Monday, April 27, 2009

DDP student first to get President's Award

Sandy Thomas, who “exemplifies the best of an American spirit of giving back,” has become the first Distance Degree Programs student to receive Washington State University’s President’s Award.
The Bellingham resident was among 44 undergraduate and graduate students chosen for the 2009 award, which honors students for leadership and community engagement. Thomas is majoring in social sciences, and studying history. Her minor is in political science. She has a 3.93 GPA, and will graduate in spring 2010.
Thomas is married to Doug Thomas, a 1987 WSU graduate. “I want to hang my diploma next to my husband’s,” she said. Their daughter, Lauren, plans to attend WSU after she graduates from Bellingham High School next year. “My end game goal was to finish my degree before my daughter comes here,” Thomas said at Sunday’s awards banquet in Pullman.
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Thomas will use her degree to further her long list of philanthropic work, which includes volunteering at Bellingham High School and the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation, and serving as a School Buddy Mentor for Big Brothers Big Sisters.
“She has truly spoiled our staff,” Bellingham Principal Steve Clarke said in his nomination letter, citing her coordination of monthly staff luncheons that serve up to 100 staffers. “We are the envy of the other schools in town.”
Thomas has also headed the school’s PTSA’s Teacher Appreciation Program, served on the Superintendent’s Parent Advisory, and works at least once a week in the copy center. “Sandy Thomas is a saint!” Clarke said. “She gives of her time and energy virtually every day here.”
She also was an intern for U.S. Rep. Rick Larsen, D-Wash. “What made Sandy’s time with us exceptional was the amount she was able to give back to both the office and our constituents,” said her supervisor, Luke Loeffler.
Thomas’ internship was part of her Liberal Arts 497 course, taught by Carla Michaelsen. “Sandy Thomas exemplifies the best of an American spirit of giving back through dedication, perseverance and compassion,” Michaelsen said.
Thomas said the award is especially meaningful for a DDP student. “I’ve received great support from the DDP staff and from the professors, and tons of encouragement from home,” she said, “but as a DDP student, you’re kind of on your own.
“To have the school recognize me as part of the Cougar family means the world to me.”
See the Daily Evergreen’s coverage of the event and a complete list of winners.

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