WSU Distinguished Scholars Celebrated at Fall Event

MEDIA: April Seehafer, WSU Distinguished Scholarships Program, 509-335-8239,

WSU Distinguished Scholars at the fall 2016 Celebration (l to r): Provost and Executive V.P. Daniel J. Bernardo; Logan Weyand; Travis King; Rachel “Chedda” Ellenwood; Tillie Torpey; Ryan Summers: Keesha Matz; Jackson Peven; Patrick Freeze; Distinguished Scholarships Program Director April Seehafer

PULLMAN, Wash.—Eight Washington State University students were pinned at the third annual Distinguished Scholars Celebration Wed., Oct. 5, recognizing that they had received prestigious, nationally competitive awards to enhance their education.

“Through the event, we can publicly acknowledge each student’s accomplishments, thank their faculty mentors and recommendation writers, and celebrate them all at the same time,” said April Seehafer, the WSU Distinguished Scholarships Program director.

Speaking at the gathering, WSU Provost and Executive Vice President Daniel J. Bernardo said that these student awardees evidence—by receiving national awards—that WSU is providing a transformational Top 25 student experience.

He also said that the Distinguished Scholarships Program has accomplished quite a bit since it began in 2011. Awareness of the availability of national awards has increased on campus as has an understanding of the value of such awards. The program is building on its successes by having more award winners. And, that in the past five years, there have been 81 award winners, compared to 64 winners in the 104 years since the first WSU student won a Rhodes scholarship in 1907.

In total, 12 distinguished scholars were hailed at the event: 10 who received awards in the past year (six were present), plus 2 from the year before who were overseas at the time of the 2015 celebration.

In the past year, WSU students who have received distinguished scholarships are:

2 Fulbright U.S. Scholar awards, to Travis King and Justin Niedermeyer; 3 Goldwater awards, to Ryan Summers, Keesha Matz, and Angela Rocchi; 2 Gilman awards, to Laura Abbott and Araceli Baeza; and 3 Udall awards, to Rachel Ellenwood (who also won a Udall the previous year) in the Native American health care category, Tillie Torpey in the tribal policy category, and Logan Weyand in the environment category.

Also, feted at the event were award recipients from the past year, Jackson Peven, a Boren Award recipient who spent a year in China studying the language and culture; and Patrick Freeze, a Fulbright U.S. Scholar recipient who conducted research in Thailand into soil contaminants’ impact on rice as a food source and expert crop.