Friday, December 18, 2009

DDP grad makes spectacular comeback

      In 1974, Debby Poris left Washington State University after two semesters. More than 30 years later, she came back. This time she was unstoppable. After enrolling in WSU’s online degree program, she became student body president, and won both regional and national awards as an outstanding non-traditional student.
      In December, she capped her academic career when she stood in front of the crowd at commencement ceremonies in Beasley Coliseum and was honored as a highlight student. (View it at 41:17 of the 2009 Fall Commencement video.)
      “This is the exclamation point for an incredible journey of learning, growing, building friendships, and reaching dreams,” said Debby, who lives in Lynnwood, Washington. “Now it is time to set new dreams and goals – to make a difference because I can.”
      Debby’s determination dates to her childhood when she wore a back brace for scoliosis. More... “I was out to prove to everyone I was not ‘handicapped,’” she said. “I snow-skied, played basketball, tennis and volleyball in my brace.”
      Debby’s sister, Sandi Dugan of Hawaii, confirmed that Debby has long been a force to be reckoned with. “She’s the oldest and she has always bossed us around,” she said during a graduation reception at the WSU Alumni Center. “She’s like a dog with a bone. Once she gets hold of it, she doesn’t let go. She always tries her best.”
      Kathy Santaniello, Debby’s youngest sister, came from Arizona for commencement. “When Debby makes up her mind, she goes after it with blinders on, straight to the finish,” she said. “She’ll take on a task and make sure it gets done.”
      Debby, 54, earned her WSU degree in business after getting a transfer degree from Bellevue Community College. She works full time as a fiscal analyst for the state Housing Finance Commission, and maintained a 3.97 grade-point average.
      Carl Poris praised his wife’s tenacity. “It took her 30 years to make the decision, but once she did, there was no turning back,” he said.
      Debby’s son, Mark Raysbrook, said he served as a bit of a role model for his mother. Raysbrook graduated from WSU’s online program in 2006 with a business degree. “Once she saw that I was able to do it, she jumped on the bandwagon,” he said.
      Debby may be out of college, but she’s still on the bandwagon. “I am a bit crazy when it comes to WSU,” she said. She’s already agreed to help the Snohomish County alumni group, and will continue attending DDP events that welcome alumni, such as the Gridiron Classic, Tacoma Rendezvous and next Tuesday's Hardwood Classic.
      “If it had not been for WSU, I would still be regretting not having an education. I just want to give something back, to say thank you.”

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