Igniting the Flame: Northwest Community Celebrates What's Next at the Project NEXT Community Campfire

Project Next Campfire Photo Galley

A community campfire may have seemed a bit unusual for an official University celebration but, the truth is, as the first new medical school in Washington in 60 years, we’re a bit unusual ourselves…

Plus, when we imagined a more traditional “groundbreaking ceremony,” complete with golden shovels and representatives in formal attire, it didn’t feel like us.  After all, we’re Pacific Northwest University, located in the heart of an agricultural powerhouse, surrounded by blue collar men and women with fertile soil in the soles of their boots.  We felt that any event with our name should represent those people; the people we aim to serve. And what represents the Pacific Northwest more than a campfire?  

What symbolizes this university more than a spark?  

In 2005, the ever-growing need for more doctors in our communities served as the spark to all that we have now.  

Early on, this community gathered around us, fanning our hopeful flame despite an enormous cloud of uncertainty on the horizon. Ultimately, thanks to their support, our brave first class served as the fuel to keep the dream of our founders burning. Today, that dream burns brighter than ever. 

Each year, PNWU graduates 140 new doctors who — like sparks — drift far from our Yakima campus and across our 5-state region, bringing with them the warmth and the power to improve the lives of those in the communities they’ll serve for years to come.  

Truthfully, without our entire community, we would be nothing but a pile of sticks in the middle of a Yakima field. Instead, thanks to all of you, we are a raging fire, capable of providing for our communities for years to come. On Tuesday night, we joined together to celebrate the growth of that fire, and our next step toward become the Health Sciences university our founders dreamed of, igniting the next spark which will start a fire capable of providing even more warmth to the communities we serve.

Thanks to everyone who has helped to make that fire possible, and thank you to everyone who joined us to celebrate Project NEXT!