BSN Pinning ceremony

Pinning ceremony honors first graduating cohort of BSN program

Heritage University’s Bachelor of Science in Nursing program celebrated its first graduating cohort with a pinning ceremony last week. A pinning ceremony honors the students’ journey to becoming a nurse and marks the pivotal moment of their transition from student to full-fledged nurse.

The ceremony also featured a blessing titled “Blessing of the Hands and Hearts” as well as a lighting of lamps.

Pictures of the entire pinning ceremony are posted on the Heritage University Facebook page. Click the button below to see the images.

Pinning Ceremony Pictures

36th annual Commencement

Heritage University holds 36th annual Commencement ceremony

Heritage University celebrated the accomplishments of this year’s graduates during the 2018 Commencement at the Yakima Valley SunDome on Saturday. Three hundred twenty-five students received their degrees from Heritage this year.

Dr. Lori Alvord, the first Navajo woman to become a surgeon, served as commencement speaker. Student speakers included Jesica Alvarez as baccalaureate degree speaker, and Alfredia Thompson as master’s degree speaker. Colleen Sheahan, class of 2000, received the Violet Lumley Rau Outstanding Alumni Award.


Pictures from Commencement are posted on the Heritage University Facebook page. We’ve also created a music video featuring commencement. Watch it by clicking the link:

Enactus captures 2nd place at Nationals

Enactus students capture 2nd place at Nationals

eritage University’s Enactus presentation team recently captured 2nd place in its league at the Enactus USA National Exposition in Kansas City, Missouri. Nearly 90 teams from universities and colleges from across the country competed at Nationals which took place in mid-May.

Team members Kevin Lopez, Anitramarina Reyna, Josceline Mora, Marcus Bravo, Yasmin Silva Sepulveda, Melissa Gomez and Omar Moreno delivered a presentation which focused on four Heritage Enactus projects aimed at helping the community.

The team also included information technology team members Miliset Bustamante and David Mance and were led by advisor Dioselina Verduzco.

Congratulations Heritage Enactus!

The Future of DACA

KCTS 9 and Heritage University co-sponsoring The Future of DACA: A Conversation with Attorney General Bob Ferguson

KCTS 9, the PBS affiliate in Seattle and Heritage University are collaborating to present The Future of DACA: A Conversation with Attorney General Bob Ferguson at the Yakima Valley Museum in Yakima, Wash. on May 21 from 5:30 p.m. to 7:00 p.m. Ferguson will speak out on the legal challenges that aim to block the Trump Administration’s plan to end the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program. The Future of DACA will also include video profiles of some local DACA recipients who will share their stories.

DACA allows the 800,000 undocumented young people known as “Dreamers” to live and work legally in the U.S. Washington has joined 14 states in suing to allow the program to continue.

Kimberly Bellamy-Thompson, social science chair at Heritage University said the university wants people to have a better understanding of DACA. “Part of the mission of Heritage University is to provide access and equity and promote community engagement. Our mission is to educate and share knowledge with those that seek to better themselves and their families,” said Bellamy-Thompson. “There are many people who are still unfamiliar with the immigration policy that established DACA in 2012.”

The Future of DACA is part of KCTS 9’s “Borders & Heritage” series highlighting immigration stories from the Northwest. Longtime KCTS reporter and Yakima Valley native Enrique Cerna will serve as program moderator. The event is free and open to the public. Seating will be on a first come, first served basis. To ensure seating, participants are encouraged to RSVP at

For more information, contact Kimberly Bellamy-Thompson at (509) 952-7288 or

36th Annual Commencement

Heritage University to Hold 36th Annual Commencement at Yakima Valley SunDome

Heritage University will host Dr. Lori Arviso Alvord, the first Diné (Navajo) woman surgeon as commencement speaker during its 36th Commencement exercise Saturday, May 5 at 10:00 a.m. at the Yakima Valley SunDome. Undergraduate and graduate students from the Yakima Valley and the Tri-Cities will participate in the ceremony. Overall, 334 students earned their degrees at Heritage this year.

Dr. Alvord is from Crownpoint, New Mexico. She graduated from Dartmouth College with a double major in psychology sociology and a minor in Native American studies. She earned her M.D at Stanford University Medical School, and completed a six-year residency at Stanford University Hospital. Dr. Alvord earned her board certification as a surgeon in 1994.

She later returned to her Navajo reservation, where she combined her technical proficiency in surgery while addressing the psychological and spiritual aspects of healing. While never forgetting her Native roots, Dr. Alvord strongly advocates blending Western medicine with traditional healing practices. She has written The Scalpel and the Silver Bear, a book about her experiences. In 2013, Dr. Alvord was nominated to serve as the U.S. Surgeon General.

The Violet Lumley Rau Outstanding Alumni Award will be presented to Pastor Colleen Sheahan. In 2000, Sheahan earned a B.A. in Elementary Education through a collaborative program with Central Washington University, Yakima Valley College and Heritage University. After graduation, Sheahan started a private preschool -12th grade Christian school in Yakima, Wash. called as West Chestnut Academy where she serves as pastor. In 2008 she earned a master’s in education from Indiana Wesleyan University.

Heritage will announce the recipients of the Board of Directors’ Academic Excellence Award and the President’s Council Student Award of Distinction during the ceremony.

The Yakima Valley SunDome is located at 1301 South Fair Ave. in Yakima. Parking is free. Additional information is available online at:

For more information, contact David Mance, media relations coordinator at (509) 865-0731 or

Youth and Justice Forum

Washington State Supreme Court Justice to Speak at Heritage University Youth and Justice Forum

Washington State Supreme Court Justice Steven Gonzalez will deliver the keynote speech during the annual Yakima Valley Youth and Justice Forum at Heritage University. The forum for middle, high school and college students takes place Friday, April 20 from 8:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. Local law enforcement agencies, including the Yakima County Sheriff’s Office and several police chiefs from cities in the Valley as well as those from the state and federal level will participate in the forum.

The Youth and Justice Forum has three goals. The first is to educate students from under-represented communities about professions and employment opportunities in the legal system; second, to enhance students’ knowledge and education of law; and third, to help build trust between youth and those in the justice system.

New this year will be a panel of lawyers and law school students talking to college students about law school applications, attending law school, and providing information about law careers. The panel will be moderated by Federal Court Clerk, Francisco Carriedo.

Kimberly Bellamy-Thompson, Heritage University assistant professor of criminal justice says the forum is a unique opportunity to introduce young people to the personal and professional sides of justice system leaders. “These personal connections are meaningful. The Youth and Justice Forum will give students a better understanding of the justice system and the wide range of career opportunities the entire system has to offer.”

Steve González was appointed to the Washington State Supreme Court effective January 1, 2012, and subsequently won a contested race for a six-year term. Before joining the Supreme Court, Justice González served for ten years as a trial judge on the King County Superior Court hearing criminal, civil, juvenile, and family law cases. In 2015, Justice González and the other Washington Supreme court judges heard oral arguments for three cases at Heritage University visited Heritage University as part of the “traveling court” program.

For more information, contact Kimberly Bellamy-Thompson at or (509) 865-0748.

Heritage University Hosts Career Fair 2018

An upcoming event at Heritage University will connect Yakima Valley job seekers with more than 30 employers. Career Fair 2018 is free and open to the public and will also allow participants to network with other professionals.

Career Fair 2018, a collaboration between WorkSource Yakima and Heritage University, will also help employers learn more about opportunities to host interns and work with academic programs at Heritage. Attendees interested in graduate-level social work programs will have the opportunity to meet representatives from Eastern WA University, Seattle University, University of Washington and University of Washington Tacoma.

Career Fair 2018 will be held on Wednesday, April 18, 2018 from 2:30 to 5:30 p.m. in Smith Family Hall located in the Arts and Science Center on Heritage University’s main campus in Toppenish. Employers interested in participating in the event should contact Melissa Hill, interim vice president for Student Affairs, at (509) 865-0411 or

Nursing Program Expanding Enrollment

Nursing Program Expanding Enrollment to Meet Growing Need for Nurses

To meet the expanding need for nurses in hospitals, community health and primary care settings, and in schools, the Heritage University Bachelor of Science in Nursing program is expanding enrollment to 24 students for the fall 2018 semester.

The BSN program enrolled the first cohort of nine students in fall 2015, which will graduate this year. These graduates will serve communities in which they have resided all of their lives and for which they express a caring passion. With a firm commitment to meeting the needs of the local community, the Heritage Nursing program is preparing a permanent workforce of highly skilled nurses who will contribute to the transformation of the health care system in the Yakima Valley. “In order to meet the huge demand for qualified registered professional nurses in the Yakima Valley, Heritage University is expanding the number of students admitted into the BSN program,” says Dr. Christina Nyirati, director of Nursing at Heritage.

Heritage University was granted permission in 2014 from the Washington State Nursing Care Quality Assurance Commission (NCQAC) to develop the Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) program. Interviews with local and state health care leaders revealed the significant demand for this program in the Yakima Valley.

Aligned with the Heritage University Mission, the BSN program mission is to advance the health of multicultural families and communities in rural environments through excellence in nursing education, service, practice and community-based research. Heritage University, located on the Yakama Nation Reservation in the heart of the Yakima Valley, prepares nurse leaders to provide culturally competent, community-focused care.

Upon successful completion of the BSN curriculum, graduates will be eligible to sit for the NCLEX examination for licensure as a Registered Nurse (RN). The BSN program incorporates professional nursing standards and guidelines as the framework for the development of the baccalaureate nurse. “Our students are succeeding in a rigorous but nurturing BSN program.  We are focused on making sure our students are well-prepared. They are reaching, and often exceeding national standardized testing benchmarks. We are looking forward to high rates of completion, and licensure exam pass rates. We know employers will welcome our grads,” said Dr. Nyirati.

Interested candidates can contact Melissa Sanchez, Administrative Coordinator for Nursing at Heritage by emailing

To set up an interview with Dr. Christina Nyirati, contact David Mance at (509) 969-6084 or

“Easter Eggstravaganza”

Free Easter Egg Hunt at Heritage University

An Easter egg hunt with more than 30,000 Easter eggs is just one of the many family-friendly events to be featured at the family fun day “Easter Eggstravaganza” on March 31, 2018 on the Heritage University campus in Toppenish.

The free activities begin at 12 p.m. and go until 3:00 p.m. and will feature food, games and activities for all ages. Free hotdogs and Coca-Cola products will be served along with food and drink vendors. Free games include jumpers, duck pond, sack races, and a bean bag toss, to name a few. The event also features live music, Yakima SunKing ticket raffle and an iPad raffle. The Easter egg hunt, for children ages one to 12, will take place at locations across campus beginning at 2:30 p.m. Prizes will be announced at 3:00 p.m. People are encouraged to bring their own baskets for this event, but there will be 250 baskets given out.

This is the fourth year for the “Easter Eggstravaganza” at Heritage University, which is presented by the Omega Delta Phi fraternity in collaboration with Gamma Alpha Omega Interest Group and co-sponsored by Heritage University.For more information, contact Jesus Mendez at (509) 853-6673 or

Women’s Day Event

Education consultant and public speaker to deliver keynote address at Heritage University’s International Women’s Day Event

Education consultant, public speaker and former candidate for Washington State Superintendent, Erin Jones, will be the keynote speaker at “Women2Women,” Heritage University’s celebration of International Women’s Day on Saturday, March 17, 2018.

Ms. Jones has been involved in and around schools for the past 26 years. She has taught in black, white and diverse communities. Jones has received many awards during her career, including “Most Innovate Foreign Language Teacher” in 2007; “Milken Educator of the Year” for Washington state in 2008; and in 2013, she was recognized as a “Champion of Change” at the White House. She’s worked for the Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction, and in 2016 she ran for State Superintendent, a race she lost by a mere 1%. At the time of her candidacy she was the first Black woman to run for any state office.

“Women 2 Women” celebrates the women of the Yakima Valley and supports early childhood education. It is organized by Heritage University’s Women 2 Women collaborative and is sponsored by the university’s Center for a New Washington. Funds generated by the event go to child care scholarships for students whose children attend the Early Learning Center.

“Education is a key factor to improving the lives of women and children,” said Dr. Natalie Martinkus, director for the center. “The stress of taking care of children can take its toll and become a barrier to women trying to earn their college degree. We want to break down these barriers while providing their children the crucial cognitive and physical start they need for later success.”

Doors open for the event at 9:00 a.m., the program begins at 10:00 a.m. and ends at noon. The event features artwork displays which celebrate the accomplishments of local women in both art and science, technology, engineering and math (STEM). Refreshments will be served. Registration is $50, and can be completed online at For more information, call (509) 865-0450, or email