Mabton, Washington, Eastern was an easy choice, it was close to family and affordable.
“It was close enough to home, while being far enough that I can visit whenever I want without feeling like I ever left,” Micki Williams says.
This summer she plans to spend time with her family while applying for website design jobs.