An Outstanding Legacy

The Outstanding Alumnus Award was established at one of the first commencements of Heritage University. This award is bestowed annually to two alumni (graduate and undergraduate) who embody the ideals of the University in their personal, professional and community lives.

An early recipient of this award was Violet Lumley Rau, one of two Yakama Indian women who, along with Dr. Kathleen Ross, co-founded Heritage University. Violet Rau was a member of the Yakama Nation and the Chair of the Board of Directors for four years early in the University’s history. Besides being an outstanding educator in Yakama Nation programs, Violet established a very successful entrepreneurial business in Indian arts and crafts, which marketed internationally and employed local Yakima Valley people. In 1994, Violet died unexpectedly while on a marketing trip. The Outstanding Alumnus Award was renamed in loving memory in her honor shortly thereafter in 1994.


Violet Lumley Rau Alumni Award Nomination Form

Established in 1994 in loving memory of Heritage University co-founder Violet Lumley Rau, this award is bestowed annually to an alumnus who embodies the ideals of Heritage in their personal, professional and community life.

Ideals include:

  • Excellence
  • Inclusion
  • Perseverance
  • Leadership
  • Service

Both undergraduate and graduate degree holders are eligible for nomination.
The nomination period for the 2018-2019 academic year is closed. Please check back for upcoming dates for the next nomination window.


2018 Violet Lumley Rau Award Recipient
Pastor Colleen Sheahan

2018 Violet Lumley Rau Award Participating in one of the first collaborative cohorts between Heritage, Yakima Valley College, and Central Washington University, Colleen graduated in 2000 with a Bachelor of Arts in Elementary Education. She later went on to receive her Master’s in Education from Indiana Wesleyan University in 2008.

Colleen was motivated to offer educational opportunities to students in the Yakima Valley that would excel in small class sizes with individualized attention. Inspired by the Heritage University mission to promote social justice and transformational student-centered education, Colleen opened a private, Christian elementary school in Yakima, the West Chestnut Academy, formerly known as Westpark Christian Academy.

West Chestnut Academy students come from multiple faith traditions, present varying degrees of special needs, and represent a variety of cultural diversity. This past year, West Chestnut welcomed an exchange student from Thailand, and with Colleen’s leadership, the school continues to collaborate with international partners as a commitment to diversity. Colleen embodies the Heritage mission by modelling acceptance of difference, committing to excellence, and seeking justice in our community. Today, West Chestnut Academy serves an average of 80 students per year and has graduated a total of 58 seniors. Colleen’s mission is to continually strive to offer outstanding services to children and families of the Yakima Valley.


Previous Award Winners >>