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Wednesday, May 12, 2021

Alumna makes US history

Alumna Vini Elizabeth Samuel was recently elected mayor of Montesano, Washington.  // Photo courtesy of Zeck Koa
Alumna Vini Elizabeth Samuel was recently elected mayor of Montesano, Washington. // Photo courtesy of Zeck Koa

Alumna Vini Elizabeth Samuel made history on Tuesday, Nov. 3, when she was elected as the first female Indian-American mayor in US history. Samuel was elected mayor of Montesano, Washington, also becoming the first female mayor the city has ever had.

As a double major in history and English literature, Samuel said her time at Western taught her the importance of community involvement and that being an active citizen is critical to the health and welfare of any community.

“I think what Western does best is create this need to be involved in your community and to understand the value of being involved,” she said.

Deborah DeWees, assistant vice president for alumni, annual giving and advancement communications and executive director for the WWU Alumni Association, congratulated Samuel on her success.

“Vini has served Western in many ways, most recently as a member of the Western Alumni Board of Directors,” DeWees said in an email. “Western alumni are leaders in their communities across our state, region and nation.”

Samuel said she is very excited to have been elected mayor and everything else that comes with it is just another blessing and opportunity. Making history as the first female Indian-American mayor is inspiring to her.

“It’s pretty awesome to be the first to do something,” she said. “The real test is seeing that I won’t be the last and that it’s not going to be a rare event.”

She hopes to ensure an open opportunity to anyone who wants to walk this path in the future. She wants people to feel they have the chance to make change as well.

“What I’m most excited about doing [as mayor] is building,” she said.

Samuel said she hopes to push Montesano, Washington, beyond people’s expectations and to move past the fighting between city officials and employees. She plans on talking to residents, city officials and employees and to address their concerns so that everyone is on the same page, she said.

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