Whitworth Communications

For Immediate Release

May 9, 2005

Alumna and Humanitarian-Aid Leader to Speak at 115th Whitworth Commencement

Anna Schowengerdt has led relief efforts in response to major disasters and conflicts that have shaped the world and helped define the college years of Whitworth's 2005 graduates. Schowengerdt, a 1993 Whitworth alumna, will share "Lessons Learned" from her humanitarian-aid efforts in Liberia, Uganda, Iraq and Indonesia as the keynote speaker for the college's 115th undergraduate commencement ceremony at 3 p.m. Sunday in the Spokane Arena. A record 417 undergraduates are expected to participate in the ceremony.

Whitworth President Bill Robinson will be the keynote speaker for the college's graduate commencement ceremony at 10 a.m. Saturday in Whitworth's Cowles Memorial Auditorium. He will deliver his address, "Therefore," to about 116 graduates receiving master's degrees in education and international management. Robinson is in his 12th year as president of Whitworth and has helped lead the college to record levels of student enrollment and retention, financial strength and external visibility.

Professor of English Leonard Oakland, who along with Assistant Professor of Education Lisa Laurier was voted Most Influential Professor by the graduating class, will offer the invocation at the undergraduate commencement ceremony. Tammy Reid, '60, vice president for academic affairs and dean of the faculty, will offer the benediction. Reid, who led the revision of Whitworth's general-education curriculum, expansion of the faculty and construction of Weyerhaeuser Hall during her nine years as chief academic officer, is stepping down this year to return to teaching. Also on Sunday, Curt Kekuna, '70, senior pastor at Honolulu's historic Kawaiaha'o Church, will explore the intriguing question, "Got Mana'o?" at Whitworth's baccalaureate ceremony at 10 a.m. in the Whitworth Fieldhouse.

Schowengerdt, who has led humanitarian relief programs for Catholic Relief Services since 1998, was first assigned to Liberia, where she managed the monitoring and evaluation unit for two years. In 2000 she transferred to Uganda, where she served as a CRS representative, managing nearly 20 programs involving emergency food distribution, agriculture, education, HIV/AIDS, microfinance, post-conflict psychosocial recovery, and emergency preparation.

She next served in Baghdad, Iraq, leading a program that encouraged citizens to participate in the new government and sought to foster cooperation and reconciliation among community members. She was then transferred back to CRS' offices in the U.S., but recently joined members of other relief organizations in a humanitarian mission to Aceh, Indonesia, following the earthquake and tsunami that ravaged that country and its neighbors at the end of 2004.

Schowengerdt's work in international humanitarian assistance began when she spent eight months on an independent study-abroad program in Kenya while still a student at Whitworth. Helping organize food and blanket distribution for Somali refugees near the Kenya-Somalia border showed her "that the emotional high of responding to a humanitarian emergency would stay with me forever," she says.

After earning her B.A. in international studies, Schowengerdt received her master's degree in international politics and development from the University of Denver in 1996.

She recently lectured at Whitworth on "Humanitarian Aid in Iraq: Catholic Relief Services' Presence in a War-Torn Community" as part of Whitworth's "Lives of Commitment" Project. She was honored in 2003 with Whitworth's Recent Alumni Award.

Located in Spokane, Wash., Whitworth is a private liberal arts college affiliated with the Presbyterian Church (USA). The college enrolls 2,400 students in more than 50 undergraduate and graduate programs.


Gary Whisenand, registrar, (509) 777-4313 or gwhisenand@whitworth.edu.

Greg Orwig, director of communications, (509) 777-4580 or gorwig@whitworth.edu.

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