Friday, April 30, 2010

Sisters on opposite sides of the law

      Sonia Davis doesn’t reveal her sister’s name: “We try to keep where I am separate from where she’s at. We live very different lives.”
      Where “she’s at” is in a Washington state prison, serving four years for gang-related activity.
      Sonia is at a very different place in the criminal justice system. She’s Grant County’s chief deputy clerk, where she handles court records. She’s earning a degree in criminal justice through Washington State University’s online degree program. On Monday, she was named the University’s Outstanding Undergraduate Criminal Justice Student.
      Sonia’s interest in criminal justice began at age 17, when her 15-year-old sister got involved with a gang in Moses Lake.
      “It’s what made me decide what I wanted to do,” Davis said. “I was tired of being surrounded by criminal activity both in the community and in my own family. Instead of just talking about doing something, I wanted to have a positive influence.” More...      That dedication helped her win the WSU award, said David C. Brody, associate professor and academic director of the criminal justice program. “Sonia was selected based on the quality of her work, the collaborative and selfless way she participated in WSU Online courses, and dedication and focus she has exhibited while at WSU.”
      Davis drove from Ephrata, Washington, on Monday with her husband and grandfather to receive the award.
      “It’s exciting,” she said. “It humbles me to receive such an honor.”
      It was Davis’ first visit to the Pullman campus since 1996. She earned her associate’s degree from Big Bend Community College in Moses Lake, then transferred to WSU in 1995. An illness in the family forced her to leave a year later. She enrolled in WSU online courses in 2001, but delayed her education again to start a family.
      “So here I am now, all these years later, and I am moving full speed ahead.”
      Sonia plans to graduate in May 2011 with a minor in psychology. She’ll take the summer off, then begin pursuing a Ph.D. Her goal is to become a psychology professor.
      “I have a passion for criminal justice and psychology and want to share that passion with others,” she said. “I want to be where I have an impact. As a teacher, I’d have an impact on many people all at once.”
      It will be difficult for Sonia to have an impact on her sister. “Once you’re involved with gangs, it’s hard to get out,” she said. But, when it comes to the next generation, Sonia said even the fact she’s in college will have a powerful influence on her daughters, Hannah, 9, and Emma, 6.
      “The girls cannot fully understand why I am going to school,” Sonia said, “but I am sure it will become clear to them in time. I want to set an example. I want them to know it is never too late to pursue your passion, no matter what curves life throws you.”

Thursday, April 29, 2010

WSU warns of phishing e-mail scam

Here's the note from the security office:

Another phishing e-mail scam designed to gain personal and confidential information, such as WSU log-ins and passwords, has been reported. This latest e-mail version may include wording such as “Error Code #WSUXXXXXX,” “Dear Email Account Owner,” “WSU Webmail” and/or “To complete your WSU.EDU email account upgrade.” Please remember that the University will never distribute an e-mail asking individuals to provide or verify WSU Network IDs or passwords.

It is best to assume that any e-mail asking for personal information, whether financial account numbers, log-ins or passwords, is not authentic. When in doubt, contact the ITS Helpdesk at 509-335-4357 or

Students who suspect they have received a fraudulent phishing e-mail, text or voice message can contact the ITS Security Office at either or 509-335-3900.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

New edition of CyberCoug published

The ASWSU-DDP has published the April/May edition of the CyberCoug newsletter. Topics include deadlines, getting a new computer, and the search for a new director of legislative affairs.

Monday, April 26, 2010

She's got a ticket to ride

      Some people rent limos for college graduation. Washington State University Online student Cindy Howe is taking the bus. Specifically, a 47-passenger tour bus from Spokane’s Davenport Hotel.
      Pullman hotel space is scarce during commencement weekend, Howe said. “So I figured why not party – all the way down and back – with those who want to watch me walk across the stage?”
      She and 30 or so family and friends will leave the Davenport at 8:30 a.m. on May 8. They’ll enjoy breakfast, coffee, champagne and orange juice during the bus ride to Pullman. They’ll attend commencement and explore campus before heading back to Spokane for a dinner party.
      Howe first came to WSU in 1972.
      “I took great pride in being a Cougar,” she said. “I was even a Cougarette.” The now defunct Cougarettes danced during half time shows and in the Spokane Lilac Festival parade. “We wore short skirts and knee length white patent leather boots – very ’70s.”
      Howe left WSU after a year to study fashion at Brooks College in Long Beach, Calif. She went on to a long career in the fashion industry, working first for a dress company, then for a promotional company. “Along the way, I got married and finally gave up the fast-paced travel life for motherhood,” she said. “I’ve never regretted that decision.” More...      Howe lives in Los Alamitos, Calif., just east of Long Beach. When she decided to complete her degree, she wanted to finish where she started.
      “I looked at options in California,” she said, “but nothing resonated with me as much as being able to say I graduated from WSU.” Because Pullman is 1,100 miles from Los Alamitos, Howe enrolled in WSU Online.
      Howe is majoring in human development, with a minor in aging. “Aging is a growing national concern,” she said, “and, let’s be honest, I am getting closer to being considered elderly.”
      At 56, Howe is far from elderly. And her studies, she said, have made her feel even younger. “It’s humbling to be a student at my age, but it is also energizing, fulfilling, and inspiring,” she said. “I brag about how much fun this has been to everyone I talk with.”
      Howe needs to complete an internship, so won’t officially get her degree until August. Since there is no summer commencement, students who are a few credits short can walk in the spring ceremony.
      Howe’s mother, father, niece and son are all WSU alumni, and Howe is the last member of her immediate family to earn a college degree.
      “This has been the greatest thing I have ever done for myself,” she said. “My family tells me all the time how proud of me they are.”
By Richard H. Miller/Center for Distance and Professional Education

Friday, April 23, 2010

Graduating this spring? Write a column

Washington State University's student newspaper, The Daily Evergreen, is taking submissions for its annual graduation edition. If you're graduating, the paper would like to hear about your experiences at WSU.
E-mail with your 400-500 word graduation column.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Relationships change, highlighter is forever

You've lingered over your textbooks late into the evening. You've taken them out to dinner and you've propped them on a pillow next to your head. You've made memories that will last forever - or at least until finals are over.

But soon it will be time to say goodbye to the books of winter. When that day comes, you can send them back to the Bookie, Too, so your books can again be held by other students in other semesters.

To help you handle the upcoming separation process, the Bookie has created an instruction sheet for returning both new and used books. Have a look now, so you're prepared when the time comes.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Ag students get hands-on experience

Blair van Pelt holds a baby goat at Monteillet Fromagerie, which makes goat and sheep cheese.

Over spring break, 32 students in an online sustainable agriculture class got together in the Walla Walla Valley to learn about sustainable food systems.
WSU assistant research professor Kevin Murphy led his Agriculture and Food Systems 445/545 class on the weeklong field trip. The class visited a winery, cider house, slaughterhouse, and an onion farm.
“We visited quite the variety of mills, food production centers, co-ops, and farms,” Murphy said. “The farms we visited ranged in size from a couple acres to 40,000 acres.” More...
The purpose of the class is to explore food production techniques in the Walla Walla region, and to understand how to apply sustainable agriculture methods, Murphy said.
“This field trip is the central element to the whole class,” Murphy said. “You can learn a lot by reading and lecture, but you learn a lot more by actually visiting these farms and talking to the farmers about what they are doing.”
“It really did a great job of framing all the concepts we were learning about within the bigger picture,” student William Henderson said. “I really learned a lot.”
Students can now apply for summer and fall online organic agriculture classes. Internships, required to complete the organic agriculture certificate, are also available. For more information, go to the Web site.

By Kathryn R. Sullivan/CAHNRS Marketing and News intern

Monday, April 19, 2010

New certificates in molecular biosciences

WSU is offering two new online certificates in molecular biosciences. One is an undergrad certificate, the other a graduate certificate. More information is on our degrees and certificates page.

Job survey group offers $500 prize

Washington State University students could win $500 for filling out this survey on the job-search process.
The National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE) is sponsoring the online survey, which is available until April 30.
Responses will remain confidential and will not be shared with anyone outside of NACE. Contact information is requested for the sole purpose of identifying the prize winner.

Exam reminder. Time is quickly running out to request the last of your proctored exams for this spring. Both online and paper exams are mailed, so if you need to have the exam expedited (FedEx, fax, e-mail) you must let WSU Online know by writing a note in the Comments box on the exam request form, and also include your proposed exam date.

Monday, April 12, 2010

April 30 a date worth remembering

April 30 is a big day. Not only is it Willie Nelson’s birthday (he’ll be 77), but it also brings three important deadlines for WSU Online students:
  • The deadline to change a course from pass/fail to a letter grade;
  • The deadline to use uncontested course withdrawal (undergraduate students only);
  • The deadline to cancel enrollment from WSU.
For more info, check the online academic calendar.

At the end of our Spring 2010 calendar is another important date: Commencement! The AWSU-DDP invites all students, friends and family to a reception on May 7, the night before graduation.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

General Education Requirements Reform

Washington State University convened a committee to review General Educational Requirements (GERs) and submit a recommendation for reform. This process is now at a point where the General Education Committee is seeking input from students, staff, and faculty. Your academic advisor encourages you to take this chance to share your thoughts and ideas regarding GERs and the reform process. The campus students have the opportunity to attend campus forums on the subject and provide input. It is extremely important that your voice is also heard and considered.

Please take time to visit the “Revising General Education” page here. The committee report is available as well as a synopsis of the report. To participate in the online forum, select “Online Forum” in the vertical menu on the left. While in the Online Forum page, select "Log In" at the top right and use your WSU Network ID and password to gain access.

Your opinions, thoughts and ideas are important to us and essential to shaping GER reform at WSU! Please take this opportunity to be counted in the process.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Rendezvous voices: Students describe journey, goals

From left, Cheryl Farr, Julie Merchant, and Paula Slaye.

The March 27 Tacoma Rendezvous, presented by the ASWSU-DDP drew about 60 attendees for a reception, one-credit academic seminars and a chance to meet staff and other students from a variety of backgrounds. Here’s a quick look at what four of them had to say:

Cheryl Farr, screenwriter, English major
I’ve been taking screenwriting classes online through for about three years. I did a short based on a true story from the Civil War that was a quarter-finalist in the Page International  screenwriting competition. I got it to a producer last year who wants me to do a feature version. I’m also working on a romantic comedy.
I’m earning my English degree through WSU Online I’ll have more credentials and credibility in the industry. It shows I have some education behind me.

Julie Merchant, teacher
I work with children for Tacoma Public schools and for the Tacoma School of the Arts.
My degree will help me understand how to approach and help kids with learning disabilities. How to get them through school if possible. Some don’t have that capability, but if we can get them even close to graduating we can get them into a transition program.
I have a family and I don’t have access to a campus. Online education gives me an opportunity to earn a degree that would be otherwise unattainable.
Michael Kebba, Seattle Police lieutenant, social sciences major
It’s beneficial to have a broader sociology type degree when you’re in law enforcement. It gives you a greater depth of understanding of society and people. You understand the complexity of the community we live in.
Today I’m taking a course in pet psychology. Not only does it give me one credit, but I also have a dog at home that’s a little incorrigible. I’m trying to teach it some behavioral tricks. The course also applies to my job. I’m the commander of our canine narcotics unit.
WSU’s online program has afforded me the opportunity to take classes at home, at my own pace, after hours.

Paula Slaye, credit union employee and AWSU-DDP senator-elect, social sciences major
I started at WSU in 1971. I got a marriage proposal and never finished. But I’ve always been a Coug at heart. When my daughter said, “Wouldn’t it be fun if you finished your degree?” I came back through the online program. I’m just four classes from getting a degree in social sciences.
I decided to be an AWSU-DDP senator so I could represent the more mature students. They have families and jobs. They’re balancing children, marriage, spouses, work but are still trying to get someplace.
I’ve been wanting to go back for years. WSU is where my heart is. WSU is Washington State’s university. Period.

Here are photos from the Tacoma Rendezvous.

Next up for the ASWSU-DDP is the May 8 commencement. Students, family and friends are invited for May 7 activities, which include campus tours and a reception.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Beer story just a bunch of fizz

Contrary to popular reports, WSU's Martin Stadium will not be named after a beer.

But colleges across the country were having some fun on April Fools' Day. Here's a list of pranks posted by student newspapers and other academic sources.