Celebrating the Outstanding Graduates of 2022
Each year, the Westmont community celebrates the many ways that God has gifted our students academically by announcing and honoring the Outstanding Graduate Awards in each department during the Academic Awards Convocation prior to Commencement. The following are the Outstanding Graduates of 2022.
Kathleen Ryan fully embodies an anthropological disposition to the world through her curiosity and commitment to engaging well with “the other.” She has shown dedication and thoughtfulness in everything she does. After graduation, she hopes to apply her anthropological sensibilities in pursuit of a degree in museum studies and art history.
Abigail Stadtlander is an ever-positive presence in the classroom, always wearing a smile. She is tenacious in her studio work. As an art history minor, she's proved herself a sharp reader of primary and secondary texts, an incisive reader of images, and a clear translator of visual arguments into verbal equivalents. Her energetic engagement in class is an encouragement to her professors, as is her creative imagination and care for her community.
Sarah Chan not only displayed a diligent work ethic as a student, but she has also been an indispensable student worker in our department, serving as a TA in our introductory biology course and a ready and willing assistant in the preparation of many of our labs. It has been a joy to watch Sarah grow and mature and we have greatly appreciated all that she has contributed to our department. We will miss her.
Academically talented, always cheerful, always upbeat, warm, and willing to help, Bryan Dionisio has enriched the lives of his professors and classmates in many ways – as a student in the classroom, a TA for various labs, and a researcher in the Nishimura group, with whom he has published three papers. We always look forward to his presence with knowledge that tasks will get done quickly without fanfare because he works behind the scenes.
Brooke Harrington is deeply curious and asks insightful questions in class, not because the content might be on an exam, but because she’s interested in the implications of the material for life and who she is becoming. Brooke is fearless in pursuing her goals, but she also demonstrates care through her interactions. She is well-spoken and thoughtful about how language and culture impact others.
Talia Bjelland is a multi-faceted student with a wide variety of interests and a drive to excel in all of them. She has tutored her peers in the finer points of programming, built software for Westmont through the CATlab program, and has interned at Best Buy. She has leveraged her Spanish minor in tutoring Spanish-speaking individuals with Down Syndrome in Mexico. She has been a blessing to our department and school.
Didi Bulow has a passion for applying her Data Analytics major to making the world a better place. Her focus on relief work and Salesforce development for the college has culminated in a project to better visualize quantitative and qualitative census data for the unhoused in our county. Her technical talents, social insights and compassion speak to a bright future.
Economics and Business
Faculty affirm that Maggie Hine is a joy to have in class. She thinks and communicates with precision, and has a humble disposition. Maggie devours work with energy and focus, never backs down from a challenge and has a remarkable self-awareness that steadies her. She brings an admirable Christian commitment to bear in seeking the best way to exercise stewardship on behalf of those facing economic disadvantages.
Abigail Watson is incisive in analyzing a text, graceful in her prose style, and incredibly conscientious. Repeatedly, she would be the first student in class to submit a given essay, which frequently turned out to be the best in class. In play reviews, she was honest but kind, pointing out strengths while offering vivid accounts of what awaits potential viewers. Abby will pursue graduate work in library science and has been accepted into multiple programs.
The challenge in speaking of Addie Michaelian is that you run the risk of repeating yourself: she is an excellent researcher, an excellent communicator, an excellent thinker. She works hard: she doesn’t just put in the hours needed for any given assignment; she pays very close attention, not just to what is being said but also to what might be missing, to what is going on in the periphery, to what one might consider counter-intuitive.
While COVID repeatedly thwarted Steven Zichichi attempts to do a semester off-campus, it did not prevent him growing into an outstanding student of history and more. Steven is quiet and unassuming, but when he opens his mouth, other students listen. He has been a pleasure to teach, and the history department will miss him.
We honor Karly Kingsley for her inspiring thoughtfulness, natural wonder, and great insights into the integration of physics and the human body. In her research with faculty, she is precise with her data collection, kind in her interactions, and a joy to be around during data analysis. Her discipline and dedication are impressive. She is truly a master of her craft.
Anna Luce is a conscientious, bright, and determined student who enthusiastically pursued a major in Liberal Studies and minor in Spanish. She cares deeply for marginalized students and is eager to use the knowledge and skills from her major and minor in elementary classrooms in the future. Anna is a thoughtful student and active listener who demonstrates curiosity, leaning into learning both in and out of the classroom.
With his warm, gentle nature and steadfast presence, Wesley Brown is one of those people who brings peace and harmony to the projects he’s involved in — and as a double-major in Mathematics and English and Editor-in-Chief of The Horizon for the past year, he has truly blessed the Westmont community at large. Wesley has been a real team player and motivator in class. He is a self-starter who is quick to grasp new concepts and eager to learn new skills.
Cody Lefebre approaches his studies—and all he does—with joy and enthusiasm. He is passionate about learning—whether analyzing a poem, translating a news article for his internship with Latin American News Digest, or engaging in community-based research in Ensenada. His Spanish is so good and his vocabulary so extensive that fellow students here and abroad nicknamed him el diccionario; even professors might ask him a word or two!
Isaac Siebelink has balanced the demands of pursuing a double major in Music and Computer Science and has demonstrated his passion for music by constantly challenging himself. While active in Chamber Music and the Opera Orchestra, he stretched outside the traditional path and participated as a cast member in the Opera. He was a Muisc Guild Finalist and won the Music Department's Concerto Competition.
Chapman Canlis is a skilled philosopher, exceptional writer, admirable person, and devoted follower of Christ. He is adept at careful, critical analysis and creative, original synthesis. He is a master of the art of written philosophical dialogue and his work is lively, engaging, and insightful. He is an excellent student who is not showy or pretentious but humble and modest.
Physics and Engineering
Lexy Gillette has the unique ability to integrate her knowledge of physics with other areas that she is studying within the liberal arts environment. Not only was she dedicated to learning physics extraordinarily well, but she was enthusiastic about connecting that knowledge to open-ended inquiry. We fully anticipate that Lexy will be the kind of intellectual who will make lasting contributions to her chosen field of study and will develop novel ways to apply those insights to society as a whole.
Hannah Grierson is a truly exceptional student and an even better person. While she possesses considerable intellectual firepower, she is extremely humble and always willing to learn from others. Hannah serves our community in various ways, not least of which is as WCSA President. She also has a global vision, serving as an “Advocacy Chair for Strong Women” for World Vision, interning with USAID, and teaching English to refugees.
Michael Kong is a bright student, a diligent change agent, and a kind human being. One professor stated, “Michael is absolutely one of the brightest students I have ever taught in my career. He balances his great intellect with amazing humility, humor, and compassion for others. I know Michael will go on to great things, and I feel blessed to have known him during his time at Westmont.”
Valerie Swisher has been a joy to experience. One professor stated that she is an amazing student who set the highest standard in their classes. She has an abiding thirst for knowledge and a ceaseless energy as she pursues her studies and research. Her writing and speaking reveal depth and critical thinking. Anyone who knows Valerie will be swept up by her competence and effervescence.
John Corbett is an exceptional student who seamlessly integrates and embodies his passion for Christ, compassion for God's people, and academic excellence. He exudes a combination of intelligence in and out of the classroom, engagement with issues that matter, servant-leadership, and empowerment by his Christian mind and heart, all with a levity that is at once disarming and inviting.
Kate Overton has demonstrated maturity, wisdom, and keen insight throughout her time at Westmont. Her participation in the Westmont in Cairo program led to an outstanding major honors project that examines Egyptian women’s experiences of everyday harassment. Kate’s attunement to the complexity of social issues along with her deep commitment to justice will make her an effective advocate for the marginalized.
Emi Brewer energized the Theatre Arts department with her charisma, commitment, and quixotic sense of humor from her first moments at Westmont. She excelled in her classes, and worked tirelessly on student crews. Emi’s passions for acting are wide and diverse. She loves the stage and film equally, and is a strong, compelling voice for acting’s potential to enact socio-political change.