Violet Lumley Rau Alumni Award

An Outstanding Legacy

The Outstanding Alumnus Award was established at one of the first commencements of Heritage University. This award is bestowed annually to an alumnus who embodies 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.

You know an alumna or alumnus who has consistently lived out the mission and values of Heritage University. This is your opportunity to recognize them! The winner will be announced and formally recognized at the 2024 Commencement Ceremony!

The Alumni Award Nomination Committee will use the information gathered from this form in their deliberation process. Please be as detailed and accurate in your nomination as possible. The committee may contact you or the nominee for additional information.

The deadline for nominations for 2024 was Friday, April 19, 2024. All nominations received after that date will be considered for the 2025 award. For questions, please contact

2023 Violet Lumley Rau Award Recipient
Ryan Washburn

Ryan Washburn, named Heritage University Alumnus of the Year, has dedicated his career to aiding individuals in rebuilding their lives. From guiding veterans through college at Columbia Basin College to assisting low-income families in recovery at Elijah Family Homes, Washburn’s work has centered on providing stability and support. Currently serving as the Therapeutic Court Coordinator in Benton County’s District Court, Washburn ensures individuals grappling with mental illness and addiction receive necessary assistance for healthier lives.

What distinguishes Washburn’s approach is his focus on the personal impact of his work. He shares the story of “Charlie,” a veteran struggling with addiction and PTSD, whose journey to recovery was facilitated by Washburn’s vigilant support. Washburn’s own experiences, including his military service and subsequent academic path, have informed his empathetic approach to helping others. Transitioning from education to social work, Washburn’s commitment to service remains steadfast, evident in his dedication to improving the lives of those he encounters through the court system. His tireless efforts have not only saved lives but also restored hope and pride in individuals and families, exemplifying the transformative power of support and compassion.

Previous Award Winners >>