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L-R: Bill Cheney, WCMS Board of Trustees member; Ben Metzger (Canvas CU, CO), Highest Honors recipient; and Dr. Michael Steinberger, Dean and Chief Academic Officer for WCMS.
L-R: Bill Cheney, WCMS Board of Trustees member; Ben Metzger (Canvas CU, CO), Highest Honors recipient; and Dr. Michael Steinberger, Dean and Chief Academic Officer for WCMS.

2023 WCMS Graduates Honor & Celebrate Credit Union Movement

After three examinations, two projects, three innovation challenges, two live and one virtual session, the Western CUNA Management School (WCMS) “Upsilon” Class was celebrated and honored on July 20 at the Pomona College in Claremont, CA. The ceremony for 82 graduates marked the conclusion of the 63rd annual session of WCMS and the 61st graduation commencement (view photos here).

The Upsilon Class took great pride in recognizing WCMS’s previous 60 alumni classes. Graduating students looked to the future of their work in the credit union movement after starting their WCMS journey three years ago. The commencement ceremony was held in Bridges Hall of Music on the Pomona College campus. This was WCMS’s 50th session held on the Pomona College campus, and the college marked the milestone with various acknowledgments during the session.

The graduating class specially recognized David Ellings, WCMS Director of Campus Activities, who passed unexpectedly prior to the session, and all those who supported their attendance.

Troy Stang — commencement speaker and president/CEO of GoWest Credit Union Association, as well as longtime supporter of the school — encouraged and inspired students to accomplish great things on behalf of their members when they return to their credit unions.

“This class is going to be the ones who make the difference in our members lives,” Stang said. “Go out there and do great things!”

Winona Nava, president and CEO of Guadalupe Credit Union in New Mexico, received this year’s James D. Likens WCMS Alumni Recognition Award for significant achievements in the credit union field since graduating from the school. Each year, this prestigious honor is awarded to a WCMS alumnus who has made significant professional growth and strides in a credit union career — as well as leading through significant service to the credit union community — after graduation from WCMS. Dr. James Likens — who is retired but has devoted his entire life and career to WCMS students, alumni, and the school’s philosophy — was in the audience to proudly cheer on Nava and each graduate.

One Upsilon student graduated with “High Honors,” and twelve students graduated with “Honors.”  One student, who earned highest distinction on each of the tests and projects, graduated from WCMS as a “Highest Honors” graduate, only the tenth student to earn the distinction in the school’s history. These distinctions were earned based on each student’s performance on the examinations taken by all students at the end of each school year and for their analysis in each of their two major research projects (based on their credit union) completed between sessions.

Student graduating with “Highest Honors” was Ben Metzger (Colorado).

Student graduating with “High Honors” was Ronna Idzenga (Oregon).

Students graduating with “Honors” were Hana Aymar (California); Jared Buttars (Utah); Chantelle Castle (Oregon); Dave Goldman (Wyoming); Gina Jones (New Hampshire); April Libby (Nevada); Cheryl McCarthy (Oregon); John McEwen (Montana); Dave Nellis (Utah); Keith Paul (California); Tammy Reid (California); Laura Smith (Idaho).

Ben Metzger, vice president of strategy for Canvas CU (Colorado), also received the Rick Craig Prize for Excellence in Project II. The award recognizes superb excellence in a student’s second year WCMS project, an endeavor usually taking each student more than 200 hours to complete.

In addition, every year the graduating student who best represents high moral character, leadership, credit union dedication, and academic achievement is nominated by his or her class to receive the Charles M. Clark Memorial Award. This year’s recipient was Dave Nellis, Manager, Human Capital Management, America First Credit Union, Utah.

This year’s graduating class continued with the long-standing tradition of paying it forward to future leaders and giving back to WCMS funds it earned in service-learning activities. This year’s graduating class gift of $18,500 represents the total raised over the past three years in Upsilon Class led efforts.

In his charge to the graduates, WCMS Dean Dr. Michael Steinberger reflected on the legacies of several WCMS alumni have made on the credit union movement, and then challenged each student to “build your own legacy of service.”

Graduates from California:
Hana M. Aymar
Jessica Buckley
Nathaniel A. Calhoun
Kramer Chan
Charles Ciapponi
Larry Forwood
Natalie Kim
Sara Joy Klein
Ignasio Zataray Medrano
Josue Mendoza
Erin Moreci
Everardo Munoz
Steven Grant Naylor
Keith A. Paul
Adriana Prause
Cheryl Rayo
Tammy Reid
Marlena Renteria
Violeta Zavala Stewart
Jamie Tambornino
Tamany R. Tillmon
Oscar Toledo
Sonia Villa
Robin S. Vossler
Matthew Wyckoff
Maribel Zamora

Graduates from Nevada:
April Libby

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