Our Stories

2010 Seniors

VIDEO: Five students from the Class of 2010 discuss one aspect of their Willamette experience, their close relationships with professors. (1:53)

Class of 2010 takes promising first steps after Willamette

After they cross the stage at commencement, Willamette University's Class of 2010 will head down a variety of paths.

Some are joining the work force at places like Intel, others are continuing their studies in noted graduate programs, and still others are carrying on the civic engagement they honed at Willamette by joining programs such as Teach for America.

We sat down with five seniors to learn what they accomplished during their time here, where they're going next and what they'll miss the most about Willamette.


Chris PlatanoChris Platano

  • Hometown: Myrtle Point, Ore.
  • Major: Economics, minor in politics
  • After graduation: Working for Intel in Folsom, Calif., as an operations analyst
  • Senior thesis: The relationship between China’s currency policy and the U.S. trade deficit
  • Activities: National James S. Kemper scholar, track and cross country athlete, Circle K service club, Mortar Board, Student Global AIDS Campaign

Aubrey BreardA. Breard

  • Hometown: Corte Madera, Calif.
  • Major: Psychology
  • After graduation: Working at a California school for students with neuro-developmental disorders
  • Senior thesis: How anxiety in social settings causes children with autism to injure themselves
  • Activities: Studied in Australia, intramural sports referee and supervisor, resident assistant, Alpha Chi Omega sorority, Sexual Assault Response Allies (SARA), Bearcats Offering Others Meals (BOOM)

Michael DougalM. Dougal

  • Hometown: Minneapolis, Minn.
  • Major: Politics, minor in history
  • After graduation: Enrolling in the political science PhD program at University of California, Berkeley
  • Senior thesis: The impact of corporate PAC money on voting in Congress
  • Activities: Intern at Oregon State Capitol, field organizer for a political campaign, research assistant for two politics professors, College Democrats, Willamette University Men Against Violence, chess

Caitlin CaseboltC. Casebolt

  • Hometown: Ashland, Ore.
  • Major: Anthropology, minor in German
  • After graduation: Teaching English in Germany through a U.S. Fulbright Grant
  • Senior thesis: How older German-American women immigrants shape their identity
  • Activities: Studied in Germany, Kaneko Commons community mentor, Strength-Health-Equality (S.H.E.), Vagina Monologues performer, elementary school volunteer

Ryan SasakiR. Sasaki

  • Hometown: Honolulu, Hawaii
  • Major: Mathematics, minor in rhetoric and media studies
  • After graduation: Teaching high school math in Hawaii through Teach for America
  • Senior thesis: Studying a mathematics probability theory called the coupon collector’s problem
  • Activities: Willamette Academy mentor, Kaneko Commons intern, Martin Luther King Jr. Celebration task force

Chris Platano

Chris Platano

After graduation, Chris Platano will work as an operations analyst for Intel.

  • Hometown: Myrtle Point, Ore.
  • Major: Economics, minor in politics
  • After graduation: Working for Intel in Folsom, Calif., as an operations analyst
  • Senior thesis: The relationship between China’s currency policy and the U.S. trade deficit
  • Activities: National James S. Kemper scholar, track and cross country athlete, Circle K service club, Mortar Board, Student Global AIDS Campaign

What are you doing after graduation, and what’s your overall career goal?

I will be working in business operations at Intel in Folsom, Calif., as an operations analyst for the North American region. I will work with customers like HP and Dell to make sure they receive the proper amount of product that makes both them and Intel competitive and profitable. It basically relates to supply and demand, which I explored in economics. I was hired after spending a summer working there as an intern, one of two internships I earned after I was named a James S. Kemper Scholar.

Eventually I want to earn an MBA so that I can gain further experience in international business. After my freshman-year College Colloquium class on global health crises, my interest shifted toward international development issues. Later in life, I would like to get involved in public policy, whether that be in business or in assisting non-profits.

What do you value the most about your Willamette experience?

One of my favorite things to do at Willamette was to go to my professors’ offices to talk about future plans, or anything I was interested in. It helped me understand the world, what I want to do in life, and how I can get to the place I want to be. Our professors are experienced and knowledgeable, and they are experts in their respective areas. I also valued that the Willamette alumni are supportive and they like helping Willamette students. When I was looking for internships, many alumni provided me tips and advice.

What will you miss about Willamette?

I’m going to miss taking classes. Willamette offers so many interesting classes that really changed the way I view the world. I’m also going to miss my friends — I really love the Willamette community.

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Aubrey Breard

A. Breard

Aubrey Breard turned her experience studying neuro-development disorders into her first job.

  • Hometown: Corte Madera, Calif.
  • Major: Psychology
  • After graduation: Working at a California school for students with neuro-developmental disorders
  • Senior thesis: How anxiety in social settings causes children with autism to injure themselves
  • Activities: Studied in Australia, intramural sports referee and supervisor, resident assistant, Alpha Chi Omega sorority, Sexual Assault Response Allies (SARA), Bearcats Offering Others Meals (BOOM)

What are you doing after graduation, and what’s your overall career goal?

I accepted a position at a school in San Anselmo, Calif., helping autistic children learn academic and life skills. I’ll continue working one-on-one with a boy who I worked with last summer during my psychology internship. I knew very little about autism before my internship, but that summer taught me more about neuro-developmental disorders, and I based my senior thesis research on what I learned. My professors are helping me prepare my thesis to submit to a professional journal.

I’m still debating whether to go to graduate school and become a nurse practitioner, or to get a doctorate in psychology and teach at a university. My job in California will help me figure out which path I’ll take next.

What do you value the most about your Willamette experience?

The education that I’ve gotten here has been top-notch, and my professors are inspirational. They’re not here only to do their own research — they’re here to make sure you understand the material, and they care about your growth intellectually and emotionally. I’m also glad that I did the internship, because it helped me find a practical way to use my major.

I feel so well-educated after my Willamette experience, which helps me in conversations with people, in interviewing and in finding a job. I feel like I can hold my own in the real world.

What will you miss about Willamette?

So much — my relationships with my professors, the Bistro, waking up five minutes before a class that’s only a few feet away. I have found friends who will be a part of my life forever. I’ll also miss the academic environment, and being in a place where knowledge is cultivated through classes, conversations and the overall setting.

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Michael Dougal

M. Dougal

Michael Dougal worked as a research assistant for politics Professor Richard Ellis.

  • Hometown: Minneapolis, Minn.
  • Major: Politics, minor in history
  • After graduation: Enrolling in the political science PhD program at University of California, Berkeley
  • Senior thesis: The impact of corporate PAC money on voting in Congress
  • Activities: Intern at Oregon State Capitol, field organizer for a political campaign, research assistant for two politics professors, College Democrats, Willamette University Men Against Violence, chess

What are you doing after graduation, and what’s your overall career goal?

I’m heading to Berkeley in the fall to start a PhD in political science. I am interested in American politics, specifically issues relating to Congress, corruption and money in politics.

I developed an interest in studying this topic while working as a legislative intern at the Oregon State Capitol, across the street from Willamette. I also worked as a field organizer and saw firsthand the negative impact of money on political campaigns. I want to bring this experience into the classroom as a professor and encourage my students to learn through similar experiences.

What do you value the most about your Willamette experience?

I gained a lot of experience working one-on-one with professors. I worked as a research assistant for two politics professors, helping them do research for their writing projects. My professors also helped me enormously on my own work.

One of the best things about Willamette is being able to go into your professor’s office and ask questions when you need help. They get to know you on a personal level. When I visited other colleges, the admissions offices told me to introduce myself to professors when I sat in on their classes, but when I did this, I mostly got bemused looks. During my trip to Willamette, Professor Seth Cotlar talked with me for 20 minutes after I visited his class.

What will you miss about Willamette?

I’ve made a lot of lifelong friends at Willamette. I’ll miss being able to hang out with them at the Bistro on campus. When you graduate, you go off to a new place and things change, but you still have the friends you made.

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Caitlin Casebolt

C. Casebolt

Professor Rebecca Dobkins helped inspire Caitlin Casebolt to major in anthropology.

  • Hometown: Ashland, Ore.
  • Major: Anthropology, minor in German
  • After graduation: Teaching English in Germany through a U.S. Fulbright Grant
  • Senior thesis: How older German-American women immigrants shape their identity
  • Activities: Studied in Germany, Kaneko Commons community mentor, Strength-Health-Equality (S.H.E.), Vagina Monologues performer, elementary school volunteer

What are you doing after graduation, and what’s your overall career goal?

I will be teaching English for a year in Germany through a Fulbright Grant, a program that fosters international understanding through education and will provide me with a chance for professional development. Part of why I chose to attend Willamette was because I wanted to study abroad in Germany, and Willamette values international education.

Eventually I would like to go to graduate school and pursue a master’s in social work. I want to be active in improving the world, and social work offers a lot of ways to be engaged in the community. During my Fulbright, I hope to volunteer or find an internship in a related field.

What do you value the most about your Willamette experience?

I have received a lot of support at Willamette, especially from my professors who have been interested in helping me be successful.

Outside the classroom, I have learned so much through my friends and the clubs I have participated in. They have encouraged me to re-think my intellectual framework. I also have grown through my experience working for Residence Life, which provided a wonderful community and helped Willamette feel like my home.

What will you miss about Willamette?

The community of people — both students and professors — who pushed me to think beyond my comfort zone and supported me as I figured out my path in life.

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Ryan Sasaki

R. Sasaki

Ryan Sasaki’s work at Willamette Academy showed him a possible teaching career.

  • Hometown: Honolulu, Hawaii
  • Major: Mathematics, minor in rhetoric and media studies
  • After graduation: Teaching high school math in Hawaii through Teach for America
  • Senior thesis: Studying a mathematics probability theory called the coupon collector’s problem
  • Activities: Willamette Academy mentor, Kaneko Commons intern, Martin Luther King Jr. Celebration task force

What are you doing after graduation, and what’s your overall career goal?

I’m teaching high school math through Teach for America in Hawaii. My work as a mentor for Willamette Academy, a Willamette program that prepares underrepresented youths for college, inspired me to be a teacher. I enjoy working with youth, and I care a lot about the power of education.

I hope to one day start my own charter school to help low-income youth be successful. I think a charter school that has more flexibility in its curriculum and hiring could help prepare students for life and get them on the track to college.

What do you value the most about your Willamette experience?

Students have access to so many opportunities here. You can easily get involved with current organizations, or you can start your own program. Willamette has helped me realize that people here have agency, and if you want to do something, you’ll get the support to make it happen.

What will you miss about Willamette?

I’ve really enjoyed my time with my professors. You can talk with them about anything, whether it’s just life in general or intellectual conversations about what you’ve learned in class. It’s unique to have that relationship with a professor who is really smart and really cool.

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04-29-2010