CWU News

A Historical Milestone: CWU Graduates Its 125th Class

More than 3,100 Wildcats will celebrate their degrees this week at the June 10 and 11 graduation ceremonies, capping a year of 125th anniversary commemorations. From the first class of only 51 graduates in 1892, Central Washington University has grown from a small "Normal" school (the common name for teaching colleges) to one of the top-ranked universities in the region.

As is traditional, CWU will hold three commencement ceremonies. There will be two ceremonies on the Ellensburg campus on June 10, and a ceremony at the ShoWare Center in Kent for graduates of CWU's Puget Sound centers.

The Honors Convocation will be held 7:00 p.m., Friday, June 9, in McConnell Auditorium. The annual event celebrates the achievements of the President's Scholars, Dean's Scholars, graduates of the William O. Douglas Honors College and the recipient of the Master's Thesis award.

CWU will host two commencement ceremonies in Ellensburg, in Tomlinson Stadium, 1610 N. Walnut Street.

The first ceremony, at 9:30 a.m., is for graduates in the College of Arts and Humanities, College of the Sciences, and Interdisciplinary and Individual Study majors. The student speaker will be Judah Bergeron, who is graduating cum laude, as a William O. Douglas Honors Scholar, receiving a bachelor of science degree in Law and Justice, with a minor in Spanish. In addition, CWU will issue an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters degree to Washington State Senator Jim Honeyford. Honeyford holds three CWU degrees: two bachelor degrees, in sociology and education, and a master of education in instructional media.

The second ceremony, at 2:00 p.m., is for graduates in the College of Business and the College of Education and Professional Studies. The student speaker will be Jordyn Tucker, who is graduating cum laude, receiving a bachelor of science degree in Safety and Health Management.

The commencement speaker at both Ellensburg celebrations will be alumnus John Haroldson,
who is the first Latino elected to serve as District Attorney in the State of Oregon. Haroldson earned a bachelor’s degree in philosophy from CWU, and a doctorate of jurisprudence from the University of Oregon.  He is a member of both the Oregon State Bar and the Washington State Bar. 

Haroldson has been recognized for excellence in prosecution by the Oregon Crime Victims Assistance Network, and has received the Edwin J. Peterson Professionalism Award, the Oregon State Bar's highest recognition, and Paul De Muniz Professionalism Award, from the Oregon Hispanic Bar Association. Haroldson was recognized by the Animal Legal Defense Fund as one of America’s Top 10 Animal Defenders, and has been featured on Dateline and Discovery homicide investigation and prosecution specials.

Kent Graduation Ceremony
This ceremony is for graduates of CWU's Puget Sound centers (Des Moines, Pierce, Lynnwood, and Everett). It will be held at 1:00 p.m., Sunday, June 11, in the ShoWare Center, 625 W. James St., in Kent. The student speaker will be Sarah Peterson, who is graduating summa cum laude, receiving a bachelor of arts in Elementary Education, with a minor in Literacy.

The commencement speaker will be alumnus Thomas "Tod" Nielsen, president and CEO of FinancialForce.

Nielsen began his own software company as soon as he graduated from Bothell High School in 1983. A graduate of the CWU-Lynnwood campus, he earned his bachelor of science degree in Business Administration and Information Systems, and in 1988 went to work for Microsoft, where he stayed until June 2000.

Formerly the executive vice president of Platform at Salesforce, Nielsen joined FinancialForce in January 2017, bringing with him his deep understanding of cloud platforms and extensive experience taking technology companies beyond the billion-dollar revenue mark. FinancialForce is a cloud-based applications company headquartered out of San Francisco.

The Silver Cortege
The Silver Cortege, whose names are listed below, will lead the graduates through the ceremony. They are a select group of juniors chosen for their academic excellence.

Ellensburg Commencement Cortege
Kelsea Piper, Mount Vernon, Psychology and Family Studies
David William Swenson, Fairbanks, AK, Professional Pilot
Rachel Lynn Carroll, Ellensburg, Elementary Education
Denise Jarnecke, Harrah, Recreation and Tourism
Maria Khadija Oirkha, Vancouver, WA, Food Science and Nutrition
Sunghyun Park, Seoul, South Korea, Aviation Pilot
Megumi Taylor, Wenatchee, Music Performance – Flute
Dustin Ashley Walter, Mount Airy, MD, Anthropology and Asia/Pacific Studies
Hao “Joseph” Jiang, Wenling, China, Chemistry
Laura Elizabeth Steiner, Selah, Biology
Hali Daggerhart, Ellensburg, Biology
Dalton Edward Neiffer, Milton, Law and Justice Psychology

Kent Commencement Cortege
Tanya Ramfar, Mukilteo, Psychology, CWU-Lynnwood
Kaitlyn Griffith, Fox Island, Psychology, CWU-Pierce
Kristin R. Gruel, Seattle, Interdisciplinary Social Sciences and Psychology, CWU-Des Moines
Jorge Serrano, East Los Angeles, CA, Accounting, CWU-Lynnwood
Margaret Cooper, Everett, Psychology and Sociology, CWU-Lynnwood
Ercia Ignacio, Puyallup, Social Services, CWU Pierce

There are some parking restrictions that will be in place during the CWU Ellensburg Commencement ceremonies:

• Lots X-12 & W-12 will be reserved for those with Disability parking permits/placards.
• Lots H-15, I-15, and I-19 will be reserved for Graduates and Dignitaries.
• Motor homes are not allowed to park overnight in any lot on the CWU campus
• For the day of Commencement only, motor homes may park on the north side of lot V-7 or in the unimproved grass area adjacent to the Wahle Apartment Complex.
• For oversized motor homes, street parking on 18th St. is recommended.
• Attendees are allowed to park in any of the other lots on campus without a permit. Lots S-10, P-8, O-5, or Q-14 are recommended.
• Parking is limited on the surrounding city streets. Most city streets around the university are Residential Parking Zones (RPZ) and require special permits at all times.
• University Police & Parking Services will have directional signage in place and officers directing traffic for both sessions of Commencement.

For the Kent ceremony, there are 1,500 free parking spots located near the ShoWare Center. For more information, go to 

Media Contact: Valerie Chapman-Stockwell, Public Affairs, 509-963-1518