Students receive honors at UW Bothell 2015 Commencement

June 12, 2015

CONTACT: Lisa Hall, 425-352-5461,

Students receive honors at UW Bothell 2015 Commencement

BOTHELL, Wash. – The University of Washington Bothell honored three outstanding students at its 24th commencement ceremony on Sunday June 14 at the Alaska Airlines Arena.

Alexander Gaston is the recipient of the 2015 President’s Medal, which recognizes the graduating senior with the most distinguished academic record and demonstrated achievements and success.

Gaston is graduating Summa Cum Laude with his Bachelor of Arts in Business Administration with an option in accounting and a concentration in finance.

Born and raised in Everett, Washington where he was home schooled until high school, Gaston enrolled in high school online and designed his own fast-paced curriculum. At the same time, Gaston attended Everett Community College as a Running Start student, earning a perfect 4.0 GPA.

Gaston leads a life of service and leadership. While pursuing his degree, he was acting President of Beta Alpha Psi accounting honor society on campus. He is a member of the Financial Management Association and an Eagle Scout with Boy Scouts of America. Gaston has volunteered with Habitat for Humanity, Food Lifeline, and South Everett Neighborhood Center. He also provided volunteer tax assistance with the United Way.

Gaston graduated with a 3.99 GPA and will begin working with the Seattle CPA firm Bader Martin where he intends to specialize in non-profit entities.

Christian Arciniega was born in Burien, Washington and graduated from Monroe High School in Snohomish County. Her dual degree comes with a 20-year journey that includes numerous starts and stops due to financial difficulties. She received her associate degree from Shoreline Community College in 2001.

Arciniega’s husband gave her his veterans education benefits so she could return to college and achieve her four-year degree. In 2013, she started her UW Bothell education. Arciniega overcame significant obstacles to complete the program, including balancing her responsibilities as a student, mother of two and manager of the household while her husband was deployed abroad. Still, Arciniega managed to revive the Husky Herald student newspaper, assist professors in research, and write legislation giving priority registration for military spouses and domestic partners receiving VA education benefits. House Bill 1052 was signed into law by Governor Jay Inslee earlier this year. Arciniega graduated Magna Cum Laude with a GPA of 3.92.

James “Jim” Elliott’s degree is a Bachelor of Science Nursing. Elliott’s decision to pursue higher education came a bit later in life after overcoming tremendous odds.

As a young gay person growing up in a strict, religious Midwestern household, Elliott struggled with his sexuality for more than a decade. He also shut himself off from many people at a time when he needed them most. Elliott, as a teenager, had been diagnosed with HIV.

After barely finishing high school, it took years and a great deal of personal work to remember that he was indeed good enough and highly capable of succeeding in college.

Elliott became a registered nurse after attending Seattle Central College. He says he was honored to begin his career at Bailey-Boushay House in Seattle as a hospice nurse. As a standout student in the Seattle cohort of UW Bothell’s RN-BSN program, Elliott eagerly implemented the knowledge he acquired in every class in his work at Virginia Mason Medical Center, while maintaining a 3.95 GPA.

Elliott says he is eager to pursue a graduate degree.

About UW Bothell: With more than 45 undergraduate and graduate degrees, options, certificates and concentrations, UW Bothell emphasizes close student-faculty interaction and critical thinking. UW Bothell builds regional partnerships, inspires change, creates knowledge, shares discoveries and prepares students for leadership in the state of Washington and beyond. For more information, visit