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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 …

Engineering Student Promotes Water- and Self-Sustainability

By Cindy Hollenbeck

In 2018, Washington State University STEM major Bailee Kelty was diagnosed with a benign brain tumor. While benign means “non-cancerous,” it does not mean harmless. The diagnosis brought with it anxiety, costly medical bills, and side effects—including exhaustion, seizures, and memory loss.

Bailee calls herself a “type-A” personality, very high energy, always ready to tackle life’s challenges. And because she has such a wide smile and bubbly personality, you might never guess that in addition to her packed schedule, she fits in blood tests every three months, a biannual doctor’s appointment, and an annual MRI.

WSU is fortunate to have gained a … » More …

Budding Engineer Works on Climate Change, and Changing the Climate in STEM

By Cindy Hollenbeck

Washington native Hannah Goodspeed remembers when she was still in daycare, and she got into a fight with some boys who said Legos weren’t for girls. Perhaps that early love of Legos and ability to advocate for herself foretold her choice of career. Hannah is a civil engineering major who researches climate change at Washington State University Pullman.

As she came of age in the small town of Ephrata, Washington, Hannah was interested in just about everything. She wanted to be a professional dancer, volleyball player, teacher, counselor, and at one point, a physician’s assistant. Because she has always appreciated a challenge, … » More …

Future Teacher Finds Home at WSU Vancouver

Just as she’s always dreamed, Andrea Castillo is studying elementary education at Washington State University Vancouver. The aspiration began when she was six, living in Ajijic, Jalisco, a town on the north shore of Lake Chapala in Mexico. Andrea was a grade ahead of most students her age. “My teachers were strict,” she said. “They pushed me to work hard and help others do well. And they expected me to have superb handwriting.”

Andrea’s father had tried in vain to secure a job in Mexico that paid enough to support his family. So, he moved the family to the Unites States for better opportunities. Once … » More …

Cowlitz Coug Finds Her Voice

Shana Lombard distinctly remembers sitting on the bleachers as an elementary student at Chief Leschi tribal school and hearing ‘Education is knowledge. Knowledge is power.’

“Those words spoke to me and gave me the notion that education is beneficial for Native Americans, and we should pursue it. Most importantly,” Shana reflects, “no one can take away our knowledge or our education.”

A member of the Cowlitz tribe, Shana attributes her current life aspirations to her time at Chief Leschi, “I learned about my indigenous roots and what it means to be indigenous, specifically Native American.” What does it mean to be indigenous? “We are treated … » More …

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