Commencement
Past Honorary Degree Recipients

Shigeko Iseri Hirai

  • Shigeko graduated from Chimacum High School in 1935 and was a nursing student at Seattle University when her family was incarcerated at Tule Lake in Northern California. Her parents were dairy farmers with seven children and had lived and worked on their 130-acre farm. They were forced to sell their cows, and the government took the dairy and land.

    Though Shigeko hadn't yet competed nursing school, while she was in camp, she helped establish the camp hospital and worked as a surgical nurse. She later went on to complete her formal nursing education years later and worked at Columbus Hospital in Seattle.

    1960, she married Haidie Hirai, and they adopted two children from Japan two years later. They settled in Chewelah, Wash., to raise seed potatoes. Her husband died in 1970, and she kept the company going for many years with help from her brother-in-law. She was a committed mother, grandmother and community member. She served on the school board, with the Chewelah Federated Women's Club and volunteered on numerous other projects. She was named one of the city's two Honored Citizens in 1990. She died Feb. 7, 2007.