'95 Collins College Alumna Honored with Lifetime Achievement Award

'95 Collins College Alumna Honored with Lifetime Achievement Award

On Saturday, April 13, all alumni, friends and family were invited to the 59th Annual Alumni Awards Gala to celebrate this year's honorees while having an opportunity to network with fellow alumni and university leaders. Karen Wetherholt, VP Human Resources for Illumina class of '92 was our Collins College honoree! You can read more about Wetherholt HERE and also, check out the video where she touches on the impact that Collins College had on her. WATCH VIDEO HERE

Karen Wetherholt is passionate about people finding their strengths and using them to navigate their careers, facilitate growth and pursue a path where they fit — and will soar. At Cal Poly Pomona, she gained the foundation that would be vital to a career that has spanned professions and continents.

“It helped me develop a broad understanding of business and hospitality-specific knowledge,” says Wetherholt, a Southern California native who graduated from the university in 1992 with a degree in hospitality management. “I loved the breadth in restaurants, hotels, clubs and travel businesses; understanding customers, operations, and execution. Financial management and profit and loss responsibility. Leadership, coaching and management.”

She earned an MBA from Claremont Graduate University and held executive positions at Universal Studios, Walt Disney Parks and Resorts, and The Walt Disney Company, both in the United States and China. Wetherholt is currently vice president of human resources for the San Diego-based biotechnology firm Illumina, a global leader in DNA sequencing and array-based technologies. She also is an instructor for UC Irvine’s Human Resources and Business Certificate Programs.

While at Cal Poly Pomona, Wetherholt was involved with Zeta Tau Alpha sorority as well as numerous volunteer and philanthropic events, and she appreciated the university’s hands-on approach.

“It started me on my hospitality and leadership path. Cal Poly Pomona has a foundation in fostering a strong work ethic and teaches practical, real-world experience and requires work experience. This practical application of education and applying it through work experience is invaluable.”

Wetherholt says she’s been blessed to know and mentor amazing people, and she strives to make a difference through her life and work. This includes participating in Cal Poly Pomona’s Professor for a Day program for several years.

She and her husband are parents to two young adult children. They live in Orange County. For video of award winner click here.