Between students and alumni, half of Bellingham has attended Western. The dreams, passions, and incredible ability of these Vikings has shaped this city since the university's founding in 1893. There's no limit to what a student can accomplish in Bellingham.
Students in the Community
Western students bring energy, passion and creativity to Bellingham, and Bellingham embraces them. Participate in an internship that builds on your education, find a job at one of the many local restaurants or businesses, or volunteer for a cause you’re passionate about – Bellingham offers endless opportunities to get involved, help others, and become a community leader. Here are just a few of the exemplary students who have gotten involved in Bellingham while attending Western.
Educators: As a future teacher, Chris Boe (History and Social Studies) works at a local middle school where he researched topics and teaches middle-schoolers. He is getting real-world experience as an instructor and expanding his own studies at the same time.
Environmental advocates: Bryson Bellefeuille (Environmental Science with an emphasis in toxicity) explores how chemicals impact environmental and human health. He studies contaminated zones around the Pacific Northwest and is interning at a hospital studying how air pollution causes lung disease.
Nonprofit founders: Sukhmanii Kahlon (Communication Studies) founded the non-profit American Sikhs, which helps elderly immigrants learn to speak English, stay healthy, and become citizens. In the two years since Sukhmanii founded American Sikhs she’s made huge strides – each of her students has aced the citizenship test, and now she’s working toward getting free medical checkups for elderly Sikhs at a local clinic.
Musicians: In high school, Joe Canfield (Electrical Engineering) cobbled together guitar amplifiers from vacuum tubes and wire. Now electrical engineering is his major, and Joe’s music is only getting louder. He plays guitar in his local band, Bob Fossil, and recently mixed and mastered their debut album. Unable to stay away from music, Joe picked up a minor in Classical Guitar after re-discovering his passion for music theory.
Alumni in the Community
When they graduate, students make the transition from learner to community leader, finding their place in one of America’s greatest small towns. Bellingham has numerous employment opportunities for alumni, including banks, law firms, engineering groups, software producers, a major hospital, and endless possibilities for self-employment as one of Forbes Magazine’s “Best Small Places for Businesses and Careers” in 2014.
These Western graduates contribute to Bellingham’s unique character and create opportunities for graduates who will follow.
Civic leaders: Bellingham’s chief executive has had strong ties to Western for nearly three decades. Bellingham’s current Mayor, Kelli Linville, graduated from Western in ’74 (Speech Language Pathology and Audiology) and ’81 (M.Ed., Speech Language Pathology and Audiology). Preceding Linville, Mayor Dan Pike graduated from Western’s class of ’94 (Urban and Regional Planning).
Nonprofit founders: Aimee Frazier (’91, Fairhaven College) founded Wild Whatcom in 2010, a nonprofit fostering youths’ love of the outdoors through exploration and community service. The organization employs and provides internships for Western students, and has contributed more than 50,000 hours of service since its founding. Wild Whatcom was named one of Outside Magazine’s top five summer camps for kids.
Local food growers: Thomas Thornton (’78, Fairhaven Interdisciplinary Concentration) and Cheryl Thornton (’77, Marine Resources) own Cloud Mountain, a non-profit farm that is committed to keeping our local food systems healthy and thriving.
Business leaders: Jan Carten (06’ MBA) is President and Director of Saturna Capital, a local business trust. Carten directs Saturna’s continuing education program and oversees the philanthropic efforts of the firm.
Entrepreneurs: Western alums Brendan Pape (’11, Communications) and Christian Harkson (’12, Communications) have started two apparel companies: Disidual Clothing Co. a thriving outdoor-inspired apparel brand and Brist Mfg. a sister company specializing in apparel design and custom manufacturing. Harkson got to the heart of alumni’s opportunity in Bellingham when he said, “A lot of cool businesses start out in Bellingham just because the community supports them so much. It’s such a good place for a business to grow.”