Eastern Magazine | Winter 2015

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Best-selling author’s worldview shaped by his hometown

up front

Dear Alumni and Friends: With record enrollments and an array of exciting activities, fall term went by in a whirlwind! The academic year is off to a rousing start. Impressive teaching and learning continue in our classrooms and labs. Powerful planning moves forward for General Education and First Year Experience, advising, scholarship fundraising and other crucial initiatives. As I visited academic partners throughout the state – including Big Bend Community College, Columbia Basin Community College, Walla Walla Community College, Bellevue College and Lower Columbia College – I met alumni and friends of EWU who spoke enthusiastically of our contributions to the region and the state. While on the west side, I attended the College Success Foundation luncheon where we watched a video highlighting an individual whose life was transformed by scholarship support: Zuri Cambron, an amazing EWU student. The video is a beautiful testimonial to our work helping students be successful despite enormous challenges. Closer to home, I was interviewed by EWU alumnus Sean Owsley on Invest Northwest (http://go.ewu.edu/CullinanKHQ), by Stephanie Forshee for the Puget Sound Business Journal (http://go.ewu.edu/CullinanPS), and by Katie Ross for The Journal of Business (http://go.ewu.edu/CullinanJOB). A few other memorable fall term events include:

. Oktoberfest, the annual event that raised more than $40,000 for our library. . Our Thanksgiving luncheon where we celebrated Distinguished Service

Award winners, recognized faculty and staff with long years of service, and enjoyed performances by music and theatre students.

. The Izkalli Calmecac Conference, put on by our own M.E.Ch.A students, which

brought to campus hundreds of Chicano/Latino high school students to inspire them to attend college.

. The 35th anniversary celebration of the English Language Institute, which has brought more than 4,000 international students to EWU to study English.

. A stunning performance of To Kill a Mockingbird directed by Sara Goff. . A highly successful event in Spokane, co-sponsored by EWU, in which 1,000 participants talked about healthy lifestyles with Dan Buettner, author of Blue Zones.

. A tremendous football season that continued into the playoffs as well as exciting volleyball, soccer and track and field along with the thrilling season underway for men’s and women’s basketball.

I’m so happy to be part of this exciting campus! Student success is truly the hallmark of Eastern Washington University. Thank you so much for your support.

Mission Statement: EWU expands opportunities for personal transformation through excellence in learning. 2

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Mary Cullinan President Eastern Washington University


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Citizen Jess


Paying it Forward


Peace, Love, Basketball


Eastern’s Oldest Graduate


The Beat Goes On


Behind the Lens

Bestselling author Jess Walter has gone far without leaving home


Attorney gives voiceless their day in court

Sonya Elliott’s story of survival 105-year-old Vera Thrall Johnson looks back Drummer Vince Littleton puts his spin on the classics Dustin Snipes shines a light on celebrity photography

on the cover Jess Walter looks out over his hometown



2 up front 4 letters to the editor 5 on the road 6 eastern etc. 30 faces & places 36 your turn: Manic or Not, Here I Come 38 class notes 44 in memoriam 46 final thoughts 47 events calendar


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Notes from the editor We want to hear from you! Send us your letters. Letters may be edited for length, clarity and civility.

A Tale of Teamwork Thanks to a phone call from reader Gary Carlton’ 73, we were able to identify the previously unidentified man in the photo in our story, A Tale of Teamwork, which appeared in the fall issue of Eastern magazine. Craig Houston ’74, was pictured in the story about the 1974 National Wheelchair Games, held on the EWSC campus that summer. The photo, obtained from the university’s archives, didn’t have a name with it. Houston graduated from Omak High School in 1965, and was injured while serving in Vietnam.

Additional Content Eastern magazine is available online at www.ewu.edu/easternmagazine. The online version offers additional photos, videos and interesting information. If you would prefer to receive the magazine online only, please send us a note and we can make that happen.

Letters to The Editor Have news, story ideas or an EWU graduate who you think we should spotlight? We’ love to hear from you. Your comments and critiques about the magazine – the good, the bad and the ugly – are appreciated. This magazine is for you, and we want to make it the best alumni magazine in the country! Please send us the information, including the “who – what – when – where,” and your contact information to easternmagazine@ewu.edu.



THE MAGAZINE for Eastern Washington University Alumni and Friends

Editor Kandi Carper ’05 ART DIRECTOR Ryan Gaard ’02 Contributing Writers Jeff Bunch ’88, Kandi Carper ’05, Mike Corrigan ’89, Abe Ferris ’11, Bailey Wolff ’10, Dave Cook, Dave Meany Contributing designers Ginny Baxter ’05, Steve Bateman Copy Editors Jeff Bunch ‘88 Photography David Lane, Pat Spanjer ’80, Jeff Bunch ‘88


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Editorial Board Steve Blewett ’69, Gina Campbell ’90, Cassie Devaney ’96, Brendan Genther ’00, Karene Garlich-Loman ’03, ‘98, Nick Lawhead ’07, Lisa Leinberger ’98, Kayla Northrop ’08, Robin Pickering ’03, ’97, Nancy Tsutakawa ’70 Vice President for University Advancement Michael Westfall Director of Alumni Advancement Lisa Poplawski ’01, ’94 Director OF marketing & Communications Teresa Conway EWU Alumni Board President Tom Capaul ’97, ‘94

Contact Us Email: easternmagazine@ewu.edu Phone: 509.359.6422 Write: Eastern Magazine, 102 Hargreaves, Cheney, WA 99004-2445 Eastern magazine is published fall, winter and spring by EWU Marketing & Communications, and is mailed free to alumni of record in the United States. View this and previous issues online at www.ewu.edu/easternmagazine.

on the road with eastern magazine Where will Eastern magazine be spotted next? You are invited to send photographs holding up the latest issue. Include some information about yourself with your submission. We may not be able to publish every submission. Extras will be posted on the Eastern magazine Facebook page and on the magazine’s website. Send to easternmagazine@ewu.edu or Eastern Magazine, 102 Hargreaves Hall, Cheney, WA 99004-2413.

2nd Lt. John R. “J.R.” Meier ’14 and 1st Lt. Jacob Dutton ’12 at Kandahar Airfield, Afghanistan, Dec. 7, while on a combat deployment in the U.S. Army.

Mike Westfall, Vice President University Advancement, Catherine Donnay ’11, Margaret Carper, Dan Carper ’72, Georgia Bonny Bazemore, PhD, and Kelly Anderson pictured at the Sanctuary of Aphrodite, Palaepaphos, Cyprus.

Kelleye Heydon ’95, pictured in Cologne, Germany. She is the vice president of EWU’s alumni board. Jim Straub ’67 and his wife, Marylou, going ashore at Costa Maya, Mexico, after a Panama Canal transit aboard the Crystal Serenity in December.

Barb (Juricich) Mulraney ’77 and Elaine (Besecker) Schaub ’78, on the beach in Melbourne, Florida. Barb was visiting from Chandler, Arizona, where she works for Honeywell International. Elaine’s mom, Professor Emeritus Fred Lauritsen, PhD, and Bob Tuck ’68, was deer hunting on the Lower Mary (Dawson) Besecker, graduated in 1951. Elaine is wearing her his wife, Catherine, ’76, traveled to Lanesboro, Brule Reservation in South Dakota with his mom’s Tawanka sweater. Elaine lives in Melbourne Beach, where she Minnesota, in October for a family wedding. daughter Kerrie. Bob has been a fish and wildlife works as a human resources director for Windsor Florida. biologist, currently in the Yakima area, and a Lanesboro (pop. 750) is near the Iowa boarder. consultant since 1982. E ASTERN: Winter 2015 5

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Celebrity chef Graham Kerr inspiring EWU students to eat healthy

Celebrity Chef Graham Kerr Visits EWU Graham Kerr, a Washington resident who became famous as TV’s “The Galloping Gourmet,” visited Eastern in October to talk to students about healthy eating. At a campus farmers market outside the PUB building, the gregarious native of WWII-era Great Britain educated and implored EWU students to get back to a healthy relationship with food. He listened as students shared their dietary challenges, including limited dining options, a lack of time and a shortage of funds for their food budgets. Eastern students have a strong commitment to sustainability, and the campus is a leader in developing viable campus practices, including a campus farmers market and vegetable garden. Kerr decided on the spot to have EWU Dining Services staff gather some items from the market and told the students to return the next day for a real-life lesson. Kerr, who has cooked for celebrities and has millions of fans, took over the kitchen at The Roost inside the University Recreation Center the next morning, where he and his team of students, along with EWU chefs, prepared healthy, affordable meals at roughly $1 per meal. For Kerr, the demonstration was the expression of a lifelong passion for food that has been refocused in recent years. He has swapped out the gluttonous recipes that made for good television for healthier choices that satisfy. “I am like a relay runner and I have a baton which has two parts: one is grow it and the other is cook it,” said Kerr. “I’m trying to pass on what I have learned over 80 years now and to give me the opportunity of a fresh runner, and a little gap of time that I have here (at Eastern), and be able to see that hand stretched out wide-open, ready to grip it, is the most exciting moment of my life – it really is.”


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eastern etc. Eagle UP Impacts Communities On the day before the start of the school year, more than 200 Eastern Washington University staff, faculty and student volunteers were planting seeds for the future. They came together to help the greater community in the annual Eagle UP volunteer effort coordinated by the Office of Community Engagement, giving assistance to deserving organizations of all types. The service projects ranged from one end of Spokane County to the other – from the Washington State Veterans Cemetery in Medical Lake to Camp Caro Lodge in the Dishman Hills of Spokane Valley, as well as points in-between. At the Veterans Cemetery, staff of the Veterans Resource Center and students worked with volunteers to do plantings and weeding at a special scattering garden. Dave Millet, Director of the Veterans Resource Center, said the opportunity to help the only veterans’ cemetery on the east side of the state was a perfect opportunity. “I think there are a lot of things we can do to educate the community about the important things that go on out here,” said Millet. “It’s a small little way to get some students out here for a couple hours to both do some work, but then we talk about what goes on out here with the cemetery and the community.” At Camp Caro Lodge, Spokane County Parks Ranger Bryant Robinson says the efforts by the EWU community were much needed and appreciated. Eagle UP is part of a larger mission by EWU and its Office of Community Engagement to provide service opportunities for students to give back during their time at the university.

Student volunteers weeding at the Washington State Veterans Cemetery

Eastern Enrollment Soars Buoyed by one of the largest first-year classes in school history, Eastern Washington University’s fall enrollment has set a record for the sixth consecutive year. The overall headcount for the fall 2014 quarter, which includes all students who take classes at every level at Eastern, jumped by 662 students to 13,453. The number of first-time freshmen is 1,598, falling just short of the 2005 record of 1,610. The overall diversity of the student body increased as well, to more than 28 percent. In addition to record-breaking overall enrollments, EWU has the largest residential population in its 132-year history. More than 2,000 students live on campus in eight residence halls.

Pass Through the Pillars annual kickoff of a new school year

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Eagles Basketball – First and Historic November was a good month for the Eastern Washington University men’s basketball team. Just as in football, the men’s basketball team tipped off the 2014 season with the first game played in the nation, beating Texas Southern, 8662, on Nov. 14 on Reese Court. It was the first win for the Eagles in 14 tries against a Big 10 Conference opponent. A crowd of 11,636 attended the game at legendary Assembly Hall in Bloomington, Indiana. That was just the beginning. In one of the most exciting games in Eagle Basketball history, the team snapped the nation’s third-longest home court nonconference winning streak at 43 with a heart-stopping 88-86 victory at Big Ten Conference member Indiana on Nov. 24. “I’m just really happy for our team and anybody associated with Eastern Washington,” said head coach Jim Hayford. “We’re the little engine that can, and I love that. This is a huge win, and obviously the biggest in my time at Eastern. I’m really, really proud of our guys.” The team’s Nov. 30 victory against Eastern Oregon (104-87) gave Hayford 300 wins as a collegiate head coach, giving him a 300-138 record that day in 15-plus seasons as a head coach. Hayford is in his fourth season at Eastern. He previously coached at Whitworth University and Sioux Falls.

Eastern Signs Agreement with International Partner In October, EWU signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with Universidad Autónoma de Tamaulipas (UAT), Ciudad Victoria, México. A delegation of 33 people from UAT visited the EWU campus Oct. 6-8, for a three-day workshop to learn more about Eastern and take part in a leadership seminar. Seminar themes included innovation, internationalization and entrepreneurship in higher education. With the partnership, EWU and UAT hope to establish ongoing collaboration on joint research projects, grant opportunities and academic programs. 8

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eastern etc. EWU Brings Discussion about Longevity to Community Eastern, together with partners, Providence Health Care, Empire Health Foundation and Group Health, brought National Geographic Fellow and longevity expert Dan Buettner to Spokane in October, for an eye-opening discussion on how to create a healthier community. The Spokane program included a keynote address by Buettner and a panel discussion with community leaders with backgrounds in politics, social services, regional health and school wellness. The interactive presentation employed real-time polling to get audience feedback. Buettner is a New York Times best-selling author who has become an expert in the field of longevity. His work came out of a National Geographic project on documenting populations worldwide with a high number of centenarians (The Blue Zones). It’s now a full-time passion that takes him around the world. “We’re focusing on health and what health can mean in our community,” said Mary Ann Keogh Hoss, interim dean of EWU’s College of Health Science and Public Health. “We’re hoping that, with our community gathered, we can look at an initiative that will help our community move forward in relationship to some aspect of health.”

Dan Buettner

Chaves Appointed to NCAA D-I Council Bill Chaves, Eastern’s Director of Athletics since 2007, has been appointed to the newest and most prestigious level of leadership in the highest classification of intercollegiate athletics – the NCAA Division I Council. The group, appointed by the NCAA Division I Board of Directors, conducts the day-to-day business of Division I. The council will convene for the first time in January. The 40-member council consists of 28 athletic directors and associate athletic directors, three faculty athletic representatives and two studentathletes representing NCAA Division I institutions, as well as seven conference representatives. This will be the first time student-athletes will cast votes on NCAA rules. The group’s first order of business will be to design the subgroups that will assist in developing legislation, running championships and performing other necessary functions. Chaves currently chairs the NCAA’s Sportsmanship and Ethical Conduct Committee. Previously, he served four years as chair of the NCAA Administration Cabinet from 2008-12, including the final year as chair. He was honored in the 2012-13 school year by the National Association of Collegiate Directors of Athletics as one of 28 winners of the Under Armour AD of the Year Award. E ASTERN: Winter 2015


eastern etc. Beau Baldwin

Eagles’ Football Season One for the Record Books An Eastern Washington University football season that started earlier than usual and ended before everyone wanted, was still one to remember for Eagle fans.

EWU 2014 All-America Selections Associated Press All-America Team First Team - #Vernon Adams Jr. – Quarterback, Jr. First Team - % Cooper Kupp – Wide Receiver, So., First Team - Jake Rodgers – Offensive Tackle, Sr., % Repeat selection from 2013. #Second team selection in 2013.

American Football Coaches Association

Aaron Neary

Tevin McDonald

Jake Rogers

Ronnie Hamlin

Cooper Kupp

Vernon Adams Jr.

All-America Team It was a campaign like no other: kicking off the nation’s First Team - % Cooper Kupp – Wide Receiver, So., college football season in August with a national TV win, nearly First Team - Jake Rodgers – Offensive Tackle, Sr., beating the University of Washington on the road, then posting % Repeat selection from 2013. two defeats of rival Montana in the season’s final weeks. EWU affirmed its status as one of the top programs in College Sports Madness All-America Team the nation by compiling an 11-3 record and another Football First Team - #Vernon Adams Jr. – Quarterback, Jr., Championship Series (FCS) quarterfinal playoff appearance. First Team - % Cooper Kupp – Wide Receiver, So., The first five years on the iconic red turf of “The Inferno” at Roos First Team - Jake Rodgers – Offensive Tackle, Sr., Field have coincided with the most successful run in the history Second Team - #Ronnie Hamlin – Inside Linebacker, Sr. of the program. Third Team - Tevin McDonald – Safety, Sr. Eastern, the 2010 national champion, won its third straight % College Sports Madness All-America first team selection in 2013. # College Sports Madness All-America second team selection in 2013. Big Sky Conference title (fourth in five years) and has compiled a 53-16 record during that time. EWU extended its regularThe Sports Network All-America Team season home sellout streak to 10 games this season on its way First Team - % Cooper Kupp – Wide Receiver, So., school record for average home attendance (9,432 average in Second Team - #Vernon Adams Jr. – Quarterback, Jr. 10 games). Second Team - Jake Rodgers – Offensive Tackle, Sr., Student-athletes such as Academic All American Cooper %Repeat selection from 2013. #Second team selection in 2013. Kupp and Ronnie Hamlin, who was named to the FCS Athletic Director’s Academic All-Star team for the secondstraight season, are succeeding on and off, the field. The American Football Coaches Association (AFCA) selected Baldwin as the Region 5 (FCS) Coach of the Year. The honor puts Baldwin among the top coaches in college football and makes him eligible for FCS Coach of the Year. Junior quarterback Vernon Adams Jr. – despite the fact Adams missed four games due to injury – was recognized by the Big Sky Conference and nationally. Adams was both Big Sky Conference Offensive Player of the year and runner-up for the Walter Payton Award for the second year in a row. Adams was also a first-team All-American, as selected by the Associated Press (AP), College Sports Madness and Beyond Sports Network. Sophomore wide receiver Kupp was a first-team All-American, as selected by The Sports Network, Associated Press, Beyond Sports Network, American Football Coaches Association and College Sports Madness. “Consensus All-American” is becoming a common word in describing Kupp. He is the lone Eagle selected by The Sports Network to its All-American first team. Adams Jr. and senior offensive tackle Jake Rodgers received second team honors. Rodgers was a first-team All-American, as selected by Beyond Sports Network, AP, American Football Coaches Association and College Sports Madness. More than two dozen EWU players were picked for the All-Big Sky Conference team, including a group of 11 seniors who are the most successful group in school history. Adams, Kupp and Rodgers were joined on the first team by senior linebacker Ronnie Hamlin, senior safety Tevin McDonald and junior offensive guard Aaron Neary. Hamlin, a six-year student-athlete after being granted extra eligibility due to injuries, played in a school-record 53 games in his career. He is a three-time All-Big Sky selection and ended his career as the all-time leading tackler in EWU and Big Sky history. Kupp was both a first-team receiver and a third-team return specialist. EWU opens its 2015 season on the road against Pac-12 power Oregon on Sept. 5.


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eastern etc. Football Uniforms a Hit EWU’s football team continues to draw positive national attention for the university – on and off the field.

In October, the university gained notoriety when USA Today dubbed Eastern’s military tribute uniforms as among the “freshest” in the nation. It put the Eagles in the same space alongside national powers such as the Oregon Ducks and elevated the university’s presence. On social media, the impact of the uniforms started with their unveiling during the week before the Oct. 18 game against Northern Colorado. Facebook posts on the EWU and EWU Athletics pages generated more than 14,000 interactions and were seen by more than 200,000 people after being shared at least 750 times. The story behind the uniforms and those who work to promote EWU’s brand is just as compelling as the result. It began years ago, when Eastern was one of the first universities to partner with adidas. EWU was the first adidas school to come up with a military-themed jersey and the relationship has continued to evolve through three more annual iterations of uniforms honoring branches of the military. Then in November, for the first time in 40 years, the Eagles wore new white helmets (thanks to the support of donors) as part of an all-white uniform dubbed "Inferno Ice" when they played Portland State. See the players' reaction to the new helmets here: http://go.ewu.edu/HelmetsVid. Eastern wore white helmets in the late ‘60s and possibly, in the early ‘70s, but since the mid-1970s, Eastern has used red helmets. In addition, starting with the 2012 game versus Montana, black helmets have been used on occasion. E ASTERN: Winter 2015


eastern etc. EWU Offers Much-needed Services to Seniors The Senior Smile Day event lived up to its billing – there were many satisfied visitors at the Health Sciences building at EWU Spokane on Oct. 24. Eastern Washington University and Riverpoint partner WSU provided free screenings in a variety of health areas for seniors. The teams evaluated conditions that are, in some cases, a matter of life and death for the elderly population. By providing oral cancer screenings, gait testing, and sleep assessments, they were able to educate seniors on how to live happier and healthier lives. “Hopefully, some of these seniors will come back and be clients in our clinic,” said Sarah Jackson, associate professor, Dental Hygiene, who has been teaching at EWU for 10 years. She noted Eastern’s clinic does other outreach throughout the year.

University Recognized for Community Service Eastern has once again been named to the 2014 President’s Higher Education Community Service Honor Roll, an award presented by the U.S. Department of Education and Corporation for National and Community Service. EWU is one of just 98 colleges and universities nationally to receive a certificate for its leadership in developing community service programs on campus. This is the second consecutive year Student volunteers at Camp Caro Lodge in the Spokane Valley Eastern has been nationally recognized for its commitment to volunteer service. Volunteer efforts at Eastern are led by the Office of Community Engagement, which organizes important engagement efforts such as the Eagle UP! community service day for incoming students, participation in Spokane’s annual Martin Luther King Jr. Day parade and the Eagle Days of Service for student clubs each quarter. 12

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Now, you can earn reward points each time you make a purchase with your Washington Trust Bank Visa Signature速 credit card featuring the EWU Eagle. Get rewarded and help support the EWU Alumni Association each time you use your card. Apply for your official EWU Alumni Association credit and debit card today only at Washington Trust Bank.* *Subject to credit approval.

For more information visit a local branch or find us online at watrust.com/ewuaa.

By Jeff Bunch ‘88

Like many of his protagonists, author Jess Walter is a complex character – extraordinary, yet quite everyday at the same time. The Spokane native and Eastern Washington University graduate (’87, BA journalism) is one of the most respected American writers on the national scene, who happens to be one of the most loyal and visible EWU alums from eastern Washington. The New York Times best-selling author, former National Book Award Finalist and Edgar Award winner is a master of the language. He is a keen commentator about daily life and modern society who does more than rant from the literary sidelines. Walter is active and generous in his communities, both geographic and professional. On one level, Walter may come off as ironic. The author of eight published books, a handful of screenplays and dozens of short stories and magazine articles is accomplished, yet humble, articulate, yet self-deprecating, confident, yet insecure. On closer examination, Walter fits the classic archetype of a writer – but his voice is unlike any other. Each one of his works seems to have a distinctive point of view, yet they are all connected by empathy, humanity and humor that emanate from Walter’s core. He is from a place, figuratively and literally, to which he has remained true for his life. The Jess Walter Story isn’t about a boy who grew up, left for the big city, conquered the world and then returned to be celebrated as a hometown hero. He hasn’t tested Thomas Wolfe’s premise that “you can’t go home again.” That would be too cliché.


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No, the plot is much simpler and elegant. Walter has done it all without ever leaving. The 49-year-old, married father of three lives a rich, full existence of which he is acutely aware and appreciative to a degree not always found in contemporaries. Walter, despite all of his professional success, has remained humble on his steady journey from promising literary voice through becoming a seasoned veteran. “It has been gradual,” Walter says of his notoriety, first among literati and eventually the reading public. “My first brush with it was in ’95, I guess, and so I’ve probably had time to get used to it and to understand that it really doesn’t mean anything.” His schedule recently saw him jetting from Spokane to a Vonnegut Library event in Indiana and to New York City for the National Book Awards on consecutive weeks, with a trip home sandwiched between to join longtime friends for an Eagles football game. Walter admits it may seem a bit surreal to go from attending a black-tie event with the likes of Alec Baldwin to flying back for an EWU game, but says it’s simple. “To me, it’s grounding,” says Walter, who lives near the thriving Kendall Yards neighborhood in Spokane. “This is where I’m from and who I am – that’s where I feel at home, with the people that know who I am and that have known me forever.” Walter is an unabashed supporter of EWU, giving back to his alma mater with his time and exceptional talents. When Eastern’s football team made it to the 2010 national championship, Walter and his brother Ralph (’91, BA journalism) followed the team to Frisco, Texas, on a trip that could best be described as Hunter Thompson-esque. The Walter brothers chronicled it for The Spokesman-Review and made a similar journey for EWU’s trip to the NCAA men’s basketball tournament in 2004. In one of the blog entries for the trip with the basketball team, the pair wrote:

That nugget sums up a key aspect of Walter’s perspective and his worldview. He embraces being an Eagle, seemingly defying odds to succeed on the national level. “I love that Eastern is a school for underdogs; for high-achieving kids who maybe come from a background that doesn’t scream Harvard. That’s what I love about it. It feels like the triumph of the smart underdogs to me. Those are the people I met, and liked, out there. It’s what I continue to love about the place,” says Walter. That may be the source of the creative fearlessness and occasionally dark humor that weaves its way through Walter’s work. It could also come from his roots as a journalist, particularly one who worked the police beat, and the irreverent culture of a newsroom. However, there is no doubt that Walter has a strong sense of place. For most of his childhood, that place was the working-class Spokane Valley. His father was a steelworker and his late mother worked part time while raising the kids. Walter and his siblings were the first generation “expected to attend college.” EWU was almost exclusively a commuter school and provided an affordable option. Walter arrived at Eastern, like many of his cohorts, as a blank slate, but his time at EWU would change his path indelibly. He became a father in college at age 19, and found himself moving from a

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Brothers Ralph and Jess Walter

dorm into married student housing. Walter learned how to balance family obligations with studies and employment, discovering a vocation. The middle of three children, Walter was a natural writer – even producing a family magazine with his siblings as a child. He was mentored by English professors at EWU who sparked his writing passion. He worked on The Easterner, the student newspaper, writing a popular column (“Walter’s Words”) that set him on a path. After college, Walter ended up at the newspaper he had grown up reading in Spokane, The Spokesman-Review, and found it to be a great training ground for an aspiring novelist. In fact, an assignment to cover the standoff between Randy Weaver and federal agents at Ruby Ridge, Idaho, led to his first book contract. That moment, as Walter weighed several options to advance his craft, was pivotal. He had considered the path of a Master of Fine Arts – looking at some of the finest programs in the country, from EWU to The Writing Center at the University of Iowa. And, as a family man, there was something to be said for a steady job and benefits offered by a familyowned newspaper in his hometown. But Walter instead boldly decided to earn a living as a writer. It was exhilarating and frightful all at once. Every Knee Shall Bow was Walter’s book about Ruby Ridge that was eventually made into a TV movie and sent him on his way. Walter has since been involved in nearly a dozen TV and film projects, including the adaptation of some of his novels into screenplays. He is often asked when each novel will be made into a movie. There are often Internet reports on the topic, some of which are stated as fact, but aren’t accurate. Walter says the movie production process is something unto itself. The fact that Walter is mentioned alongside Hollywood luminaries such as Richard Russo, Jack Black and Todd Field, is a testament to how far his craft has taken him. . Russo, an Academy Award winner adapted a screenplay for Walter’s novel, Citizen Vince (a finalist for The Edgar Award), for HBO Films. . Black, the iconic comedian, was ready to star in the movie adaptation of Walter’s The Financial Lives of the Poets (the pair is working on another project). 16

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. Field, a three-time Oscar-nominated director and screenplay writer, is onboard for the film version of Walter’s latest novel, Beautiful Ruins (which put him on The New York Times best-seller list, including time at No. 1). Walter spends a fair amount of time in New York literary circles, where his agent and publisher are based, but says he’s still somewhat insulated from that world. “My agent says sometimes, ‘You missed what a big deal Beautiful Ruins was because you don’t live in New York,’” says Walter. “Of course, I did see it. I travel a lot and that’s really nice, but I do think there’s something great about being here and writing, where I can just concentrate on that.” It’s clear that all the success hasn’t changed Walter, personally or professionally. “It really doesn’t have anything to do with what I do day-to-day; I do the same thing now that I did when I was working on the Ruby Ridge book,” says Walter. His routine includes daily writing, family time and giving back to his community. Walter and other Spokane natives recently started a nonprofit that is trying to promote the arts in his hometown. He would like to see the arts supported in the same way that things such as athletics are, making it easier for the next Jess Walter. “I remember 10 or 12 years ago, a young writer thanking me for staying in Spokane – it just jarred me at the time that someone had to thank you for staying,” said Walter. “For so long the narrative was you get a book deal and you move to New York; you get your Masters in Creative Writing at Eastern and get a teaching job somewhere. There have always been a lot of writers working here before me, and a lot of Eastern graduates.” The EWU Creative Writing program is well respected and produces a steady stream of national award-winning writers. Walter has been present for the rise of Eastern’s prolific Get Lit! Festival, which shines a light on the community’s pool of talented writers and brings some of the biggest names in literature to Spokane annually. “I feel like Spokane is in just this crazy renaissance, almost in every way, socially and culturally,” says Walter. He is obviously proud of his

hometown, which is the setting for several of his novels, but resists being single-mindedly associated with the city. “To me, the story is the thing, and so the stories dictate what they should be about, where they should be set,” says Walter. “The books I’m working on now, one of them is partly set in Spokane, but also in New York and Amsterdam, and the other one is set all around the Northwest in the early 1900s. I just follow what interests me.” Walter is always exploring similar themes in a new way, pushing characters and plots to unexpected places. There is a great variety in his works, some of which alternate in the same book, between poetry and prose to more traditional forms. One of Walter’s most oft-cited pieces, “Statistical Abstract for My Home of Spokane, Washington,” is a brilliant essay originally written for McSweeney’s, which lists keen insights that tell a bigger story about a place otherwise hard to describe:

On any given day in Spokane, Washington, there are more adult men per capita riding children’s BMX bikes than in any other city in the world... The piece was republished in Walter’s short stories collection, We Live in Water. It is that dedication to craft – experimenting with form and medium – that drives Walter. He and fellow eastern Washington native Sherman Alexie, also a best-selling author, recently launched an eclectic podcast, “A Tiny Sense of Accomplishment.” So, as Walter looks out to the rest of his story, what does he see ahead for himself? “I hope the story’s not over. When you write characters, you write about weakness and conflict, and so I think my battle is constant with myself and I think Spokane represented myself for a while. I think I was a little bit at war with living here and thinking that the place limited me in some ways because the place is really representative of you. To me, that’s what Statistical Abstract is really about. People think it’s about crime numbers or something. To me, they’re totally missing the point. It’s really about how place is self. My ambiguous feelings about Spokane were really about myself. So, overcoming my own sense that I could or couldn’t do things, realizing that I could succeed, that’s kind of what my story’s been about. But I’m also at the place where some tragic fall happens now, if this were a novel. So, I’m probably about to go to jail for … I don’t even know what,” he said with a wry smile. “The way I would write my story would be so boring that I wouldn’t write my story: Guy gets up, goes out and writes, drinks beer with his brother. That’s my story.” E

Jess Walter - By the Book Story Collection

. We Live in Water (2013) Pacific Northwest Booksellers Award; Long List Story Prize and Frank O’Connor International Short Story Prize


. Beautiful Ruins (2012) New York Times No. 1 best-seller, Esquire Book of the Year; NPR Fresh Air Novel of the Year; New York Times Notable . The Financial Lives of the Poets (2009) Time No. 2 Book of the Year . The Zero (2006) National Book Award Finalist; PEN/USA Literary Fiction Finalist; LA Times Book Prize Finalist; Pacific Northwest Booksellers Award . Citizen Vince (2005) Edgar Allan Poe Award best novel; Finalist ITW Thriller Award

. Land of the Blind (2003) . Over Tumbled Graves (2001)


. Every Knee Shall Bow (1995, re-released 2002 as Ruby Ridge)

Source: www.jesswalter.com

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Get Lit! Festival Still Going Strong, Ready for Next Chapter By Jeff Bunch ‘88


he Get Lit! Festival has made an indelible mark on the Pacific Northwest arts scene. The EWU community of organizers plan on doing more of the same with the 17th annual festival, April 20-26, in Spokane. The festival, launched in 1998, has undergone a bit of a refresh over the past few months as it opens a new chapter. “We’ve really been in a model where – in one sense, we are a small regional festival on a very limited budget – but in another sense, we are nationally recognized,” says Get Lit! director Melissa Huggins ’11 (MFA creative writing), who is involved with her fourth festival, third as the director. “We’re able to get authors like Susan Orlean and Joyce Carol Oates and these incredible nationally recognized authors,” said Huggins. “I think students, faculty and community members have come to trust that we’re going to bring in good authors, so that keeps them coming back year after year.” The festival has also featured nationally known authors such as Rita Dove, Robert Bly, Kurt Vonnegut, Richard Russo and Salman Rushdie, as well as Washington state natives of national note, like EWU alum Jess Walter, Tim Egan and Sherman Alexie. “It’s fantastic to have so much local talent and to have them be such generous writers and authors, and people,” said Huggins. “They attend Get Lit! events; they run workshops and lead panel discussions. They’re really contributing to this community in a hands-on way.” Get Lit! began as a one-day marathon of literary readings by Eastern Washington University Press and EWU’s Department of Creative Writing. The event is now housed within Eastern’s College of Arts, Letters and Education, but collaborates with other local universities and community businesses. This year, the festival is partnering with EWU’s MFA program on a visiting writers’ series, bringing in eight writers in all genres, from across the nation, between February and May. These writers will not only do readings, but will teach EWU students by conducting workshops. Educational outreach is a core mission of Get Lit! While the festival’s high-profile readings and book signings get a lot of media attention, the organizers are passionate about offering events such as writing contests and poetry slams for young artists. “Get Lit! has certainly become a signature part of EWU's commitment to the arts and culture in Spokane and the Inland Northwest,” said Jonathan Johnson, professor of creative writing at Eastern. “It gives local writers and readers a chance to see, interact with, and even give readings with, some of today's most celebrated writers. Melissa Huggins has done a great job in that regard, even getting famous folks to interact with our area school kids.” E For more information on this year’s festival visit www.ewu.edu/getlit.


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Reunion Recap

Eastern alumni from the classes of 1963, 1964 and 1965 returned to campus to celebrate their 50-Year Reunion Oct. 17-18. Events included a welcome back reception, campus tours, 50-Year Reunion Celebration Dinner and Medallion Ceremony, “A Walk Back to 1963, 1964, 1965 Breakfast,” featuring university archivist Charles Mutschler, alumni Red Zone tailgate, the EWU vs. Northern Colorado football game in a private tent and the ROTC Military Appreciation Barbecue. There were 88 alumni and guests in attendance, traveling from Florida, Georgia, North Carolina, Tennessee, Ohio, Nevada, Arizona, California, Oregon, Idaho and from all over Washington. Many remarked that it was their first trip back to campus since they graduated in the ‘60s.

Stay tuned: In the fall of 2015, the College of Business and Public Administration will host a 50-year anniversary celebration for all of its alumni (all classes). In the fall of 2016, the EWU Alumni Association will host a 50-Year Reunion for the classes of 1966 and 1967. Pictures from this year’s event are at: www.flickr.com/photos/ewuphoto/sets/72157648897146965/

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I believe that we should leave the world better than we found it. In Lagos, I was making a lot of money for other people, but I wanted to do more fulfilling work.


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Paying it forward

By Bailey Wolff ’10

Attorney gives voiceless their day in court Francis Adewale won the green card lottery in 1998. He was one of 50,000 people offered a visa to work in the United States. “I didn’t even enter my name in the drawing; one of my friends did that for me,” said Adewale, who earned his master’s in public administration from Eastern in 2010. Adewale was a successful attorney in his native Nigeria, but the green card selection offered new opportunities that he couldn’t pass up. It was the next step in his life, and it helped bring him from great suffering to great achievements. Growing up in southeastern Nigeria, Adewale liked to pick fruits and vegetables with his grandfather, then sit in the cool breeze and “talk about life.” “We were with my grandfather,” he said, recalling a childhood memory. “Me and my brother and him were walking to his farm when some soldiers stopped us and told us to return to our home. We were unaware that the government had been taken over and there was a curfew that said we couldn’t leave our house.” The soldiers were drunk and Adewale’s grandfather refused their command. “They beat my grandpa mercilessly with their canes and threw him in jail. My little brother ran, but I couldn’t leave. They threatened to shoot my grandpa, and to shoot me – all for breaking curfew,” he said. After a pause, he added that it was, “quite a searing experience.” When Adewale was in high school, two American Peace Corps volunteers came to his school and told him about the ideals of the U.S. Constitution. He imagined life under such a system, and wanted to learn more about it. “They told me about what could be, not what is. The opportunity to change my society is available through the law, and why it’s important to defend people that have no rights.” These discussions inspired him to study law in college and join a political group whose activities led to another “searing experience.” He took part in a demonstration on his college campus that ended violently.

“We were trying to protest that there should be a transition to civilian rule instead of the military taking over. We were protesting to have an election,” he said. Leaders usurped power and then killed those who opposed them. “They said, ‘this is your governor and this is your minister.’ We didn’t have a choice.” To end the protest, soldiers opened fire on the demonstrators. Adewale ran away to safety. One of his good friends was shot and killed. “In developing countries, the main problem with establishing democracy is they rule by impunity,” he reflected. “People who don’t care – they don’t care about the citizens. They are not responsible to anyone.” That awareness of unaccountability, mixed with the dream of democracy inspired by the Peace Corps volunteers, created in him a desire to build better societies. By 1992, he finished law school in Nigeria’s most populous city of Lagos. Though he secured a prestigious position in a maritime law firm, it was clear that he would not be happy with this position forever. “I believe that we should leave the world better than we found it. In Lagos, I was making a lot of money for other people, but I wanted to do more fulfilling work.” This was when he won the green card lottery. Known officially as the Electronic Diversity Lottery, every year more than 10 million people apply for 50,000 visas. Once chosen, a candidate has to be interviewed and qualified to immigrate to America. When Adewale was chosen, he accepted immediately. First, he moved to Washington, D.C., and took any job he could get so that his wife and children could join him. “One of my first jobs was at a E ASTERN: Winter 2015


I never doubted that I was here to do something else, even when I had those horrible jobs. I came to this country and I knew that I would make it.

Professor Emeritus Larry Luton with Francis Adewale

gas station, where I quit in the middle of my shift. I couldn’t differentiate between a dime and a quarter and I just ran out of there.”

Adewale continued in spite of these challenges. In 2000, he passed the exam. His next adventure was to find a job.

Next, he was a security guard in dangerous, southeastern D.C. neighborhoods. Other Nigerian immigrants mocked him for his reduction in status from a Lagos attorney to a minimum-wage security guard, but he kept his faith. “I never doubted that I was here to do something else, even when I had those horrible jobs. I came to this country and I knew that I would make it.”

“A longtime friend (from Nigeria) invited me to Spokane and arranged an interview with the public defender,” said Adewale.

The United States did not recognize his law degree. He would have to pass the bar exam if he wanted to resume his practice. To access the books that he needed, Adewale volunteered at a legal publishing company, where he was able to read the books for free. The company was happy for his volunteering; he was delighted by the opportunity to read the expensive books. This creativity and hard work opened doors for him that others didn’t perceive. “Many of my learned colleagues who were successful lawyers in Nigeria before immigrating to the United States ended up abandoning their practice. One who was a close friend could not imagine himself appearing before American jurors with his accent.”


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Kathy Knox, city of Spokane public defender, recalls her first impressions interviewing this Nigerian applicant. “He seemed friendly, open and bright. I liked the idea that he’d come from another country and had the understanding of an immigrant. He had great empathy.” Knox hired him, and with “great trepidation,” Adewale moved his family to Spokane. “There was the possibility that I could be fired if I didn’t prove myself.” Trying a case with his accented English was a real fear. City prosecutor Justin Bingham recalled those first days in the courtroom trying cases against Adewale. “Sometimes his clients couldn’t understand him. I remember one judge paraphrasing his statements, saying ‘What Mr. Adewale means to say is…’ or, ‘I think Mr. Adewale wants to say (this)…’ and then we would continue with the trial.” His integrity, hard work and compassion for people made up for any awkwardness in the courtroom. Bingham commended Adewale’s ability to embody

his defendants’ points of view, and he reiterated Knox’s observations about his empathy for those he represented. From the day he moved to Spokane, Adewale’s personal experiences have opened him up to the community. This connection to community and a desire to make a positive impact inspired him to pursue a master’s in public administration. “I wanted to understand how to better manage organizations. Public administration is actually the core of democracy,” said Adewale. “You can’t criticize Nigeria’s governmental mismanagement when you yourself can’t distinguish between sound governmental policy and management, and bad management.” From this program, he gained the skills to help build Community Court, an innovative judicial program that is making positive changes in the city of Spokane. Adewale said he’s indebted to several EWU professors for all that they taught him. “Drs. Robert Zinke, Rosanne London and Larry Luton taught us that when you are going to make a decision, always involve the people who will be affected in the decision-making process. Always provide an opportunity for them to be at the table.” Community Court is an alternative court system convened each Monday on the first floor of the Downtown Spokane Public Library. From the fold-up tables to the brown bag lunches that are served, everything about the approach is new and involves community members in the decision-making process. City prosecutor Adam Papini, library director Andrew Chanse, Judge Mary Logan and the rest of the Community Court team worked, researched and planned for months before introducing this system to the community. Adewale credits his MPA work at Eastern for his contributions to the team. “My (degree) prepared me to participate in Community Court. It gave me a deeper understanding of how to organize people, and the important role that city policy plays in the health of a community.” The court hears minor offenses – trespassing, graffiti, theft, public intoxication, impeding traffic – these types of crimes. Instead of just handing down sentences, Community Court seeks long-term rehabilitation and change in the lives of its defendants. Adjacent to the courtroom, representatives from various community organizations are on hand to connect defendants to services. Social Security, the Department of Licensing, the House of Charity, Goodwill, Spokane Neighborhood Action Program and Spokane Addiction Recovery Centers are just some of the organizations represented. Judge Logan, after hearing a case, will ‘sentence’ one defendant to have a drug and alcohol evaluation, and tell another to get a state issued identification card. Defendants also register for health insurance and form personal relationships with police officers and

L-R, Spokane Mayor David Condon with the 2013 Human Rights Awards Winners: Purnima Karki (Youth Award), Spokane NAACP (Organization Award) and Francis Adewale, (Individual Award). (photo courtesy of City of Spokane)

other city personnel. Adewale said that these relationships are vital to rehabilitation. “We address the clients as friends. We ask, ‘How do you think of this city?’ If you think you’re a part of the city, you will not throw garbage on the streets. If you have a stake in the city, you will do things that improve (it).” For his work with Community Court and other innovative programs, Adewale received the Professional Integrity award from the city of Spokane in May 2014. When Adewale accepted his award, he shook Mayor David Condon’s hand and then asked for a hug. Adewale says he has a lot more to do. “I look at my life as so short that I have to do a lot within my life span. There is so much to be done that you have to move fast to get things accomplished.” One day, he may pursue a PhD and learn more about public administration. He likes the research and writing involved with academic study. For now, he is content in Spokane, where he now calls home. He works to defend the rights of people, who he knows from personal experience, can be easily forgotten. Through this work, he is improving the city one life at a time. E Francis Adewale’s other awards and distinctions: The Professionalism Award from the Spokane Bar Association; a 2009 member of the Washington Leadership Institute (WLI); H. George Frederickson EWU Graduate with honors E ASTERN: Winter 2015


Sonya Elliott’s return to life, love and the court. By Kandi Carper '05 It was a crisp Sunday afternoon, Oct. 21, 1991. Everything was planned for Sonya Gaubinger and Mark Overholdt’s Nov. 8 wedding. As the couple returned to Seattle from their final wedding shower in Spokane, things changed in an instant – shattered china, shattered crystal, shattered bodies, shattered lives. A Burlington Northern train hit the couple’s red Chevy Lumina near Ritzville. Mark died on impact. Sonya was ejected through the car’s back window. Sonya was in critical condition with a shattered right arm, broken leg, bruised heart, lacerated kidney, cracked 24

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ribs, internal bleeding and a concussion. She was airlifted from the hospital in Ritzville to Deaconess Medical Center in Spokane, where she would undergo a six-hour surgery. After two weeks in the hospital, the first in intensive care, Sonya returned to her parents’ home to recuperate. At age 25, Sonya had her life planned. She and Mark had an apartment in Seattle. She had a budding career as a fashion model, played basketball in leagues around the area and did some coaching. Suddenly she found herself physically and emotionally broken – helpless as an infant, home in Spokane with her mom and dad for the next six

Sonya Elliott speaking at TEDxSpokane, Oct. 13, 2014 http://goewu.edu/SonyaElliott

months. “It was a tough time,” said Sonya. “As hard as the physical part was, the hardest part was losing Mark. He was the biggest thing in my life. After the accident, I couldn’t work or do anything, which, in hindsight, was a good thing. All I did was sit and cry. It allowed me to grieve intensively. If I would have gone back to work and had to act like everything was OK then it would have been even more difficult to get to a point in my life when I could go on.” Slowly, with intensive physical therapy, her body began to heal. Her broken heart would take much longer. Sonya wasn’t sure she would ever be able to love again.

...even when the most difficult, seemingly impossible things happen in your life, you can survive, and thrive, if you believe in yourself...

you can survive, and thrive, if you believe in yourself; if you can find something you’re passionate about. “When I got the call to be a part of the TEDx Conference, I had to remind myself to believe, because public speaking scares me,” said Sonya. “But, if it helps one person than it’s worth it. I had to remind myself that I am capable of anything that I put my mind to. Well, maybe it’s too late for me to play professional basketball, but most anything.” After the accident, Sonya wasn’t sure she’d ever be able to play again, but basketball is her passion. At age 48, she still plays on women’s leagues in Seattle. She’s currently the head coach for the West Seattle High School’s girls basketball team and was named the 2013 Metro League coach of the year. In the early 1980s, Sonya played basketball at University High School in Spokane Valley at a time when girls’ sports were just taking off. “I was at the forefront of all that. I remember telling my friends ‘I’m going to get a scholarship to play basketball in college.’ My parents didn’t say this to me, but I found out later that they thought I was too small and couldn’t play at the college level. But they didn’t tell me that, so I thought I could do it.” Sonya went to Eastern on a basketball scholarship, graduating in 1988 with a BA in communication studies. She played 111 games on the team that won the Big Sky Conference Championship her junior year in 1987, and was twice named academic all-conference. “Every twist and turn in life makes you who you are, and my four years at Eastern were no different,” said Sonya. “My time on the court, in the classroom and living college life is something I would never change. I loved the intensity of playing D-1 basketball. I had some great professors, and I have my degree. I’m still connected with a lot of EWU grads, and of course, had I not gone to Eastern, I would have never met Jason.”

Sonya’s story of overcoming tragedy is something she’s happy to share with others who may be struggling. In October, she was one of the presenters at TEDxSpokane. TED is a nonprofit organization devoted to spreading ideas, in the form of short, powerful talks. It began in 1984, as a conference, where Technology, Entertainment and Design converged, and it covers topics – from science, business, health, global issues – in more than 100 languages. Independently run TEDx events help share ideas in communities around the world. During her talk, Sonya said that even when the most difficult, seemingly impossible things happen in your life, E ASTERN: Winter 2015


The Elliott family: Cass, Jason, Sonya and Charli

Sonya on a modeling assignment Sonya and Jason Elliott (’90 BA communication studies) met at EWU, where he played football. Being student-athletes, they often crossed paths. After the accident, Sonya was at a baseball game when she saw a young man who looked just like Jason. For some reason, she couldn’t get Jason off her mind. Remembering that he worked in Seattle for SmithKline Beecham, she got the corporation’s customer service number off a tube of toothpaste and somehow managed to maneuver a chain of phone transfers until she finally reached his voice mail. They reconnected, and as they say, “the rest is history.” Sonya and Jason married in 1994. They have a daughter, Charli, 17, and a son, Cass, 14. Another part of Sonya’s life is her modeling career – something that also resulted from her time at Eastern. As part of a class assignment, she interviewed someone at a modeling agency in Spokane. Next thing you know, she was getting modeling assignments. After graduation, Sonya moved to Seattle to pursue a modeling career that would take her on assignments around the world. After the accident, she slowly began working again. In fact, a TV commercial she did for Easy Spirit shoes – one where she’s playing basketball in a pair of high-heeled pumps – helped pay for the 4-inch-thick folder of medical bills that accumulated following the accident. Sonya is also an author. Wanting to share her story with others, she wrote her memoir, Back on the Court: A Young Woman's Triumphant Return to Life, Love & Basketball, published in 2012. She first began writing when she was recuperating from the accident. Her mom suggested that she keep a journal. “It gave me a place to vent my anger because nobody else knew what I was going through,” said Sonya. “It helped me survive.” 26

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Sonya is currently writing a young adult novel and a nonfiction book on coaching basketball. Her approach to writing is much like her approach to the game – practice, get good coaching and stick with it. “I started taking writing classes, joined writing groups and went to conferences to help me learn how to write. I found out that I really love it. It’s how to express what I’m feeling. If I write about things I’m passionate about, like basketball, it’s easier.” Sonya and Jason, who is vice president of technical sales for JPMorgan Chase, are busy with their two teenagers, their two boxers, their work and activities, but when life slows down, they find time for quiet walks on Alki Beach near their home. Sonya has a blog: sonyaelliott.com/blog where she shares her progress on her writing projects and her musings about life in general – a life that may have some cracks, but is no longer shattered. E

Sonya recovering from the car-train accident, 1991

By Jeff Bunch ‘88

EWU was called Cheney Normal School in 1926 when Vera Thrall Johnson graduated from rural Marlin, Washington, and headed to Cheney for an education. Vera was encouraged to leave the family homestead in the eastern Washington dry land wheat country to start her teaching studies. She would eventually return to teach at her alma mater and several other country schoolhouses over a long career. At 105 years old, Vera is the oldest known living graduate of Eastern Washington University. The Moses Lake resident is a study in resiliency, beating colon cancer at age 94 and now coming back from injuries suffered in a fall at home. On a recent fall day, Vera says she doesn’t have a lot of memories about daily life at Cheney Normal. “It was so long ago,” she smiled, but recalled living as a boarder in a local residence and making lots of friends. Her picture can be found in the 1928 edition of The Kinnikinick, the school’s annual. She smiled as she looked at her photo and recalled walking 20 miles into Spokane on one occasion with some friends, “because we could.” They just wanted to see what was in Spokane and, after a brief visit, she and her friends lined up a ride back. Vera recalled major events in her lifetime, such as the building of Grand Coulee Dam, a family car trip to the Chicago World’s Fair as a child, and enduring the Great Depression after graduation. She is matter of fact about her long life and very witty. When asked how she’s managed to live this long, she said with a laugh and a twinkle in her eye, “I can’t die ... I don’t think God wants me.” The lifetime Washington State Grange member and churchgoer added, “walk every day and eat your vegetables.” Vera and her late husband, Emil Johnson, were married for 53 years and passed on a value for education to their children and grandchildren. When asked what advice she had for anyone who is in school or contemplating it, Vera answered quickly.

Get an education … because no one can take that away.

“Get an education … because no one can take that away,” she said. E

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By Mike Corrigan ‘89

Vince Littleton was raised on music. His father was a performing musician who used the basement of the family’s Spokane Valley home as a rehearsal space. From an early age, Littleton was captivated by the sounds emanating from below and intrigued by how those sounds were created. One instrument in particular caught his fancy. “There were always drum sets down there,” he recalled. “And I loved the sound and the power of the drums. I was drawn to them from the time I was a baby, really.” For the past 14 years, Littleton has been the drummer for Super Diamond, a nationally-touring Neil Diamond tribute band. As a member of Super Diamond, Littleton has traveled all over the country, playing such venues as the Hollywood Bowl, The House of Blues in Hollywood, New Orleans and Chicago, and The Late Show with David Letterman. His path to a professional music career began in junior high school, where Littleton joined the Percussion-Naut Patriots drum and bugle corps, whose travels included performing in Europe in 1978. He went on to hone his percussion and performance skills as a member of University High School’s marching, concert and jazz bands. It was also in high school that Littleton first met Marty Zyskowski, a percussionist with the Spokane Symphony and then head of the percussion department at EWU. “He came out to the high school and talked to us and helped out the percussion section,” he said. “I just thought he was the coolest guy – inspiring and intelligent. At that time, I was actually registered to go to the University of Idaho. But the combination of meeting Marty – and the fact


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that I was already playing in a band that was working in Spokane – I decided to stay and go to school at Eastern.” He first attended EWU in 1981, dividing his time between his studies and playing drums in a local rock group called the Cruisers. Littleton says he thrived under Zyskowski’s instruction. “He also brought in clinicians/session guys from Los Angeles

and all over the world to work with us,” he remembered.” It was so cool that we had access to these guys. You could get individual lessons from them too.” But burning the candle at both ends eventually began to take a toll and he decided to take a break from school. “I got really sick from those late night gigs,” he said. “I got mononucleosis. You know, playing late every night, hanging out and then partying afterward made it hard to get up for my 8 o’clock classes.” During the break, Littleton’s love of performance led to signing on with a nationally touring act fronted by brothers from Santiago, Chile, The Carr Twins. “Their management had big visions of them going back to Latin America and conquering the world,” said Littleton. “It was actually just a Vegas show band, though they were really good entertainers and the band was tight.” Littleton got to see more of the U.S. while soaking up Brazilian, Cuban and African musical influences. Returning to Spokane a couple of years later, Littleton kept busy playing in a number of local rock bands and ultimately joined forces with area jazz and R& B musicians including Arnie Carruthers and Don Larson. Missing the connection he had established with other student musicians while at Eastern, Littleton resumed his studies there in 1986. “I kinda put my toe back in the water, taking just a few classes,” he said. “I took percussion ensemble again because I missed the friendly competition there, where you push each other to get better. A lot of the Spokane Symphony percussionists had gone to Eastern, so they’d often hang around and I’d learn from them as well. It’s kind of a tribal thing.” Littleton ultimately graduated from Eastern in 1990, with a bachelor’s degree in music education. His experiences on the road and within the walls of academia combined to broaden his musical scope. “When I first started in school, I listened to mostly Rush, Led Zeppelin and Van Halen,” he laughed. “Eastern really opened me up to jazz, classical and world music. I applied all of that to my own playing, which made me so much more versatile as a drummer. A lot of different gigs came my way because of that experience.” After graduating from Eastern, Littleton was

offered a job with a San Francisco-based touring band fronted by Merl Saunders called the Rainforest Band. “That’s where I got thrown into the whole Grateful Dead scene because he had worked with Jerry Garcia. I had no idea what that was all about, but it was a way for me to tour on an even bigger level, and that’s where studying all that world music stuff really came in handy. We did a lot of improvisational things and some odd meter stuff.” Littleton has lived in the Bay Area ever since, eventually signing on with a 12-piece dance band called Big Bang Beat, which features his wife, Carol, as one of three female vocalists. It was during a Big Band Beat gig in 2000 that Littleton first met the guys in Super Diamond. “We were playing on the same bill with Super Diamond at a private party at a wealthy dotcom person’s house in Palo Alto, near Stanford,” he recalled. “We shared a dressing room and also the same booking agent. I could tell that the drummer was not having fun anymore and so I talked to the booking agent and asked him if he could introduce me to them.” After auditioning, Littleton was hired. Littleton has the freedom to perform Diamond’s well-loved classics with his own interpretation because the band members are free to bring all of their combined experiences and influences to bear on the arrangements. “We don’t always play the Neil Diamond songs note-for-note exactly like his records,” he explained. “We put our own spin on it. Most of the drum parts I play are done with a little bit harder edge, sometimes a little faster, sometimes with more, or less, of a swing to it. Sometimes, we’ll do eight bars of a classic rock riff right in the middle of a song.” In addition to playing in Super Diamond and other Bay Area groups, Littleton is able to influence a new generation of young drummers as a private drum instructor, teaching 20 students a week. And for as much as he enjoys his current work, he says he’s always on the lookout for new opportunities to take his musical career to the next level. “I’m still waiting for that call from Sting or Peter Gabriel,” he laughed. E

Baby Vince Littleton (age 2) auditions for his dad’s band

Vince Littleton playing at House of Blues

Char and Marty Zyskowski (Vince’s percussion instructor at EWU) with Vince and his wife, Carol Bozzio Littleton (photos courtesy of Vince Littleton)

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11 9




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1. EWU vs. Montana St., Sept. 20, 2014, Bozeman, Montana 2. EWU vs. U.C. Davis, Sept. 27, 2014, Davis, California 3. EWU vs. Idaho St., Hall of Fame Day, Oct. 4, 2014, Cheney 4. Young Professional Network, Oct. 9, 2014, Spokane 5. EWU vs. Northern Colorado, Oct. 18, 2014, Cheney 6. EWU vs. Northern Arizona, Oct. 25, 2014, Flagstaff, Arizona 7. Homecoming- EWU vs. North Dakota, Nov. 1, 2014, Cheney 8. EWU vs. Montana, Nov. 8, 2014, Cheney 9. Young Professionals Network Holiday Social, Nov. 13, 2014, Spokane 10. EWU vs. Portland St., Nov. 21, 2014, Portland, Oregon 11. FCS Playoff Game- 2nd Round, EWU vs. Montana, Dec. 6, 2014, Cheney




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the By Jeff Bunch ‘88

Dustin Snipes has carved a niche for himself in the wide world of photography by getting shots from a different perspective.


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Self-portrait, Dustin Snipes

Snipes, a successful commercial photographer in Southern California, has a national reputation for showing his subjects in a different light. He regularly shoots cover photos for ESPN The Magazine and Sports Illustrated, just to name a few. Snipes was headed down a path toward a different set of bright lights when he was at Eastern. Snipes (’06, BA theatre) enjoyed setting the stage for others and promoting their work while at EWU. In that role, he discovered his true passion and unique talents. Fellow theatre students and professors kept telling Snipes that the photos he shot to promote student productions on campus were exceptional. Eventually, Snipes heard it enough that it got him thinking about a career pivot that altered his professional path. Snipes immersed himself in photography from that point forward; the decision worked out well. He won a college photography contest that fueled his career, but there would be a lot of dedication, hard work and good fortune still ahead for him on his journey. Snipes isn’t quite a decade removed from his days at EWU and says he appreciates being able to do something he loves daily. He is married to Rachel (Munson) Snipes (’06, BA English education), his college sweetheart from Eastern, and they have a young son. The birth of their child was a big moment in Snipes’ life, but it occurred just hours before the biggest shoot of his career, a magazine cover shot with Arnold Schwarzenegger. “It was a day, day-and-a-half after he was born,” remembered Snipes. “It was crazy. I had to leave the hospital, go home, get changed, go back and go to the shoot.” Snipes said the shoot went well and Schwarzenegger congratulated him on becoming a father. It was a significant milestone for Snipes, a former Air Force kid from Spanaway, Washington. Snipes has shot dozens of athletes, including EWU alum Rodney Stuckey (now a professional basketball player for the Indiana Pacers) and worked for companies such as Red Bull. Snipes’ success story is atypical. Once he decided to become a photographer, he took all the available courses at EWU, but also

Snipes with Arnold Schwarzenegger for his cover shoot with the actor for Muscle & Fitness magazine in 2013

learned by doing – as a photographer for The Easterner student newspaper – and during a string of internships that started in his junior year. A newspaper editor reviewing Snipes’ portfolio suggested that he focus primarily on sports photography. Snipes followed that advice, and during his senior year, he captured first place in the “best student photograph” category of the sportsshoot.com contest. He was also named Photographer of the Year (an honor he repeated after college in 2007 and 2009). The recognition was a springboard to a professional career that started with internships near his western Washington home before he made the big move to Los Angeles, where he worked for a large photo agency and eventually as a photo editor at FoxSports. com. As he looked to branch out on his own, he decided to combine his photographic passions. “I didn’t even really know this whole world of portraiture existed, or thought that it was attainable for me,” said Snipes. E ASTERN: Winter 2015


I did some portraits, but they were always real quick portraits you have to do for the newspaper and then I just slowly realized that I could use my lighting skills that I learned in theatre to put it toward lighting in photography. Snipes now primarily shoots sports portraits and is known for his advanced lighting techniques. He is a sponsored photographer for a major lighting company and participates in workshops with some of the legends of the sports photography field. Snipes says, though he didn’t see it at the time, his theatre training has been invaluable. “I learned all this other stuff and, now that I do portraits, it transitions so much more,” said Snipes. “I learned how to direct people; I learned how to light people; I learned how to problem solve with rigging things. If I want to make a set, I know how to actually build a set or design a set. So much directly correlates with my theatre background. I look back on it now, and I’m very thankful that I did it and went through all that.” Snipes’ ability to expertly plan and execute complicated shots has allowed him to establish an unmistakable identity with his images. He often employs a large number of high-intensity lights to create bold, dramatic images that put his subjects in a new light. “In order to stay in this photography business, because there are so many people out there with a camera, you obviously have to have an identity in what your pictures look like,” said Snipes. The best thing someone can say to me is, ‘I was looking through this magazine and thought for sure that was a picture by you – and it was.’ That’s obviously very good, because you want to be identifiable because it’s your brand. His portraits have a distinct feel, yet range widely from well-defined, classically posed shots to ones that emulate the best Hollywood special effects. Snipes does it all with expert lighting setups and doesn’t believe in dishonestly manipulating photos in editing. He maps out lighting diagrams for all of his major shoots and prep time can take two weeks. In other cases, like a recent shoot for Sports Illustrated of a Hall of


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Fame jockey, Snipes received an assignment two days ahead and had only 15 minutes in the “silks room” to get a shot during a full day of racing at a busy racetrack. It’s in situations like those that his journalism background comes in handy – preparing for the unexpected. “Definitely things have gotten harder over the years; the bigger or more expensive my shoots get, the more pressure,” Snipes said. “I used to get really nervous or have anxiety about it, but then I realized that if I don’t do it like every other shoot ... then I’m putting my own pressure on myself. The only way to get rid of that (anxiety) is believing in myself.” It has helped his confidence that some of his photographic heroes have become some of his supporters, including the legendary Walter Iooss, Jr. of Sports Illustrated. The two speak often and connect via social media, including through posts on Instagram.

Rodney Stuckey EWU alum and NBA player Rodney Stuckey (left) was shot for an ESPN The Magazine feature. Snipes collaborates with Stuckey (top)

“It’s kind of nerdy, but definitely very cool,” said Snipes. “In college, I was looking at his pictures, saying I want to do the same thing as this guy and now I’ve spoken on a panel with him twice and he sends me messages. I always see his name ‘liking’ my photos.” In addition to spending time with his family, Snipes likes to work out and get outdoors. He also attends a lot of films for creative inspiration, with an eye toward future plans. Whether it’s photos or a career path, Snipes is always looking to do something new. “I love watching movies in theaters, looking at all visual aspects, looking for creative inspiration,” Snipes said. “I want to make one of those amazing looking movies. I’m definitely always looking toward doing something else. Realistically, coming from my directing background and my theatre background, I want to go into film.” Snipes sees that as a long-term transition – one where he’s willing, once again, to teach himself if necessary. In the meantime, he still wants to push himself as a photographer and get a shot that no one’s done before. It’s also the advice he would give to others. “I know a lot of people who are really good photographers who are struggling, and trying really hard to make it, he said. “It’s about standing out and being unique and taking what you learn in other aspects and applying that toward your own vision and goals.” That’s what Snipes has done since his days at Eastern, and what he’ll continue to do. E Photos courtesy of Dustin Snipes | dustinsnipes.com

Kid Chocolate Snipes has done several "Body Shot" features for ESPN The Magazine, including this series of shots with boxer Peter "Kid Chocolate" Quillen.

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Manic or Not, Here I Come By Abe Ferris '11

I would like to share some stories about my life and my twin brother Sam’s life with you on a subject I feel very passionate about – mental illness. In sharing my story, I hope to offer some personal insight on these complicated and misunderstood disorders. We are 68 years old now, but the battle to live and cope with an indescribable and, at times, formidable foe can be an impossible journey. My brother has Schizoaffective Disorder and I have Bipolar I Disorder. These are genetic in nature but have a strong link to environmental factors as well. Most mental disorders are treatable. Things became different and complicated with my brother and me as we advanced into the mid-teenage years. At 18, we were just out of high school when, unfortunately and coincidently, we became institutionalized for medical reasons – not anything bad or criminal. From there, our lives would be dictated, in a sense, by the cruel and harsh reality of mental illness. This was in 1964. Even now, in 2014, there is a lot of misinformation about mental disorders. In essence, the only thing contagious about mental illness is the stigma itself. This unfortunately is a real obstacle, but over the last couple of decades, we seem to have made some progress. There is still a lot of work to be done to help erase the stigma of mental disorders and all prejudices relating to it. My life from 18 to 25 was very hectic. Several years ago, what now is “bipolar” was referred to as manic depression. It had gripped me, and I experienced many ups and downs. I had no medications at the time for this, so life was very unpredictable and unproductive for me. I started college at Gonzaga University in the fall of 1964. However, because I had minimal concentration abilities, my stay there was very short (about three months) and I was gone. In the

Twin brothers Sam and Abe Ferris


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fall of 1965, I enrolled at Walla Walla College. That lasted about a year, and then that was history. In the fall of 1967, I was accepted at Eastern. Then, again due to a lack of skills and being unable to cope with the dreadful manic depression, I had to quit. Eventually I got a job at a glass company in Spokane. This was the spring of 1969. I quit after about a year. I was unable to obtain better employment opportunities due to a lack of skills or a college education. On May 16, 1971, the most startling event of my life took place. I was very distraught and upset and I drove my car down Division Street in Spokane at speeds in excess of 105 mph, not really knowing I was in a very high or “manic” episode. That changed my life forever. I crashed into another car and, miraculously, no one in the other car, or I, suffered life-threatening injuries. Someone was definitely watching from above. The long road to a better life was just beginning. I learned many things but still it would take years to comprehend what really happened that night. Being 25 years old, and being hospitalized was an experience in itself. I had experienced something I was unprepared for and, possibly, no one in 1971 could grasp at all. During the time all this was going on in my life, my twin brother,

your turn

Abe Ferris with his wife of 33 years, Barbara, and their daughter, Sarah.

Twin brothers Sam and Abe Ferris age 4 Sam, had gone back home to live with my father and stepmother. This was his choice and he stayed there for the better part of 20 years. He was protected by my parents and spent a great deal of his time doing chores and helping my dad. He was shut off from the rest of the world by overprotection. He stayed single, never had the love and kindness of children and, for the most part, never really had a full-time job. Sam only relapsed briefly, after my dad died, but more recently in the past 10 years, he resides in an adult family home. Sadly, his life could have been different, but he had a no-fault disorder along with inadequate meds or solutions at the time. However, my brother is my brother, and I love him and accept him no matter what has happened in our lives. I believe he feels the same way about me. His life was defined by an illness that completely engulfed his whole being. The car accident has left lifelong marks on me. However, if it weren’t for that experience and what I went through, I wouldn’t have eventually got on a medicine that worked for me and received some better treatment. I was grateful for this. I was getting a little more hopeful about getting a job or career. At that time, a college education wasn’t really an option. I took a civil service test for the city of Spokane and scored high

enough to go to work for them in March 1972. I was classified as a laborer and my duties included many menial jobs, but I also had the opportunity to learn new skills, ones I never knew I had like driving and operating heavy equipment. I became a more independent, competent worker, eventually serving in a supervisory role at times. From 1972 to 2003, I enjoyed a 31-year career with the city of Spokane, mostly in transportation. I took early retirement and said to myself, “Now what?” I went back and finished my bachelor’s degree in interdisciplinary studies at EWU, graduating in June 2011. Two years prior to that, I pursued a mini-career as a mental health counselor in 2009. In 2008, I published my first book, Manic or Not, Here I Come, a memoir about my life and my brother’s life and what happened to us in our late teenage years. It was also intended to be a self-help book. My second book, The Power of Words, was published in the summer of 2014. When I look back to 1971, to the perilous accident and all the negative aspects that came from that, I realize that many good things and blessings came from that one dark night. It allowed me to volunteer to help people who need help in their lives. The hardest part, however, was the one that slipped away from me – my brother. He was robbed of his true identity by inheriting a severe mental condition. He is safe, well taken care of, but he never really escaped from his agony. I see him and keep in touch with him, but it always seems like things could have been different for him and me. E According to the National Institute of Mental Health, 26.2 million Americans, ages 18 and older, struggle with a diagnosable “mental disorder.” This includes such conditions as depression, obsessivecompulsive disorder, bipolar disorder and schizophrenia. Learn more: National Alliance on Mental Illness, www.nami.org.

your turn

is a recurring feature giving Eastern alumni the opportunity to share their thoughts, opinions, musings and stories. Readers are welcome to submit original essays of 1,000 words for consideration. Send to Eastern magazine, easternmagazine@ewu.edu or 102 Hargreaves Hall, Cheney, WA 99004.

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class notes

8 EMAIL YOUR NOTES TO easternmagazine@ewu.edu. ARE YOU IN HERE? Tell us what’s new with you. Did you get married or have a baby? Maybe you started a new career, got a promotion or retired? We would love to share your good news with your fellow alums in an upcoming issue of Eastern magazine.

It’s simple! Email your Class Note to

easternmagazine@ewu.edu or send it to Eastern Magazine 102 Hargreaves Hall Cheney, WA 99004-2413.


’14 Jaci Bayless, BA visual communication design, has been hired as a graphic and web designer for Market Vision Advertising. ’14, ’08 Cory Burnett, BA accounting, BA finance, has been hired by Dingus, Zarecor & Associates, in Spokane, as a staff accountant. ’14 Clarence H. Gundersen, BA psychology, has been hired as the TRiO talent search specialist for Centralia College in Centralia, Washington. Originally from war-torn Liberia, he came to the U.S. in 2004, at the age of 14. ’14 Kori Holcomb, BA psychology, has been hired by Spokane e-commerce company Etailz, formerly known as Green Cupboards, as a first-to-market associate. ’14 Matt Minor, BA accounting, has been hired by Dingus, Zarecor & Associates, in Spokane, as a staff accountant.


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Alums Sam Buzby ’07, Ginny Baxter ’05 and Jeff Bunch ’88 are checking to see who is in this issue’s Class Notes.

’14 Kendra Reilly, BA communication studies, has been hired by Etailz as a customer care coordinator. ’14 Josh Rettinghouse, BA accounting, has been hired by Dingus, Zarecor & Associates, in Spokane, as a staff accountant. ’14 Christina Webb, BA communication studies, has been hired by Etailz, as a partner account coordinator.


’13 Emily J. Campbell, BA reading education, was the recipient of the New Teacher of the Year Award, named by Las Vegas‘s Clark County School District in May 2014. She is a second-grade teacher at Myrtle Tate Elementary, a Title I school in one of the largest school districts in the country. ’13 Jessica Danielson, BA marketing, has joined NAC Architecture in Spokane, as marketing coordinator. She previously worked as marketing director at Pinnacle Physical Therapy, in Coeur d’ Alene.

’13, ’11 Michael M. Burnett, MBA, BA finance, has joined RBC Wealth Management in Spokane, as a financial adviser.


’12 Cole A. DeVoir, BA special education, and Natalie Rose Tomaso, married Oct. 10, 2014, in Richland, Washington. Cole teaches at Pasco Senior High School where he is chairman of the special education department. ’12 Paulina F. McGougan, BA Spanish education, was awarded the Gilbert and Clarke Award for outstanding teachers at Saint George’s School in Spokane, where she teaches on the sixth-grade teaching team. ’12 Skyler Oberst, BA philosophy, BA anthropology, has been hired as the legislative assistant, Spokane City Council for the city of Spokane. He previously worked as a special project coordinator for the Office of Global Initiatives at EWU.

class notes Vestal Garners Prestigious Writing Awards Shawn Vestal (’08 MFA creative writing, ’05 interdisciplinary studies) is the winner of the PEN/Robert W. Bingham Prize for his collection of essays, Godforsaken Idaho, and the winner of the Pushcart Prize for his story, Winter Elders, which originally appeared in the journal Ecotone. According to the PEN organization, the prize “honors exceptionally talented fiction writers whose debut work represents distinguished literary achievement and suggests great promise.” The winner receives a $25,000 stipend “intended to permit a significant degree of leisure in which to pursue a second work of literary fiction.” The PEN award was announced Sept. 29 in New York. “I was over the moon when I was nominated for the long list, let alone the things that happened after that,” said Vestal. “It’s so gratifying, beyond the money. It’s just the kind of thing you don’t want to dream of because it’s so unlikely.” Vestal said he didn’t allow himself to entertain the thought he would be the winner. He started to realize during the reading of the judges’ citation that his work had been selected. He then remembered he hadn’t prepared any remarks for the acceptance: a writer without (prepared) words. Vestal’s work is also included in, 2015 Pushcart Prize XXXIX Best of the Small Presses, the Pushcart Prize’s anthology. Published every year since 1976, it is one of the most honored literary projects in America, and one of the last surviving literary co-ops from the 1960s and 1970s. Vestal credits his time in EWU’s Creative Writing program, as a foundation for his success. He had a start on some of the essays in Godforsaken Idaho while in school and received invaluable input from former professors and fellow EWU alums. A columnist for The Spokesman-Review newspaper, Vestal is also an adjunct professor in the Creative Writing program at Eastern. ’12 Megan A. Stantus, BA accounting, has been hired by Dingus, Zarecor & Associates, in Spokane, as a staff accountant. Previously, she worked at McClintock & Turk Inc., in Spokane.


’11 Adam C. Jones, BA finance, BA accounting, has been promoted to senior accountant for Dingus, Zarecor & Associates in Spokane.


’10, ’04 Lance D. Kissler, MS communications, BA graphic communications, has been promoted to digital marketing manager for STCU. He started at STCU in 2010 as new media and marketing officer, and most recently served as the eBusiness development officer. A 2014 graduate of Leadership Spokane, Kissler now serves on the board for that organization. He is president of the Inland Northwest Business Alliance and is an adjunct instructor at Eastern Washington University and Whitworth University.

’10 Ned Woodward, BA management, has been hired by Etailz as a purchasing relations assistant.


’09 Meghan Granito, BA communication studies, has been hired as the corporate partner services coordinator for the Tacoma Rainiers, a minor league baseball team in the Pacific Coast League. Previously, she served as a marketing coordinator for Graham & Dunn, a law firm in Seattle. ’09 Subarna Nagra, BA sociology, was recognized as one of Inland Business Catalyst’s “20 Under 40” in the fall 2014 issue of the magazine. She is the manager of Resource Development for Spokane County United Way. ‘09 Steven M. Wilber, BA interdisciplinary studies, bested 11 other standup comics to win the title of Portland’s Funniest Person for 2014 along with the $1,000 grand prize at the Helium Comedy Club’s annual competition.


’08 Kami A. Matzek, BA accounting, has been promoted to manager from senior accountant for Dingus, Zarecor & Associates, in Spokane.


’06 Crystal Hillier, BA accounting, has been named chief financial officer of Spokane Housing Ventures. She was previously a senior property accountant for Catholic Charities. ’06 Susan Joseph Nielsen, MS interdisciplinary studies, has been named executive director of College Success Foundation Spokane. She is responsible for the day-to-day operations of College Success Foundation Spokane and Yakima. Nielsen is accredited in public relations through the Public Relations Society of America.

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class notes

Send some love while leaving your imprint at Eastern Washington University. Create a personalized, engraved brick that is set in the the historic pathway at Showalter Hall, and honor that special someone in your life. Start here >> ewu.edu/brick ’06 Jacqueline M. Wilson, bachelor of music, is an assistant professor of music at the University of Wisconsin, Platteville. A soloist and chamber music collaborator, she has been featured on Washington and Wisconsin public radio, at the Ashland Chamber Music Festival, the Red Earth Native American Cultural Festival and the International Double Reed Society Conference and in numerous concerto engagements.


’05 Ginny Baxter, BA graphic communications, has joined EWU's Marketing & Communications department as a graphic designer. Previously, she worked as a graphic designer for Red Lion Hotels Corporation.

’05 Shelly Colomb, BA human resource management, was recognized as one of Inland Business Catalyst’s “20 Under 40” in the fall 2014 issue of the magazine. She is an AVP, Private Banker, for Umpqua Bank in Spokane.


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’04 Rick A. Deford, BA physics education, was awarded the Hannah Joss Award for teacher professional development at Saint George’s School in Spokane. Rick will be going to Italy next summer to tour high-end auto manufacturing plants and the Alps.


’03 Bryan C. Avante, BA management, a real estate broker with Keller-Williams Realty, Spokane, has been named as The Homes for Heroes Program’s affiliate Realtor. The Homes for Heroes Program was established after 9/11 to provide savings for military and public service individuals when buying or selling a home. ’03 Phil Kiver, BA government, is a visiting professor at University of California at Santa Barbara’s ROTC department for the 2014 fall and 2015 winter quarters. He is also working on his doctorate degree terrorism studies at Henley-Putnam University.

’03 Aaron Rollins, BA marketing, was recognized as one of Inland Business Catalyst’s “20 Under 40” in the fall 2014 issue of the magazine. He is the CEO and co-founder of Business Texter, a startup company that creates the software, intelligence and automation that allow businesses to communicate through mobile messaging.


’01 Suzanne Metzger, BA accounting, has joined bankcda’s board of directors. She is a partner in RR Chatters & Co., PLLC and is a CPA and Certified Valuation Analyst. ‘01 Betty Vicena, MSW, has earned certification as an OSW-C from the Board of Oncology Social Work Certification. She is with Rockwood Cancer Treatment Center in Spokane.


’99 Michelle R. Bledsoe, BA interdisciplinary studies, was awarded the James Stecher Award for outstanding staff person at Saint George’s School in Spokane.

class notes Noor Advises Oregon on Higher Education Policies

In November, Salam A. Noor took over as the director of Academic Planning and Policy for the Higher Education Coordinating Commission (HECC) for the state of Oregon. Noor, 50, earned both his MA in public administration (1988) and his BA in international affairs (1986) from Eastern. In announcing the selection of Noor to the director’s position, HECC stated that, “He will lead the commission’s efforts to coordinate academic programs, degree pathways and student success initiatives at Oregon’s public universities.” Noor is responsible for advising state lawmakers, the governor and the Oregon Education Investment Board on higher education policy, including proposals to make college more affordable. A first-generation immigrant, Noor said he was attracted to the job because of the commission’s focus on increasing access to education for historically underserved students. “I feel that it’s a really good fit for me and it will allow me to contribute to the continuum of education, especially with universities,” he said. For the past six years, Noor served as assistant superintendent of the Salem-Keizer School District, the second largest in Oregon. He also previously served as the assistant superintendent at the Oregon Department of Education, where he led initiatives such as the adoption of new high school graduation requirements and efforts to close the achievement gap. Noor was a Fulbright Scholar at the University of Jordan, and he has taught education and political science at several universities in Oregon and Utah. He and his wife, Kelly Noor (’88 education certificate, ‘87 BA psychology) live in Salem, Oregon. ’99 Erynne M. Hallock, BA Spanish, BS communication studies, has been promoted to vice president of branch administration and sales at Numerica Credit Union in Spokane. She has 10 years of experience in the financial industry with Numerica.



’97 Patrick S. McPherson, BA business, owner of the Manito Tap House in Spokane will open a new gastro-pub, named the Blackbird located across the street from Red Lion Hotel at the Park in Spokane.

’98 Brian Lynn, BA English, has been hired as vice president marketing and communications at United States Sportsmen’s Alliance. Lynn previously served as public relations manager for Paw Print Genetics, and prior to that, he was a writer for EWU’s Marketing & Communications department.

’97 Joelle L. Neiwert, BA biology, was awarded the Gilbert and Clarke Award for outstanding teachers at Saint George’s School in Spokane, where she teaches on the sixth-grade teaching team.

’98 Matthew Michels, BA accounting, has joined Fruci and Associates as a partner. He has more than 15 years of experience in the tax and accounting field.


’98 Florence Snow, BA accounting, has been hired by Trindera Engineering as an accounting assistant. She has more than 15 years of experience in accounting and billing.

’97 Michael C. Russell, BA business, was promoted to Lt. Col., Dec. 1, 2014. He has served in the Air Force for 15 years. ’94, ’82 Steve Jurich, MBA, BA recreational administration, has been named executive director of Camp Fire Inland Northwest. He served 30 years with YMCA of the Inland Northwest and was previously senior vice president of operations from 2005 to 2013.

’94 Mark Kettner, BA business, has been named chief administrative and financial officer of Eastern State Hospital. Previously, he was director of finance at Providence Senior and Community Services.


’91, ’81 Craig M. Foster, MEd and BA physical education, was inducted into the Washington State Wrestling Coaches Hall of Fame in November 2014, in Vancouver, Washington. He has been named coach of the year at the state tournament four times during his career, which spans 34 years so far. He has coached wrestlers in California, New York and Oklahoma, and he settled in Blaine, Washington, 23 years ago.


’90 Tod Marshall, MFA creative writing, has released a new book of poems, Bugel, (Canarium Press, 2014). Other published works include, The Tangled Line (Canarium Press, 2009),

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class notes Mitchell Leads Calgary to CFL Championship

Bo Levi Mitchell ’12 led the Calgary Stampeders over the Hamilton TigerCats, 21-16, to take the 2014 Grey Cup, the Canadian Football League’s equivalent to the Super Bowl Nov. 30, in Vancouver, B.C. The former Eastern quarterback was 25 for 34 for 334 yards for Calgary, and was selected the game’s outstanding player. He completed 10 straight passes to tie the third-longest streak in Grey Cup history. Mitchell became the starting quarterback for the Stampeders in the 2014 season and set a number of club and league records, including the best record for a starting quarterback in league history (12 wins, 1 loss). Mitchell transferred to EWU from SMU as a junior in 2010. He helped lead Eastern to the NCAA Division I FCS National Championship that season with a 20-19 come-from-behind victory over the University of Delaware, EWU’s first national championship in football. He was named the game’s most outstanding player after throwing three touchdown passes in the final 16 minutes of the game. In 2011, Mitchell led the FCS in four statistical categories, including passing yards (4,009) and touchdown passes (33) on his way to breaking four school records. Mitchell went on to win the Walter Payton Award as the best offensive player in the FCS and was named the 2011 Big Sky Conference Offensive Player of the Year. Mitchell was named to seven All-America teams that season, earning first team honors on six of them. He was the top quarterback on teams selected by The Sports Network, American Football Coaches Association, Walter Camp, The Associated Press, Phil Steele Publications and Beyond Sports College Network. and Dare Say (University of Georgia Press, 2002). He has also published a collection of his interviews with contemporary poets, Range of the Possible (Eastern Washington University Press, 2002) and an attendant anthology of work by the interviewed poets, Range of Voices (EWU Press, 2005). He lives in Spokane, where he teaches creative writing and literature at Gonzaga University.


’88 Jeff Bunch, BA journalism, has been hired as a writer/editor in EWU’s Marketing & Communications Department. He is the principal and founder of JeffBunch.com, a branding, digital, social media and marketing strategy company. Previously, he was an adjunct professor of journalism and computer technology at Clark College in Vancouver, Washington.


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’87 Warren Erickson, BA accounting, has joined his Spokane certified public accounting practice with the offices of Argonne Tax Associates. He has more than 25 years of public accounting experience.


’86 Sherry Armijo, BA marketing, has been appointed to a five-year term on the Columbia Basin College board by Washington Gov. Jay Inslee. Armijo, who was first appointed in 2009, is the vice president of sales and marketing for Abadan in Richland, Washington. She is a founding member of the Hispanic Academic Achievers Program and serves as treasurer. Armijo is a board member of the Tri-Cities Regional Chamber of Commerce, and is a former president of the Eastern Washington chapter of the March of Dimes.


’83, ’76 James G. Parrish, MBA, BA radio/TV, has been selected by the National Rural Health Association as one of 16 fellows to participate in a yearlong, intensive program aimed at developing leaders for rural America’s health care. Parrish is the CEO of Humboldt General Hospital in Winnemucca, Nevada.


’71 Annie L. Matlow, BA education-music, has formed her own freelance public relations venture called “Let Annie Do It.” An award-winning PR specialist, she has more than 30 years’ experience, previously serving as marketing and public relations director for the Spokane Symphony, Martin Woldson Theater at The Fox, and the Downtown Spokane Partnership.

class notes McElwain Named Head Coach at University of Florida

The Florida Gators have named Jim McElwain, ’85 BA physical education, their new head football coach. McElwain, 52, played quarterback for Coach Dick Zornes at Eastern from 1980 to 1983. After graduating, he stayed on as a graduate assistant, eventually becoming the quarterbacks and receivers coach. During his stint as assistant from 1985 to 1994, the team made its way to the NCAA Division I playoffs twice, winning the Big Sky Championship in 1992. After leaving EWU, McElwain enjoyed a successful career as offensive coordinator at Montana State from 1995 to 1999. His first coaching job in the FBS (Division I-A) football was at University of Louisville, where he was the receivers and special teams coach from 2000 to 2002. After that, McElwain continued to move up the coaching career track, first as assistant head coach at Michigan State University from 2003 to 2005; a brief stint in the NFL as the quarterbacks coach for the Oakland Raiders in 2006 and as offensive coordinator at Fresno State in 2007, where he built a powerhouse offense. McElwain accepted an offer from Coach Nick Saban to be offensive coordinator at the University of Alabama in 2008, a position he held through 2011. His high-powered offenses helped to lead the Crimson Tide to two national championships (2009, 2011). McElwain left to take his first head-coaching job with Colorado State for the 2012 season. He was named Mountain West Coach of the Year in December 2014 after leading the Rams to a 10-2 record in his third year in Fort Collins.

Celebrate Outstanding


Submit your nominations for the

2015 EWU Alumni Awards presented by Numerica Credit Union

alumni.ewu.edu/2015nominations Categories: · Inspirational Young Alumnus Award - alumni.ewu.edu/YoungAlum2015 · Lifetime Achievement Award - alumni.ewu.edu/Lifetime2015 · Alumnus of Service Award - alumni.ewu.edu/Service2015 · Exceptional Military Service Award - alumni.ewu.edu/Military2015 Deadline to submit nominations is midnight, Feb. 1, 2015. For more information contact: Cassie Devaney | 509.359.4533 | cdevane1@ewu.edu

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in memoriam

14 11 08 96

’14 Christopher G. Durall, age 34, died Sept. 7, 2014, in Yakima, Washington ’11 John K. Woodwell III, age 59, died Aug. 28, 2014, in Spokane, Washington ’08 Anna L. Sandvig, age 43, died July 29, 2014, in Spokane, Washington ’96 Julie J. Darling, age 52, died July 29, 2014, in Spokane, Washington ’95 Jake Leonard, age 41, died Sept. 8, 2014, in Seattle, Washington ’95 Jacob Thomas Milnes, age 41, died Aug. 28, 2014, in Seattle, Washington


’86 Terri A. Montano, age 50, died Oct. 16, 2014, in Spokane, Washington ’82 John A. Danielson III, age 55, died Sept. 13, 2014 ’82 Velora E. Lamunyon died Sept. 9, 2014, in Rollins, Montana


’79 Joan M. Ranger, age 57, died Aug. 19, 2014, in Bellevue, Washington ’76 Karen F. Lowe, age 63, died July 13, 2014 ’74 Richard D. Meier, died June 3, 2014

’74 James B. Morris, age 69, died Oct. 27, 2014, in Wenatchee, Washington ’74 Catherine H. Palmer, age 74, died Aug. 16, 2014, in Pullman, Washington ’74 John B. Thibault, age 67, died July 30, 2014, in Vannes, France


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’72 Jim Kimzey, age 74, died Aug. 19, 2014, in Kennewick, Washington ’72 Harold L. Shimek, age 75, died Aug. 16, 2014, in Klamath Falls, Oregon ’71 Danny L. LaTurner, age 75, died Sept. 26, 2014 ’71 Roy D. Rambo, age 67, died Aug. 10, 2014 ’71 John W. “Rick” Sepolen, age 66, died Aug. 13, 2014 ’70 Wilfred J. Morrish, age 93, died July 30, 2014, in Olympia, Washington ’70 Elaine M. Porter-Cole, age 69, died Nov. 8, 2014, in Spokane, Washington ’70 Joseph L. Slosser, age 71, died Sept. 12, 2014


’68 Marc Johnson, age 72, died Aug. 3, 2014, in Spokane, Washington ’67 George C. Ray, age 76, died Sept. 14, 2014 ’67 Bruce M. Shadduck, age 71, died Sept. 8, 2014, in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho ’66 Marilyn M. Click, age 70, died Aug. 14, 2014, in Clarkston, Washington ’66 James A. Lee, age 72, died Sept. 22, 2014, in Spokane, Washington ’63 Richard B. Smithson, age 79, died Aug. 26, 2014, in Kennewick, Washington ’62 Alice Lorean Miller, age 71, died Nov. 3, 2014 ’60 Charles W. Parenteau, age 81, died Sept. 20, 2014, in Boise, Idaho


’59 Robert D. Goodwin, age 83, died Sept. 25, 2014, in Spokane, Washington ’59 Ernie Schillinger, age 80, died Nov. 12, 2014, in Spokane, Washington ’57 Robert D. Shaner, age 80, died Sept. 26, 2014, in Olympia, Washington ’50 Donna D. Matsumoto, age 83, died Sept. 2, 2014, in Richland, Washington


’41 Mabel J. Nelson, age 96, died Aug. 12, 2014, in Spokane, Washington

Faculty & Staff Curtis Coffee, PhD, died July 26, 2014, in Spokane. He retired from the Department of Music in October 1996, after 26 years of service. Emeritus professor John Geary died Sept. 1, 2014. He taught English for 27 years at Eastern, retiring in 1997. Emeritus faculty member Philip George died Aug. 31, 2014. He retired from EWU in 1988 from the Department of Education after more than 19 years of service. Oren House died Sept. 4, 2014. He worked as an office manager in the Theatre Department for 12 years. Niel Templeton died Aug. 9, 2014. He worked in Information Resources for 27 years. He had been the primary payroll programmer when EWU processed payroll on campus from 1979 to 1983.

Spokane’s premier

shopping, dining and entertainment center.


final thoughts From Lisa Poplawski, director of Alumni Advancement When I was 17, my mom and dad surprised me with personalized license plates. I thought they were the BOMB! Nothing confusing or ridiculous (we have all seen those), simply,” YAEGER” (my maiden name). I loved these plates. They magically gave my car a unique personality. Of course, owning personalized plates isn’t for everyone. You need to be comfortable with random people starting up conversations at stoplights and in parking lots. And of course, if you own an Eastern plate, you become an agent for Eagle pride and therefore, must be the driver that always “waves” when someone lets you into traffic. This is my rule, not the Department of Licensing’s. I drove “YAEGER” all through college and a year into my first job. Like me, you may fondly recall each unique detail of your first car. So, imagine my sadness the day I traded her in, specialized plates and all, for a newer model with more dependable gadgets. Heartbroken! Years ago, when I purchased my first EWU collegiate plate, it brought up a lot of fun memories from “YAEGER.” Although they were not truly “personalized,” they were unique and an awesome way to share my pride on the road. There have been MANY times when I have sped up on a road just to see if I know who is driving, have left a “thank you for supporting EWU scholarships” note on a windshield or took a picture of a plate in my travels. I love having that special bond with fellow drivers. At one point in our office, we tried to come up with a hand gesture for fellow drivers with Eagle plates. The only good idea required two hands, so we figured that was out. As you will see on the back cover of the magazine, we are excited to announce the third Eagle plate design. It is currently available at all Departments of Licensing in the state of Washington. I love this plate! With this new design, I have decided it is time for round two of my personalized plate experience. Because these are conversation pieces, it has to have serious “sparkle” and ooze “Eagle pride!” I want it to make fellow Eagles smile and inspire them to get a plate too. What I don’t want are people stalking me, angry because they can’t decipher it! So, here is my challenge to you – email me ideas for my new personalized Eagle plate, lpoplawski@ewu.edu. I will review entries and announce the winner through our EWU Alumni Facebook page. The winner will receive an EWU gift bag and my old plates. OK, maybe not my old plates. It wouldn’t be prudent if I didn’t remind you that $28 from the fees associated with personalized plates goes to EWU student scholarships. Therefore, you could enjoy your own fabulous idea and not share it with me. Either way, those monies are a taxdeductible contribution by mailing a copy of your renewal to the EWU Foundation: 102 Hargreaves Hall, Cheney WA 99004. ewu.edu/licenseplates


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events calendar 24

Alumni Family Day at Women’s Basketball 2 p.m.

Alumni Family Day at Men’s Basketball 2:05 p.m.

Reese Court

Reese Court



Conversation with Tim Wise

Seattle Alumni Social



SpIFF EWU Night at the Spokane International Film Festival

Young Professionals Network, Speed Networking






Join your fellow alumni and friends at these exciting events. For ongoing event and information; visit alumni.ewu.edu, follow Alumni on Facebook, Twitter, or send your email to ewualum@ewu.edu.


Young Professionals Network, LinkedIn, Etc.



Arizona Alumni Social and Mariners Training Camp

Young Professionals Network Leadership, Management, Entrepreneurship

National Conference on Undergraduate Research



19-20 MBA Arizona Golf Getaway

17 TriCities Alumni Social







Annual Get Lit! Festival

2015 H.O.M.E. Tea

Carper Lecture Series Jared Diamond

(various locations)


Orland Killin Weekend, Golf Tournament, Friday; Dinner, Dance and Auction, Saturday

Inside the Activist Studio: A Conversation between Winona LaDuke and Liz Moore (Cheney)





Young Professionals Network, What I Want to do When I Grow Up AGAIN

2015 Alumni Awards Gala (Cheney)

For a calendar of all athletic events, visit goeags.com. For more information and to register for events, visit alumni.ewu.edu or call 888.EWU.ALUM.

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EASTERN Magazine

Non Profit Org. U.S. POSTAGE

University Advancement Eastern Washington University 102 Hargreaves Hall Cheney, WA 99004-2413


Eastern Washington University

AVAILABLE NOW! Visit ewu.edu/plates $28 from each specialized-plate fee is directed to EWU

scholarships. In 2014, 34 students received $1,000 scholarships from the specialized plates. Personalized and motorcycle plates are available. The $28 plate fee is tax deductible.

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