Heritage University to hold El Grito de Independencia celebration

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Heritage University to hold El Grito de Independencia celebration

Toppenish, Wash. – Heritage University will host an El Grito de Independencia celebration on Friday, September 16, 2022 from 6:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m. at its Toppenish campus in recognition of Mexican Independence Day. El Grito de Independencia commemorates the “Cry of Dolores,” a historical event in Mexico that set off the Mexican war of Independence from Spain and will be re-enacted at 7:30 p.m.

The festival will be hosted Manny DJ and feature performances by Group Proyecto 2020 and Raises de Mi Pueblo Folklorico Group. There will be fun for the entire family, including loteria (games), kid crafts, food and beverages, traditional dancers, live music and a resource fair. The El Grito will be performed by the Titular Consul of the Mexican Consulate in Seattle Hector Ivan Goday Priske. The event is free and open to the public.

El Grito de Independencia will have vendor opportunities. For those interested in registering as a vendor, contact Martin Valadez at valadez_m@heritage.edu. For more information, contact Davidson Mance at mance_d@heritage.edu.

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Heritage University to hold Eagle Giving Day and 40th Homecoming Events

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Heritage University to commemorate 40th anniversary with
Eagle Giving Day and Homecoming Event

Toppenish, Wash. – Heritage University is marking its 40th year of providing higher education opportunities to Yakima Valley residents with two events. The first is Eagle Giving Day, a day set aside to raise funds for student scholarships. The second is Homecoming 2022, an event to reunite alumni, faculty and staff past and present and current students.

Eagle Giving Day is scheduled for Friday, September 9, 2022. Friends and alumni are encouraged to help Heritage University continue its mission of making a college education accessible to anyone with the talent and drive to pursue a degree. “As we look back at our 40-year history, one thing is clear. It is our generous donors who have made it possible for more than 10,000 students to graduate and go on to meaningful careers,” said Heritage University president Andrew Sund, Ph.D. “Gifts received on ‘Eagle Giving Day’ will ensure that future generations of Eagles have the same level of support by providing funding for scholarships, programs, internships, technology upgrades and more.”

Heritage University alumni have an exceptional reason to give back to their alma mater on Eagle Giving Day. An anonymous alumni donor has agreed to match every $40 gift from alumni up to the first $5,000, which means that $40 gift instantly becomes $80 for student scholarships. Their generosity will help make it possible for students to achieve their dreams like they did. HU alumna Adriana Villafan, who graduated in 2015 with her B.A. degree in business administration with a concentration in Human Resources, and is now the director of the TRIO program at Heritage. Villafan said she plans to participate in Eagle Giving Day. “Scholarships and mentoring are part of the support I received when I was a student at Heritage,” Villafan said. “Heritage helped me get to where I am today, and now that I am in a position to give back, ‘Eagle Giving Day’ is the perfect opportunity for me and other alumni to return the favor.”  

The giving doesn’t need to wait until Eagle Giving Day. Each gift received before September 9 will count towards the day’s final total. For more information on Eagle Giving Day and to make a gift online, please visit heritage.edu/eaglegivingday.

Homecoming 2022 will be held on the Heritage University campus on September 9 from 4:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m. It is open to Heritage alumni and current students as well as current and former faculty and staff and friends of the university. People are encouraged to RSVP at heritage.edu/homecoming.

For more information, please contact Davidson Mance, media relations coordinator at (509) 969-6084 or mance_d@heritage.edu.

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Eagle Giving Day badge over campus image

Law school pipeline program for Central Washington students to launch at Heritage University

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Law school pipeline program for Central Washington students to launch at Heritage University

Toppenish, Wash. – Legal educators, lawyers, and judges from across Washington state will lead a program at Heritage University designed to prepare Central Washington students for the rigors of law school and a legal career. The program, funded by a grant from the Law School Admission Council (LSAC) Prelaw Undergraduate Scholars (PLUS) Program, is an innovative partnership between the law schools at Seattle University, the University of Washington and Gonzaga University and Heritage that aims to make a law degree more accessible to diverse students, especially Latino/Latina/Latinx and Indigenous students.

To teach specific program topics, the program will host highly acclaimed legal professionals from across the state, including:

  • Stephen C. Gonzalez – chief justice, Washington Supreme Court
  • Helen Whitener – justice, Washington Supreme Court
  • Annette Clark – dean and professor of law, Seattle University School of Law.
  • César Torres – executive director, Northwest Justice Project in Yakima, Wash.
  • Sonia Rodriguez-True – Yakima County Superior Court commissioner in Yakima, Wash.
  • Bree Black Horse – senior associate with Seattle law firm Kilpatrick Townsend and Seminole Nation of Oklahoma citizen.
  • Fé LopezGaetke – director, LSAC diversity, equity & inclusion programs & operations.
  • Jaime “Jr.” Cuevas – general council, Ramsey Companies in White Swan, Wash.
  • Lola Velazquez – attorney, Northwest Justice Project.

The LSAC PLUS Program kicks off the three-week program on Tuesday, June 14, 2022, with in-person classes at Heritage three days each week. Key aspects are designed to help the 37 enrolled students envision themselves as lawyers, with a visit by Washington Supreme Court justices, a mock law school class, roundtable discussions with leaders of minority bar associations, and modules that provide helpful information to demystify the application process and the law school experience. Students may also visit one of the Washington law schools. A shorter, follow-up program component will take place in October.

By the end of the program, students will have a better understanding of what it takes to apply to and become accepted by a law school, thrive as a law student, and ultimately a career as a lawyer. Students will make valuable connections with diverse attorneys and judges in their community who are invested in their future success.

For additional background information, visit: https://law.seattleu.edu/about/newscenter/all-current-stories/partnership-seeks-to-create-a-pipeline-of-latinx-and-indigenous-students-from-heritage-university-to-law-school.html

Media are invited to report on the first day of the LSAC PLUS Program, with opportunities to interview students, instructors and program coordinators during a break scheduled for 4:30 p.m. For more information, contact Davidson Mance, Heritage University media relations coordinator, at (509) 969-6084 or Mance_D@Heritage.edu.

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This project received funding from the Law School Admission Council (LSAC). The opinions and conclusions contained in this document are the opinions and conclusions of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the position or policy of LSAC.

Heritage University’s Annual Scholarship Fundraiser raises $723,085 in return to in-person event

Heritage University students hold placards to reveal $723,085 as the amount raised during the 36th Annual Bounty of the Valley Gathering for Scholarships and Paddle Raise held at the Heritage University campus in Toppenish, Wash. on June 4, 2022.

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Heritage University’s annual “Bounty of the Valley” Scholarship Dinner returns as an in-person event, raises $723,085 for student scholarships

Toppenish, Wash. – Heritage University’s 36th annual Bounty of the Valley Gathering for Scholarships, held this past weekend, brought in $723,085 during the event. The premier fundraiser for student scholarships at Heritage returned as an in-person event following two years of being held virtually due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The event was also live-streamed for those who wished to attend remotely.

This year the Bounty of the Valley featured hosts, Alex Vera and Gerardo Ruelas, two Heritage alumni and Valley natives who have gone onto much success in their careers at Costco Wholesale in the company’s headquarters in Issaquah, Wash.

Heritage University alumna Yuli Guzman, who recently graduated from Heritage with a B.A. in social work, served as student speaker. Guzman graduated from Davis High School in 2018. She’s completed practicum experiences at Yakima Valley Memorial Hospital, Comprehensive Healthcare, the Yakima Police Department and the Central Washington Hispanic Chamber of Commerce. Her future plans include attending graduate school to earn a Master of Social Work.

This year marks the first time in three years Heritage celebrated its students and generous donors raised their paddles for scholarships on the university’s campus. Heritage University president Andrew Sund, Ph.D. expressed his gratitude for the many donors, longtime and new, who showed unwavering support for Heritage during the pandemic. “When I think back on the many lessons I learned during the COVID times, one of the most endearing is just how blessed this university and our students are to have the unwavering support of all of you,” said Dr. Sund. “Your commitment to ensuring that higher education remains accessible means our students continued their academic pursuits uninterrupted. Moreover, it means that future generations of Heritage Eagles can count on the university being here in the Yakima Valley when they are ready to enter college.”

The live-streamed portion of Bounty of the Valley can be viewed by visiting Heritage.edu/Bounty. Donations to student scholarships can be made on the same page by clicking on the “Raise Your Paddle” button. For more information, contact Dana Eliason at (509) 865-0441 or Eliason_D@Heritage.edu or Davidson Mance at (509) 969-6084 or Mance_D@Heritage.edu.

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Behavioral Health Grant to fund certificate program at Heritage University

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Heritage University receives a $400,000 grant to fund student scholarships for Behavioral Health Aide Education Program

Toppenish, Wash. – Tribal health workers enrolled in a new Heritage University certificate program to expand their skills will receive scholarships for their two years of study thanks to a $400,000 grant from the Greater Columbia Accountable Community of Health (GCACH). The eight students funded by GCACH will be part of the 10 students selected in the first cohort of the Behavioral Health Education Program and will start classes at Heritage in January 2022.

Maxine Janis, Ed.D, president’s liaison for Native American Affairs at Heritage said the award from GCACH very much aligns with the practice transformation initiatives in health care delivery. The funding will support, through scholarship, students seeking to expand their knowledge capacity in health care and provide quality behavioral health services in their tribal communities. These students will participate in innovative holistic and culturally responsive education approaches which are unique to their respective indigenous communities.  “This award will open the door for training tribal members to become Behavioral Health Aides (BHAs) working closely with Licensed Clinical Social Workers (LCSW) to address the mental health crisis experienced by many tribal communities.” said Dr. Janis.

The Northwest Portland Area Indian Health Board (NPAIHB) partnered with Heritage University and Northwest Indian College in Bellingham, Wash. to provide funding to develop the curriculum and deliver the two-year BHA Education Program, which will prepare students with the knowledge and skills necessary to be a tribal-based health care provider. Students who complete the program at Heritage will earn a Behavioral Health Aide Certificate, identifying them as a BHA-II. Corey Hodge, the chair of the Department of Social Work at Heritage, said the new certification program offers students a pathway to also earn a bachelor’s degree in social work from Heritage. “The curriculum of the Behavioral Health Education Program falls in line with the philosophy of social work ideals in that the degree empowers students to help others thrive and to overcome challenges,” said Hodge.

The students who complete the certificate programs offered by Heritage and Northwest Indian College must pass the Portland area Community Health Aide Program Certification Board (PACCB) exam. When successful, they will continue their careers as BHAs for their respective tribal health programs in the Pacific Northwest region. For more information, contact Davidson Mance at (509) 969-6084 or Mance_D@heritage.edu.

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Connecting Kids in Crisis

Norma Chaidez, wife of Heritage president Dr. Andrew Sund, remembers coming to the U.S. as a young woman, longing for an education and opportunity. Now she’s making a difference in the lives of children escaping far more desperate situations.

Chaidez serves as the Family Reunification Regional Supervisor with Bethany Christian Services. The organization is a global nonprofit that supports children and families with world-class social services, all designed to help families thrive. Bethany’s work began over 75 years ago with serving a single child. Today, they work in more than 30 states and around the world, impacting tens of thousands of lives every year.

Chaidez is charged to provide home study and post- release services to place minors in home settings in six states – Washington, Illinois, Kansas, North Dakota and Montana. She reunites kids with family or trusted sponsors who can meet their needs and help them thrive. She’s had the opportunity to meet children from Mexico, Guatemala, Honduras, and other countries, like Juan, Pedro and José – whose real names cannot be used for privacy purposes.

Norma Chaidez

ONE CHILD AT A TIME

Juan looks far younger than his years. He was nine years old when he arrived in the United States, but looked about five.

Five-year-old Pedro came to the United States so traumatized by the murder of his father that he stopped speaking.

José was 17. When he refused to sell drugs, the drug dealers punished him by breaking both of his legs.

These are just three of the more than 50,000 people served by Bethany annually. The organization works to find kids around the world who don’t have a permanent home, family-based settings, emergency care and foster care.

CHILDREN FORCED TO THE BORDER

Their journey has been tumultuous, often life-threatening.

Parents in countries like Mexico, Guatemala and Honduras are sometimes so desperate to get their children to a better place that they often send them to the border alone. Some have a little money to get a guide; most do not.

Chaidez says 95% of the children arrive here having experienced some degree of trauma.

“Talking to families, I heard the stories of poverty, violence, organized crime, human and drug trafficking,” she said. “Despite their situations, they’re very resilient.”

Undocumented minors’ experience in this country starts with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officials. They turn the children over to the Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR), which works with Bethany and a handful of organizations like it whose dedicated staffers get the kids situated with guardians, whether relatives or other sponsors.

“We provide case management services to unaccompanied children who crossed into the United States without legal guardianship and who do not have legal status in this country. Our team conducts home studies of potential sponsors for unaccompanied children and provides support to ease the adjustment process for both the children and their sponsor, “ said Chaidez. “We secure clothing, food or furniture, from community resources or donors. And inspect homes, do follow-up calls, make sure the caregivers have what they need to support the children.

“We start them on their way to a better life.”

UNDERSTANDING THEIR PLIGHT

Though her situation was not so extreme when she came to the U.S. in 1998, Chaidez identifies with her clients’ desperate wish for a better life.

“I came to the U.S. in search of an education and for gender equality. There was no opportunity to go to college in Mexico. But in the U.S., women have more opportunities to go to college, have a voice and rights.”

Language and culture presented a steep learning curve. Chaidez said she wouldn’t have made it if not for the kindness of new friends.

“I was able to rent a family friend’s basement apartment for $175 a month. With my neighbor’s support, I was able to find a job at a local dry cleaner.

“My chosen family motivated me; I was finally able to dream about having a career.”

Because of the support of close friends and her husband, she earned an associate degree from St. Augustine College in
Chicago, then a bachelor’s in psychology, and three master’s degrees– one in forensic psychology from Argosy University in Dallas, one in philosophy from Walden University in Minneapolis, and another in clinical mental health in counseling from Adler University in Chicago. She is currently a Ph.D. candidate in forensic psychology at Walden University.

BEING THERE FOR KIDS

Chaidez remembers her struggles with English, which led her to teach ESL classes to several students every Saturday morning.

One day, Juan looked sad. Chaidez asked him what was wrong. He said he wanted to play with the other kids on the playground, but he didn’t know how to make friends. He didn’t speak English.

“I told him, ‘You just say this, say hi! Do you want to play with me?’ He practiced saying it.”

The next week, Chaidez said, Juan came to his lesson smiling again.

“’They said, ‘Yes, let’s play!’ he said.”

“He was so happy. Now every Saturday I talk with him, he’s always so happy because he has new friends, lives with his parents and attends school.”

“He has what every child needs and deserves.” page25image59241888

Class Notes

 

1998

Cindy Sholtys- Cromwell

Cindy Sholtys- Cromwell (Professional Development) was recently chosen as the National Association ofSecondary School Principals 2021 National Digital Principal. This award was given for her demonstration of continuous bold, creative leadership in her drive to harness the potential of new technologies to further learning goals. Cindy is starting her 22nd year as an administrator with the Kelso School District.

 

 

 

 

2007

Rachel Gonzalez-Garcia

Rachel Gonzalez-Garcia (Professional Development in ESL) recently completed The National Institute for STEM Education (NISE) certification. NISE is a competency-based, academic portfolio of work that demonstrates proficiency across STEM teacher actions. She completed this work with her Yakima School District STEAM team.

Magaly Solis (Elementary Education) was appointed by the Las Casa Hogar Board of Directors to serve as the non- profit’s Executive Director. Solis began her work at the organization as a volunteer in 2013 before being hired to serve as the Wapato and Citizenship Program Coordinator. She was subsequently promoted to be the program’s manager, a role she served in until her most recent appointment.

 

 

Submit Your Class Notes

Did you get married? Have a baby? Get your dream job, an award or even a promotion? If you have good news to share with your fellow alums, let us help.

Send us your submission for Class Notes. It’s easy. Just visit heritage.edu/alumni, complete the submission form and upload your picture. Be sure to include a valid email address so we can contact you if we have any questions.

 

You are an important part of the university family, and we want to make sure that you are fully informed of all the great opportunities that are available to you through Alumni Connections. There are lots of great ways to stay connected:

• Like us on Facebook (facebook.com/HeritageUniversityAlumni)

Sign up to receive Heritage’s e-newsletter HUNow.

• Visit us online at heritage.edu/alumni

Of course, the best way to stay connected is to make sure your contact information is up to date. Please be sure to let us know if your address, e-mail or phone number changes. You can submit your changes online through heritage.edu/alumni, e-mail us at alumni@heritage.edu or give us a call at (509) 865-8644.

 

News Briefs

Students explore systemic racism in the nursing profession

Heritage University BSN students meet with Dr. Peggy Chinn and Dr. Lucinda Canty

A visit by leaders in nursing is taking Heritage students’ voices to a national audience. In October, two nursing educators who are at the forefront of a movement to address issues of racism in the field of nursing visited Heritage to meet with students.

Dr. Peggy Chinn and Dr. Lucinda Canty traveled to Heritage to spend the day with students in advance of addressing colleagues at the National Commission to Address Racism in Nursing. The pair, along with Heritage’s director of the Nursing program, Dr. Christina Nyirati, and Valorie Taylor, clinical director at Tacoma’s MultiCare Health System, are organizers of Overdue Reckoning on Racism in Nursing. The initiative, which launched in September 2020, aims to open discussion that focuses on coming to terms
with racism in the field of nursing, to elevate the voices of Black, Indigenous, Latinx and other nurses of color, and to inspire changes that address racism on a national level.

“We wanted to represent the voices of nursing students as part of our keynote address at the Commission,” said Nyirati. “Drs. Chinn and Canty suggested visiting Heritage to hear from our students about how the university is standing up to fulfill our mission of creating a just society for all.”

The pair spent several hours with students, faculty and administrators, including time spent at a Blessing of the Hands and Hearts ceremony at the Heritage Teepee, in an informal listening session with the students. page14image59142544

Heritage professors join boards of directors

Two Heritage professors recently joined the boards of directors at Washington state organizations and non-profits.

Miguel Juarez in class

Miguel Juarez in class

Social Work Field Director and Associate Professor Miguel Juarez, Ed.D., joined the National Association of Social Workers’ (NASW) Washington Chapter Board of Directors. NASW appointed Juarez to serve as the chapter’s first vice president. He will oversee the chapter’s diversity plan as part of his duties.

Kristin James-Dunn

 

Assistant Professor Kirstin James-Dunn, Ph.D., joined the Seattle Shakespeare Company’s board of directors. James-Dunn is the first board member from eastern Washington and will act as primary representative and vital liaison to Washington arts communities for “all points east of the Cascades.” page27image58999408

 

 

Multimillion dollar grant to bring expantion of Nursing and enhance STEM programs

The U.S. Department of Education Developing Hispanic Serving Institutions (DHSI) branch awarded a $3 million grant to Heritage University to expand its Nursing program and upgrade its science laboratories.

The grant will allow Heritage to expand its current nursing program to allow registered nurses who are currently working in the field but do not have a bachelor’s degree to go back to school to earn that degree.

“The faculty at Heritage have worked very hard to establish a world-class BSN program at Heritage. This award by the Department of Education to expand the program validates their accomplishments. The grant will allow for a significant expansion of the program resulting in even more highly qualified nurses ready to serve the people of the Valley,” said President Andrew Sund, Ph.D.

In addition to the RN to BSN degree pathway development, the university’s science technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) offerings will expand with new laboratories for environmental, health and physical sciences. The existing biology, chemistry and physics laboratories at Heritage will be redesigned and equipped to meet the rigorous demands for effective STEM degree programs instruction.

The grant also allows for upgrades to the university’s information technology services, improvements to its institutional data collection and analysis, and the development of a financial literacy program for undergraduates.

Federal grant allocates funds for STEM Education Center on campus

A $4.5 million grant from the U.S. Department of Education will expand outreach to high school students to prepare them to pursue college studies in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) fields and help Heritage build a new 4,700
square foot STEM Education Center on the Toppenish campus.

The five-year grant will allow the university to employ mentors to work with high school students interested in STEM fields as a means to increase the number of college graduates entering into technical fields in the Yakima Valley.

The soon-to-be-constructed education center will include laboratories, learning spaces and state-of-the-art equipment to support STEM programs. Construction is tentatively scheduled to begin in late 2022.

Campus mourns loss of friend and volunteer

On November 15, 2021 Sister Marina Rose Parisi (nee Virginia Catherine Parisi), passed away unexpectedly at Trios Kennewick Hospital. Parisi was a long-time supporter of Heritage University and a volunteer singing teacher who with worked children in the university’s Early Learning Center.

Parisi was a member of the Catholic order of the Sisters of the Holy Names of Jesus and Mary (SNJM) for more than 66 years. Through SNJM, she devoted herself to teaching children, mostly those who were poor and from underserved communities,

as well as teaching religion and sacramental preparation. She spent 19 years working with children in Western Washington and Oregon before moving to Peru, where she spent 17 years working as a teacher and principal in Arequipa. When she returned to the United States, she moved to Wapato and worked as the director of religious education for 14 years. Her work at Heritage began after retiring from a career that spanned 40 years and two continents.

 

Early Learning Center to get new home

The generosity of two anonymous private donors is improving learning for Heritage’s youngest eagles. The university broke ground on a new state-of- the-art Early Learning Center on December 3. The new $3.2 million facility will contain five classrooms, It will serve children between the ages of 12 months and kindergarten, providing pre-kindergarten instruction known to be invaluable in later years of scholastic achievement.

“Our early learning programs are designed to offer experiences that enhance and enrich each child’s cognitive, language, social, emotional, physical and creative development,” said ELC Executive Director Claudette Lindquist. “Our basic philosophy is one of freedom to learn, grow and make choices and we have structured the environment to reflect that belief.”

The center is slated to open in the winter of 2022. The new ELC will allow Heritage to increase the number of children served from 75 to 90.

 

NEARLY UNIQUE

In the United States, there are only two universities designated by the United States Department of Education as both a Hispanic Serving Institution (HSI) and a Native American Serving Non- Tribal Institution (NASNTI). Heritage is one of them.

An HSI is an accredited, degree-granting, public or private nonprofit institution of higher education with 25% or more of its total full-time enrolled students who identify as Hispanic. A NASNTI is a postsecondary institution not affiliated with American Indian and Native Alaskan tribes and has an enrollment of 10% or more of its full-time students who identify as Native American. In the fall of 2020, the undergraduate student population consisted of 67% Hispanic/Latino and 10% American Indian or Alaska Native students.

Being and an HSI and NASNTI qualify for additional funding that can pay for programming that benefits the university and all of its students, regardless of race or culture.

STEM(ming) the Tide of Pollution

Heritage STEM students get valuable experience through applied learning while working on environmental issues in collaboration with students and researchers from other colleges.

Thirty-five Heritage students, called “EAGLES Scholars,” are working with and benefitting from the National Science Foundation’s S-STEM Program grant for internships and research experiences. With a focus on studying environmental pollution, the $5 million grant was awarded to Heritage University and Portland State University in a partnership model built largely on each university’s location within the Columbia River Basin.

As EAGLES Scholars – the acronym comes from “Engagement Achievement and Graduation for Low-incomE Students” – students selected to take part have ongoing academic support and guidance for research and internship applications as well as presentations for conferences. Ultimately, they get connected to job possibilities at graduation.

Their research internships are giving them valuable real-world skills – and life experiences they never anticipated.

Mayra Diaz-Acevedo

MAYRA DIAZ-ACEVEDO: PASSIONATE ABOUT THE ENVIRONMENT

Mayra Diaz-Acevedo’s first EAGLES-related research internship centered on numerical analysis. It took place over eight weeks last summer at Los Angeles’s Occidental College. It was completely math-focused. But in interacting with her fellow interns there, she learned how math concepts can be applied to a subject she’s passionate about: the environment.

She also learned she can operate successfully in settings other than what she’s been used to close to home.

“It was a numerical analysis internship that involved applying nonstandard finite difference schemes to differential equations,” Diaz- Acevedo said. “I focused on data science, number theory, numerical analysis, and positional game theory.

“But it was working with the other students at Oxy and getting to see how passionate they were that really inspired me.”

Diaz-Acevedo said she’s still amazed that she actually went to L.A. and at how much she learned from the experience of being away, something about which she initially felt somewhat fearful.

“I got to learn so much more about different places in those two months. Now I’m interested in going to new places, and I’m not afraid to go farther.”

Diaz-Acevedo is considering the possibility of graduate school, continuing in mathematics or applied math. She’s currently looking at internships for summer 2022 that involve environmental science with applied math or physics.

“I’ve always really wanted to see how I could contribute to helping the environment through my field of study. Now I know there are so many ways that it can be applied to the environment.”

Colton Maybee

COLTON MAYBEE: ALWAYS LEARNING

After graduating from West Valley High School in 2018, Heritage junior Colton Maybee got a job as a low-voltage electrician apprentice. He thought he might go to technical school. He didn’t think much about college.

But a family friend suggested he look at Heritage and its EAGLES Scholarship program. Between the EAGLES funding and other aid, he could get a full-ride if he was accepted.

Fast forward two years, and Maybee, a computer science major, already has an internship in computational modeling under his belt. Through a 10-week summer program at Portland State University, virtual because of the pandemic, he’s now had his hand in computer science work he never imagined he’d have – all because of his EAGLES scholarship.

“My section was monitoring trail hazards using path-finding algorithms that guide hikers along 70 miles of trails through the Portland State Forest,” said Maybee. “My job was to develop a mobile app that would enable trail users to report hazards anywhere along the trails.“

At PSU’s final symposium on computations modeling serving the city of Portland, Maybee presented “Digitally reporting trail obstructions in Forest Park.” His 16 fellow interns presented on a wealth of mostly environment- and city- related issues in subjects that included Portland’s water quality and environmental factors affecting humpback whales.

None of the interns had any previous experience in what they relatively quickly became adept at discussing.

Maybee, who’s taken just four computer science courses to date, said though he didn’t have quite enough time to get devices communicating with each other, he did get the app’s framework up and running.

He said that a big takeaway from the internship was the concept of recognizing when you’re going in the wrong direction.

“I thought everything would be coded in Python, so I watched all kinds of YouTube tutorials. Then when I actually got to the internship, I realized it would all be in Java.

“I learned you can’t keep trudging down a trail if it’s not getting you anywhere. You have to realize when you need to start over and not be frustrated by wasted time.”

Maybee said that’s important because, while he’ll graduate with a massive body of computer science knowledge, it’s a rapidly changing field.

“I’ll always be learning.”

Gustavo Mendez-Soto

GUSTAVO MENDEZ-SOTO: INTERNSHIP REFINES GOAL

Heritage sophomore Gustavo Mendez-Soto has always observed what’s going on around him.

He chose his computer science major because he was inspired by his brother. He wanted to follow in his footsteps and thought programming sounded like fun.

After he enrolled at Heritage, he applied for and was excepted to the EAGLES scholarship program. Last summer, he did his first internship, examining the impact of groundwater on the sustainability and resilience of the Yakima River Basin during drought years, through Washington State University. It was online due to the pandemic.

“I was assigned to work with a project studying the impact of the drought years on the groundwater in the Yakima River basin,” Mendez-Soto said.

Droughts have a large impact on the basin, its fisheries and agricultural land, Mendez-Soto noted. Droughts mean lower rivers and streams, dying fish, forests burning and overall water shortages.

He employed the “STAR” calculator – for SusTainability And Resilience – to evaluate three different drought years and their impact in the Yakima River Basin.

“I learned to work with a programming system that allowed us to insert and visualize data, kind of like an Excel spreadsheet but more advanced. I did a lot of data searching, which was the hardest part, and then making sense of all that data.”

Now Mendez-Soto dreams of getting a job at Pacific Northwest National Laboratory to help with environmental clean-up. He hopes to get an internship with PNNL this summer, an experience that can make his dream of working there one day more likely.

ANDREA MENDOZA: BIOLOGY IS FUN

Andrea Mendoza

Andrea Mendoza wants other students to see the fun in biology, even though what she considers her first experience with it – having her appendix out at age 10 – wasn’t fun at all.

“But from that, I realized there’s more to life than what you see on the outside,” she said.

Upon graduating from high school, she knew she wanted to pursue a STEM subject. She enrolled at Heritage, where her professor Alex Alexiades suggested she apply for the EAGLES scholarship program. She was accepted. She’s currently a junior – and a biology major.

Mendoza did her summer 2021 internship in entomology research at USDA-ARS Temperate Tree Fruit & Vegetable Research Unit in Wapato, Washington. Her research contributed to knowledge about the efficacy of using natural predators to kill off insects.

For their daily fieldwork, interns and project leaders met at the lab, then drove to the site together in a work vehicle. Fieldwork involved setting up plots, collecting insects, and changing various traps. Lab work involved counting and identifying insects and mites with the use of a microscope.

“We found earwigs were beneficial in apple orchards, versus in cherry orchards where they ruined the cherries,” said Mendoza. “In apple orchards, they became the top predator killing off what was damaging to the apples.”

Many STEM students find the combination of field and laboratory work useful during a time they’re in the process of discerning their research preferences. Based on whatever internship she gets this summer, Mendoza said she’s looking forward to learning whether she prefers an outdoor science setting or a lab experience.

“I think internships are a great connection to the real world of STEM careers. You’re not just in the books – you have conversations.

“I’m learning, and I really like that.”

As the first person in her family to study science, Mendoza feels like a role model for other family members.

“I’m over here testing the waters, not quite knowing what I’m doing. It’s nice that you know you’re not supposed to be perfect or know everything.”

Mendoza dreams of sharing her love for biology as a teacher at her alma mater: Yakima’s Davis High School.

OPENING DOORS

Scores of universities across the nation compete for NSF grants, said Natural Sciences Associate Professor Alex Alexiades, who spearheaded the effort.

“The NSF grant focuses on studying environmental pollution and, in particular, aquatic pollution. With PSU at the mouth of the Columbia Basin and Heritage at the headwaters, we get the full watershed scope.

“The grant lets us take advantage of that and so much more.”

“These research experiences with an emphasis on the environment open students’ minds to the possibilities,” said Julie Conley, EAGLES project coordinator and adjunct faculty member in the environmental science program.

“They begin to step out of their comfort zone and ultimately to see themselves in a more professional role as scientists and researchers.” page14image64821552

 

Honoring the First Peoples

Heritage University’s relationship with the Yakama Nation is rooted in its history and intricately tied to its future. It is the college founded by two Yakama women, situated on the ancestral lands of the Yakama Nation, and the academic home to hundreds of Native American students and alumni.

Each year, the university celebrates this relationship and honors Native Americans everywhere through its events and activities during Native American Heritage Month, which is recognized nationally every November.

This year’s celebrations were especially meaningful given that it was among the first on-campus activities held since March 2020. As always, the celebration kicked off with a flag-raising ceremony with the Yakama Warriors Association. Additionally, we honored five Native American elders for their lifetime contributions to their communities. And, we formalized our recognition of indigenous peoples from time immemorial as the stewards of the land upon which the university now inhabits with the signing of the university’s Land Acknowledgement statement.

Long before the ground was turned to within these documents to best reflect Heritage and construct the first building that would one day become Heritage University, the land upon which the college sits was occupied and cared for by the indigenous people of the Columbia River Basin. On November 10, President Andrew Sund, Ph.D. and Kip Ramsey, board member and chair of the university’s Tribal Relations Committee, signed a formal Land Acknowledgement Statement that recognizes and respects those who were the traditional stewards of the land and the enduring relationship that exists between the Yakamas and their traditional territory.

“It is important that we acknowledge the tribes and their place as stewards of this land, of the entire continent, since time immemorial,” said Ramsey. “In acknowledging their role, we acknowledge our responsibility to understand our past and to carry on their stewardship for the benefit of our children and our children’s children.”

Andrew Sund, Ph.D., president of Heritage University (left) and Kip Ramsey, Heritage University board member and chair of the board’s Tribal Relations Committee (right), sign copies of the Land Acknowledgement Statement during a ceremony held next to the Heritage University TeePee November 10, 2021.

The acknowledgment was created by a committee of Indigenous faculty and staff members at Heritage University with input from Yakama Nation tribal leaders. The process was a year in the making. Committee members explored similar documents established at other colleges and universities and adapted the language and themes within these documents to best reflect Heritage and the Yakama people. Once written, the initial draft was presented to Yakama Nation tribal leaders for their input.

The entire process ended with the official document, two abbreviated statements for everyday use, as well as an action plan with short and long- term suggestions to maximize the significance of the acknowledgment. That plan includes the public display of the document, reading acknowledgment at the start of university events, hosting “learning circles” on Yakama culture and traditions for faculty, staff and administrators, and enhancing the university’s existing American Indian Studies program, so the university becomes an education destination for indigenous students from throughout the region.

“We know that education is intricately woven into the Yakama culture, as tribal elders share their knowledge with their children and younger tribal members. Heritage was created to bring higher education to this land and to serve as a complement to the education systems that  already exist within the Nation,” said Sund.

The official, signed document is now framed and on display on campus. page14image64587808

Heritage University Land Acknowledgement Statement