60th Western CUNA Management School Commencement: 2022 Graduates Honor and Celebrate Credit Union Movement

89 Students Launch into Leadership During 60th Graduation Ceremony

ONTARIO, CA (July 26, 2022) — After three examinations, two projects, and several virtual and in-person sessions, the Western CUNA Management School (WCMS) “Tau” Class was celebrated and honored on July 21 at Pomona College in Claremont, CA. The ceremony for 89 graduates marked the conclusion of the 62nd annual session of WCMS and the 60th graduation commencement (view photos here).

The Tau Class took great pride in recognizing WCMS’s previous 59 alumni classes. Graduating students looked to the future of their work in the credit union movement after starting their WCMS journey four years ago. The commencement ceremony was the first in-person WCMS graduation in three years, held under the stars on a beautiful Southern California evening.

While a service-learning objective is present for all WCMS classes, the Tau Class particularly focused their 2022 class event on creating more than 500 activity kits for local youth. They donated them to Children’s Hospital Los Angeles to put smiles on the faces of ill children and bring them a bit of hope and joy.

Shruti Miyashiro (WCMS Class of 1998) — commencement speaker, former CEO of Orange County’s CU (current CEO of Digital FCU in Marlborough, MA), and longtime WCMS leader and supporter — encouraged and inspired students to accomplish great things on behalf of their members when they return to their credit unions.

“For a leader, success is not about your title or how much money you make,” Miyashiro said. “It’s about realizing the success in the lives of those you lead.”

Bob Toohey — WCMS 1975 graduate, founder/chairman emeritus of the WCMS Alumni Association, and longtime credit union volunteer — received this year’s James D. Likens Alumni Recognition Award for significant achievements in the credit union field since graduating from the school. Joining him was Dr. James Likens, who is retired but has devoted his entire life and career to WCMS, its students, alumni, and the school’s philosophy. Toohey’s lifetime of accomplishments, volunteerism, and achievements were duly recognized with Likens by his side, preceded by both of them briefly reminiscing on stage about how they met nearly 50 years ago.

Four Tau students graduated with “High Honors,” and 11 students graduated with “Honors.” 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.

Students graduating with “High Honors” were: Carl Murphy (Colorado); Julia Niziolek (Alaska); Farren Shumate (Washington); and Ian Wiggins (Oregon).

Students graduating with “Honors” were: Amera Aiello (California); Meagan Barrett (Colorado); Brittany DeVries (Montana); Jordan Gray (California); Jessica Jamison (California); Gina Jorgensen (Oregon); Eric Mayer (Idaho); Jeff Mosser (Oregon); Amanda Myers (Idaho); Aaron Pitroff (California); and Monica Ruelas (California).

Julia Niziolek, executive director of insurance and investment services for Alaska USA FCU, 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 Stephanie Demendonca, branch manager at Foothill FCU (California).

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 $20,000 represents the total raised over the past four years in Tau Class and tri-class led efforts.

The 2022 Western CUNA Management School (WCMS) graduating Tau Class.

About Western CUNA Management School

For more than 60 years, Western CUNA Management School has helped credit union management staff meet the challenges of the future. WCMS is the West Coast-based leadership and philosohical institution for current and future credit union leaders, preparing individuals with the depth and breadth they need to contribute to their credit union’s success, the credit union movement, and their own personal career goals.


Nancy Wood
Director of School Administration
Western CUNA Management School (WCMS)

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