The Alumni, Student and Friends Association at Columbia Basin College (CBC) advocates that graduates of the school “remember where they started, share what they have become.” Leuita Mathiowetz, this year’s alumna of the year, believes strongly in those exact words. She states: “Columbia Basin College did so much for me. It made my life better. Now I want to help others fulfill their wishes.”
Born in the Midwest 90 years ago, Leuita lived on a small farm and graduated from high school at 16. Her ambition in life was to become a nurse. However, at 16 she was too young to enter any nursing program. Putting her nursing dreams on hold, she worked in retail sales and married in her mid-20s. After WWII, she and her husband moved to Richland where they raised three children. All of her children went to college and two of them attended CBC. With her family grown and in her early 50s, Leuita returned to the classroom as a non-traditional student at CBC. She enjoyed her first class, bible literature, taught by Robert Fisher, very much and decided then to pursue her lifelong dream of becoming a nurse. In her mid-50s, she graduated in 1976 with a nursing degree from CBC and passed her certification to become a registered nurse. She then worked at both Kadlec Hospital and the Washington Public Power Supply System, now Energy Northwest, until her retirement.
From Leuita’s personal story, you can see she was a self-made person with a modest beginning. She was a person who thought not of herself but of the welfare of others. She was frugal yet astute when it came to managing money. But most importantly, she championed the cause of education and the financial needs of today’s students. She wanted to help CBC students who were struggling financially. Given all her assistance with students, she never stipulated a particular program or field of study. Her gifts have reached many areas of the college from support to the nursing program to campus construction projects. But what she cherishes most is her support for 160 students with scholarships and the creation of a student emergency fund to help students with unsuspected needs.
The College salutes this year’s alumna of the year and is grateful and pleased she is part of our Foundation family.
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