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Unplanned Opportunities Forge New Directions for Murrow Student

By AnneMarie Hunter

Unexpected turns and opportunities defined Cheryl Aarnio’s journey at Washington State University. As doors opened to career possibilities she had not previously considered, Cheryl also discovered new strengths and interests along the way.

In December 2021, this exceptional Coug graduated from the Edward R. Murrow College of Communication with a bachelor of arts in multimedia journalism and a supplemental degree in French for the Professions. During her exceptional WSU journey, she was awarded numerous scholarships, including the University Achievement Award, the Avery Quinn Plaster Memorial Scholarship, and the Kathi Goertzen Leadership Award. She was also a Boeing Scholar» More …

Lorena Zurita, Future Winemaker, Persists Through Every Obstacle

By AnneMarie Hunter

“Just like life, winemaking has lots of unknowns.”

— Lorena Zurita

Lorena Zurita never gives up.

Though her path has been paved with challenges, this Washington State University senior has persisted in the pursuit of her goals.

Zurita, 24, will graduate in spring 2022 with a bachelor of science in viticulture and enology and minors in horticulture and business administration. Resilience, positivity, and a deep connection to the earth have forged the direction of her education and life.

Lorena’s parents immigrated to the United States from Mexico before she was born. They settled … » More …

Christi Webster: Bioengineering a Brighter Future

By AnneMarie Hunter

Perhaps it was swimming with her brothers in the frosty waters of St. Mary Lake at Glacier National Park. Or, picking huckleberries along the park’s trails.

Maybe it was hiking in Shenandoah National Park while her father, Pete, taught her about ecosystems along the way.

It could have been playing hide and seek in the world’s tallest trees at Sequoia National Park. Or, catching sight of mountain goats and big horn sheep in Logan Pass.

“All of those experiences came together so I ended up where I needed to be,” said Christi Webster, bioengineering major in the » More …

ROAR Student Lives a Life of Joyful Creativity

By AnneMarie Hunter

In August, Vanessa ‘Nessa’ Ankney began her first year as a Washington State University ROAR (Responsibility Opportunity Advocacy and Respect) student.

WSU ROAR is a two-year inclusive, post-secondary education program for students with intellectual and developmental disabilities (I/DD). An integrated, on-campus educational experience, ROAR empowers students to achieve their personal and professional goals and become self-determined, independent adults.

Nessa, a passionate, gifted artist, will graduate from the ROAR program in 2023 with an emphasis on fine arts. As part of her fall schedule, she is enrolled in Amy Petersilie Heile’s ENGL 100 (Introductory College Composition) course.

Recently, Nessa shared … » More …

Meet Christana Craig

By Tiffani Stubblefield

“Being a Cougar means being courageous, adventurous, and intellectual,” says Christana Craig, a sophomore in the College of Nursing.

Christana chose Washington State University after attending the Children of Aztlan Sharing Higher Education (CASHE) Conference at WSU. CASHE is a leadership conference that encourages high school students of all backgrounds, especially Chicanx/Latinx to pursue higher education. The experience of being welcomed by a group of peers representing the heart of WSU took Christana by surprise and showed her what being a true Coug was about.

Growing up in a low-income family in Pasco, Washington, a college education was not a … » More …

With Resilience and Faith, Nursing Student Achieves Her Lifelong Dream

By AnneMarie Hunter

A single mother of two young sons, Leanne Nixon graduated in May 2021 with a bachelor of science from Washington State University’s (WSU) College of Nursing. Leanne first pursued her nursing degree in 2012. However, while in the midst of this program, Leanne battled a methamphetamine addiction that threatened her life, dreams, and future.

“My life was completely destroyed within a matter of months,” Leanne said. “I lost my home, my kids, my car, and dropped out of school. WSU tried to help me, but I refused their help and denied I had a problem. I was so scared if I … » More …

Versatile Student Achieves Her Dreams through Enduring Optimism and Commitment

By AnneMarie Hunter

May was a marvelous month for Bahama native Charisma Taylor.

She graduated from Washington State University (WSU) with a bachelor of arts in hospitality business management from the Carson College of Business. She was named a WSU 2021 Top Ten Senior. And, she qualified for nationals in the triple jump during the NCAA Division I Outdoor Track and Field West Preliminaries hosted at Texas A&M.

These achievements represent the culmination of years of determination, discipline, and aspiration for this 21-year-old student, athlete, and pastry chef.


When she was seven years old, Charisma discovered she loved to … » More …

Musician Reignites Passion and Focus After Difficult Year

By AnneMarie Hunter

During recess, most third graders go outside to play.

Some, however, play the marimba with their fellow students. Brandt Fisher was one of those recess marimba players.

“When I joined the marimba band in third grade, we learned music by ear,” Brandt said. “This taught me how to truly listen to music and the musicians I played with. And, playing during recess was so much fun.”

By sixth grade, Brandt had discovered the saxophone and a passion to play music for the rest of his life. Since those first marimba band concerts, Brandt has pursued his passion and shared it with … » More …


By AnneMarie Hunter

Lars Neuenschwander has been a Coug from the day he took his first breath.

A current WSU Elson S. Floyd College of Medicine student, Lars was born on campus at Pullman Memorial Hospital in 1996. Eighteen years later, he returned to attend Washington State University. In 2019, he achieved a double degree in Spanish and Bioengineering and will graduate from the College of Medicine in 2024.

However, a future in the medical profession was not always part of Lars’s plans. In fact, he had to overcome a piercing fear to pursue medicine.

“I wasn’t somebody who grew up with a … » More …

CAS Student Meets Challenges with Courage and Resilience

By AnneMarie Hunter

“When I was a kid, I fell in love with science and have never changed my mind,” says Brianna Knode.

A third-year student at Washington State University, this accomplished Coug will graduate in Spring 2022 with a Bachelor of Arts in chemistry and a Bachelor of Science in genetics and cell biology.

As a child, Brianna was nurtured with STEM. “I come from science,” she said. “My mother, grandmother and grandfather were all in STEM professions and I’m sure being around scientists had a lot to do my career path. I always watched PBS Science! KIDS with my parents and distinctly remember … » More …

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