Serving as the EWU Commencement student speaker offers a special opportunity for students to represent the Eagle community and their class, reflecting upon the experiences they have had at Eastern and what they have learned.
This year’s student commencement speakers, Tabitha Ormaechea and Lindsey Richardson, will offer their fellow classmates some final words – part advice, part reflection – as they leave their research papers, essays, textbooks and study groups behind, to move forward as they write the next chapter in the story of their lives.
Tabitha Ormaechea will speak at the 10 a.m. Commencement ceremony. She wants to share how Eastern and her professors have had an invaluable impact on her life. As a nontraditional student, some of her experiences have been different from the majority of students.
“When I made the decision to return to school I had already experienced many of the struggles of adulthood and knew the value of a true education,” said Ormaechea. “I have embraced every opportunity; I have strived for the betterment of myself and pushed to achieve greatness. The relationships that I have cultivated with various professors in various departments have changed the course of my life forever. They have mentored me when I needed guidance; they have supported me when I have faltered, and above all, they have helped me find the confidence and knowledge that I searched so long for. My academic expedition has been challenging and obstacles have been plentiful but through it all I have accomplished something I never truly thought possible, not only graduating but doing so with great success.”
Ormaechea grew up in Spokane and was raised by a single mother who instilled the importance of a strong work ethic in order to succeed in life. Following high school, she spent the next seven years traveling and living all over the world.
She is graduating with a 3.87 GPA, in the top 2 percent of her class, with a BA in international affairs and a minor in anthropology. Throughout her academic career, she has concentrated on environmental concerns, with a particular interest in water resources. During her time at Eastern, she has interned with political campaigns and presented her research at the Northwest Anthropological Conference. She is a member of the Eastern Honors program and the Pi Sigma Alpha national political science honor society.
Following graduation, Ormaechea plans to attend Lewis & Clark Law School, pursuing her passion for the environment through the Environmental, Natural Resources and Energy Law program. She attributes her academic success to the incredible support system of her professors, family, and friends.
As a kindergarten student in 1996, Richardson knew her dream was to become a teacher because she loved school so much. Later in life, she knew she wanted to be an Eastern Eagle.
“Since my sophomore year at Richland High School, I became intensely interested in the Cheney/Spokane area which resulted in a lot of visits,” said Richardson. “When I toured campus for what seemed like the 100th time during Eagle Flight in 2009, I was still grinning from ear-to-ear and was beyond excited to start my college journey. Through my undergraduate studies, I feel that I truly experienced a well-rounded EWU student experience such as living on campus in Dressler, cheering during sporting events, watching truly talented actors at EWU Theatre plays, or just simply enjoying ‘fancy fries’ at The Roost.”
As a first-generation college student, Richardson was awarded the Eastern Advantage Scholarship, and as an undergraduate, she studied elementary education, majoring in reading with a minor in theatre. She participated in the Eastern Reading Council, which promotes children’s literacy in the community. She became involved with the Communities in Schools mentoring program and worked with youth in local after-school care and camp programs.
Following her graduation with a BA in education in 2013, Richardson realized her dream and began working as a kindergarten teacher at Windsor Elementary School in the Cheney School District.
Continuing her journey as a lifelong learner, Richardson decided to begin graduate studies in 2015, and June 17, she earns her master’s degree in education, in literacy.
“So many of my colleagues have been residents of Cheney their whole lives and continued their education at Eastern Washington University,” said Richardson. “We feel proud to be part of the Cheney school system and regularly promote college and career readiness in our schools by wearing college apparel of our choice. When I talk to my kindergarten students while rocking my EWU gear, I can’t help but feel overjoyed when hearing their discussions about the many choices they have when they grow up. I cannot wait to see where those dreams take them, just like my dream took me when I was sitting crisscross applesauce in my kindergarten classroom.”