Pacific University Celebrates 2018 Graduates at Spring Commencement Ceremonies

Pacific University held its 2018 spring commencement exercises on Saturday at Hanson Stadium on the Forest Grove Campus. Some 325 undergraduate degree candidates received their diplomas during the morning ceremony, highlighted by an honorary degree conferral on university trustee and KISS guitarist Tommy Thayer.

Thayer, who grew up in Beaverton and graduated from Sunset High School in 1978, has served on Pacific’s Board of Trustees since 2005. He has helped the university generate more than $3.5 million for its NCAA Division III intercollegiate athletics program.

"Now I can proudly say as of today, this is officially my, and our, alma mater," Thayer told the graduates. "Go Boxers!"

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Thayer encouraged a simple formula for success, one that has worked for him: work hard, be on time, and never give up — and appreciate the support of friends and family.

"I've been asked a million times what is the key to success," Thayer said. "More than anything, it's perseverance. You can't let setbacks, doubt or the uncertainty of everyday life stop you from moving forward."

Thayer also reminded the graduates that none of them would be here without the support of their family members and teachers, alluding to his mother, an artist and educator; his father, 96-year-old Brigadier Gen. James B. Thayer, who receive an honorary degree from Pacific in 2009; and his high school music teacher Dell Herreid, a 1951 Pacific alumnus.

As he spoke about his journey and the support he received to pursue his dream, Thayer compared his journey to that fellow graduate Skyler Erben, who like many other Class of 2018 members, is the first from his family to go to college.

"I'm incredibly honored to share this day with each of you, and I wish you success and happiness with whatever leaps you are taking next in the near and far future," Thayer said. "If I can inspire you with my insight or advice, I feel like I've done my job. Take a moment to enjoy today. You own this, you've achieved this, and I know you are as proud of your degree as I truly am of my honor here today."

Thayer is Pacific’s first honorary degree recipient since 2015, and the Thayers became the second members from a same family to hold honorary degrees.

In the afternoon, nearly 300 graduate and professional degree students received their diplomas for earning their respective degrees in optometry, pharmacy, education, physical therapy, athletic training, business and social work.

Prior to the presentation of degrees, the College of Optometry awarded its annual Kamelia Massih Prize for a Distinguished Optometrist to Dr. Shinji Seki ’77, OD ’79.

The Massih Prize is annually bestowed upon a Pacific University optometry alumnus or alumna who has made a significant impact on the profession. It was established by the family of the late Dr. Kamelia Massih, a 1985 optometry alumna who dedicated her life to helping others before passing away from cancer in 2010.

Seki has served as past president of the Asia-Pacific Council of Optometry and as president of the Japan Optometry School Association. He continues to serve as a board member of the All Japan Optician and Optometry Association, a key organization working for optometric legislation in Japan.

Seki expressed gratitude and humility in accepting the honor.

“The profession of optometry is still developing in Japan,” he said. “Even though optical goods and optometric instruments are still well advanced, the profession is still developing, albeit very quickly in the Asia-Pacific region, where half of the world’s population lives, especially in China and India. As a cancer patient myself, I hope to contribute my optometry knowledge to the training and development in honor of Dr. Massih, whose dedicated work ended much too early from this disease (cancer)."

Undergraduate Class of 2018 Student Award Winners

  • Valedictorian - Ryan Patrick Colson
  • Fulbright Award - Nicole Yip
  • American Association of University Women - Tailor D. Dolgin
  • Outstanding Senior in Art History - Erin Paige Rothweiler
  • Center for Civic Engagement Award - Ngoc Uy Nguyen
  • Most Significant Contribution to the Center for Gender Equity - Cyn M. Kealoha
  • Confederation in Oregon for Language Teaching
    • Chinese: Jennifer K. Lei
    • French: Corri Noel Seideman
    • German: Riley Joseph Elder
    • Japanese: Jessica Hiroko Poluhowich
    • Spanish: Jacob Joseph Rose
  • College of Arts & Sciences Dean of Students Award - Tailor D. Dolgin, Tracy Danielle Migrants
  • Dean’s Academic Achievement Award - Rayne Marie Houser, Kayleigh R. DeBruyne
  • Female Athlete of the Year  - Anna May VanderWeyst
  • Male Athlete of the Year  - Oscar Duncan McGregor Wight
  • Mary Fehrs Award in Gender and Sexuality Studies - Jennifer Janet Casas Carreno
  • OHSU Murdock Research Scholar Award - Krista Michelle Cave
  • Oregon Society of Certified Public Accountants Outstanding Accounting Student - Angie Borrish Tran
  • Outstanding Contribution to Student Life - Marija Ila Feller, Haley N.K. Kodama, Katie Diana Lightcap, Rachel Marie Warrick, Dylan Christopher Welles, Coran Makoto Yamamoto
  • Outstanding Instrumentalist - Breanna M. Roderos
  • Outstanding Senior Students:
    • College of Business - Monica Lila Krubeck
    • Biology - Passina Jay Claire Abe
    • Business Administration - Kaitlin Marie Ellis, Melanie J. Mateo
    • Chemistry - Jessica Thanh Trinh
    • Creative Writing - Hunter B. Peterson
    • Dance - Brenna Alyson Calmer
    • Economics - Sage Kameron Katayama
    • English Literature - Sienna Joye Ballou, Tailor D. Dolgin
    • Exercise Science - Oscar Duncan McGregor Wight, Rayne Marie Houser
    • Finance - Kelly Jean Wahl
    • Fine and Performing Arts -Erin Paige Rothweiler
    • Humanities - Riley Joseph Elder
    • Marketing - Jenna Jo Fiscus
    • Mathematics - Brenna Alyson Calmer, Kory William Melton
    • Music Education - Mikela Carter Rayburn
    • Natural Science - Brenna Alyson Calmer, Ryan Patrick Colson
    • Philosophy - Sierra Janay Barnes
    • Physics - Derek M. Thomson
    • Political Science - Annika Olea Bratton
    • Social Sciences - Emma Mindora Ferns, Kayleigh R. DeBruyne
    • Technical Theater - Rachel Marie Warrick
  • William Wright Harts III Memorial Award - Mikela Carter Rayburn  
  • Trombley Faculty Award - Dr. Jaye Cee Whitehead (Sociology)
  • Alumni Association Outstanding Graduates- Skyler Tate Erben, Sierra Janay Barnes

Graduate/Professional Student Awards

  • Valedictorians
    • Master's of Athletic Training - Paige A. Dahlberg
    • School of Physical Therapy - Lydia Eve Jahn
    • College of Optometry - Rebecca Chung
  • School of Pharmacy
    • Dean’s Excellence Award - Mai Thanh Nguyen
    • Collaboration and Collegiality Award - Aiyana Maiko Ooki
    • Leadership and Advocacy Award - Mai Thanh Nguyen
    • Integrity Award - Cherisse Marie Norberte
    • Teaching, Learning and Scholarship Award - Kamryn T. Plechot
    • Diversity and Inclusion Award - Aaron John Cruz Cabuang
    • Facts and Comparisons/Lexi-Comp Excellence in Clinical Communication Award - Sandy Thao Mai Ninh
    • Lexi-Comp Excellence in Drug Information Award - Jennifer Joanne Stanislaw
    • Eli Lilly Excellence in Diabetes Care Award - David Salazar
    • Merck Academic Excellence Award - Irene Holgado Abuan, Heather Ellen True, Hayley Madison Heers
    • Mylan Pharmaceuticals Excellence in Pharmacy Award - Nicole Beverly LoGiudice
    • Phizer Excellence in Patient Care Award - Jonathan R. Hillerich
    • Natural Products Database Award - Therese Thuytien Pham
  • School of Physical Therapy & Athletic Training
    • Community Service Award, Physical Therapy - Hannah Patchen
    • Director’s Award, Athletic Training - Erica Christine Nelson
    • Director’s Award, Physical Therapy - Elaina Gayles
    • Outstanding Graduate, Physical Therapy - Jenna Bauman
    • Outstanding Service to the Program, Physical Therapy - Rachel Karpelowitz
  • College of Optometry
    • Award of Excellence in Contact Lens Patient Care - Kellie Renee Mariko Abe
    • Brian Lee Hill Memorial Award - Diana Tracy Yin
    • Beta Sigma Kappa Chapter Award for Exceptional Research - Huy Do, Rachel Ann Schnoor
    • COVD Award for Excellence in Vision Therapy - Jessica Lynn Wilson
    • Dean's Award - Matthew Stephen Orgill
    • Donald A. Bybee Memorial Award for Vision Therapy - Carly Ann Hyshka
    • Eschenbach Low Vision Award - Jessica Dawn Hisako Flack
    • Essilor Student Scholarship - Kiran Kaur Gill
    • GP Contact Lens Clinical Excellence Award - Tina Zhu
    • Drs. Dennis L. Smith & Nada J. Lingel Award for Excellence in Systemic Disease - Joseph Martin Munsell
    • Marchon Eyewear Practice Management Award - Kendra Paige Weiler
    • Meadowcroft Endowed Scholarship - Larry Jay Buchholz
    • NBEO Part 1 Highest Score - Rebecca W.C. Chung
    • Optelec Low Vision Award - Larry Jay Buchholz
    • OPW Student Member of the Year Award - Paula Luise Kutzner
    • Pacific University Outstanding Clinician Award - Matthew Thomas Hendricks
    • PUCO Private Practice Scholarship - Nikita S. Katooz, Joseph Martin Munsell
    • Tole Greenstein Award - Paula Luise Kutzner, Laura Rose Rub Schimelfening
    • VSP/AOF Practice Excellence Scholarship - Abby Ann Taffe, Aaron Daniel Salzano
    • Walmart Scholarship - Paula Luise Kutzner
    • William Feinbloom Low Vision Award - R. Dallin Boardman
  • Alumni Association Outstanding Graduates
    • School of Communication Sciences & Disorders - Alexandria Elyse Marchbanks
    • School of Pharmacy - Deasy Erin Wilson
    • School of Physical Therapy & Athletic Training - Jenna Lynn Bauman, Shawn Kristopher Petrucci
    • College of Optometry - Kendra Paige Weiler
May. 23, 2018