The magazine for Western Washington University

What makes you feel connected with Western?

By Deborah DeWees | Executive Director, Western Alumni Association

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Deborah DeWees is executive director of the WWU Alumni Association. | Photo by Edye Colello-Morton

Sidebar: ASK! -- Connecting Alumni and Students

ASK! -- Connecting Alumni and Students

I was recently inspired by a lively conversation that occurred on our LinkedIn group. Alumni shared their heartfelt appreciation for their time spent at Western and expressed growing desires to “give back.” Douglas Leek (’99) reflected astutely on his experience at Western and presented us all with a charge: “If we don’t help our own, who will?”

While I can’t define what connection to Western means to you personally, I can muse about what connection means for our alumni community as a whole.

This summer, I had the pleasure of meeting former Huxley student Julie Mullyeart and her fiance Joe Brown, at their bike shop, Methow Valley Cycle, in Winthrop. Under the banner of Western we shared biking stories and after I decided to buy a gorgeous copper bicycle, Julie graciously drove 155 miles from Winthrop to Bellingham to deliver it to my office in the Alumni House! Only a Western alumna would do this, I’m certain.

In July, the day before the Golden Vikings Reunion, I was pleasantly surprised to meet Norborn Felton (’51) sitting on our couch in the alumni office. He came by the house with one intention: to write a check for a student scholarship. Norborn is an inspiring example of a Western alumnus preserving the Western Experience.

It’s always a treat when we can be a part of the magic that happens when alumni return to campus, as it was with Kelli Byrne (’94), who brought her husband, Kevin, and two children all the way from Philadelphia. Kelli hadn’t been back on campus since graduation! We offered the Byrne family a customized tour of campus; Kelli visited her old study spot in the library and her 6-year-old son gave the rock wall at the Wade King Student Recreation Center a try.

I believe we are all connected and share a common interest: ensuring the Western Experience lives on. Douglas, Julie, Norborn and Kelli are just four of the hundreds of inspiring alumni stories that support the Western Alumni Association goal to become the most connected alumni community in the nation.

We need your help reaching our goal. After all, if we don’t help our own, who will?