Alumni Briefs - Spring 2019 Issue

Learn. Do. Live.

A Clowder of Cats

Last fall, alumni were treated to a new fan type of experience during home athletic events at Tomlinson Stadium. The stadium is now home of the new Alumni Plaza, a gathering place for past and present Wildcats to mingle and enjoy home games. Located at the north end zone, the plaza opened in September as part of the recent Tomlinson Stadium Renovation.

“Watching the game from the Alumni Plaza was a great experience,” said Rachel Case, a 1995 CWU graduate. “To enjoy a Wildcat football game in a padded chair, with fellow friendly alumni, while enjoying good food and a cold drink, it’s the only way to watch the game.”

Another new addition to Tomlinson Stadium is the creation of the Wildcat Plaza, located in the south end zone, featuring a donor wall highlighting the names of individuals who helped make the Wildcat Commons project possible.

Along with the plazas, other upgrades to the stadium include: LED stadium lighting, artificial turf, new entry gates, and much more. To learn more about the Wildcat Commons project, visit

Central Alumnus Named State Teacher of the Year

For the second time in three years, a CWU alumnus is the Washington State Teacher of the Year. The state Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction honored Robert Hand, a Mount Vernon High School teacher, as the 2019 honoree. Hand earned his MS in family and consumer sciences education, along with his teaching endorsement, at CWU in 2011.

Ryan Thompson Remembered

In March, more than 3,000 people attended a memorial service in Nicholson Pavilion for Kittitas County Sheriff’s Deputy Ryan Thompson, a CWU graduate (BA Spanish, ’03) who was fatally wounded in the line of duty. Thompson, 42, served with the CWU Police Department from 2007 to 2013. He is survived by his wife and three children.

2019 '4 Under 40 Leadership Awards'

Each year, the CWU Alumni Association honors four individuals who excel in their industries or communities through their leadership roles and commitment to personal growth and community involvement. Honorees, who are under 40 years of age at the time of their nomination, are said to exemplify the Wildcat spirit.

Jennifer Schwope
Jennifer Schwope (’01) is a human resource leader with over 17 years of experience, including 12 years leading HR for international subsidiaries and 13 years in leadership. She currently works for Microsoft as a Human Resources Lead in commercial software engineering. She is married to George Schwope (’01) and they have two children.

Emily Von Jentzen
Emily Von Jentzen (’05) is a high-achieving alumna with a deep commitment to community, family, human rights, and social justice. Her areas of expertise are child advocacy and dependency, civil litigation, and non-profit formation and representation. She is also a member of the National Association of Counsel for Children.

Nolan Teasley
Nolan Teasley (’07) currently serves as Director of Pro Personnel for the Seattle Seahawks. While at Central, he was a running back on the football team and was inducted into the CWU Athletic Hall of Fame in 2013. He joined the Seahawks organization as a pro personnel scout in 2014.

Jason Goetz
Jason Goetz (’05) is currently an operations manager at PCL Construction with over a decade of experience in the construction industry. Goetz joined the CWU Construction Management Advisory Board shortly after graduating. He and his company regularly recruit and hire student interns and full-time employees.

Leading Alumni Share Tips

The 11th Annual Leadership Conference, held earlier this year, boasted a record registration of more than 200 students and— for the first time—panelists and presenters who were all CWU alumni.

The event, presented by the CWU Center for Leadership and Community Engagement, offered a day-long series of workshops, a keynote speech, and panel discussions designed to present students with a variety of leadership perspectives.

Panelists included: Aaron Christophersen (’92), Group Finance Manager for the Cloud Finance Group at Microsoft; Lisa van der Lugt, Director of the Washington State of Minority and Women’s Business Enterprises; Kendall McColley (’07), Special Agent for the IRS; Jim Ockerman (’86), Vice President of Manufacturing— Embraer Integration Manufacturing, Supply Chain & Operations at The Boeing Company; and Doug Wood (’87), CEO of Tommy Bahama, who served as the keynote speaker for the event.

A Glimpse into CWU's Mentorship Program

The CWU Alumni Association enjoys engaging and connecting with alumni, students, and the Wildcat family through many different networking opportunities, including the mentorship program.

The program gives alumni the opportunity to engage with students and help them advance in their academic and career development. To learn more or participate, visit

Mentor Katie Hovde

Education and Community Engagement Program Associate at Seattle Symphony

Katie Hovde says she is thrilled to be able to support the next generation of leaders, including her mentee, Jordan Braedt. “I remember how difficult it was to get through college at times, and graduation always seemed out of reach until it was actually happening...the transition into the professional world was jarring,” Hovde recalls. “Anything I can do to help someone else navigate this crazy time of life means so much to me.”

Mentee Jordan Braedt

Music Major with Certificate in Nonprofit Organization Management

CWU’s mentor program helped solidify what Jordan Braedt wanted to do in her future career. “I appreciate being able to learn from Katie and to see that she really puts her heart and soul into her career,” Braedt says. “She took initiative and worked very hard to be where she is now. It’s beautiful and selfless for her to come to help students like me.”

Mentee Caleb Montgomery

Piano Performance Major and Nonprofit Organization Management

"While moving forward through the alumni mentor program I'm excited to learn more about the community and education department (at the Seattle Symphony) I love that. I want to start learning about each individual department in the Seattle Symphony because it has opened my eyes to a whole new world that I haven't connected with."