In Memoriam – WINGS Summer 2023

Dr. Robert (Bob) Plumb

One of Heritage University’s first full-time faculty members, Dr. Robert (Bob) Plumb, passed away on April 18, 2023. He was 82 years old.

Plumb joined Heritage in 1982, coming from a faculty position at York College in Pennsylvania. He served as a professor, assistant dean of students and dean of the teacher education program until his retirement. He was known for his strong commitment to helping each student, whether it was academically, finding financial support, or even providing a safe place in his home until they were able to get on their feet.

“Bob always found a positive way to look at difficulties that Heritage or individuals were facing. His generosity shone out, especially in hosting events in his home, both to support Heritage University fundraising and also to build strong community ties among Heritage employees,” said Kathleen Ross SNJM, Heritage president emerita. “Many teachers in schools throughout the Yakima Valley will remember Bob as one of their favorite professors.”

Plumb is survived by his spouse Alfredo “Fred” Fontanilla, son Hylon Plumb IV (Anita), and grandchildren Hylon “Teron” Plumb V and Arlo Plumb.

The family requested gifts in lieu of flowers be made to the Dr. Robert G. Plumb Memorial Scholarship at Heritage. page28image35534656


Alfredo Arreguín

Seattle painter and long-time friend of Heritage University Alfredo Arreguín passed away on April 24, 2023.

Arreguín was a prolific and influential artist who emigrated from Mexico in 1956. He studied art at the University of Washington. His vivid painting blended flora and fauna iconography with a nod to his cultural heritage.

His works hang in the permanent collections at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American Art and National Portrait Gallery and Heritage University. His portrait of the Virgin Mary, La Virgen Azul, hangs in the Arts and Sciences Center. When founding president Dr. Kathleen Ross SNJM retired, he painted the portrait that sits in the building that shares her name.

Arreguin was 88 years old. page29image35332016

NEWS BRIEFS – Wings Summer 2023

World Class hops grower and breweries collaborate to brew scholarships for HU students

A newly developed varietal of hop created by John I Haas and named for Heritage University is making its way into Pacific Northwest craft beers that will help raise money for student scholarships.

Seattle’s Georgetown Brewing Company and Yakima-based Bale Breaker Brewery are partnering with John I Haas to use their new varietal to brew limited-edition lagers. Each brewery will unveil its craft brew this fall, with a portion of the proceeds from the sale of the beer going to Heritage University for student scholarships.

The brew masters are busy finalizing their recipes and flavor profiles, preparing to brew their first batch. Heritage friends and family can expect a sneak peek at special tasting events this fall. Details will be coming your way soon. page26image35615120


Nursing program director receives professional award from state organization

Christina Nyirati, Ph.D., accepting the 2023 Nursing Educator Award from the Washington State Nurses Association in May, 2023.

Nursing program director Christina Nyirati, Ph.D., RN, was recently recognized by the Washington State Nurses Association for her nursing education work. During their May convention, the association awarded Nyirati the 2023 Nurse Educator award.

The awards are made biennially in celebration of individuals who have made substantial contributions positively impacting the nursing profession, the association, and the advancement of nurses. Nyirati was one of ten individuals recognized at this year’s event. page26image35615120






Heritage AIBL chapter places in top three at national business competition

From left to right: Shelby Yallup and Lillie Wesley

The Heritage Chapter of the American Indigenous Business Leaders (AIBL) took home third place at the national competition in April. Students Shelby Yallup and Lillie Wesley presented the chapter’s business plan for its project, Career Closet. The project provides business attire to college students so they are ready for their internships and interviews.

AIBL is a national non-profit organization empowering Indigenous youth through business exploration and practices. While its focus is on business, it is open to students from all majors. page26image35615120



Vertical farming project for hands-on learning with a side of salad

HU student Eva Cervantes checks on the vegetables growing in a hydroponic machine located in the Eagle’s Cafe dining room at Heritage University.

When you think about a crop of lettuce growing for commercial consumption, a wall of greens encased in a plastic tower that resembles a tanning bed standing on end might not be the first image to come to mind. However, in Heritage’s Eagles Café, this vertical “field” of fresh lettuce is part of the university’s Environmental Science 101 class and a source of fresh lettuce for hungry students.

This spring, a single Flex Farm vertical hydroponic unit was installed in the university’s cafeteria. This self-contained unit takes up only 10 square feet of space and can grow 288 plants, up to 394 pounds of food. It has its own water system, LED light tower, and water flow pump.

“This unit provides our students with a unique experiential learning opportunity,” said Jessica Black, Ph.D., professor of environmental science and studies. “Students in our 101 and 102

classes will investigate the increasingly important role of vertical farming in agriculture, encompassing themes of both preparing for a sustainable future in water-stressed regions of the world and agrotechnology.”

The first crop of lettuce was harvested in early June and served in the café’s salads.  page26image35615120


Heritage Enactus chapter and leadership recognized at national event

Enactus Heritage University president Andrea Ceja

When Heritage’s Enactus team traveled to Richardson, Texas, for the organization’s national exposition in April, they had no idea that they were about to be singled out from the pool of 223 chapters and 6,473 students nationwide.

HU Enactus received the award for Excellence in Efforts to Address the Sustainable Development Goals. The award came in response to four of its projects: Pantry of Hope, a food distribution program that happens in the winter; Women Rise Up, a women’s leadership program; Camp S.E.E.D., a youth financial and entrepreneurship summer day camp; and VITA, a volunteer tax preparation program for low-income community members.

In addition to their team’s recognition, HU Enactus President Andrea Ceja, a senior majoring in Business Administration, received the Enactus Executive Leader of the Year award.

Enactus is an international student organization where university chapters use innovation and entrepreneurship to identify and solve areas of need. page26image35615120


Bountiful Generosity – WINGS Summer 2023

Gifts to Heritage’s annual Bounty of the Valley Scholarship Dinner breaks records and tops last year’s total raised by more than $100,000!

It was a record-breaking year for Heritage’s annual Bounty of the Valley Scholarship Dinner. The event brought in $872,549 for student scholarships, nudging out the previous record set in 2020.

“Words simply cannot express how grateful we are for all the support our friends and donors give to this university and our students,” said David Wise, vice president for Advancement and Marketing. “Our students depend upon the scholarships they receive in order to earn their degrees. Having so many people step up to provide the funding that makes their education possible has a dual effect. Not only does it reduce the barrier that the cost of going to college could have for students, but it also gives them and huge psychological boost knowing that others believe in their capability.”

Scholarship Dinner is the university’s single largest fundraising event. Since it began 37 years ago, it has raised more than $9 million, with every dime going directly to support Heritage University students.

Student speaker Miguel Mendoza

“It is undeniable that the support our students receive from the community is what allows them to earn their college degrees. For more than 40 years, it is the amazing support of donors that has created the opportunity for nearly 11,000 people to earn their degrees at Heritage. Eleven thousand people who have then gone on from here to serve the community as educators, business leaders, healthcare professionals and more throughout the Valley. We are grateful for their incredible support,” said Andrew Sund, Ph.D., president of Heritage University.

For the second year in a row, the event occurred both in person and virtually. The program portion was live-streamed online, allowing those who were unable to attend the ability to participate from the comfort of their homes. Virtual guests were able to “raise their paddles” with just a click of a button on their computer.

“We have several supporters who have difficulties traveling. Some have been coming to Scholarship Dinner for years, and they are committed to our students. They’ve told me how much they enjoy being able to still participate, even if they are not physically in the same room,” said event organizer Dana Eliason, senior development director. “It is heartwarming to see their commitment to this university and our students.”

This year’s event program is available to watch online, and contributions are still being accepted. Visit to view the video and click “Raise Your Paddle” to make your gift.

Rosie Saldaña’s Heritage story came full circle this year when she was selected to paint the artwork for the Bounty of the Valley Scholarship Dinner. As an undergraduate at Heritage, she depended upon scholarships to help her fund her education.

“I’m tremendously overjoyed by the honor of being asked to paint this work,” she said.

Her painting, entitled Bounty of the Valley, portrays images and symbols of the Yakima Valley and Heritage University—fields of apples, workers bringing in the crops, Mt. Adams, and the statue at the university’s entrance.

“I also incorporated butterflies in the painting, a symbol of becoming something better than when we started,” she said. “I think a lot of students can relate to this. We start at school not really knowing what we want to do, we go through the process, and we blossom into butterflies, and we’re into this new career.”

Saldaña graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in Visual Arts in 2017. Today she is a working artist and Artistic Director at Mighty Tieton. In May, she received her Master of Arts in Museum Studies from Johns Hopkins University. page23image35661776

Class Notes – WINGS Summer 2023


Cialita Keys (B.A., Environmental Studies) joined the Community Development team with the City of The Dalles in Oregon, where she is working as a planning technician. Prior to this, she worked for the Yakama Nation Environmental Management as a resource coordinator.





Gabriel Antunez (A.S., Pre- Engineering) graduated from Washington State University with a Bachelor of Engineering in Mechanical Engineering in May.

Jose Ortiz-Garcia, Ph.D. (B.S.) graduated from the University of Connecticut with a Doctor of Philosophy in Physical Chemistry in May. In June, he joined Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, where he is a physical chemist and a postdoctoral research associate doing catalysis on metal oxide surfaces for the activation of C-H bonds.





Jose Carrillo (B.A., Business Administration) joined the Business and Professions Division at the Washington State Department of Licensing, where he is working as an excise tax examiner. Prior to this, he was a financial aid program coordinator at Heritage University.

Maria Diaz (B.A., Psychology) started a new position at the Yakama Nation Tribal School. She is the school’s new counselor. Maria spent four years prior to this working as the enrollment services coordinator at Heritage University in the Admissions department. Additionally, she earned a Master of Arts in Psychology from Fisher College in May 2022.




Brenda Lewis (B.A., Business Administration) joined Heritage University’s Admissions team in May. She is working as a transfer student admissions counselor. Prior to this, she spent two years working as a general ledger accountant for the Yakama Nation.






Perla Bolaños-Zapian (B.A., Business Administration) joined the Heritage University Advancement Team as the Donor Events and Stewardship Coordinator. page8image35677536

Restoring hope and pride – WINGS Summer 2023

Heritage University Alumnus of the Year Ryan Washburn has spent his entire work life helping people rebuild their lives.

As a veteran service representative at Columbia Basin College, he helped veterans navigate college life. As program director at Elijah Family Homes, he helped low-income families in recovery become self-sufficient through stable housing and supportive services. In his current role as Therapeutic Court Coordinator in Benton County’s District Court, his work ensures that people struggling with mental illness and addiction get help to lead healthier lives.

But what means the most to Washburn isn’t the job titles that populate his resume. It’s the individual people he’s helped.

They’re people like “Charlie,” a veteran of the first Gulf War who returned home wondering where he belonged. He used drugs, became addicted, was arrested multiple times, and spent years in and out of what Washburn calls the “revolving door of the justice system.”

Entering Veterans Court following his release and having been ordered to check into “clean and sober housing,” Charlie absconded. He was promptly kicked out of the program that was designed to help him.

When he appeared in court, Charlie asked to read a letter he’d written. Through his tears, he said he’d promised his mom if he were given another chance, he wouldn’t disappoint her again. The judge let him remain in the program under the stipulation that his every move would be under Washburn’s vigilant watch.

“Today, Charlie is working on his bachelor’s degree in addiction studies with a plan to become a substance abuse professional,” Washburn says. “And he’s back with us, mentoring others.”

It was only after Charlie completed treatment that Washburn learned the extent of what he dealt with every day.

“He’d been in the 1996 Khobar Towers bombing in Kuwait,” Washburn says. “He pulled his dead friends from the rubble. He was 19 or 20 years old.

“He suffered textbook Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) – and we hadn’t even known about it.

“I learn every day that not all wounds are visible. And what people also don’t see is that there are a ton of people who work hard and, with support, they change their lives.

“I get to help them do that.”


Washburn knows what it’s like to struggle. After serving eight years in the United States Navy in three consecutive Arabian Gulf deployments, he had trouble finding a sense of direction. He ultimately enrolled at Columbia Basin College (CBC) and got a work-study job helping veterans transition to college. There he put his love for his fellow vets to work, regularly going above and beyond his job description.

“I wouldn’t just tell them what office to go to; I’d take them there and introduce them,” he says. “I know what it’s like to feel like you don’t fit in.”

As that proclivity for connecting with other vets was recognized, Washburn was approached about becoming a “veteran navigator” for the Washington Department of Veteran Affairs (WDVA). There, he instituted regular trainings for faculty and staff on how to better serve veterans.

After earning an associate’s degree from CBC, Washburn enrolled at Heritage. He majored in education until two of his instructors, who had noticed his easy-going relationships with other vets, suggested he consider social work. He changed his major to interdisciplinary studies and graduated with his bachelor’s degree in 2012. He then pursued a master’s degree in clinical social work at Walla Walla University.

“Through the observant eyes of my professors, I was guided to the path of social work where I was able to lead a life of service to others,” says Washburn. “I strive to embody the values of Heritage in my everyday life as I lead others in their service to others.”


At Walla Walla, Washburn did an internship with Elijah Family Homes, a nonprofit providing stable housing and supportive services to families in recovery. He remembers going into that internthip with the mindset, “if you want to quit drugs, you just quit.” He said that his thinking shifted on his very first day on the job.

“My field supervisor took me to meet a client who asked me if I was an addict. When I told her no, she said, ‘You have to understand how we think and feel and act.’ So she took me to a Narcotics Anonymous meeting. I learned very quickly that addiction is a disease.

“It was a profound ‘aha’ moment of my life that, wow, these people have real struggles.”

Ultimately, Washburn was asked to be Elijah’s program director and felt such a sense of purpose there that he thought he’d never leave. But when he was offered a position in the Benton County Veterans Court that would give him the authority to make a more significant difference in people’s lives, Washburn accepted. He was hired as its first case manager and would be integral in starting its Substance Abuse Court.

Washburn’s exemplary work got him promoted to run the entire Therapeutic Court program, which also oversaw Mental Health Court. He expanded existing programs and added a Recovery Court.

“In these courts, you’re stipulating that for 12 to 24 months, you will follow all conditions – showing up in court, drug testing, counseling, staying out of trouble, staying employed or looking for employment, or going to school.

“It’s judicial accountability and treatment rolled into one. We’re all up in their business all the time, but we slowly pull back the support. The person gets into a life of sustainable recovery, a productive life, and, ultimately, it reduces recidivism while making the community safer and saving taxpayer dollars.”


“The only thing Ryan loves more than his community is his family,” wrote Eric Andrews, Washburn’s former colleague, in his Outstanding Alumni nomination. Washburn is a devoted husband and father of three boys; with a job that can be stressful, he says he finds deep peace and enjoyment in family time.

“My work is challenging, but it makes a difference. We restore hope and pride, reuniting families. We’re affecting real change and saving lives.

“I don’t know how many people have said, ‘If it wasn’t for this program, I’d have been dead by now.’

“I have goosebumps when I talk about what we’re able to do. It just makes my heart really happy.” page13image35779584

Eagles soaring – WINGS Summer 2023

After years of sacrifice and late-night study sessions, Heritage graduates celebrated earning their degrees at the 2023 Commencement in May.

All totaled 239 students earned their undergraduate and graduate degrees at Heritage this academic year.

This year’s Commencement address was given by Phyllis Gutiérrez Kenney, who retired after serving as a representative of the 46th legislative district of Washington state from 1997 to 2012. She is a former small-business owner, delegate to the White House Conference on Small Business, President of the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, and Assistant Commissioner for the Employment Security Department. The student addresses were given by Andrea Ceja (B.A., Business Administration) and Alfredia Thompson (M.I.T., Elementary Education).

Seventeen undergraduate students graduated with a perfect 4.0 GPA, earning them the Board of Directors Academic Excellence Award: Lizette Santos Guijarro, Maria Mendoza, Jiovanna Roman, Rosa Valenzuela, Biriana Carachure, Aisha Cervantes Acuna, Arisbeth Borges, Elvia Valdovinos Cruz, Julian Licea, Daisy Fernandez, Michael LeClair, Brenda Palencia, Carsen Bach, Beau Filbert, Diane Chavez, Maria Reyes, Elizabeth Juarez. Additionally, Heritage awards the President’s Student Award of Distinction to a single undergraduate with a distinguished record of academic excellence and service to the university.

This year’s recipient was Kathleen Sanchez (B.A.Ed., Elementary Education). Sanchez graduated magna cum laude. During her time at Heritage, she was involved in the Student Government Association, a member of Kappa Delta Chi sorority, a work-study for several departments, and a volunteer assisting with marketing and fundraising.

Additionally, Heritage recognized Ryan Washburn (B.A., Interdisciplinary Studies in Education) as the 2023 Violet Lumley Rau Alumnus of the Year. page13image3204656




Business Administration
Vanessa Lynn Estrada

Interdisciplinary Studies in Mathematics
Torre Alexis Chavez

Interdisciplinary Studies in Mathematics
Jose DeJesus Ramos

Social Science
Angel Ramirez


Emilee Jane Bernath
Andrea Mendozav

Business Administration
Eric Agaton Ang
Gabriel B. Albert
Kathleen Leann Aragon
Perla Ximena Bolaños Zapien
Manuel Carbajal
Andrea Ceja
Anajeli Delaluz
Rafael Farias, Jr.
Karina Garzon
Tania Lopez
Sukay Navarrete
Juan Manuel Quintero Macias, Jr.
Pablo Gerardo Vera Rivera
Zeena Waheneka

Criminal Justice
Nayeli Arroyos
Jose Basilio
Yesenia Bengochea
Christopher Mitchel Clinton Berk
Briana Ruvi Carachure
Briseida Carbajal-Prudencio
Erandy Caro
Janet Lorraine Dixon
Alayna Juliane Fernandez
Erick Flores
Sheree Lynn Mahoney
Carson Bigbear Northwind
Gerardo Perez
Elizabeth Perez Hernandez
Adrian Ramirez
Anahi Razo
Marisol Rodriquez
Karina Sanchez
Ivan Santiago
Jerrilyn Stevens
Oscar Alanis Suarez
Diana Nohemi Valdivia Ortiz
Catalina Valencia Gomez
Jacquelyn Vargas

Anjuli Anagelie Barragan
Mary-Alice Elizabeth Correa

Environmental Studies
Noah Matthew Sampson

Anjuli Anagelie Barragan
Jacquelyn Vargas

Interdisciplinary Contract
Yadira Escoto

Josue Aguilar

Mathematics Education
(5-12 Credential)
Ben George Whitings

Adriana Bravos
Melany Bridgett Cesena Salinas
Elizabeth Guerrero Fariass
Zahira Vanessa Flores-Gaona
Jacaranda Isabeth Garcia-Tovar
Elizabeth Gil-Ambriz
Stephanie Louise Gomez
Kamimsa Josephine Goudy
Violeta Yoselin Herreras
Maria Magdalena Mendoza
Lizbeth Morales
Cristal Quiroz Marin
Jiovanna Roman
Lizette Santos Guijarro
Rosa M. Valenzuela
Tori Katie Wapsheli
Veronica Louann Wilsey

Visual Arts
Felicia Sondrol
Allison Kaylee Platsman
Karen C. Reyess
Aaron Maldonado Valadez


Elementary Education (K-8)
Tania Adalia Alvarez
Audrey Roberta Armstrong
Broam Arroyo
Carlos Issac Cantu
Darlene Carrillo-Rangel
Aisha Cervantes Acuna
Alondra Cruz-Valladaress
Yasmin Cuellar
Jennifer Guadalupe Flores Romero
America Naomi Fonseca
Julissa Garcia
Itzy Gissel Gonzalez
Anna Laura Guzman
Jessica Lizbeth Guzman
Sandra Yoana Guzman
Serena Hernandez
Maira Guadalupe Hernandez Gonzalez
Brandon Clay Humphrey
Christa Marie Jimenez
Sandra Ledezma
Diana Cristal Martinez
Israel Roel Mendez
Lorena Mercado
Crystal Mesina
Elise Chreie Moneymaker
Annahi Morfin Ixtas
Ana Laura Olivares
Vicente Fabio Olivares
Joel Lorenzo Ortgea Lozano
Sandra Rabadan
Shakira Ramiraz Moctezuma
Alisha Nicole Ramos
Ana Victoria Ruiz
Melissa Ruiz Moreno
Liliana Sanchez
Jose Sanchez Salas
Kathleen Sanchez
Katelyn Marie Schell
Christopher Silva
Marcos Daniel Silva
Maria Guadalupe Tellez
Andrew Uribe

Middle-Level Education

Karina Colin-Cordna
Jacqueline Tlatelpa Zacatenco



Eden S.C. Davis
Adrian Guerra
Carlos Daniel Iraheta
Tina Marie Janes
Samuel Segovias

Abigail Bravo
Nathan Shawn Buck
Jesus Alberto Buenrostro Mendoza
Guadalupe Merced Iniguez
Zuzeth Danila Jimenez
Elizabeth Juarez
Yaritza Silva Maravilla
Miguel Mendoza
Ruby Nava-Guevara
Tyler Jonah Olney
Mayra Lizeth Quintero Luciano
Brenda Yesenia Gonzalez
Elizabeth Nicole Van Corbach
Trystin Nikole Yanez

Biology Biomedical
Maria Isabel Barrios Hernandez

Environmental Science
Xavier Martinez Chavez
Darren Eugene Olney



Rosalinda Arreola
Cindi J. Badillos
Hema Balderas
Evelyn Arisbeth Borges
Cecilia Marie Delaney Druffner
Kristina Kay Dillon
Rachel Aubrey Elizabeth Duce
Guadalupe Gabriela Garcia
Love Ann Faith Garza
Abigahil Garzon
Luis Felipe Juarez
Yasmin Lopez
Brenda Jazmin Luna-Lopez
Samantha Paris Peterson
Gabriela Guadalupe Rodriguez Suarez
Rosario Jazmin Ruiz Gonzalez
Jaquelyn Marie Scott
Maria Jose Soto


Social Work
Angie J. Aguilar
Jennifer Alvarez
Maria Guadalupe Alvarez
Carsen Lee Bach
Amanda J. Beavert
Elizabeth Desiree Belieu
Maria Esthela Bernal
Elisabeth M. Blanchard
Judy Edit Bucio-Salas
Lizette Campos
Gabriela Castaneda
Sergio Cervantes
Nancy Diane Chavez
Courtney Kristine Corbitt
Guadalupe Delgado
Erica Gabriela Diaz
Karen Diaz
Chestina Sally Ann Dominquez
Sophie Larraine Elwell
Daisy Marie Fernandez
Beau Daniel Filbert
Dalia Gomez Giron
Isabel Gonzalez Perez
Lizeth Gonzalez Orozco
Jaqueline Hidalgo Lopez
Christina Rose Laws
Michael Laird LeClair
Julian Alejandro Licea
Enrique Jose Licona
Desiree Denise Gonzalez
Miriam Longoria
Maria Elena Lopez
Alma E. Lopez
Jessica Macias
Christian Mendoza Magallan
Lilia Martinez
Sharmira Marita Moore
Alejandra Morales
Orlando Munoz Delgadillo
Mami Nyafuraha
Brenda Faviola Palencia Viveros
Maria Reyes
Amanda R. Rodriguez
Monique Sarae Rodriguez
Jasmine Nicole Romero
Ashely Sabalza
Jenny Lee Sanchez
Stephanie Sanchez
Katellin Santiago
Aiyh A. Sarama
Janette M. Torres
Thanya Michelle Valdovinos
Elvia Mireya Valdovinos Cruz
Justina Marie Valenguela
Jayleen Nohemi Vasquez
Deanna Vasquez Chavez
Kaylee Ann Wade-Walsh




Multicultural English Literature and Language
Myriah Starr Barringer
SaraBecca Martin
Elizabeth Christine Nelson


Educational Administration (Principal)
Bethany Nicole Cardenas
Dusty Wirtzberger
Joseph Wirtzberger


Elementary Education
Sina Ari Bigelow
Brenda Cardona
Kathleen Megan Habel
Lindsay Nicole Nelson

Elementary Education Specialization in English Language Learners
Yosi Barajas
Clarisa Calderon
Oswald R. Fonseca
Luis Adrian Horn
Norma Imelda Manzanarez
Fabiola Ramirez-Leon
Erika Sanchez
Alla Mikhaylovna Shvets
Megan Grace Wilkinson
Cresanna L. Zintzun

Elementary Education with a Specialization in Special Education
Cassandra Justine Berry
Maggie Lynn Fiocchi
Kayla Christine Johnson
Ryan Kahl
K. Scott Reinmuth
Shawn Leonard Scabby Robe
Charlotte Marie Schroeder page13image36565600

Dancing to his own beats! – WINGS Summer 2023

There was a time, not so long ago, when you had a better chance of hitting a Las Vegas jackpot than becoming an international recording artist. After all, in Vegas, all you need is one lucky roll of the dice. Making it as a musician, however, was a lot more complicated. For that, you needed a magical mix of talent, charisma, passion, and grit blended with a healthy dose of meteoric luck, plus a team of high-powered music executives and stylists with big-money budgets.

While becoming a musical megastar is still rare, and you still need the talent, technology has made music production accessible to a world full of burgeoning artists. Best of all, you don’t even have to play an instrument to write and produce a musical hit that will broadcast to fans worldwide.

It is here in the virtual kingdom of online music production that Heritage University senior Peter Dodson Dance, aka CabinTheCollective, feeds his creative soul and is building an audience of followers.


Dodson Dance finds inspiration for his craft everywhere. It comes in the noise of everyday life: the sound of baristas foaming a cup of joe or a micro beat heard through the window of a passing car.

Sometimes it’s an earworm of sound that comes from nowhere and repeats over and over in his head.

“I’ll get this start of an idea. Sometimes it will start as a little melody in my head or a drumbeat that I think is interesting. I’ll grab my phone and kind of sing it into a recording that I can take back to my studio later,” he said.

The magic happens in his studio, a small room in his home. Dodson Dance’s instrument of choice is his computer keyboard. By his own admission, he has had very little musical training. The only real instrument he plays is the piano and very little at that. However, using the computer program FL Studios, he becomes a master musician, virtually proficient in every instrument one would find in a band: drums, guitars, bass, keyboards, and even the brass section. He uses the program to build songs by creating the rhythms and melodies played by each instrument. The process is kind of like painting with sound. He starts with an idea, finds a sound that he likes in one instrument and builds the musical shadows and highlights, instrument by instrument.

“My goal is to build a full, layered sound,” he said. “I start with my initial idea and build on that single thought. As it builds and becomes more interesting, I’ll bring in other sounds, play with them and keep mixing things until it feels complete.”

His songs “start with the beat,” he said. The words come later, sometimes years later. When he’s ready to start adding lyrics, Dodson Dance steps up the microphone. He’s the vocalist on almost every track.

“The music drives the lyrics,” said Dodson Dance. “It portrays a story in my head. When I go back to the music, I’m often just freestyling the words into the mic. I say what I feel or what the music conveys to me.”

Dodson Dance describes his music as “feel- good, inspirational hip-hop.” His songs have a synthesized sound with strong underlying beats and rapped vocals.

“I want people to be inspired, to want to hear more and understand where I’m coming from,” he said.

His foray into music production began seven years ago when he was a 15-year-old kid getting together with his buddies after school. Music was extremely influential to the teens. They’d dance and listen to their favorite artists, vocalizing their favorite sounds. Before long, the crew began to play with sounds more formally using their computer and music production software. They would mix musical ideas, spinning off the hip-hop music they loved listening to on the radio. Dodson Dance found he had a talent and a passion for what they were doing.

“It got to the point where I thought, ‘Man, this is good. I really want to share it,’” he said. “I had some friends who were dropping songs online on SoundCloud, so I started putting my music there too.”

SoundCloud is a music streaming service known for giving new artists a platform where their music can be heard more broadly. However, SoundCloud music is only playable by SoundCloud members. Dodson Dance wanted to play with the musical big boys. A few years ago, he expanded his reach, publishing his songs on Spotify, Amazon Music and Apple Music under the name CabinTheCollective. He’s created videos and released them on social media giants TikTok and Instagram. While he still has a way to go before he reaches influencer status, he is building a following.

“It would be crazy to say, ‘I want to be a rock star.’ I love making music and sharing it with others, but what I really want is to be a teacher,” he said.

Music is a passion and a hobby for Dodson Dance. He started at Heritage three years ago as a computer science major. However, it didn’t take long for him to realize his heart wasn’t in computers.

“I was talking to my mom, and she said I should consider becoming a teacher. She said, ‘You’re good with kids. Children work well around you, and you work well with children. They listen to you,”’ he said.

His mom knows a thing or two about teaching. She is Gloria Jones-Dance, an associate professor in Heritage’s Teacher Preparation program.

Dodson Dance took his mother’s advice and switched his major to elementary education. Last semester he completed his practicum at Whitney Elementary in the Yakima School District. He taught first grade. The experience affirmed that he was on the right path.

“The experience taught me that young minds need lots of repetition, and kids are ready to learn at all ages. It was fun but also taught me to be serious to ensure students were doing their work,” he said.


While hip hop as a genre has a reputation for being less than child- friendly, Dodson Dance believes that his avocation and future vocation need not be mutually exclusive.

“I spent a lot of time thinking about this,” he said. “I am an adult, and I make my music for other adults, but I think about that eight-year- old out there who could find my songs on the internet or who may be listening to my music with his parents or older brother or sister. I don’t want to expose them to messages they might not be ready for. That’s one of the reasons that I keep my messages positive and inspirational.”

He also thinks about how music can be integrated into this teaching.

“Music helps me inspire creativity in students and create musical opportunities,” he said. “I can see possibly turning lessons into song, delivering information rhythmically or melodically, or even engaging with the kids through music.”

With two more semesters left to complete his degree, Dodson Dance is concentrating on making the most out of what is left of his college career, and building his next great beat to add to his ever-growing collection of streaming songs.

You can hear Peter’s music through streaming platforms Apple Music, Spotify and Amazon Music. Or follow him on TikTok or Instagram. In all platforms, search for CabinTheCollective. page13image36565600

Making strides for health justice – WINGS Summer 2023

Each June, during the semester between their junior and senior years, a dozen Heritage University nursing students leave the Yakima Valley to work at one of the largest specialized care centers for children in the nation.

In an innovative joint effort between Heritage’s nursing department and Seattle Children’s Hospital, the students enter a four-week pediatric care clinical rotation. They tend to patients under the tutelage of veteran nurses and gain a working understanding of the realities and practicalities of caring for sick and chronically ill children and their families.

Each student’s 120 hours at Seattle Children’s represents an important type of diversification in their clinical experience, a full year before graduation – one that expands their consciousness and their experience while enhancing the hospital’s growing commitment to diversity.

Seattle Children’s began hosting small cohorts of Heritage nursing students in 2017, and the program has continuously evolved and grown since.

The hospital provides Heritage and its students with several significant resources: a nursing professional who works as an adjunct faculty member at Heritage during the academic year prior to the students’ rotation, housing in the University of Washington dorms during their clinical rotation at Children’s; the option to return for an intensive 160- to 180-hour senior preceptorship; and upon graduation, guaranteed employment interviews. If hired, relocation to the Seattle area is paid for by Seattle Children’s.


Beginning in their junior year, Heritage nursing students traditionally do multi-week, on- location clinical practice in various disciplines: women’s health and maternity, primary care of children, family health, and hospitalized adults. They work in community health and critical care, at hospitals throughout the Yakima Valley, and even at Heritage’s Early Learning Center.

The experience of Seattle Children’s turns things up a notch. Students gain experience in a highly complex system of care for acutely and chronically ill children and their families who come from a four-state area and include Latinx, indigenous, and undocumented children. Heritage’s student population is demographically similar; 80 percent of students are people of color.

The first steps of the partnership took place when Christina Nyirati, Ph.D., R.N. and Debra Ridling, Ph.D, R.N. first spoke in 2015. Nyirati is the director of the Bachelor of Science in Nursing (B.S.N.) program and chair of Heritage’s nursing department. Ridling is Associate Chief Nurse and Senior Director of Nursing Practice and Research at Seattle Children’s.

“I knew they were pretty saturated because they host 800 nursing students every year,” said Nyirati. “But we explored whether there could be a relationship that would benefit our students and Seattle Children’s and its patients and families. The arrangement has grown to what we’re doing today.”


Seattle Children’s prospectus on the project included the following statements: “The C.D.C. declared racism a serious public health threat in 2021. The National Academy of Medicine’s ‘Future of Nursing 2020-2030’ report declared action was needed to interrupt disparities that are systemic throughout healthcare.”

“They identify one strategy as increasing the diversity of the nursing workforce to better reflect the population,” said Ridling. “That’s a big part of what this program is about. Heritage students share the same cultures, language and background as many of our families, and that goes a long way in making them feel more comfortable. They see someone they identify with. They converse in their native language.

“They act as cultural brokers for this facility, and that’s a huge benefit to Seattle Children’s.”

Heritage nursing curriculum includes learning about “ethical comportment,” meaning their manner or presence, and that, to practice ethically, they must at times speak up on behalf of patients and families. They are taught to bring their lived experience and knowledge to their practice.

“Our students bring a realness and a humility to the experience of nursing,” said Nyirati. “We make sure they know that their background is rich and important, that they come to us already with that, and we’re there to expand on it. We cultivate their courage to be that presence.”


Ten months before this year’s cohort of Heritage nursing students crossed the Cascade Mountains to Seattle, the nurse who would help provide an early connection from the Yakima Valley to Seattle made her way to Toppenish.

Bilingual and bicultural hospital-based nurse Genevieve Aguilar was selected to join the Heritage staff as interim joint faculty. She contributed to two semesters of clinical practice instruction and helped integrate students’ knowledge of theoretical nursing concepts into clinical practice.

Aguilar developed a unique connection with the students, enhancing it with an open-door policy and a personal touch.

“I think many of the students could easily see themselves in me,” Aguilar said. “I shared a lot about my journey, including in real time, as I applied for my Ph.D. studies. They got a sense of what that might be like for them.

“I think it’s been a mutual understanding from a cultural perspective.”


While at Seattle Children’s, Heritage nursing students do assessments, give medications, listen, watch, ask questions, and absorb it all. When solicited, they share their clinical reasoning.

“Our students are taking care of children with highly complex health problems; they’re not just observing, they’re practicing nursing under close supervision of faculty,” said Ridling. “They tell us they’re treated as professionals and colleagues, that the nurses pull them in and want them to learn.”

Once they graduate, many Heritage nursing school alumni will remain in the Yakima Valley, where their hearts reside, to serve their communities. Some will practice on Yakama land, serving indigenous people whose access to healthcare is limited. Some will take their place at Seattle Children’s. Some will further their education. A graduate may choose to become a certified pediatric nurse, pursue a Doctor of Nursing Practice (D.N.P.) degree, or get their Ph.D.

As they evolve along their paths, the program they participated in will evolve as well. Development professionals at Seattle Children’s and Heritage are working to provide for its growth.

“We’re talking to people and organizations we both have relationships with about how we can improve health care outcomes in rural communities and at this regional hospital,” said Rueben Mayes, Regional Partnerships and Philanthropy Officer at Seattle Children’s. “This work is something Heritage has been doing successfully with Seattle Children’s for six years now, and it’s growing.”

The housing is costly. Mayes points out the senior preceptorship program will be growing, and the relocation stipend needs to increase.

“We’re looking for sustainable funding for all of it through an endowment.”

Nyirati’s vision for Heritage Nursing and Seattle Children’s extends even further.

“Our dream is to have an endowed chair, someone who is an experienced, doctorally prepared professor of nursing, who would come with years of experience in bridging both the practice and nursing education, that would benefit both organizations,” she said.

“It can leverage both of our organizations to become national leaders in modeling this equitable pathway toward transforming the health of all the nation’s children.

“We can do this not only for the Valley and Washington State, but for the nation.”

A recent report by the National Academy of Medicine (NAM) predicted that the United State’s healthcare system will face a number of challenges over the next decade – An aging population with more complex medical needs; an ever-growing shortage of medical professionals, including skilled nurses; and social factors that influence both people’s health and wellness as well as their ability to access quality healthcare. Topping the list of actions needed to adequately address these concerns are educational programs that train nurses to work with diverse populations in community-based healthcare.

With its student body that is more than 75% Latinx and Native American, this area is where Heritage shines. However, continuing to provide high-quality nursing education that meets these standards has its challenges.

“Nursing is an expensive program for colleges,” said David Wise, vice president for Advancement. “When you look at all of the elements within the program: recruiting doctoral-level faculty, the simulators and medical equipment students first learn to use on campus, not to mention the expenses that come from the clinical rotations at medical facilities throughout the region, the costs can be enormous.

However, the implications of this program for the health and welfare of the communities we serve are equally as enormous. That’s why we are building an endowment explicitly dedicated to securing the nursing program’s financial welfare.”

This fall, Heritage and its partner, Seattle Children’s Hospital, are each launching capital campaigns to build endowments to support Heritage nursing education. Funds raised by Seattle Children’s Hospital will defray financial barriers, such as housing and relocation expenses, that Heritage students face while undergoing their four-week practicum. Additionally, it will fund joint-faculty appointments where hospital nursing staff are loaned to Heritage for teaching positions on campus.

Heritage’s endowment will provide the university with the necessary resources to attract and retain distinguished faculty members, who will bring their expertise and experience to enhance the academic programs within the nursing department. These positions will facilitate developing and implementing innovative teaching and learning techniques that will enable students to acquire the necessary skills and knowledge to succeed in their careers.






Class Notes

Ken Gosney (B.A.Ed., English/ Language Arts (4-12), M.Ed., Professional Development, School Administration) was appointed CEO of Goodwill Industries of Sacramento Valley and Northern Nevada in January 2022. Prior to this appointment, he served as the CEO of Goodwill Industries of the Columbia, covering the Tri-Cities area of Washington state. There, he helped turn the nonprofit into one of the top five performing Goodwill operations out of the nearly 160 territories in the United States and Canada.

Mike Villarreal (M.Ed., Educational Administration) was elected to serve as president of the Washington Association of School Administrators for the 2002-23 academic year. Villarreal is the superintendent of Hoquiam School District, a position he’s filled since 2017.



Amber Richards (B.A, English, M.A., English Language Arts 2011) joined the faculty at Grand Valley State University in Michigan. She serves as a professor of writing in the Department of Writing.



Rosa Gutiérrez
(B.A., Business Administration) was appointed Human Resources Director for Sundquist Fruit and Gilbert Orchards in November. Prior to this, she served as the HR/Food Safety Manager for Sundquist Family of Companies.


Francisco Ramirez-Amezcua (B.A., Environmental Studies) is a migrant graduation specialist at Sunnyside High School. This past fall, he was awarded Student Support Staff of the Year for the Sunnyside School District.


Chelsea Brannock (B.A.Ed., English Language Learners) was appointed the 2022-23 Educational School District 105 Regional Teacher of the Year. Brannock is an English language arts teacher at Wahluke High School in Mattawa, Wash.

Clariza Maldonado (B.A., Business Administration) earned a Master of Science in Information Technology and Administrative Management from Central Washington University. She now works for Konami Gaming as a project manager for their Systems Research and Development department.


Dalia Chavez (B.A., Criminal Justice) joined the Washington State Human Rights Commission (WSHRC), where she serves as a civil rights investigator based in the Yakima Valley. The WSHRC is a state agency responsible for administering and enforcing the Washington Law Against Discrimination.


HU Alumni, we invite you to send us updates on your professional and personal achievements! Go to to complete your submission for Class Notes. page5image59280640

From Heritage to Harvard and Back Again!

From Heritage to Harvard and Back Again!
No one writes a better story about Heritage University and its students than Robert Ozuna. Whether it’s part of an application for a half million dollars or five million, Ozuna writes passionately about Heritage and the students it serves because he knows them. As a first-generation college student with early-life experience working in hop fields, he’s shared many of their life challenges.

Robert Ozuna

Today, as President & CEO of RGI Corporation, the educational consulting business he co-founded in Sunnyside, Washington, Ozuna often partners with Heritage on its multi-faceted grant-writing endeavors, seeking sizable funding for everything from money for new buildings, to getting people in need into college, to necessary support services for existing students. RGI’s small team of a dozen grant writers and researchers includes many Heritage graduates.

The Heritage/RGI grant-acquisition success rate is an impressive 100 percent since 2020: Five applications have been submitted, and all five have been awarded. Their work is responsible for $13.3 million in funding received for programs that served more than 1,000 students over the last five years.

There are reasons for the success, Ozuna said. There is a high level of need in the region, and Heritage is doing great work to meet that need. When the story of the impact of the university in the community they serve is told accurately and compellingly, it’s powerful.

“From Hop Harvest to Heritage to Harvard,” a journalist once wrote about Ozuna. People said he could have worked anywhere – but what mattered most to Ozuna was what the people back home needed.


Robert Ozuna was born in south Texas to parents who were migrant farmworkers. After years following the seasons back and forth, they ultimately settled in Grandview in the Yakima Valley.

“Working in the fields was hard labor,” Ozuna says. “My parents always told me, ‘You need to graduate from high school and get out of the fields.’ They dreamed of me getting a good job bagging groceries inside a store.”

Ozuna graduated from high school and took a job recruiting migrant children into school programs for Educational Service District 123. Later, he trained parents to become involved in their children’s education.

“I acquired a passion for helping people, especially students,” he said. “And after a while, I thought, ‘I’m telling all these students to get an education, yet I don’t have a degree myself.’ I decided to go to back to school. I had a lot of ties to the Yakima Valley, and I felt Heritage was the best place for me.”

Once at Heritage, Ozuna started getting to know his fellow students, both Latinx and Yakama.

“I was driven to really engage with them because I found that everyone had a story,” he says. “The common thread was there was usually no role model because their parents didn’t know about college or how to navigate financial aid. There was a lot of determination in the face of adversity, and here, students could get their education without leaving the valley.”

Heritage gave Ozuna the confidence to pursue his educational goals. He thought about going to Harvard.

Like his success today, his higher-education trajectory beginning at Heritage was impressive. The university was a 600-student college still
in its infancy when he graduated Magna Cum Laude in 1991 with a Bachelor of Arts in Public Administration. He proceeded to follow it up by earning his Master of Public Administration at the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University. He dedicated the first half of his career to public service and education.

“I wanted to go to Harvard, and I thought, I will never get in, but I’ll just apply, get rejected and get it over with,’” he says. “But I got accepted.”

Ozuna was there during a time when many of his fellow students were going to work for the Clinton administration. He was appointed by President Clinton to the U.S. Secretary of Labor’s U. S. Department of Labor Employment and Training Federal Advisory Board, even though he’d already decided to return to Washington State.

“Our dean said if anyone wanted to work in government, that was the time – we had the opportunity. But I always felt we really needed to get an education and come back. We need lawyers and doctors who look like us.

“I said my work was back home. There was so much to be done. Heritage provided me the opportunity and knowledge to pursue my educational goals leading to Harvard and coming back. Heritage will forever have a special place in my heart for providing me with this opportunity.”


Ozuna returned to the Yakima Valley and took a position directing the Statewide Farmworker Employment and Training Program, followed by the University of Washington Yakima Valley Community Partnership. Then he fulfilled an important personal goal: to be the CEO of his own business.

“I had worked with students and families one- on-one,” he says. “Instead of touching lives one at a time, I wanted my work to have a positive effect on as many people as possible, to do things on more of a macro instead of a micro level.”

He founded RGI Research Corporation with Heritage mathematics professor Ryan Landvoy in 2002. In addition to Heritage, RGI clients today include the University of Washington, Washington State University, ESD 105, Utah State University and many Alaska School Districts, whose student population is 98 percent Alaska Native.

Ozuna’s care for his community has most recently been exhibited in the fulfillment of another dream: to become an elected official. He’s served on the Grandview City Council since 2020.

His goal with RGI has always been to stay small so they can pick and choose their clients and do the work that matters most. “I am proud that Heritage University is one of our most valued clients.”

“I’ve had friends who’ve said, ‘You went to Harvard, and you came back?’

“’Absolutely,’ I say. I came back to help our people.” page17image62693088