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Class Notes

Class Notes include professional accomplishments, awards, retirements, weddings, obituaries and other news about Western Washington University alumni; they’re gathered from published reports and communication from alumni themselves.

If you have an update you’d like us to share in Class Notes, please email it to window@wwu.edu. Tell us what’s new with you, and we’ll publish it in the next edition and online.

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Class Notes (General)

Lily Gray - 2021

Three alumni have turned their passion for the ocean and its creatures into careers with the MaST Center Aquarium located at Highline College.

Rus Higley, '94, directs the 2,500-square-foot aquarium that serves Highline students, faculty and the public. He's joined by fellow graduates in biology with a marine emphasis Emily Bjornsgard, ‘20, the lead aquarist, and Lily Gray, ‘21.

The MaST (Marine Science and Technology) aquarium in Des Moines features more than 250 local species and two touch pools.

Emily Bjornsgard - 2020

Three alumni have turned their passion for the ocean and its creatures into careers with the MaST Center Aquarium located at Highline College.

Rus Higley, '94, directs the 2,500-square-foot aquarium that serves Highline students, faculty and the public. He's joined by fellow graduates in biology with a marine emphasis Emily Bjornsgard, ‘20, the lead aquarist, and Lily Gray, ‘21.

The MaST (Marine Science and Technology) aquarium in Des Moines features more than 250 local species and two touch pools.

Rus Highley - 1994

Three alumni have turned their passion for the ocean and its creatures into careers with the MaST Center Aquarium located at Highline College.

Rus Higley, '94, directs the 2,500-square-foot aquarium that serves Highline students, faculty and the public. He's joined by fellow graduates in biology with a marine emphasis Emily Bjornsgard, ‘20, the lead aquarist, and Lily Gray, ‘21.

The MaST (Marine Science and Technology) aquarium in Des Moines features more than 250 local species and two touch pools.

Katie Royse Ginther - 2022

Katie Royse Ginther, B.A., theatre and B.S., psychology, lives in Brooklyn, New York, and is the artistic director of Kitchen Sink Theatre Co., which she launched in Seattle.

Samantha Clark - 2014

Samantha Clark, B.A., psychology, is the assistant vice president - strategy and business development at MultiCare Behavioral Health in Spokane, where she recently received a Women of Achievement Award from the YWCA of Spokane. 

Jerry Goodwin - 1989

Jerry Goodwin, B.S., industrial technology, became the president and CEO of Guerdon Modular Buildings, which specializes in building large projects in sections to be assembled on site.  

Kathryn Eyraud - 2009

Kathryn Eyraud, B.S., environmental science - marine ecology, recently became a partner at Althauser Rayan Abbarno, a law firm in Centralia, Kathryn, who earned a law degree from Roger Williams University, specializes in family law and previously worked as a family law facilitator for the Clallam County Superior Court. 

Kirby Larson - 1976

Kirby Larson, B.A., broadcast communication, has a new book out, "Gut Reaction," which she wrote with her daughter Wyatt Quinn. Published by Scholastic Press, the middle-reader novel follows a young teen competing in a junior baking competition all while figuring out how to manage Crohn's disease. 

Gary Benson - 1978

Gary Benson, B.S., visual communication, is a musician who performs at coffeehouses, farmer's markets and assisted living centers in the Seattle, Bellevue and Kent areas. He specializes in the songs by artists he loved growing up: James Taylor, John Denver, CSNY, the Beatles, Simon & Garfunkel and others. Three of his performances, "Catch the Wind," "Love Me Tender," and "Carolina on My Mind," were recently broadcast on Evening Magazine to close out three episodes.   

Steve Sundin - 1996

Steve Sundin, B.A., urban and regional planning, is a senior planner for the city of Bellingham and recently received the Public Service Award from the Whatcom Business Alliance. 

Nico Sanchez - 2016

Nico Sanchez, B.A., Fairhaven interdisciplinary concentration, is a musician, music producer and the owner of Black Noise Records in Bellingham, an independent music label and record store that was recently nominated for the Startup of the Year award by the Whatcom Business Alliance. 

Jeffrey Kallen - 1977

Jeffrey Kallen, B.A., Fairhaven interdisciplinary concentration, retired in 2019 from Trinity College Dublin in Ireland after 39 years of teaching linguistics. In 2023, he published a book with Cambridge University Press called "Linguistic Landscapes -- A Sociolinguistic Approach," which examines displays of written language in the public space. 

Arthur Lim - 2005

Arthur Lim, B.S., P.E., sport psychology, founded Let's All Pickleball, a non-competitive pickleball league with fewer rules, aimed at encouraging broader participation in the sport by people of all abilities. 

Alison Lührs - 2011

Alison Lührs, B.A., theatre, is the narrative director of the video game "Destiny 2" at Bungie. "I'm thrilled to use the skills I learned making devised theatre every day as a director and creator," Alison writes. "We have a player base of over 30 million people, and I'm excited to bring a little bit of Western to every release." 

Mindy Uber - 1997

Mindy Uber, B.S., environmental science, is the senior director of environmental health and safety for Skanska USA Building and was recently appointed to the Occupational Health and Safety Administration's Advisory Committee on Construction Safety and Health.

Kristin Beck - 2006

Kristin Beck, MiT, is the author of two historical fiction novels, “Courage, My Love” and “The Winter Orphans.” Her third novel, “The Woman on the Mountain,” releases next year. 

Vini Samuel - 1994

Vini Samuel, B.A., English and history, has been appointed by Gov. Jay Inslee to the Grays Harbor County Superior Court. Currently, Vini serves as the mayor of the city of Montesano and has operated a private law firm in Montesano since 2004. Vini is also the 2017 Distinguished Alumna of the College of Humanities and Social Sciences.  

Rex Mangiaracina - 2000

Rex Mangiaracina, B.A., political science, recently published a memoir titled “Making Men: Finding Meaning in the Moments that Matter.” 

Meagan Bryson - 2005

Meagan Bryson, B.A., human services and '07, M.Ed., student affairs administration, serves as the first director of the newly minted Academic Advising and Student Achievement Center at Western.  

Paul Allen - 1982

Paul Allen, B.S., computer science, recently retired after more than 38 years as a software engineer at IBM in Rochester, Minnesota. He holds several US and international software patents.