Heritage University hosts Career and Education Job Fair



Heritage University hosts Career and Education Job Fair 2019


Toppenish, Wash. – An upcoming event at Heritage University will connect Yakima Valley job seekers with more than 30 employers. The Career and Education Job Fair 2019 is free and open to the public and will also allow companies to explore internship and job shadowing opportunities for Heritage University students and academic programs.


Confirmed participants to this year represent a wide range of industries, including education, healthcare, agriculture, and others. They include Astria Health, Comprehensive Health Care, EPIC, Legends Casino Hotel, Virginia Mason Memorial, Yakama Forest Products, Yakima Chief Hops, several area school districts, and many more.


The Career and Education Job Fair 2019 is a collaboration between WorkSource Yakima and Heritage University and will be held on Thursday, April 11, 2019, from 1:30 p.m. 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 Heather Collins, Business Solutions Specialist for WorkSource Yakima County at (509) 574-0182 or hcollins@esd.wa.gov. For more information, contact Melissa Hill, interim vice president for Student Affairs, at (509) 865-0411 or hill_m@heritage.edu.​

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Heritage University hosts 3rd Annual All Nations Student Powwow


Heritage University students bringing successful powwow back to campus for third year

Toppenish, Wash. – Heritage University’s two Native American student clubs are bringing the successful All Nations Student Powwow back to campus for a third year. This year’s powwow will take place Saturday, April 13, 2019.

“The powwow is a great way to showcase the rich culture of the Yakama people, and share it with the community, said Brenda Lewis, president of the American Indigenous Business Leaders (AIBL) of Heritage University chapter. “We are honored that more and more people come out each year to celebrate with us and to experience a bit of the cultural traditions that we hold close to our hearts.”

Central to the powwow are the dance and drumming competitions. Registration for the competitions opens at 10:00 a.m. The event officially kicks off with the Grand Entry at 11:00 a.m. Men and women of all ages – from tiny tots to seniors over 55 – will compete in traditional, fancy, and grass for men and jingle for women dance competitions. Several honor dances and intertribal dances, where people from every culture are invited to participate, are also planned.

Local drum group Chute #8 will serve as Head Drum. Heritage University board member and long-time supporter Arlen Washines, deputy director for Yakama Nation Human Services, and Clayton Chief from the Ministikwan Cree Nation in Saskatchewan, Canada will serve as masters of ceremonies. Casey Wallahee will be the Arena Director and Karen Umtuch will serve as the Whip Woman.

In addition to the drum and dance competitions taking place in the arena, various other cultural activities will go on throughout the day, including a stick game demonstration, storytelling and basket weaving demonstrations. Shoppers can enjoy handcrafted Native and western arts as well as enjoy food from a variety of vendors. Rounding out the day will be a hosted evening meal at 5:00 p.m. prepared by the Toppenish Longhouse.

The Powwow is a free event and open to the public. It is presented by AIBL and the Heritage University Native American Club (HUNAC). Vendor applications are still being accepted. For more information, visit heritage.edu/powwow or call (509) 865—8588.

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Sister Kathleen Ross delivers keynote speech at Toppenish MLK event

Sister Kathleen Ross delivering keynote speech at Toppenish Middle School in Toppenish, Wash. as part of the Toppenish Peace Mark on Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, January 21, 2019.

Heritage University founding president Sister Kathleen Ross and several student groups were among those representing Heritage during the Toppenish Peace March on January 21, 2019. The annual event, now in its ninth year, honored Martin Luther King, Jr. and featured a march, which started in downtown Toppenish and ended at Toppenish Middle School. There, Dr. Ross delivered a keynote speech where she reminded the marchers of Dr. King’s continual efforts to create a just society and the responsibility we each have to do the same. HU student organizations including Student Life, Student Government Association, and MEChA participated in the march.

Click here to see pictures from the march in Toppenish and other MLK events as published by the Yakima Herald-Republic.
Click here to watch video of part of the march as recorded by MEChA Heritage University. HU Student Life wishes to thank everyone who represented Heritage at the march.
Click here to read her speech as shared by the Sisters of the Holy Names of Jesus and Mary.

Science Olympiad Event returns to test young minds’ collaborative, competitive skills


Science Olympiad Event Returns to YVC to Test Young Minds’ Collaborative, Competitive Skills

Yakima, WA – Middle school students from throughout Central Washington will once again show off their scientific skills during the 7th annual South Central Washington Science Olympiad (SCWSO) Regional Tournament on Saturday, January 26, 2019.

This isn’t the typical science fair where kids create and show their own separate projects; instead, the Science Olympiad brings together teams of students for group competition. Each team has 15 competing members and will form small groups for each of the 23 competition events. These events include building and testing battery-powered buggies and elastic launched gliders and conducting experiments in chemistry, anatomy and herpetology. The teams with the top overall score will move onto the state competition in April; with the winner of that competition moving on to the national event in May.

“This is an event that teaches kids to collaborate and compete in science projects at the same time,” says Cresanna Zintzun, tournament co-director and adjunct faculty at Heritage University. “It also fosters the study of and engagement in science throughout the year.”

The Science Olympiad is a national program that started more than 30 years ago, and has been held in Washington state for more than two decades. Before 2013, teams from Central Washington had to travel to Spokane or Western Washington to compete. The event is being presented jointly by the three Yakima Valley colleges and universities: Heritage University, Yakima Valley College (YVC) and Pacific Northwest University of Health Sciences (PNWU).

“In more than 20 STEM-related events, middle school students from central WA will test their creativity, preparation and knowledge at the 7th annual SCWSO tournament. We expect a day of big achievements for small scientists in the making,” said Matthew Loeser, president of the SCWSO board of directors and a YVC biology instructor.

The Science Olympiad State Organization awarded $1,000 towards the regional tournament at YVC, which will be held in Glenn Anthon Hall from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Teams from schools in the Yakima, West Valley and Kennewick school districts as well as a private school in Yakima are expected to participate.

You can learn more about Science Olympiad online at www.washingtonscienceolympiad.com.

For more information, contact:

Matthew Loeser, (509) 574-4858 or mloeser@yvcc.edu

Diana Rhodes, (509) 249-7737 or drhodes@pnwu.edu

Cresanna Zintzun, (509) 865-8558 or Zintzun_C@heritage.edu

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Senator Curtis King is ‘student for a day’ at Heritage University

WA State Senator Curtis King got to see academic life through the eyes of a student, his own, as he donned a letterman’s jacket, met up with a student and experience Student for a Day at Heritage.

Senator King tagged along with Paige Delp, a senior studying environmental science. Paige took Senator King to her fisheries caught taught by assistant professor Alex Alexiades. Sen. King eagerly took notes with the school supplies he received at the start of his day. Professor Alexiades shared insights on fishery policy in Washington. King relied on his years of experience as a member of the Washington State Transportation Committee to contribute to the class conversation.

Soon it was time for lunch! Paige took him to the Eagle’s Café, where he had lunch with the students from the class. We are glad Senator King got the chance to experience Heritage University as our first Student for a Day, we hope to bring more to campus to experience the same this spring!

If you are interested in seeing the academic side of life at Heritage, send an email to Emily Jameson at jameson_e@heritage.edu.

Senator Curtis King puts on his letterman’s jacket at the start of his Student for a Day at Heritage University.

Senator King proudly wears his HU letterman’s jacket.

HU environmental science senior Paige Delp walks with Senator Curtis King to class.

Paige Delp, Senator King and other students listen to a lecture delivered by professor Alexander Alexiades.

Senator King takes notes while in class.

Senator King enjoys lunch with his “fellow students” in the Eagle’s Cafe at Heritage University.

Heritage University Announces Fall 2018 Dean’s List

Toppenish, Wash. –  The following are students who earned a place on the Heritage University Dean’s List for the fall 2018 semester.  To qualify for the Dean’s List, students must be full-time, matriculated undergraduates who have earned semester grade point averages of 3.5 or better.


Marixa Abacara-Perez, Kennewick Josue Aguilar, Yakima Gissell Aguilar, Sunnyside
Amalia Akagi, yakima Clarisa Alcala, Buena Paulina Alcala, Yakima
Sonia Allende, Pasco Danielle Almanza, Granger Lorena Alvarez, Wapato
Yessyca Alvarez, Grandview Yanett Alvarez, Yakima Eilee Andujo, Prosser
Elizabeth Arellano, Toppenish Rosalinda Arreola, Toppenish Alonso Arroyo, Wapato
Alejandra Arteaga, Yakima Emma Avalos, Yakima Marisol Avila, Toppenish
Alexys Ayala, Buena Maria Ayala, Toppenish Jeremiah Baker, Toppenish
Regina Baker, Toppenish Michelle Barba, Yakima Nadine Bare, Kennewick
Sabrina Bare, Kennewick Teresa Barnes, Richland Elizabeth Benitez, Kennewick
Esther Bermudez, Kennewick Jeanne Blakeman, Pasco Cristina Blanco, Sunnyside
Zaireth Borges Zamora, Yakima Justin Burke, Yakima Daisy Bustamante Orduno, Granger
Juan Cabrera-Santos, Buena Jennifer Cantu, Prosser Roma Cantu, Toppenish
Alexandra Cardenas, Toppenish Brenda Cardona, Mattawa Janette Cardona, Mattawa
Jenny Careaga, West Richland Delia Castanon, Wapato Leslie Castillo, Sunnyside
Erica Castro, Wapato Zachary Catron, Wapato Noelia Causor, Yakima
Rosalinda Ceja Navarro, Sunnyside Jocelyn Celis Torres, Wapato Jennifer Cervantes, Toppenish
Kevin Cervantes, Pasco Lizbeth Chavez, Pasco Diana Chavez Cerda, Yakima
Ruben Chino Bustamante, Toppenish Heather Christensen, Richland Ana Cisneros Chavez, Outlook
Shelby Clark, White Swan Heather Collins, Zillah Gardenia Contreras-Vazquez, Sunnyside
Grace Corning, Benton City Melissa Correa, Pasco Esmeralda Correa, Pasco
Guadalupe Cortes, Wapato Kristina Cortez, Moxee Almarosa Cortez, Wapato
Veronica Cruz, Sunnyside Estefani Cruz, Wapato Stefany Cuaspud Guevara, Kennewick
Kathryn Curtiss, Toppenish Ashley Davis, Naches Xavier Day, Toppenish
Connie Delacruz, Yakima Cynthia Deleon, Toppenish Fatima Delgado, Toppenish
Esperanza Delgado, Toppenish Paige Delp, Yakima Jesus Diaz, Zillah
Keila Diaz, Granger Irvin Diaz, Yakima Josue Diaz, Mesa
Maria Diaz, Zillah Rylie Dixon, Kennewick Amanda Donelson, Kennewick
Sara Duran, Wapato Crecenciana Espinoza, Pasco Jocelyne Espinoza, Wapato
Kaylyn Fairchild, Pasco Krisana Fernandez, Sunnyside Flor Fernandez-Mendoza, Mattawa
Cristy Fiander, Wapato Jose Figueroa-Orduno, Grandview Spencer Fisher, Richland
Artemio Flores, Toppenish Stephanie Flores-landin, Yakima Hector Franco Velazquez, Granger
Anabel Garcia, Pasco Evelyn Garcia, Wapato Leticia Garcia, Granger
Esmeralda Garcia, Wapato Rosa Garcia, Kennewick Victoria Garcia, Pasco
Marlenne Garibay, Sunnyside Anali Garibay, Pasco Kimberling Garibay, Sunnyside
Kimberly Garibay Zapien, Toppenish Dorothy Garwood, Prosser Anahi Garza, Richland
Delia Garza, Pasco Lindsy Gatewood, Pasco Nicole Glatt, Burbank
Lesly Gomez, Yakima Tania Gomez, Pasco Rhiannon Gonzales, Yakima
Diana Gonzalez, Kennewick Noe Gonzalez, Toppenish Alfonso Gonzalez-Colin, Yakima
Amanda Goodman, Pasco Heidy Granados Lopez, Kennewick Ashley Grego, Richland
Shelby Groth, Selah Brenda Guadarrama, Granger Isaias Guerrero, Outlook
Estefania Guerrero Angel, Granger Yazmine Guido, Yakima Eva Guizar, Kennewick
Alissa Gutierrez, Yakima Melissa Gutierrez, Granger Melissa Guzman, Pasco
Alexis Guzman, Pasco Martha Guzman, Yakima Yuli Guzman, Yakima
Kori Haubrich, Sunnyside Anna Hempel, Kennewick Mayra Hermosillo, Prosser
Elena Hernandez, Wapato Lizbeth Hernandez, Yakima Xochitl Hernandez, Pasco
Tracie Hicks, Kennewick Savannah Hill, Wapato Christina Holland, Kennewick
Chaelee Hudson, Yakima Kasey Hutto, Kennewick Ricardo Iriarte, Yakima
Yasmin Islas Martinez, Yakima Jason Janovitch, Pasco Kaneeta Jeffery- Zack, Zillah
Samanta Jimenez, Pasco Miguel Juarez, Yakima Alondra Juarez, Wapato
Ekman Kaur, Kennewick April Kent, Toppenish Wendy Kleppin, West Richland
Valentyn Konko, Kennewick Viktoriia Konko, Kennewick Michael Kummer, Kennewick
Rachel LaBelle, Benton city Maria Lara, Pasco Maria Lechuga, Wapato
Shiraz Lefeber, Pasco Yovana Leyva Carmona, Wapato Ilse Leyva Manzanarez, Yakima
Idalis Licea, Zillah Andres Lima Elias, Othello Mark Litka, Richland
Brittany Loeken, Yakima Yesenia Lopez, Wapato Maria Lopez, Wapato
Elvira Lopez, Toppenish Yezie Lopez Perez, Yakima Reina Luna, Wapato
Daisy Luna, Wapato Jeffery Lybbert, Toppenish Jennifer Macias, Toppenish
Claudia Madrigal, Pasco Yareli Madrigal Luna, Pasco Marlene Magana, Sunnyside
Herminia Magdaleno, Yakima Edgar Maranon, Wapato Ana Marquez, Grandview
Rosalinda Marquez, Toppenish Cooper Martin, Yakima Daisy Martinez, Wapato
Natalie Martinez, Sunnyside Dulce Martinez, Sunnyside Andrea Martinez-Santiago, Toppenish
Christina Mattson, Richland Stephanie Maybee, Selah Sara McColloch, Pasco
Shaunacy McMurray, Yakima Ashlee Mearns, Kennewick Judit Medina, Kennewick
David Mejia, Yakima Stephanie Mendoza, Mabton Yesenia Mendoza, Mattawa
Jazmin Mendoza, Pasco Daniel Mendoza, Toppenish Karen Mendoza, Prosser
Cassandra Mercado, Pasco Jheymy Mercado-Covarrubias, Yakima Rebecca Meza, Sunnyside
Celine Michael, Yakima Jennifer Mitchell, Kennewick Gladys Monroy, Pasco
Priscila Montiel, Yakima Brenda Montoya-Roman, Yakima Ana Morales, Toppenish
Domitila Morales, Pasco Lizbeth Morales Perez, Toppenish Gabriela Moreno, Toppenish
Eva Morfin, Kennewick Kaitlin Morris, Richland James Muggli, Kennewick
Guadalupe Navarro, Sunnyside Thuan-Thien Nguyen, Pasco Edith Noriega, Sunnyside
Arlene Olea, Sunnyside Meaghan Oliver, Richland Rosa Olvera, Pasco
Lorena Ornelas, Sunnyside Esther Osorio, Toppenish Rebecca Ozuna, Toppenish
Karina Padilla, Yakima Carlos Paniagua, Sunnyside Mary Pantoja, Yakima
Seong Park, Yakima Shane Parkhurst, Kennewick Yolanda Penaloza, Mabton
Marcelo Penaloza, Toppenish Ana Perez, Pasco Hunter Perez, Kennewick
Carmen Perez, Grandview Sabrina Persinger, Pasco Eric Philipp-Petrick, Yakima
Kelsey Picard, Seatac Diana Picazo Villanueva, Outlook Allison Platsman, Sunnyside
Oscar Ponce, Harrah Carlos Prado, Yakima Katherine Priddy, Goldendale
Daisy Quinones, White Swan Laura Quintana, Union Gap Lezly Quintanilla, Yakima
Viridiana Ramirez, Pasco Briceida Ramos, Grandview Olivia Ramos Alvarez, Kennewick
Lazaro Ramos Aragon, Walla Walla Rosa Rangel, Wapato Anyssa Rebollero, Yakima
Joshua Rein, Wapato Shealynn Reuther, Wapato Alfredo Reyes, Granger
Gloria Reyes, Granger Anitramarina Reyna, Yakima Andrea Rhode, Zillah
Amy Richter, Pendleton Rosa Rios, Moxee Abigail Rivera, Zillah
Candelaria Rivera, Mabton Maria Rivera, Yakima Timothy Roa, Wapato
Morgan Roberts, Kennewick Hunter Roberts, Yakima Ellie Robins, Selah
Eileen Rodriguez, Pasco Adriana Rodriguez, Kennewick Andrea Rodriguez, Toppenish
Heidy Rodriguez, Wapato Jesus Rodriguez, Granger Liliana Roman, Grandview
Sarah Romano, Richland Juan Romero, Zillah Erika Romero-Vargas, Pasco
Dalia Romo Pinon, Sunnyside Leidy Rosales, Pasco Eva Rosenow, Kennewick
Rosario Ruiz, Yakima Jose Salcedo, Granger Renee Saldana, Yakima
Mayra Sanchez, Kennewick Danielle Sauceda, Pasco Johnathan Schab, Prosser
Erika Scheel, Meridian Margaret Sewell, Yakima Blaine Shearer, Zillah
Jeniya Slutskaya, Kennewick Gerardo Soto, Zillah Maria Soto-Galvan, Yakima
Hunter Strickland, Richland Christy Taylor, Othello Autumn Teegarden, Yakima
Destiney Theisen, Kennewick Stephanie Tolley, Othello LisaLyn Tormey, Yakima
Jose Torres, Outlook Omar Torres, Sunnyside Jonay Torres, Pasco
Yanet Torres, Zillah Maribel Torres, Kennewick James Torres, Grandview
Alejandra Treece, Zillah Anthony Tzib, Prosser Daisy Vaca, Wapato
Victoria Valdez, Toppenish Cecilia Valdivia, Yakima Maria Valencia, Toppenish
Anakaren Valenzuela, Toppenish Elizabeth Van Corbach, Sunnyside Brenda Vasquez, Toppenish
Veronica Vigil, Yakima Maurita Villafan, Toppenish Julia Villagomez, Toppenish
Eva Villalba-Arevalo, Prosser Maria Villanueva, Yakima Allyssa Villanueva-Guillen, Grandview
Citlaly Villegas, Wapato Arcelia Virgen, Wapato Cecilia Vizcaino de la Mora, Yakima
Dawn Waheneka, Wapato Kyle Wandling, Pasco Mette Warnick, Richland
Katie Wentz, WhiteSwan Shelby White, Burbank Devin Williams, Kennewick
Janae Williams, Kennewick John Williams, Kennewick Kaitlyn Wormington, Kennewick
Jasmine Yellow Owl, Zillah Valentin Zaragoza, Zillah Ruby Zarate, Moxee


A Legacy Grows at Heritage

In October, Heritage University formally dedicated the Sister Kathleen Ross snmj Legacy Giving Circle mural with an event as special as the woman for whom it is named. The university and its supporters celebrated those who make up the circle with an afternoon high tea.


The Giving Circle is comprised of individuals who have included Heritage in their planned giving. “The tea was more than a dedication of a wonderful piece of art,” said David Wise, vice president for Marketing and Advancement. “It was the first of a planned annual recognition of our many committed supporters and an opportunity to thank them for their ongoing support.”

Julie Prather and Norma Chaidez

The mural design was conceptualized by Heritage visual arts major Carlos Prado, who works part-time in the university’s marketing department. Yakima muralist and fabric artist Deborah Ann developed the final design based on Prado’s initial work, and Ellensburg glass artist Julie Prather created the stained glass apples that bear the names of the Giving Circle members.

You can add your name to the Legacy Giving Circle by simply informing Heritage of your plans to include the university in your estate gift. You can bequeath a range of gifts, from stocks and bonds to IRAs, and also name and direct how your funds will be used. For more details, call (509) 865-8587.

Emily Jameson, director of donor development, pours tea for Kathleen Ross and Deborah Ann


Reunion Celebrates Ten Years of M.L.S.

Front: Terese Abreu (MLS program director), Ryan Inouye, Jillian Legard (’18), Veronica Hernandez (’10) with her son, Anne-Marie VanRiper, Andrew Nguyen and Sarah Gold. Back: Cesar Abreu, Robert Kinkley (’16) and guest, McKenna Smyth, Tai Pham (’08), Martha Coronel, Emily Hennings, Priscilla Fairall, Thanh Nguyen and guest.

Medical Laboratory Science (MLS) alumni from throughout Washington state traveled to Wapato in September to celebrate the 10th anniversary of the MLS program. The event brought together alums and current Heritage MLS students for an evening of gourmet pizza, craft beers and camaraderie at HopTown Wood Fired Pizza.

“It was a nice opportunity to offer inspiration and guidance to new students,” said alumnus Robert Kinkley.

Plans for the reunion were put in motion by the students, faculty and alums in the MLS program who wanted a way to commemorate the anniversary with a bit of a homecoming. Alumni Connections facilitated the event on their behalf.

“Events like these are a great way to reconnect with friends or to make new friends and professional contacts,” said Anne-Marie VanRiper, Heritage alumni relations coordinator. “You don’t have to wait for Alumni Connections to plan an event near you. We love working with groups to build experiences that meet their needs.”

¡Viva Mexico! Heritage celebrates Mexican culture with El Grito de Independencia

On a crisp fall Saturday, Heritage University was awash in the sights and sounds of Mexico—girls in brightly colored skirts swirling and swishing to the music of the mariachi, children swinging wooden sticks at piñatas filled with goodies, and food vendors selling piping hot churros
and street tacos. It was the university’s first celebration of El Grito de Dolores, an event of cultural significance for those with cultural ties to Mexico.

El Grito de Dolores, translated to Cry of Dolores, is celebrated annually on September 15 to commemorate the start of the Mexican War of Independence. The war broke out in the early morning hours of September 16, 1810, in the town of Dolores when the Roman Catholic priest Miguel Hidalgo y Costilla organized a forced freeing of jailed revolutionaries, rang the church bell to gather his congregation and called upon them to take up arms for the cause of freedom. What followed was ten years of war against Spain, which ended in 1821 with the signing of the Declaration of Independence of the Mexican Empire.

Diana Maria Oliveros Martinez from the Consulate of Mexico in Seattle called out the traditional El Grito proclamation.

“Respecting and celebrating cultural diversity is a core value at Heritage that goes back to our founding,” said Dr. Melissa Hill, interim vice president for student affairs. “Many of our students have strong ties to the Mexican culture, whether it is through parents or grandparents who immigrated to the United States from Mexico, or perhaps they themselves immigrated here. Events such as El Grito are opportunities to break down barriers and unite us all as we learn about one another and celebrate our common human experience.”

Student groups, such as the Omega Delta Phi fraternity, hosted food and activity booths during the event.

Heritage’s El Grito de Independencia celebration brought roughly 500 people to campus. The family-friendly event featured Folklorical dancers, piñatas and games for the children, performances by the Central Washington University Mariachi Club, food vendors, and a family movie. The event culminated with the traditional delivery of the El Grito proclamation. El Grito was called out by Diana Maria Oliveros Martinez, a visiting dignitary from the Consulate of Mexico in Seattle.

Video from the event can be seen on Heritage’s YouTube channel, HeritageWithinReach.

Home Growing a Workforce

Most students graduating in May spend the summer looking for their first big job. Not Sandra Benitez (B.A., Business Administration, 2018). When she graduated last spring, she walked right back into the office where she had interned as a student – now as a full-time employee. Over the last two years, ten other people have done the same thing.

They’re participants in a growing Heritage University business internship program that pairs juniors and seniors with companies looking to not only offer experiential learning for students but to potentially hire them.

Fertile soil, lots of sunshine and a long growing season make Yakima County first in the state for value of
crop and livestock products. Agriculture contributes a whopping $1.2 billion to the local economy. It’s a big number, and it’s growing, said Vicky Swank, business administration professor at Heritage.

“Heritage’s business internship program is growing with it.”

Swank oversees the program, placing students with majors in business administration, finance and accounting with companies that want to give them meaningful working world experience.

A job after graduation isn’t guaranteed but, often job offers are extended. Since the summer of 2017, almost half – 10 out of 22 students – were hired by the employer where they interned.

“From Stadelman Fruits to Yakima Chief Hops to Roy Farms, our students are doing meaningful internships and getting hired,” said Swank.

She said Heritage has recognized a perfect fit between its students and area agriculture companies.

“We have young people who attend Heritage and they want to stay in the Valley because of their families. With the human resource needs in the valley creating incredible opportunities, we strive to provide educational resources to meet these needs.”

For some, such as Heritage junior Alfonso Gonzalez-Colin, the opportunity to enter their careers starts long before graduation. He started what was to be a summer work experience with Stadelman Fruit last June. By the end of the summer, the internship turned into a part- time position in the company’s accounting department. By the time Gonzalez-Colin graduates, he will have two years of professional experience with a company that he loves, and in the career he is studying to enter.

Heritage University alumni Krystal Treece and Sandra Benitez work at Roy Farms Oct. 17, 2018 in Moxee, Wash. (GORDON KING/Gordon King Photography)

Swank considers a significant part of her job to be that of preparing Heritage students for the internships many will pursue.

“Our students often come to us needing to feel more confident in their communication, probably having no experience in the business world,” she said. “This is one of the areas around which we design our curriculum.”

Every business class at Heritage requires students to do at least one oral presentation. It’s those “soft skills,” said Swank that, along with rigorous course requirements, make students better communicators, positioning them for success in an internship and beyond.

A Heritage advisory board consisting of area business leaders makes recommendations that keep Heritage’s curriculum strong. Its members weigh in on experiences that can make Heritage students stand out from the crowd.

John Reeves, an agriculture industry expert and Heritage board member, sees ag industry internships as key in that student experience – and key in making Heritage students most useful in the ag industry.

“There will be 10 billion people on the planet by the year 2050,” said Reeves. “That means developing more and better ways to feed more and more people. For an area that is a true mecca of agriculture, that’s a big opportunity.

“For Heritage and its students, these internships represent a great opportunity to be a significant part of it.”

“We create a better-equipped graduate by always asking how we can better prepare them,” said Swank. “What else can we do to develop a student who is a strong communicator, is collaborative and works with others, and a critical thinker who approaches a problem and comes up with a solution?

“We tell our students, ‘Don’t go to your boss with problems all day long – go in there with solutions.’ We give them experiences in the classroom so that they can improve those skills.”


Mike Goettl, CEO at Yakima Chief Hops, first heard of Heritage’s professional internship program while on a campus tour.

“He thought it sounded like the perfect way to give young people meaningful work and real-life experience and give us potential new employees,” said Lisa Garcia, Yakima Chief Hops human resources director. “Mike has been a big advocate for partnering with Heritage as part of our search for future employees.”

Garcia works with several educational institutions – Yakima Valley College, Central Washington University and Perry Tech among them. She says Heritage students have a particularly strong work ethic, an eagerness to learn, and a huge desire and determination to do well at their jobs.

“With Heritage, we started out with three really strong interns, and we’re working to expand our program,” said Garcia. “Our goal is to increase our internship program with Heritage to six to 10 students.”

Like most Heritage student interns, Denisse Gutierrez, Business Administration ’18, went into her internship with experience in the agriculture industry. Her dad owns a small orchard, so she was used to helping pick apples.

“The whole thing just feels familiar, so that’s nice, yet I’m working in areas of the company that give me new experiences.”

As an intern at Roy Farms, Gutierrez helped with safety audits, drug and alcohol testing and data input. As the months went on, she had the opportunity to get a sense of the bigger picture at the company.

“Towards the end of the internship, I was attending most of the weekly all- company meetings. Everyone would talk about what they were doing, and I just soaked it all up. I really learned a lot.”

Gutierrez did a second internship at Yakima Chief Hops where she was ultimately hired – and considers both huge personal growth experiences she wouldn’t have had in the classroom.

“In my first internship, initially I kind of kept to myself. But you interact with a lot of different people in the working world. As I kept talking to more and more people in the office and the warehouse and the fields, I just kind of opened up. Your communication skills really develop.

“I had an amazing experience during my internship,” said Sandra Benitez, who feels Swank’s placement of her with Roy Farms matched her with the perfect company.

“I have worked in agriculture my entire life. I had let Vicky know that this was something that I wanted to do in the long run, and I know this is my future.”

Sandra Benitez’s internship at Roy Farms led to a position in the company’s human resources department.

Reeves sees big things for Heritage interns.

“First, our students’ work ethic is unquestionable. Nothing’s been handed to them,” he said. “Then there’s this opportunity. With

lots of private equity coming into Washington State and a big bunch of that into Yakima, we’re looking at everything from robots to super high tech irrigation to drones, with big companies and lots of investment.

“And when they receive this education and find meaningful work in this industry, we have provided the opportunity to uplift not only them but their families. These kids lift themselves up, their families, our community, the county and then the nation. That’s what makes America great.”

“I’m in awe every day of our students. What they bring to everything they do and to these companies. The positive outlook, the persistence, tenacity, motivation, eagerness, this can-do attitude,” said Swank. “What employer wouldn’t want an employee like that?”

To learn how your company can partner with Heritage University’s business administration internship program, contact Vicky Swank at swank_v@heritage.edu, or call (509) 865-0726.