CWI Announces Business Students of the Year Awardees

Published: April 29, 2016

College of Western Idaho (CWI) is pleased to announce recipients of the fifth-annual Business Student(s) of the Year Award. Jessica Hansen, Dan Velez, and Audrey Waite are being recognized for their accomplishments in and out of the classroom.


Jessica Hansen:

I grew up in Miami, Florida. I am married with three children. I owned and operated an in-home childcare center for eight years before I decided I was ready to go back to school to pursue a business degree. CWI has been a wonderful experience for me as a returning student. I am a member of the Phi Theta Kappa Honor Society, and I am proud to be graduating with honors this spring. I will be transferring to Boise State University this fall. I plan to major in business and minor in nonprofit management.  I have a passion for helping others. I volunteer with organizations such as the West Ada School District, the Treasure Valley YMCA, and CATCH (Charitable Assistance to Community's Homeless). I hope to work for a non-profit organization after I graduate. It is my hope to gain a leadership role as an executive officer, or to own a nonprofit in the future. My GPA is 3.897.

Dan Velez:

I grew up in the northern suburbs of Chicago, and graduated from Mundelein High School in 1990 by the skin of my teeth. Directly after graduation, I was sent to Marine Corps boot camp. I quickly learned the importance of taking responsibility for one’s actions, and I found direction that would lead me to where I am at today.  I later got married, raised a family, and worked my way up the company ladder which eventually transferred me to this beautiful state. By beautiful, I don’t only mean the scenery, but also the people. I lost my job of 15 years in early 2014; falling victim to the economy’s downward spiral. With guidance from my representative at the local Veteran’s Administration, I nervously enrolled at CWI with the goal of earning a business degree. I was nervous. The last time I set foot in a classroom was 24 years ago with results not designed to put smiles on my parents’ faces.  I felt welcomed at CWI and the instructors seem to go out of their way to help you succeed. After graduation, I plan to transfer to Boise State to complete my college education with a bachelor’s degree in business management.  I would like to thank the faculty for this great honor. You really can teach an old dog new tricks. My cumulative GPA is 3.85.

Audrey Waite:

My family moved to Middleton, Idaho, when I was in the second grade. I stayed there until graduating as valedictorian of my high school class in 2014. Go Vikes! The following fall semester, I started attending the College of Western Idaho full time. Staying in the Treasure Valley and going to CWI was a very late decision. By the time I registered for classes, only second-year courses still had availability. So there I was, an 18-year-old girl taking a few of the most rigorous classes required for the business degree in my first semester. I survived! The business department and tutoring center quickly hired me to work with other business faculty and students. During this last year I have been an active member of the Entrepreneurship Club; which has given me the opportunity to work with the United States Olympic Speed Skating team and countless local business owners. After graduating with my associate degree in general business this spring, I will be transferring to the University of Idaho. My goal is to earn a master’s degree in operations management, minor in accounting, and complete CPA certification. My GPA is 3.83.

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