The magazine for Western Washington University

The exceptional people of Western remind us why we're here

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WWU President Bruce Shepard | Photo by Dan Levine

This may not be anything new to you, but often I am struck by the fact that Western offers an exceptional education and is made up of exceptional people from a diversity of backgrounds who go on to change the world.

In this issue of Window,you will be reading about such people, like Ater Malath, who as a child witnessed the devastation of the Sudanese Civil War. After his village was attacked, the 9-year-old Ater wandered across deserts and endured many hardships. His life story is simply incredible, demonstrating enormous courage and resilience in the face of such adversity. He will graduate with a business degree in 2012 from Western. He hopes to return to the fledgling nation of South Sudan and help his people recover from Africa's longest civil war.

Or how about Cherie Gruenfeld? The 67-year-old Western alumna, triathlete and world record-setter founded a non-profit that teaches at-risk youth about life skills by helping them participate in triathlons.

And our graduates make such a profound impact through their careers. Read about the network of Western alumni with important and influential positions with Microsoft. Their creative and innovative efforts help change the way we do our jobs and live our lives.

I mention these stories of perseverance and success against hardships because there is so much negative news about the daunting and harsh economy. Western has not been immune, banding together as a campus community to deal with deep state budget cuts.

However, it is very important that we not lose sight of what it is that Western does. Our university attracts and engages the very best, such as Ater Malath and Cherie Gruenfeld. But we also inspire the hearts and dreams of the next generation. The education provided by Western to its graduates makes a profound and beneficial impact on communities across Washington and, for that matter, across the nation and world.