A hopeful send-off for WSUV’s class of 2019

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RIDGEFIELD — Nothing is more hopeful than a graduation ceremony. On Saturday, Washington State University Vancouver graduating senior and commencement speaker Ian Muck told his own “peculiar,” true-life tale about never giving up hope.

Muck started college abroad, vowing never to attend his hometown campus. But pressing family needs pulled him back, and he returned to Clark County feeling “completely lost,” he said.

Then he enrolled at WSUV, he said, and started finding himself. He also found hope, despite a world that seems weighed down by woes, he said. Muck said he’s had the opportunity to connect with all sorts of people and learn about the importance of “standing up to bigotry and hate.”

At WSUV, Muck majored in public affairs and minored in history; he was a facilitator and research assistant for the WSU-Vancouver Foley Institute for Public Policy, while also presiding over the Associated Students of WSU Vancouver organization and the Cougar Pride Club.

“Look at me now,” Muck said from the podium at Sunlight Supply Amphitheater, where WSUV’s huge commencement ceremony was held on Saturday. There were 39 doctoral candidates, 88 master’s candidates and 918 bachelor’s degree candidates, for a total of 1,045 graduates; the amphitheater was packed to standing-room-only with families, friends and fans.

Muck said he’s learned that WSUV people are “change makers, movers and shakers.” That’s why the future law student has hope, he said. He urged his fellow graduates to “fight for unity and diversity at every turn.”

Just before the ceremony, Hector Barragan was posing for photos with his proud family and their homemade “Congratulations Daddy on your M.B.A.!” sign.

“It was challenging,” Barragan said of earning a degree while working full-time and raising three young children. He thanked his wife, Katie, for managing the household so he could close a door and study. “That was hard — and they’d pop in anyway,” he said of his children, nine-year-old Kylie, six-year-old Cole and one-year-old Cade.

“This was a team effort,” Barragan said.

“He’s not telling you that he maintained a straight-A average,” chimed in Scott Peabody, Barragan’s father-in-law. “He’s a good man. We’re very proud of him.”

Make that almost straight As, Barragan corrected. He’d earned some A-minuses, too.

But his father-in-law dismissed Barragan’s modesty: “They all had A in them, right?”

Award winners at WSUV’s 2019 commencement

  • Loren Horowitz, Bachelor of Science in Computer Science, won the Chancellor’s Award for Student Achievement.
  • Shameem Rakha, Clinical Assistant Professor of Education, won the new Chancellor’s Award for Advancing Equity.
  • Bala Krishnamoorthy, Associate Professor and Program Leader in Mathematics and Statistics, won the Chancellor’s Award for Research Excellence.
  • Hua Tan, Assistant Professor of Engineering and Computer Science, won the Students’ Award for Teaching Excellence.

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