Westmont’s Outstanding Graduates of 2018

Janna Jensen

Art

Janna Jensen, a distance runner for the women’s cross country and track and field team, earned the award in art. She enjoyed a three-year internship at Slingshot, a cooperative of artists with developmental disabilities. For her senior art project, she painted classical oil portraits of five of the artists who have inspired her. “Through these relationships that I’ve had with these individuals and through the way I was inspired by their art, I wanted to honor them in creating portraits of them,” Jensen says. The Long Beach resident will continue to paint while exploring opportunities in the art world. She is considering graduate school in art therapy.

Lilly Brummett

Biology

Lilly Brummett has been involved in two different research projects while at Westmont, studying the evolution of dwarfism in reptiles on the Channel Islands and comparing populations of garter snake in Northern California. She worked as a lab assistant for four years, served as president of the Multi-Ethnic Student Association for two years, and studied in New Zealand with the Creation Care Studies Program. She plans on pursuing a master’s degree and eventually a doctorate in marine biology. “I’ve had so many great experiences at Westmont,” she says. “I hope to continue to do research for as long as I’m able.”

Andrew Sawyer

Chemistry

To better understand the diet of the Native American Myaamia tribe of Oklahoma, Andrew Sawyer conducted research on the amount of crude protein and crude fat present in Myaamia corn. He says the most valuable part of his research was the relationships he developed with professors. “The Westmont chemistry department focuses on developing the student as a whole, both the mind and the soul,” he says. “During summer research, I not only learned how to be a good researcher, but also how to be a good person.” During his time at Westmont, he shared lunch or coffee with more than 25 different faculty members from various departments. “Westmont is unique not only in providing students with a top-notch education but in giving them the opportunity to learn from and be mentored by professors who genuinely care for students’ overall well-being,” he says. He hopes to pursue a career in dentistry.

Hannah Belk

Communication Studies

Hannah Belk, who hopes to pursue a career in mediation and work with groups in conflict, served as a residence assistant, a member of the National Communication Association’s honor society, and worked with racial reconciliation on campus. She is a meticulous and careful researcher, studying FOX News and their portrayal of black men in police shootings, the relationship between grit and gratitude in college students, and assisted research on dialogue and deliberation. She walked the Camino de Santiago in Spain during an off-campus program and studied with Westmont in Jerusalem.

Savannah Reed-Plouffe

Savannah Reed-Plouffe

Economics and Business

After Commencement, Savannah Reed-Plouffe will head to Singapore as part of a Westmont Mayterm course. She will do an internship in market research for the Development Bank of Singapore (DBS), which hosts the annual Asian Insights conference considering what Asia will look like by 2030. She watched 37 plays during a five-week London Theatre Mayterm. “I was exposed to so many different worldviews and perspectives,” she says. “The whole experience really tied together everything that Westmont teaches about being a global learner, eager to understand other people’s experiences.” Her professors helped her grow as a whole person and their insights and advice helped shape her career path. She is considering graduate schools and a career in accounting. “I really like the financial side of business as well as the legal intricacies of business,” she says. “In the distant future I could see myself in an advising or counseling role. The most important thing Westmont has taught me is that God is so much more creative than I will ever be and, with Him, my future has the potential to be so much bigger than would have thought.”

Kathryn Patrick

Kathryn Patrick

English

Kathryn Patrick will do graduate work in modern and contemporary literature and culture at the University of St. Andrews in Scotland. Westmont’s England Semester inspired her to consider questions of contextual and intercultural significance by connecting the works of literature she studied to the places in which they were written. “Shopping the used book market under Waterloo Bridge in London, strolling through Wordsworth’s section of the Lake District, and watching shows at Edinburgh’s famous Fringe Festival, led me to develop a love for British scenery and culture,” she says. Eventually, her goal is to found a magazine designed to empower young women to participate in intercultural travel. “This travel provides young women with invaluable opportunities to launch their personal growth, leading to increased independence and self-confidence,” she says.  Observing another country’s culture and meeting people who might be different can teach compassion and a willing to understand others and be receptive to new ideas. The ability to see the world from someone else’s perspective leads to greater empathy and self-awareness, qualities that will continue to empower young women throughout their personal and professional lives.”

Jordan Balridge

Jordan Baldridge

History

For his senior history thesis, Jordan Baldridge used the UCLA Archives and other sources to study the papers of former mayor Tom Bradley to determine what forces shaped the public policy response to the 1992 Los Angeles uprising and riots. Participating in Westmont in Istanbul made a significant impact on him, and two years later he served as the program’s assistant director. “The four years I spent learning from Heather Keaney and her husband, Jim Wright (who co-direct the Istanbul and Cairo programs), have shaped much of my post-college outlook in transformative ways,” he says. Baldridge also studied with Westmont Downtown where Rachel Winslow became a valuable mentor. Next year he’ll work with her at Westmont Downtown to pursue a community project. He is considering different graduate programs in history, public administration and public policy and hopes to pursue a career in community development or local government.

Elli Scheer with Professor Gregg Afman

Elli Scheer with Professor Gregg Afman

Kinesiology

Elli Scheer, a quiet and contemplative thinker, was determined to make the most of her time at Westmont. She served as an aide at Hayashida Physical Therapy, a research assistant at AKI/Variant Labs and as a fitness intern at the Samarkand Retirement Community. She conducted research on “The Effect of THE LEVEL® on Oxygen Consumption,” and presented the findings at the America College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) Southwest Chapter’s annual meeting in Long Beach. “My professors have taken such a personal interest in my learning and have been a huge influence on what I want to do in my future,” she says. Scheer is applying to graduate schools, taking physics and Graduate Record Examinations this summer to pursue a career in physical therapy.

 

Elle Arnold

Liberal Studies

Elle Arnold returns to Westmont next year to earn her teaching credential. She has been going on medical missions with her father, a pediatric ophthalmologist, since she was 11. Eventually, she started teaching English in a Buddhist Thai school on the Thai-Burma border. She spent a semester in Kurdistan working with the Free Burma Rangers, helping refugees who had survived genocide and interviewing ISIS victims, as well as girls who had been taken and sold as ISIS sex slaves. She also studied abroad in Uganda and lived and taught as an intern in a primary school. She hopes to return home to Alaska and teach and someday work with English learners (at home or overseas) and refugees and possibly pursue international journalism.

 

David Kyle

David Kyle

 

Mathematics

David Kyle, whose research on trinomials has been published in the journal Involve, hopes to become a statistical consultant, interpreting results from large amounts of data. “Consultants work in a variety of fields so I look forward to living the liberal arts dream by learning about medicine, biology, government policy, etc. while I help them crunch numbers,” he says. David is passionate about data being handled responsibly. “The big data phenomenon affects more and more of our lives,” he says. “I hope to harness statistical methods and data analytics to better society and to restrain processes when they contribute to injustice.” David also met his wife, Emily, at Westmont. “This has been a great place for me to wrestle with meaningful questions about my faith, mathematics and the world. What really makes the college experience worthwhile is the opportunity to gain from other’s perspectives as I have gained from Emily’s.”

 

Modern Languages

During a Westmont in Mexico semester in Queretaro, Ilana Baer developed a special love for Mexican culture. A double major in Spanish and English, she served as a tutor in both the Writing Center and the Spanish Department. This summer, she’ll work as a receptionist at an ESL school in the San Francisco Bay Area. “Translation, teaching and linguistics intrigue me, and I’d love to be bilingual,” she says. “I’ll go after any work where words and people intersect.” For her senior capstone project, she translated three poems by Chilean poet Gabriela Mistral from Spanish into English. “The project allowed me to use skills from both of my majors and gave me an increased appreciation for translators everywhere,” she says. “I’m grateful for the professors who have enthusiastically represented their disciplines and thoughtfully encouraged their students.”

Erik Fauss

Erik Fauss

Music

Erik Fauss, who will enroll in a Master of Music program in viola performance at the London Royal Academy of Music in the fall, hopes to continue performing and teaching music, collaborating with jazz and folk musicians and traditional Asian or African performers. “My vision is to instill the Gospel into a concert series or music education program,” he says. “I have endless ideas, but God will get me there.” Erik is grateful that Westmont helped him mature spiritually and discover more of who he is in Christ. “This includes making relationships with professors, students and churches,” he says. “From Capax Dei to intercultural programs, I have sought all Westmont’s resources and benefited tremendously. I loved how much I learned, whether in my nutrition and anatomy classes, my religious studies courses, or the music major classes often with just four or five students.”

 

Philosophy

Hien Bui, who will pursue a master’s degree in philosophical theology at Oxford in the fall, hopes for a career in academia, teaching and researching in philosophy. At Westmont, he completed three research papers: “A Defense of Dispositional Innatism,” the claim that we have innate dispositions to believe in certain things; “A New Solution to the Problem of Divine Freedom and Goodness,” how God can be both perfectly good and free; and “A Defense of Motivations for the Growing Block Theory of Time,” the theory that the past and present exist but not the future. “The best part of my four years at Wesmtont has been the relationships with professors, friends and peers, who have introduced me to questions about God and the world he created and who have also helped me learn how to think critically about those questions,” he says.

Tim Beccue

Tim Beccue

Physics

Tim Beccue, a cellist who won first place ($5,000) in the instrumental honors at the Performing Arts Scholarship Foundation finals in April, epitomizes a liberal arts graduate. He spent last summer studying atmospheric fluid dynamics with physics professor Jonathan Mitchell. “We used computational models to examine the influences of certain atmospheric oscillations (waves) near the equator,” he says. He has also used the Westmont observatory to conduct measurements of variable stars and recent comet breakups. “I’m working with Professor Michael Sommermann in the field of astrodynamics, examining spacecraft trajectories to Mars and the numerical techniques required to create accurate models.” Tim and two other Westmont musicians will perform this summer at the Encore chamber music festival in Ohio. “I love working hard with a small group of friends towards a common goal,” he says. “A great example of this is chamber music, which has proven to be a consistent highlight of my time at Westmont. Tim, who also participated on the Westmont in Istanbul program, is applying to graduate schools to study artificial intelligence. “It sits at the focal point of many of my interests, including math and physics, philosophy, psychology and creativity,” he says.

Political Science

Hugh Grant-Chapman, who has earned a Fulbright Scholarship to be a English teaching assistantship in Taiwan, was one of three students who interviewed Gen. Michael Hayden at convocation following the Westmont President’s Breakfast. He used complex econometric analysis to investigate the relationship between immigration and economic growth in developing countries, co-authored a paper on the intersection of athletics and American courts with Professor Tom Knecht, and served as the department’s teaching and research assistant. “I’m excited to immerse myself in a different culture and community,” he says. “The island I will be living on is small and close-knit, and the ties of community are apparently very strong. I look forward to improving my Mandarin-speaking abilities and getting to use them on an everyday basis.”

Kennedy Mahdavi

Kennedy Mahdavi

Psychology

Kennedy Mahdavi’s clinical experiences range from serving the psychological needs of children with neurodevelopmental disorders to assisting adults with neurological conditions. Her majors honors project addressed the effect of antidepressants on the cognitive functioning of those with Parkinson’s disease. “It’s something that affects so many of us, directly or indirectly,” she says. “I have had the privilege of working with older adults who have Parkinson’s and other neurodegenerative conditions, and I have come to recognize cognition as a key indicator of quality of life. There are so many opportunities, from providing a listening ear to simply offering presence of being, that we all have to love the aging population well.” She made professional presentations to at the American Psychological Association and International Neuropsychology Society. She earned the David K. Winter Servant Leadership Award, studied abroad in Israel and Palestine, and served with residence life and student government. “Studying psychology at Westmont has provided a solid foundation to pursue interests in various areas, including neuropsychology, but I’ve also realized that a passion to serve the aging population could lend well to a career in nursing or occupational therapy,” she says. “For the time being, I’ll pursue local opportunities to gain more experience working and researching and go from there.”

Wesley Simmonds

Wesley Simmonds

Religious Studies

Wesley Simmonds, who will work as a youth pastor in Napa, completed two honors projects and one major honors project. He presented his honors project, “Divine Hiddenness,” to the American Academy of Religion Western Regional Conference. Other research compared and contrasted ancient Egyptian love poetry with the Song of Songs. His major honors project was “Examining Conversion in Luke-Acts as a Patron-Client Relationship Through Narrative Criticism and Redaktionsgeschichte” “The best part of my four years here was meeting the most amazing woman in the world, Hannah Bruesehoff, whom I am marrying in May,” he says.

 

 

Kameron Vogt

Kameron Vogt

Social Science

Kameron Vogt used to see the world in black and white, as clear-cut. “After my time here, I am more comfortable with being uncomfortable and am able to enter into discussions that I would have written off as dumb a few years ago,” he says. “Westmont provided an opportunity to engage in thoughtful discussions regarding difficult topics in an environment conducive to growth.” Kameron and his wife, Willow, plan to move to Texas. “Whatever I end up doing, I hope it involves being outside, interacting with people that I care about and leaving plenty of time to give to my family.”

Haley Parzonko

Haley Parzonko

Sociology and Anthropology

Haley Parzonko hopes to bring about social change, promoting human flourishing in marginalized communities. She served four years with the homeless ministry Bread of Life and studied with Westmont Downtown, working with an organization that brings together local businesses, non-profits and government agencies to combat homelessness and assist domestic trafficking survivors. She invested in a reading group on race and criminal justice and explored issues of gender, religion and class during the Westmont in Cairo semester. One of the most rewarding parts of her Westmont career was competing with the women’s soccer team. “This program was a safe place for me to learn how to fail and grow from those experiences,” she says. “My character and leadership have grown tremendously due to the coaches, mentors and teammates all affiliated with the Westmont program. The program cared about winning, but they also cared about each player in the long run and who we are going to be as people in this world. I find it very special they cared about developing us as women to empower our voice and character.”

Anna Telfer in "Die Fledermaus"

Anna Telfer in “Die Fledermaus”

Theater Arts

Anna Telfer, who hopes to pursue a career in the theater, plans to move to San Diego or Chicago to work in public relations and regional theater before seeking an MFA in acting.  “Ultimately, I would love to start my own theater company and bring the arts in conversation with communities, while continuing to act professionally,” she says. “As a double major, my career path feels a little up in the air, but I am prepared to work for whatever opportunities may come, while trusting in God’s guidance and provision along the way.” She served as a Potter’s Clay Core Team member while in rehearsal for Rosalinde in “Die Fledermaus.” “I have felt genuinely cared for here,” she says. “Professors go out of their way to acknowledge, encourage and support me. They are examples of excellence in their fields. It truly blows my mind that women and men at the highest levels of academia are willing to walk alongside me, inside and outside of the classroom, in ways that shape my intellect, emotions and faith. They genuinely live out what they so vigorously teach in the classroom, and it has been an honor and a privilege to be mentored and taught by them these past four years.”

Elena White starred in "The Resistible Rise of Arturo Ui"

Elena White starred in “The Resistible Rise of Arturo Ui”

Theater Arts

Elena White, who displayed a diverse performance range in all kinds of plays, from contemporary drama to opera to verse drama, has excelled in all facets of her work in the theater arts department. She is a creative and gifted director and a skilled expository writer. She will return to her native Scotland to continue a career in theater. The Santa Barbara Independent awarded her with a coveted Indy Award for her performance in “The Resistible Rise of Arturo Ui.”

(Provost Mark Sargent recognized the students at convocation April 11 by giving Outstanding Senior Awards in 20 different areas of study.)