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Western’s 100,000th degree celebration takes one graduate by surprise

'Western works in incredible ways'

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WWU President Bruce Shepard, 2010 graduate Ariadnne Alatriste Peña, and WWU Board of Trustees Chair Dennis Madsen. | Photo by Dan Levine
2010 graduate Ariadnne Alatriste Peña realizes she’s the honorary 100,000th degree recipient at Western’s Fall Commencement. | Photo by Dan Levine

Ariadnne Alatriste Peña got more than a mortarboard when she graduated with a Cultural Anthropology degree in December 2010 – she received honorary recognition as Western’s 100,000th degree recipient.

Western officials knew the 100,000th degree would be awarded at Fall Commencement, and selected a student at random to represent the recipient of the landmark degree. Alatriste, of Laguna Hills, Calif., did not know she had been selected until it was her turn to walk across the stage at the ceremony.

“I couldn’t believe it,” says Alatriste, who was planning to head to Mexico after graduation to work with youth in a drug rehabilitation center. “Everyone got up and applauded. Western works in incredible ways.”

Western is also honoring the entire 2010-11 graduating class with a commemorative brick paver installed in the sidewalk in front of Old Main. Western began awarding degrees in 1933, after decades of awarding certificates and diplomas.

Alatriste received a gift basket with WWU memorabilia, including a blanket, clock, coffee cup, keychain and “Western at 100” book. She plans to attend graduate school to study colonization, war, human rights and sovereignty.