Graduation Ceremonies 2016

Wenatchee Valley College graduation and nurses pinning ceremonies

Media Contacts: Libby Siebens, community relations executive director, 509.682.6436 (Mon. – Thurs.), Laura Singletary, student programs director, 509.682.6860, or Evelyn Morgan-Rallios, Omak campus administrative assistant, 509.422.7806

May 23, 2016

Mel Tonasket image Donte Quinine image Anne Gardner image
Left to right: Mel Tonasket, WVC at Omak graduation speaker; Donte Quinine, WVC Wenatchee campus graduation speaker; Anne Gardner, WVC Professor Emeritus.


Wenatchee Valley College commencement exercises are scheduled for Thursday, June 9, for the Omak campus and Friday, June 10, for the Wenatchee campus. The nurses pinnings are scheduled for Friday, June 10, for the Wenatchee campus and Saturday, June 11 for the Omak campus.

The Omak campus commencement will begin at 6 p.m. on Thursday in the Omak Performing Arts Center. The Wenatchee commencement ceremony will begin at 7 p.m. on Friday in the Town Toyota Center.

The Wenatchee campus nurses pinning for completion of the registered nursing certificate and associate degrees of nursing will take place at 1 p.m. on Friday at the Town Toyota Center.

The Omak campus capping and pinning ceremony will begin at 10 a.m. on Saturday in Hazel Allen Burnett Hall.

Mel Tonasket will speak at the Omak commencement ceremony. Tonasket is a member of the Colville Business Council, the governing body of the Confederated Tribes of the Colville Indian Reservation. He has served as an elected official for the Colville Tribes at various times since 1970 and has served as the Colville Tribes’ chairman, vice-chairman and in other leadership positions.

From 1973-1976, Tonasket served as president of the National Congress of American Indians (NCAI). He led the Colville Tribes’ fight against termination and, as president of NCAI, mobilized national support for major tribal legislation, including the Indian Health Care Improvement Act and the Indian Child Welfare Act. He was a member of the American Indian Policy Review Commission for two years and has represented United States tribal governments at the World Council of Indigenous Peoples and at the Inter-American Indigenous Conference in Brazil.

Donte Quinine, a dynamic instructor, speaker and workshop facilitator, will speak at the Wenatchee commencement ceremony. Quinine has served students in higher education since 2004 in several roles, including college admissions, athletics, development, student programs and as an instructor of communications and leadership studies. As the WVC Student Programs Director from 2013 through 2015, Quinine reinvigorated student life by inspiring and motivating student leaders to actively participate in campus activities, co-curricular programs and community service. Quinine was a featured speaker at "Connecting the Dots," a local TEDx event hosted at WVC in 2014. While at WVC, he also chaired the City of Wenatchee's Diversity Advisory Committee. 

Prior to his career in higher education, Quinine was a collegiate and professional basketball player. As a college athlete, he traveled to South Africa and Zimbabwe to lead basketball camps to children and orphans. A few years later he led a trip to Macedonia to teach basketball to impoverished youth. 

Along with his roles in higher education, Quinine continues to lead a life of health and wellness as an avid yoga practitioner and instructor. He leads classes, workshops and retreats throughout the Northwest on mindfulness and healthy living. 

Dillis “Dick” Burgess Ward III will also be recognized at the Wenatchee campus ceremony as the WVC 2016 Distinguished Alumni of the Year award recipient. Ward is a 1948 graduate of WVC. He is being honored for his military service, career and dedication to being involved in the WVC Alumni Association and his contributions to the community.

Ward was born and raised in Manson. He joined the U.S. Navy after graduating from high school and served in World War II, when he fought on Iwo Jima. After returning, he enrolled at Wenatchee Junior College. He later transferred to Washington State University, where he earned a degree in horticulture. He worked at Alcoa for eight years during the construction of the Wenatchee plant, and then he went into a business partnership for 30 years at Wenatchee Paint & Glass.

During his retirement, Ward has been a member of two Kiwanis Clubs, he has served as the vice commander of the Wenatchee American Legion Post 10 and he actively participates in his church and at WVC functions.

Anne Gardner, a retired WVC math professor, has been nominated by her peers in the math department to receive Professor Emeritus status at the Wenatchee ceremony. Professor Emeritus status is presented to a faculty member upon retirement from WVC who demonstrated an outstanding and distinguished service to the college.

Gardner was driven to improve student success during her 25-year teaching career at WVC. She worked constantly to update her teaching methods to respond to students’ needs. Gardner led the development of new curriculum for the Math for Elementary Education sequence, and she led efforts to add self-paced developmental math courses to help students move through pre-college math more quickly while still having the rigor and support of face-to-face courses.