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Washington State University

Gift of Life Insurance Supports Athletic Facilities

By AnneMarie Hunter

As an expression of gratitude for his education at WSU, Kevin Penrod (’81) recently notified the university that he will be leaving a generous donation through his estate with a gift of life insurance. This $150,000 insurance policy will benefit the Cougar Athletic Fund, in particular the athletic facilities.

“It’s my way of saying thank you to WSU for sending me out in the world prepared with the fundamental skills for success,” says Kevin, who graduated from the Murrow College of Communication. “WSU also gave me the four happiest years of my life. I want to give back as much as possible.”

» More …

Julia Day Pioneers Cutting-Edge Research for Healthy Buildings

By AnneMarie Hunter

Dr. Julia Day’s vision for her work is guided by a straightforward equation:

Healthy People + Healthy Buildings = A Healthy Planet

An associate professor in Washington State University’s School of Design and Construction, Day also directs the Integrated Design + Construction Laboratory (ID+CL) where she leads a team of students in pioneering building research.

A multi-disciplinary lab, the ID+CL is integrated into WSU’s School of Design & Construction, Composite Materials and Engineering Center, and the Voiland College of Engineering and Architecture. The ID+CL’s mission … » More …

Berry Family Professor Opens Doors for Youth

By AnneMarie Hunter

Berry Family Distinguished Professor Dr. Brian French is committed to helping young people overcome challenges, achieve their potential, and live happier lives. Psychometrics, statistics, and measurements are the instruments through which French accomplishes these goals.

As director of Washington State University’s Learning and Performance Research Center (LPRC) and Psychometric Laboratory, French collaborates with his team to develop educational and psychological assessments through psychometrics. In this field, response-based methodologies, such as questionnaires and tests, are utilized to assess psychological constructs, as well as cognitive and physical capabilities.

The resulting educational and psychological measurements can then be used to create … » 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 …

Ron Howell: A Life of Service to Others

By AnneMarie Hunter

“What counts in life is not the mere fact that we have lived. It is what difference we have made to the lives of others that will determine the significance of the life we lead.”

— Nelson Mandela

By every measure, Ron Howell has made a difference in the lives of others.

As CEO of the Washington Research Foundation (WRF) for nearly three decades, Howell led programs to benefit public health across the state of Washington and around the world.

A Washington State University graduate with a Bachelor of Science in biochemistry (’80), Howell joined … » More …

Neuroscientist Connects Study of Zebrafish to Human Communication

By AnneMarie Hunter

The gift of hearing and the art of communication are woven through the rich tapestry of Dr. Allison Coffin’s life and work.

It was a lone shark, swimming the Atlantic Ocean, that inspired the accomplished career of this neuroscience researcher and science communicator.

“One day when I was six years old, I was walking around a dock in the Florida Keys and a 3-foot-long nurse shark swam up to the dock,” Coffin recalled. “I absolutely fell in love. I was fascinated with that shark and knew right then I wanted to be a marine biologist.”

Coffin pursued her dream on an educational … » 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 …

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