Senior Certificate

Senior Certificates honor members of the senior class who have contributed “Service to the Associated Students.” Recipients are selected based on their time and effort spent in the name of Willamette University, the diversity of their activities, and their impact on other students. These recipients are honored for their service to the Division of Student Affairs and ASWU programs.

  • Image of Ellen Blezinsky

    Ellen Blezinsky


    Resident Advisor, Colloquium Associate, DACA Advisory Committee, Willamette Academy

    One of Ellen's nominators said:

    “Ellen built resources for undocumented students across campus and the Salem community. As a resident advisor, Ellen spearheaded an effort to build a residential learning community dedicated to first-generation college students on our college campus. To bring this vision to reality, Ellen marshaled the support of campus administrators and housing offers and brought together a coalition of students, faculty and community members to support this effort. Ellen is a self-supporting, first-generation college student, community advocate and educator.”

  • Image of Ericka Jam Rorsoongnern Bryan

    Ericka Jam Rorsoongnern Bryan


    Tiger Club Coordinator, STEAM, Asian Coalition for Equity, MOSAICS, and QtPOC

    One of Jam's nominators said:

    "Jam inherited an established after-school tutoring program at Bush Elementary called Tiger Club and made significant positive changes to make the program more relevant to the participants.  Her passion for this work was inspiring.  On many occasions I observed her with the kids and the care she showed them was special.  Jam saw much of herself in those kids, and she was very committed to the program's success."

  • Image of Sarah Connor

    Sarah Connor


    Community Service Coordinator, Campus Recreation Coordinator, Alpha Chi Omega, and Zena Farm Club

    One of Sarah's nominators said:

    "I have worked with Sarah in her CSL positions for about 3 years. She has shown exemplary leadership by taking on new roles and responsibilities, coaching others to excel in their own roles, facilitating events and programs that have benefited the entire campus, and providing superior work in everything that she does."

  • Image of Sarah Dean

    Sarah Dean


    Women's tennis, Opening Days leader, community service learning, and WU Votes Initiative

    One of Sarah’s nominators said:

    “She spearheaded WU Votes with students and staff. She created an Instagram account that reached 400 followers and can continue to be used for WU voting efforts in the future. She applied for and received funding to purchase 500 stamps, 50 masks, 300 stickers, and 200 cookies. Sarah designed 24 social media infographics on voter registration and mental health resources around election anxiety. Even during COVID, Sarah was able to plan 2 debate watch parties and 4 'Walk the Vote' parades for students and staff. Sarah filmed and edited the 'My Vote Matters' video distributed on official Willamette social media platforms.”

  • Image of Ezra Gabbert

    Ezra Gabbert


    Resident Advisor, Disability Advocacy Club VP, Kappa Sigma Fraternity

    One of Ezra's nominators wrote:

    "Ezra has been heavily involved in the Disability Advocacy Club throughout his time at Willamette, and served as the Club's Vice President. It was through the combined efforts of Ezra and other members of the club that they were able to go through and catalog all the measurable ADA infractions on campus, as well as develop a support system for those with disabilities who don't feel represented on campus as a means to voice their grievances and turn them into action. I think this work shows his commitment to others by working on a long term plan to make campus accessible for future students. These types of projects require a lot of patience and willingness to compromise to make progress. He exemplifies the University's motto in this way."

  • Image of Karla Garcia Hernandez

    Karla Garcia Hernandez


    Ohana Jump Start program, Alianza, WU CAUSA, Take a Break program, Community Service Learning, Willamette Academy, and First Generation Book Drive

    One of Karla's nominators said:

    "Karla has contributed in her various roles as a leader and mentor; not to build a resume or to gain income to pursue her degree; but because she is truly passionate about these opportunities to give back to her community because she herself knows firsthand how she has benefited from these programs. Karla thinks of others before pursuing these positions because she knows her work will have an impact on historically marginalized groups. She has been a living mentor to so many others at WU. If you knew her life story; you would know what an accomplished person she has become. Karla embodies 'Sí Se Puede'"

  • Image of Char Howland

    Char Howland


    Outdoor Program leadership, Running Club, Steppin’ Out Jump Start Program, Spanish Club and Physics Club.

    One of Char's nominators said:

    "At the Outdoor Program, Char has led trips to destinations around Oregon, managed the gear rental program, and supervised the hiring and training of trip leaders. In the covid era, Char has been creative in planning Covid-safe trips and finding new ways to reach participants. She also revived the bike shop and led efforts to have OP offer the Wilderness First Aid certification for the first time. She has done this work with an eye toward diversity and inclusion, finding ways for ASP students to be able to work at OP and leading a push to purchase basic outdoor gear like boots and rainwear, so students without access to these can participate. She has also worked to provide stipends for students who cannot afford to pay for trips."

  • Image of Montana Kekaimalu Hunter

    Montana Kekaimalu Hunter


    WEMS, Friendship Brigade, Chemistry Club, Mortar Board, HEAL, Burning Bright, and Colleges Against Cancer.

    One of Montana's nominators said:

    "Montana Hunter is in a unique position because she stands in the top ten students out of several hundred that I have taught in my 20-year career as a tenured faculty member in both realms of academic performance as well as her contributions to the wider community. In that sense, combining the two, she emerges in the top 2%. Montana has a heart to serve, and she is gifted with motivation and organizational skills that allow her to share her gifts generously and effectively, and probably most importantly, consistently and sustainably. The last point is probably the most unusual characteristic of her, because it's something that many older adults still grapple with. Somehow, Montana has mastered these skills and uses it to contribute with careful intention to those that she serves."

  • Image of Lacey Jones

    Lacey Jones


    Women’s soccer team, Alpha Chi Omega, Intramurals Coordinator, and Student-Athlete Advisory Committee

    One of Lacy's nominators said:

    "Lacey’s actions and contributions not only meet the overall award descriptions, but exceed them. She's involved with so many aspects of campus life, all of which are leadership roles. Because she's involved with athletics, greek life and intramurals she is able to make great connections across campus that help to bring people together in what has been a most challenging time with covid and limited social interaction. She takes time to listen and care for those around her and the student body. She works with purpose and intent to increase DEI (diversity, equity and inclusion) within all the programs she's involved with. Lacey is an outstanding person who has positively impacted Willamette University and her peers."

  • Image of Miya Konishi

    Miya Konishi


    Bearcat Pantry co-coordinator, Alpha Chi Omega, Willamette Academy, Zena Farm, lacrosse team, and Language in Motion

    One of Miya's nominators said:

    "Looking at her resume and knowing the diversity of involvement she has had Miya is among the top 5% of students that I have supported during my time here. And Miya brings an energy to each of her roles in a way that I have rarely seen. Her energy alone is in the top 1% of students I've supported. I know that in a year with so many challenges she has been exactly what our 12th grade students have needed in a mentor. She has kept them on track, inspired, and even provided dance breaks during Zoom meetings to get the blood flowing. Anyone that meets Miya instantly sees her kindness, passion, and responsibility she offers. This challenging year was made better by Miya's tireless support and energy to our program."

  • Image of Maria Chio del Rocio Ortiz Chavarria

    Maria Chio del Rocio Ortiz Chavarria


    Bistro Manager, WEB, and WU CAUSA

    One of Maria's nominators said:

    "I've worked with Chio for two years when she served as Bistro financial manager and general manager. The Bistro is completely self-operated and receives no financial support from WU. The students who run the Bistro are responsible for hiring and training staff, ordering and preparing food, and all financial transactions. It's a huge responsibility with the added pressure of safeguarding a beloved Willamette tradition. Chio masterfully balanced the tasks of the job while remaining approachable to the staff. They are an effective communicator with all members of the Willamette community and strive to create an inclusive space on campus."

  • Image of Johnny Valdez

    Johnny Valdez


    Native & Indigenous Union, Black Advisory Council, men’s basketball team, Willamette Academy, and Equity, Diversity & Inclusion Committee

    One of Johnny's nominators said:

    "Johnny is an exceptional community leader. At Willamette University, he serves as the student representative to the University-wide Equity, Diversity and Inclusion Committee, where he advises faculty and senior administrators on institutional policy change. In the role, Johnny has (among many other things) launched a program to where students partner with faculty to develop anti-racist syllabi. The co-chairs of the committee speak highly of Johnny’s work, his maturity, and his insight. Johnny also supports students and the campus community through his role as a member of Willamette’s Black Advisory Council and co-President of the Native and Indigenous Student Union (NISU). He is launching a youth activist section of NISU next semester."

  • Image of Alexander Vasquez

    Alexander Vasquez


    OMA Peer Advocate, Ohana Leader, WU CAUSA, MOSAICS mentoring program, and Career Development Intern.

    One of Alexander's nominators said:

    "Alexander served in a newly created Peer Internship role in Career Development, focused on Empowerment and Inclusion. In this role, his contributions to the campus, our students, and our office as a whole are significant and include: hosting drop-in appointments at the E&E, coordinating the Alumni of Color Connection, Initiating, designing, and implementing the Comprehensive Networking Guide, Co-creating our LinkedIn Video Series, and making significant contributions to our Identity and Industry Specific Career Resources."

  • Image of Joel Westby

    Joel Westby


    Resident Advisor, ASWU Senator, RHA, Kappa Sigma Fraternity, Interfraternity Council, Academic & Student Affairs Advisory Committee, and Student Life Committee

    One of Joel's nominators said:

    "Joel has consistently and admirably served the Willamette community in multiple capacities, from the residence halls to university committees to ASWU to fraternity life. Most of these roles are considered significant with a lot of responsibility. I knew Joel by name early on in his time at Willamette, but worked closely with him as IFC VP for Recruitment. While he is no longer a member of FSL, during his tenure he was responsible for organizing recruitment on behalf of the five chapters. Joel was an effective leader who was a self-starter, tenacious and kept a smile on his face no matter the challenge."

  • Image of Karina Hernandez-Ziranda

    Karina Hernandez-Ziranda


    Resident Advisor, Ohana Leader, E&E, Chemawa Indian School

    One of Karina's nominators said:

    "Karina’s contributions in terms of quality of work are remarkable in their own right. She is creative, dynamic, and enormously dependable and mature. We relied on her as not just a student, but a colleague. What makes her even more exceptional is the way in which she carries out her work. Karina is a shining light, always finding the bright side. She is thoughtful and considerate of others and herself, knowing that quality of work comes with ensuring we are taking care of ourselves and each other. I have rarely seen a student who is so driven and hard working while simultaneously relaxed and fun loving."

Senior Key

Senior Keys are presented to members of the senior class who are the most outstanding and who go above and beyond and stand out for their meritorious service to the Associated Students of Willamette University. These students are leaders of multiple clubs and are broadly recognized by the student body for their work. Recipients are selected based on their time and effort spent in the name of Willamette University, the diversity of their activities, and their impact on other College of Arts and Sciences students.

These recipients are honored for their service to the Division of Student Affairs and ASWU programs.

  • Image of Sophie Bunch

    Sophie Bunch


    Community Service Learning Lead Coordinator, RHA, SLS Jump Start Program, GRAC, and the Take a Break program

    One of Sophie's nominators said:

    "Of all the students I am nominating, I would put Sophie in the top 5. What sets Sophie apart, besides her contributions, is her attitude and her steadiness. I have not seen Sophie waver in her commitments, regardless of the time of year or what's going on in her personal life. She is steadfast and incredibly reliable. When she shares concerns or feedback, she does so respectfully and with active listening skills. I find Sophie to be such a pleasure to advise!"


  • Image of Enku Castellanos

    Enku Castellanos


    Resident Advisor, Black Student Union, Intervarsity Christian Fellowship, and Navigation Assistant

    One of Enku's nominators said:

    “Enku's contributions to Willamette have been exemplary due to the scope of her participation and the number of students she has impacted as a result of her dedication to co-curricular activities. Not only has she been involved in many groups on campus, but she has served in leadership positions for several of them. Enku demonstrates an unmatched passion for serving others and using her experiences to guide her work in making Willamette a more accessible and inclusive community for all people. As a Resident Advisor, she supports residents on an individual level and works to create a safe and healthy environment for their academic achievements as well as their personal growth. I have seen her mediate roommate conflicts and aid students during mental health crises. Her compassion and calm demeanor make her an extremely skilled RA and numerous Willamette residents have benefited from her work in this role.”

  • Image of Tara Hickman

    Tara Hickman


    FSL intern, Opening Days lead team, Alpha Phi, Physics Club, Admission Intern, Chinese Taiwanese Coalition Association, Newman Club, and RHA

    One of Tara's nominators said:

    “Tara has been involved not just in an unusually large quantity of organizations on campus, but also a diverse spread of positions. These range from housing to Fraternity and Sorority Life to Admissions and Opening Days. Tara has established herself all over campus and has made a positive change in every aspect of student life throughout her time at Willamette. Tara also sets herself apart in taking on leadership positions in every organization she is associated with and absolutely never misses deadlines or lets her team down. She sets an example of what it means to be a leader and how to have a lasting legacy on anything she is involved in.”

  • Image of Brian Ixtlahuac

    Brian Ixtlahuac


    Resident Advisor, E&E Supervisor, Spanish Club, ASWU Associate Justice, Admission Ambassador, and Student Life Committee

    One of Brian's nominators said:

    "As a transfer, he jumped in and got involved as a leader. He diversified his involvements because he wanted to impact as many people as he could in his shortened time here. All of his references when he applied to be the E&E supervisor spoke to his enthusiasm, his quality of work and his compassion for others and wanting to create a better and more inclusive WU."

  • Image of Aleesha Kazi

    Aleesha Kazi


    Resident Advisor, Muslim Student Association, Asian Coalition for Equity, Video Game Club, Wind Ensemble, and Contemporary Ensemble

    One of Aleesha's nominators said:

    "Aleesha is one of the most dedicated students I've met in my time as a university staff member. She throws herself completely into whatever role she is tasked with, and approaches the work with a sense of seriousness that I can't recall seeing in others. Her approach and dedication to the students that she serves through the leadership positions she picks for herself is one of extreme care. Aleesha sees the potential of any role she accepts and tries to meet that potential. Her sense of purpose and confidence within each role can be particularly seen through her RA responsibility of supporting others through emotional turmoil."

  • Image of Kristin Jradi

    Kristin Jradi


    Willamette Dance Company executive board, ASWU Senator, Dining Advisory Committee, CAFES Treasurer, WEB Treasurer, and Honor Council student co-chair

    One of Kristin's nominators said:

    “Kristin has been the #1 WEB treasurer that I have worked with. She takes her role seriously, works well independently (and with her team), and has been a good steward of ASWU/student body funds. She monitors and manages the budget well, helps other students to make fiscally-responsible decisions, works collaboratively with ASWU for transparency on spending and funding, and has high-standards for being reliable and consistent with her decisions and discussions.”

  • Image of Claire Mathews-Lingen

    Claire Mathews-Lingen


    ASWU President, ASWU Senator, Opening Days Leader, Willamette Dance Company, and Debate Union

    One of Claire's nominators said:

    "Claire is currently serving as the ASWU President, but before that she dutifully served as a Senator for her class for three years. Claire showed dedication and care during her time as a Senator. When surrounded by others in her class looking to take the easiest path and do the least work, Claire consistently sought out opportunities to improve the campus for her class and the general student body. During her time as president, I have witnessed Claire pour hours of her time into advocating for student needs. Through COVID, protests, the wildfires, and even the recent ice storms and power outages, Claire has stepped up to be the voice for her classmates, working relentlessly to improve students' experience. One notable example is the work she has put into creating anti-racist guidelines for ASWU clubs and activities. She strives to make our campus a better, more inclusive place."

  • Image of Noelle Medina

    Noelle Medina


    Bistro Financial Manager, Take a Break, WEMS, QtPOC, Trans Advocacy Committee, SLS Jump Start leader, and Willamette Academy

    One of Noelle's nominators said:

    "Noelle has served the Willamette community faithfully since their first year. Their contributions have spanned a variety of communities and organizations. I have worked most closely with Noelle as Bistro Financial Manager over the last year. This has been by far the most challenging year for the Bistro, and in particular the finances. Their sales have been significantly lower yet many of their costs remain the same. The added pressure of employing 25 of your peers that rely on a regular paycheck can be stressful. Noelle has impressed me with their ability to analyze the data and make recommendations to the management team for a path forward. In the end, they could not keep the Bistro going and it closed for the year on March 31. The Bistro is a nearly 35-year old treasured institution at Willamette, and I could not be more proud of Noelle's efforts to maintain its legacy for future Bearcats."

  • Image of Grasiela Quevedo-Ramos

    Grasiela Quevedo-Ramos


    Women’s soccer, Panhellenic Council President, Alpha Phi, MOSAICS, Student Life Committee, and Willamette Academy

    One of Grasiela's nominators said:

    "Grasiela has demonstrated excellent leadership skills within our soccer program as well as being a great mentor to our younger players. As a student-athlete Grasiela is very involved on campus in various leadership and support roles. These outreach and service opportunities include; working with the Willamette Academy, serving as the President of the Panhellenic Council and serving as a teaching assistant and writing consultant. Grasiela is passionate about helping others through her thoughtful and inclusive leadership style. She is an outstanding person who looks to support others in her numerous roles on campus. Her contributions are exemplary because of the positive impact she has had across campus and within our soccer team."

  • Image of Cameron Taggesell

    Cameron Taggesell


    swim team, Opening Days leader, Physics Club, Luau, Admissions staff, and community service learning

    One of Cameron's nominators said:

    “There are some who would argue that Cameron’s leadership and participation have been in areas that were not as impactful to a large portion of the student body. The Physics Club is a fairly small club, and much of Cameron’s other leadership has followed a more behind-the-scenes, lead-by-example model. I would argue, however, that Cameron’s widespread involvement with clubs, athletics, and service groups all across Willamette has positioned her to be a positive role model and mentor for many students on campus.”

Willamette University

Honors and Awards in Bearcat Excellence

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