CWI News—May 20, 2022
College of Western Idaho (CWI) celebrated its 2022 class of graduates, May 13, in a commencement ceremony held at ExtraMile Arena in Boise. Graduates, family, and friends were favored with remarks from President Gordon Jones, Board of Trustee Chair Molly Lenty, Cally Roach from the State Board of Education, and 2022 Graduate, Tanya Coles.
Recognizing graduates ranging in age from 15 to 75, highlights of the College’s 13th Commencement included:
- 1,201 Degree and Certificate Candidates
- 1,471 Degrees and Certificates Earned
- 494 Graduates with Honors
- 3.370 Average Graduate GPA
- 270 Graduates with Multiple Degrees
- 29 Associate Degrees Awarded to Dual Credit Students
- 141 Veteran Graduates
- 273 Apprenticeship Graduates
- 153 GED Graduates
Concluding the ceremony, President Jones left graduates with one request.
“I would like to underscore the significance of your achievement and the joy of seeing you all so proud with diploma in hand. CWI has empowered thousands and thousands of students in the Treasure Valley, I believe, forever reshaping the dynamics not only individuals, but their families, in some cases friends, and generations to come in our community… I would ask you all as you move forward with empowerment, confidence, learning, knowledge, and skills, to go out and tell your story… Congratulations, Class of 2022!”
“College of Western Idaho (CWI) has pushed me to be the best version of myself and provided me the opportunities and skill set to go out into my community and make positive changes,” said 2022 graduate, Craig Petersen.
An Air Force veteran and father of two, Petersen credits his choice to attend CWI to his fiancé, Danielle.
“It has always been my dream to help people. Danielle is the one who pushed me to start college to pursue this dream. Holding true to its reputation of being there for students, CWI has exceeded my every expectation for a community college.”
In addition to studying social work, Petersen eagerly contributed of his time and talents as a member of several clubs, organizations, and initiatives on and off campus.
“Craig is an example of a student who took advantage of every opportunity to learn, be involved, and connect with the community while at CWI,” shared Professor of Psychology, Heather Schoenherr. “As one of his final services, he organized a successful community event bringing together people from CWI and the community to raise awareness of foster care in Idaho.”
“I have always had a passion to help,” said Petersen. “In volunteering as a Guardian Ad Litem, I came face-to-face with foster children, saw the foster crisis with my own eyes, and knew it was time to do something. The children in our community deserve better than what they are currently being faced with.”
In partnership with CASA of Southwest Idaho and Level Up Tattoo in Meridian, Petersen hosted the charity event, Speak Up! Ink Up!, April 9, with the goal of 100 tattoos in one day. Tattoo options for the event included designs created by foster children and CWI Art Club members.
“It was one of the most beautiful things I have been a part of – from people lining up four hours before the event, to the number of volunteers who showed up in support. For 16 hours I ran around like a crazy person talking to individuals coming in for tattoos. It was incredible to hear how many people have been touched by the foster care system, whether as a foster child themselves or as a foster parent.”
Petersen’s event was a huge success raising nearly $11,500 for CASA to assist in providing support and a voice for every foster child in Idaho.
“This event encompassed everything I learned at CWI. It was truly beautiful to see the community come together. Even after opening a second day for tattoos, we still ended up having to turn away more than 100 people who wanted to help. The day after the event I did a lot of processing and looking back at everything that went into it, and I cried a lot. The community stood behind me and my vision to make an impact in these kids’ lives. There is no better feeling than to know others are out there who care.”
“For now,” he continued, “I am appreciating the victory knowing the work isn’t even close to being done. I will be back next year in hopes to increase the impact. I hope every child currently being abused or in an unideal situation within the foster care system knows I am fighting for them, and I will not stop until I help as many as I can.”
Following graduation, Petersen plans to start an internship in hospice care, get married, and transfer to Boise State University this fall in pursuit of a bachelor’s degree in Social Work with the ultimate goals of specializing in counseling and becoming a motivational speaker.
“I cannot express enough how grateful I am to have been part of the CWI family and to have been guided by some of the best professors in the nation. I have never met more amazing humans in my life. I am now equipped to go out and change lives. Because of CWI, I know I will be successful.”
Congratulations to Christy Runion and Ashley Dale, winners of College of Western Idaho’s 2022 Juried Art Exhibition. Runion’s submission, a photograph titled “I Couldn’t Save Me from Myself”, and Dale’s submission, a drawing titled “Growing Up Artist”, were selected by juror, Randy Van Dyck, a Boise-based artist and owner of Capitol Contemporary Gallery.
“It doesn’t seem like that long ago that I was in your position having my work judged at a student art show,” shared Van Dyck when announcing the winners. “As artists, you will spend a lifetime having your work judged by others. It requires that you develop very thick skin, courage, and perseverance to follow your artistic vision, whatever it may be and regardless of the obstacles.”
Van Dyke scored submissions based on initial impression, artist statements, technical aspects, and skillful handling of the chosen medium, leading to the selection of Runion and Dales standout pieces.
“I was very pleased with the and quality and variety of the art submitted,” he said. “Thank you for letting me be a part of this journey.”
I Couldn’t Save Me from Myself
“As she gazed at herself in the mirror, she longed to wrap herself in her arms as a blanket of comfort. Through the years, the world had damaged her both physically and mentally, and repeatedly. She cared so much for others, lending a helping hand or a shoulder to cry on any chance she got, but more than anything, she longed to save herself.”
Growing Up Artist
“During my studies of art, like many other artists, I practiced using still-life models. I was captured by the depth of meaning simple objects could hold. In this piece, I wanted to commemorate my journey as an artist and hopefully any artist that dreamed from a young age of creating artwork as a career starting with the most simple tool many start with at a young age, colorful crayons. I can remember at a young age sitting in the pews at church with my family. My grandmother would always bring big fun coloring books and a whole box of coloring crayons. I would then spend the next hour coloring fairies or princesses while the sermons went on in the background. The colors I chose for the crayons are also symbolic of aspects that were a part of my childhood. Pink is symbolism for peace and calm, which, thinking back on childhood, the peace and calm came from the naive outlook on life we had as children. I also positioned this color seeming like it’s about to fall out as that my childhood was somewhat peaceful. Peaceful in the way I didn’t have to worry about bigger problems such as paying the bills or having a job. I did, however, have to deal with the divorce of my parents and having to move away from friends and family. Purple is symbolic of the endless imagination. As a young girl, I loved to play make believe. From imaginary friends to crazy make believe stories. Yellow and orange symbolize the happiness and curiosity of childhood. The light candle symbolizes learning, growth, light, and warmth. It's the spark of learning the love for art and the growth of learning a new skill. The Ball glass jar represents the new tools used to explore the world of art. I put an unfinished drawing I made from inspiration from a quote from the Disney movie Mulan. Mulan’s father said, “Oh look, that blossom is late, but I’ll bet that when it blooms it will be the most beautiful of them all.” This quote gave me great comfort at a time when I was struggling with my self-worth, not only in my art but my self-worth in general. I also look at it in a way that shows I am still growing as an artist as well as a person. We all have our own time to blossom, and, when we do, it’s the most beautiful thing that happens to us.”
Both artists received a $150 cash prize for their winning entries.
Class 11 of College of Western Idaho’s (CWI) Law Enforcement program were honored during a ceremony, May 11, 2022, at the Nampa Civic Center. Program Director, LeRoy Forsman, began the evening expressing appreciation to program leadership, staff, and instructors, past and present, for making the program such a success. He then offered words of advice and encouragement to students.
Keynote speaker, Lieutenant Jamie Burns, a 21-year veteran of the Nampa Police Department and one of the many instructors from the law enforcement community teaching at CWI, advised the graduates to remember those who have and will continue to support their journey as they prepare to embark on careers. Speaking to family members in the audience and quoting his wife, he said, “You will be proud of them in a way that you’ve never been proud of them before. You will watch them grow before your eyes, and it will all be worth it. This will be an immensely fulfilling journey for you and your family. Enjoy the ride, and congratulations.”
Graduates were presented with completion certificates, challenge coins, and awards for top achievements:
- Top Shooter – Hunter Chambers
- Top Driver – Carly Karcher
- Top Academic – Aaron Izaguirre
“You will be the agents of change,” said Forsman in closing. “You will be the reason we get better, we continue to improve, and our ethical standards continue to rise and not be diminished.”
“Think back to day one all the way to today,” he continued. “You have earned something. It wasn’t given to you. When you earn something, it means more. Now keep it close to your heart. Go out, do a good job, and welcome to the family.”
Congratulations to Assistant Professor of Philosophy, Michael Robinson, named College of Western Idaho’s (CWI) Faculty of Distinction for April 2022. Robinson has been at the College since the beginning after being hired as an adjunct instructor in 2008.
“‘Building a plan in mid-air’ was a catch phrase used during the first two years CWI was open. That phrase is etched into my DNA,” said Robinson. “I remember our first graduation and the satisfaction I felt being part of a new college.”
“I started teaching in graduate school and loved it from the start. The opportunity to discuss philosophical concepts with students (and get paid for it!) is truly a blessing.”
Teaching Introduction to Philosophy (PHIL 101), Introduction to Ethics (PHIL 103), World Religions (PHIL 111), and Political Philosophy (POLS 230), Robinson is grateful for the opportunity he has to make a difference in the lives of students and prepare them for the future.
“I love teaching philosophy because it raises fundamental questions/problems everyone contemplates – What is a good life? What is truth? Is there life after death? My favorite part of teaching this subject is creating an inclusive environment for my students in which we can discuss philosophical ideas and engage in healthy critical thinking (while having fun, I might add). Philosophical knowledge is beneficial in that it teaches people how to think, not what to think. This type of thinking is a life-long skill that increases analytical and creative problem-solving.”
“Mike is quite literally the best professor at CWI,” said Associate Professor of Accounting, Joe Welker. “He cares very much about his students and their success. His students absolutely love him and his approach to teaching a challenging topic like philosophy. He has nearly 90 ratings on the time-tested website, Rate my Professor, and 100% of the students say they would take a class from him again or refer him to another student. It is beyond my comprehension why he isn’t winning this award every month.”
Robinson grew up in Rapid City, South Dakota. He and his wife have been married for 33 years and have two adult children. Outside of the classroom he enjoys reading, hiking, and golf.
College of Western Idaho’s Professional Nursing program recognized its 2022 graduating class during a pinning ceremony Wednesday, May 12, at the Nampa Civic Center.
Welcoming graduates to the ceremony, Department Chair, Allison Baker, congratulated graduates on their accomplishments during a particularly challenging past few years.
“Your faculty and I are extremely proud of you for forging ahead in this unpredictable time and completing your degrees,” said Department Chair, Allison Baker. “The fortitude and flexibility that you have demonstrated during this time will serve you well in your careers.”
Following Baker’s remarks, Provost Denise Aberle-Cannata recognized former Dean of Health, Cathleen Currie, retiring after dedicating 14 years of service to the College. Graduates and guests were fortunate to then hear from Nampa Mayor Debbie Kling; Nursing Program Lead, Amanda Tillemans; and graduating Nursing student, Suzannah Barnard.
“We have had some truly wonderful memories as a group taking on the challenge of nursing school during a pandemic,” Barnard said. “We banded together as a group, and we didn’t let all the changes or trials of a pandemic slow us down, kick us out, or cause us to give up. Like Nightingale, we rose to the challenge, and we succeeded. I know each of us are ready to become nurses and that we will each be a valuable asset wherever we go because we have all become a little more tenacious, a little more knowledgeable, and a lot more caring. To the class of 2022, we did it!”
Congratulations to Jordan Schwartz, winner of the Nightingale Award, nominated by classmates for depicting the best of the nursing profession in knowledge, caring, compassion, and dedication.
To conclude the ceremony, Nursing faculty, Joslyn Dresser, emphasized the important role nurses play in the lives of others.
“Being a nurse is a great privilege. Please don’t take it lightly. As Maya Angelou once said, ‘As a nurse, we have the opportunity to heal the mind, soul, heart, and body of our patients. They may forget your name, but they will never forget how you made them feel.’ I know each and every one of you will make a difference in the lives of your patients, and we, the faculty of CWI, will be cheering you along the way.”
Congratulations to Administrative Assistant, Kayla Adams, College of Western Idaho’s (CWI) Staff of the Month for April 2022. Adams began her journey at CWI as a student.
“I had struggled to find a job without a degree, so I came back to school in 2010,” Adams shared. “A year later, the opportunity to be a Work Study presented itself, and I applied for a front desk position. Two years later, I was hired for a full-time position in the office where I still work to this day.”
As an Administrative Assistant, Adams provides support to the Dean of Arts and Humanities, four Department Chairs, two faculty coordinators, and nearly 100 faculty in a given semester. Early on in this role, Adams found herself unable to have meaningful conversations, in-person, with a few faculty members due to a language barrier. This experience sparked her interested in learning American Sign Language (ASL). In 2017, she became the first CWI student to receive an Associate of Arts degree in Sign Language Studies, later earning a bachelor’s degree in Sign Language Interpreting from Idaho State University.
“I truly enjoy and appreciate the group of people I work with who drew me in and have always encouraged me to continue with my education. Watching their passion for teaching and motivating students showed me CWI wasn’t just a place for students to come and get a piece of paper. Because of my choice to attend CWI, I have a great job that helps support my family, I have earned three college degrees, am part of the Deaf community, have met lots of amazing people, and have obtained a joy for lifelong learning.”
“Kayla is excellent at all parts of her job,” said Dean, Justin Vance. “She is of the utmost integrity, adaptable, and innovative never complaining about change but embracing it to move the College forward. She does whatever it takes to ensure faculty and students have the support they need in the most caring and respectful ways, which includes using her ASL skills to facilitate communication and support deaf employees.”
“There is a collaborative spirit here that allows individuals a space for creativity and growth,” said Adams. “We are invested and passionate about seeing students achieve their goals. CWI provides much more than a quality education; it provides opportunities many never dreamed would be possible.”
Outside of work, Adams enjoys painting, photography, making wedding cakes, and trying new things. She has a goal to earn her interpreting license, which she hopes to do in the next two years. She and her husband of nearly 24 years have two children, one of which is also a CWI graduate. Their family likes attending concerts and the annual Shakespeare Festival, supporting one another’s sporting events, and game and movie nights together.
In appreciation of all your hard work and accomplishments, College of Western Idaho’s Culture and Employee Engagement Committee (CEEC) invites you to take a break, and head to the Double Decker Espresso bus, May 25. Come enjoy coffee, tea, smoothies, Italian sodas, pastries and more while enjoying one another’s company.
Date: Wednesday, May 25
Time: 12:30 – 3:30 p.m.
Location: Nampa Campus Administration Building, Parking Lot
Employees who attend will be entered into a drawing for some awesome prizes. Contact CEEC@cwi.edu with questions.
We hope to see you there!
College of Western Idaho (CWI) is gearing up to introduce the College’s first mascot, the otter, and needs your help!
The mascot development phase began in January with a survey allowing students, faculty, and staff to share their input and opinions on the characteristics of the new mascot. This was followed by a second survey, launched this spring, seeking input on the mascot name. Thank you to all who have participated up to this point. Feedback gathered was helpful and insightful.
Finalizing development of the CWI Otter, the College is now opening up feedback on the name and design concepts to the entire CWI community. Tell us what you think about the Otter’s name and look by Friday, May 27!
Enjoy a night at the ballpark, and support students at the next CWI Night!
College of Western Idaho (CWI) is proud to partner with the Boise Hawks to SCORE Big for scholarships as the Hawks take on the Rocky Mountain Vibes. Students, alumni, employees, family, and friends of the CWI community are all invited to attend.
Date: Thursday, June 16
Time: 7 p.m.
Location: Memorial Stadium
Your $10 ticket to the game includes a shaded seat in the CWI section on the third-base line. $5 of each CWI group ticket purchased goes directly back to the SCORE Big Scholarship fund. Two lucky CWI students will be awarded $1,000 SCORE Big Scholarships during the game!