Saint Martin’s College commencement will be Saturday, May 7

May 4, 2005

Lacey, Wash. – Commencement for the 395-member Saint Martin’s College Class of 2005, the final class to receive degrees before the college is renamed Saint Martin’s University, will be Saturday, May 7.

Commencement ceremonies begin at 1 p.m. at Saint Martin’s Pavilion, 5300 Pacific Ave. S.E. Included are graduates from Saint Martin’s main campus, as well as those from its Fort Lewis and McChord Air Force Base extension campuses. Also graduating will be the first five mechanical engineering students to complete their degrees through Saint Martin’s mechanical engineering extension program with Olympic College.

Valedictorian Elissa K. Johnson, Spanaway, will deliver the commencement address to fellow graduates. Both the class valedictorian and salutatorian, Gordon Bellevue, Chehalis, are graduating with bachelor of science degrees in biology. Johnson earned a 3.98 cumulative grade point average during her college career, and Bellevue, a 3.97.

Johnson will speak after degrees are conferred on the Class of 2005. Also addressing graduates and their families will be class speaker Vicki Watilo, Lacey, who is receiving her Master of Business Administration degree.

The Saint Martin’s College Class of 2005 is composed of students who completed degree requirements in December 2004 and May 2005, as well as those who will do so in August. The class has 91 December graduates, 250 May graduates and 54 August graduates. Of those graduating, 311 will receive undergraduate degrees and 84 will earn graduate degrees.

Saint Martin's College is an independent, coeducational college offering 22 baccalaureate and six graduate degree programs, all with a strong liberal arts foundation. Saint Martin's was founded in 1895 by the Roman Catholic religious Order of St. Benedict. In the Benedictine traditions of hospitality, service and education, the college is committed to providing excellent education to students from diverse economic, cultural, religious and ethnic backgrounds. Saint Martin's enrolls approximately 1,000 students on its main campus and about 600 more in programs offered at its extension campuses at Fort Lewis Army Post, McChord Air Force Base and Olympic College.

Class OF 2005 biographies

Elissa K. Johnson - Valedictorian
Valedictorian Elissa K. Johnson of Spanaway, Wash., is graduating with a 3.98 grade point average, earning a bachelor of science degree in biology. A member of the college’s honor society, the Society of Fellows, Johnson is the recipient of the 2005 Rosalind Elsie Franklin Award, which annually honors an outstanding senior biology student, and the 2004 Organic Chemistry Student of the Year Award.

She is a member of Beta Beta Beta national biology honorary and is vice president of Saint Martin’s Biology Club. For the college’s 2005 Scholar’s Day, she was chosen as part of a team of advanced anatomy students to discuss the medical findings of a cadaver dissection. A 2001 graduate of Bethel High School, she was recruited as a pitcher to the Saint Martin’s fast pitch softball team, where she earned all-conference honors for academics and athletics. In 2004, she spoke in Washington, D.C., on behalf of Saint Martin’s student-athletes during a presentation of the national USA Today-NCAA Academic Achievement Award to the College. She also is a member of the Student Athletic Advisory Council and organized this year’s NCAA “Take a Kid to the Game Night.”

Johnson is applying to the University of Washington Dental School and dreams of one day opening her own dental practice. She says she hopes to serve others by increasing access to dental care in underserved communities.

Gordon Lawrence Bellevue - Salutatorian
Gordon Lawrence Bellevue, who also is graduating with a bachelor of science degree in biology, has earned a 3.97 grade point average during his college career to become 2005 salutatorian. Bellevue is the recipient of Saint Martin’s Trustee’s Scholarship.

A U.S. Navy veteran, he retired after 28 years of military service and now resides in Chehalis. Before transferring to Saint Martin’s College, he earned an associate of science degree in biology with highest honors from Centralia College. As a student there, he was a member of Phi Theta Kappa and was awarded a Phi Theta Kappa scholarship. At Saint Martin’s, he was tapped for membership in its honor society, the Society of Fellows, and has been active in both the Non-Traditional Students Club and Beta Beta Beta national biology honorary.

He and his wife of 28 years, Susan Box Bellevue, have three children: Nicholas, 24, who was just discharged from the U.S. Air Force; Angelisa, 18, an elementary education major at Central Washington University; and Joseph, 16, a junior at Chehalis’ W.F. West High School. Bellevue is the son of C. Lee McCrite of Winlock and the late Larry Bellevue; he is the stepson of the late John McCrite. Bellevue is a part-time physics lab instructor for Saint Martin’s, work he plans to continue next year. He said he hopes to eventually earn a master’s degree and teach at the college level.

Vicki Watilo - Class Speaker
Vicki Watilo, Lacey, is graduating with a Master of Business Administration degree. She earned her summa cum laude bachelor’s degree in business administration with a marketing concentration from Saint Martin’s in 2001. Watilo, who grew up in Silverdale, Wash., started her college career later in life due to personal hardships. She completed her undergraduate degree at 35, and has worked in both private sector and non-profit organizations.

Her non-profit experience spans both national and international Christian humanitarian efforts, including four years with Turning Point Ministries International, a Texas-based organization that helps the impoverished. In the local community, Watilo has given her time to Bread and Roses, her homeowners association and community outreach events for the Church of Living Water. Watilo is active in the Society of Competitive Intelligence Professionals, the Puget Sound Business Intelligence Group and the American Marketing Association.

She is the daughter of Jerry Watilo and Sharon Horton; the sister of Steve Watilo, Shari Honeywell and Lauri Baroni; and “the proud aunt” of eight nieces and nephews.

Mary Law

Deanna Partlow
Office of Communication