Keane will continue a family legacy of Western graduates that started with her great-grandmother, Lucille Falkenburg Piquette, who graduated in 1929. On May 5, Keane will be the 22nd person in her family to graduate from Western. Her mother, Shannon Piquette, is a 1997 graduate, and her father, Dan Piquette, also is pursuing a degree at Western. In addition, her grandfather, Jerry Piquette, earned two degrees from Western in 1961 and 1969, and also worked at the college as vice president for business affairs. Keane also married her Western college sweetheart, Paul Keane, who graduated in 2010.
While at Western, Keane studied sociology with a minor in psychology. She put her studies to work as an intern with Western's Responsible Alcohol Partnership (WRAP), which provides educational programming and activities for students.
In the following Q&A, Keane looks back on her own memories from Western and the Gunnison Valley.
Q: What have you been involved with at Western?
A: The last three semesters, I have been an active member of WRAP (Western's Responsible Alcohol Partnership). During my final semester, I interned for both WRAP and the Truth Fairy Campaign. I have helped host several events, including WRAP Tour and hikes, as well as many other health programs for students such as yoga and acupuncture. I have also been involved with the Amigos Club, intramural sports, the varsity band, Partners and Gunnison Arts Center productions.
Q: How did you find out about Western?
A: Growing up in the Gunnison Valley, I have had a lot of involvement with Western. Additionally, I have had more than 20 family members attend Western, so they were a big influence in my choice to attend.
Q: What do you love about Western and the Gunnison Valley community?
A: It’s just that: a community. Gunnison is a beautiful place to grow up and live. There are many opportunities here to be the person you want to be. Everyone is so friendly and welcoming that it is hard not to love Gunnison.
Q: Have there been professors that have influenced your growth as a student?
A: Greg Haase and Suzy Coykendall both influenced me in different ways. Greg Haase is the main reason that I became interested in my major, sociology. His classes were always so interesting and realistic and I learned about myself and who I wanted to be. Suzy was a huge influence for me to study psychology. Her style of teaching really helped me understand the material and really made the material pertinent to me. I’m very lucky to have had these professors around during my time here. Without them, I don’t know what I would be doing with my studies, and in life for that matter.
Q: Name a memorable Western experience that will stay with you through time.
A: This semester I was a part of a “wet lab” conducted by Western alumnus Chris Halsor for WRAP and the Gunnison Police Department. It was a training exercise for WRAP interns, as well as the police officers, to demonstrate how alcohol consumption affects impairment. This was a learning experience that will always stay with me because it was so much fun and it was awesome to have some of my closest friends participate in it with me.
Q: Why did you want to be the student commencement speaker?
A: It is not every day that someone gets presented the opportunity to speak and have their thoughts and opinions heard by hundreds. I think that I have some good things to share and I wanted to speak my mind and be heard by my peers.
Q: What can we expect to hear in your address on Saturday?
A: I would like to keep this as much of a secret as possible, but I have been trying to talk too many of my peers to find out what they wanted to hear.
Q: What do you hope your fellow graduates will take away from your speech?
A: I want people to know that no matter what happens in life, they are in control. If you want something, you can have it if you really try hard.
Q: What are your plans?
A: I will be sticking around Gunnison for a while. I hope that I can travel in the future, but Gunnison will always be the place I come back to.