Thursday, December 22, 2011

WSU Online among top five in nation

viewbookSuperScholar website has ranked WSU Online among nation’s top five online degree programs.

The judges said that WSU Online has "proved itself to be one of the premier online degree programs in the country.”

Here’s the news release.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Inspiring stories of unstoppable students

IMG_1413smIn the past year, we’ve posted 65 stories on this blog and most were about determination: Students determined to graduate, determined to change their lives, determined to improve the lives of those around them.

Among the many students profiled here were Jules Dossou Azatassou, who is driving cabs in Spokane while he aims for a career in law enforcement. Alex Esparza, who works at a juvenile detention center and wants to use his degree to keep kids out of the system. Kerry Clark, who is building a new life after his mother was killed in Iraq.

This year, the blog has had nearly 11,000 visitors, and 22,000 page views. The five most-read stories were:

A graduate describes overcoming incredible obstacles, and brings audience members to tears. 

The story of Kayla Heard, a 16-year-old who became WSU’s youngest graduate. Her youth sparked a national discussion. A follow-up story made the top 10.

A list of top things to look for in an online university.

A story about a couple who both became teachers, and, in fifth place, a story about SAP changes affecting financial aid.

We at WSU Online are honored to help celebrate these everyday heroes, and to share their stories. We’re inspired by their strength. We marvel at their resilience. And, as we approach a new year, we find comfort in seeing the world become a better place, one graduate at a time.

Monday, December 12, 2011

‘I do not wish you an easy journey’

Gerry Ebalaroza-TunnellOne highlight of Friday night’s pregraduation reception was a speech by WSU Online grad Gerry Ebalaroza-Tunnell, who kept studying in the face of incredible adversity. Below are excerpts:

For me, it took over 22 years to complete something that I started. My scholastic journey began in 1989 after I joined the Navy. But because of the demands of the military and being a wife and mother of two sons (who are now 25 and 26 years old and here with me tonight) I had an 18-year sabbatical.
     But the thought of completing my degree never faltered and I owe that to my sons. Every time I looked at my boys, I knew I wanted to better myself, not only for me but for them. I thank you Eddie and Ryan for standing next to me and keeping me strong through our own personal challenges. I love you guys!
     Nearly three years ago in January 2009 and during my first semester at WSU, my husband and I were struck by the economic downfall. We were forced to close our business in Bellingham, Wash.; we gave up our home and sold all of our belongings.
     With those changes taking place, I was diagnosed with chronic kidney disease. Despite that discovery, we took what little money we had, purchased a little travel trailer that we hooked up to the back of our truck, loaded up our two dogs, whatever gear we could fit, and left our home, family and friends and traveled the Southwest for four months to try and ride out the recession.
     My first thought was, “Darn it, I just figured out how to conveniently complete my degree from home and now I have to figure out how to do it while on the road?” More...      Well, I did it with the help of my faithful laptop, and a supportive husband who would drive everywhere in search of free Internet so that I could get my assignments in on time.
     We were technically “homeless” and “jobless” at the time but we ensured my aspiration to complete my degree would never cease. We were not going to quit or give up following our dreams because of circumstances.
     After our journey through the mountains, forests and deserts, we returned to Bothell in time to witness the birth of our first grandson, Lyric, and to watch my son, my little boy, bloom from being the first born son in my arms to a father holding his own son. This occurrence took place two days before my 43rd birthday and it was the most transcendent gift that anyone could ask for.
     During this time, Jeremy and I still had not found a place to live. We stayed with friends and started to seek out jobs. I knew that whatever work I found would only be temporary. My career would not begin until after I was done with school.
     In August 2009, calamity struck my family once again.
     My youngest son, Ryan, was convicted of a crime that would incarcerate him for a year. For a mother, the most difficult thing to endure besides the death of her child is watching him get taken away in chains.
     I spent the rest of my weekends for the next 12 months visiting my son and encouraging him to stand above his affliction. I needed him to know that he had control over his destiny and he must believe that although he would be judged for his choices, he could still rise above it all.
     One week ago, Ryan received a letter congratulating him that he was just accepted into the bachelor’s program in graphic design at the Seattle Art Institute. I am so proud of the man he is becoming.
     My family and I definitely endured some crazy challenges in this past couple of years. Last October, my house flooded and we lived in chaos for five months as our floors were torn up.
     In the midst of that chaos, exactly one year ago tonight, I received a call from my sister Michelle, who is with me tonight, that our mother was critically ill and admitted into the hospital. My oldest sister and I immediately flew out to Hawaii to be by our mother’s side.
     While holding myself together with every prayer and every drop of hope that I could summon, my siblings and other family members sat with our mother until she passed away two days later, on December 11, 2010.
     It is ironic on how a memory can flood back into your mind and place you inches from the time that memory was created. Even though it’s been a year, it seems yesterday. I remember sitting in the waiting room with my family the night before she passed and I was on my computer finishing up one of my final papers in sociology. That night I wrote a paper about my mom, probably one of my best.
     She was so proud of her children and worked so hard to ensure that we had all the opportunities that she never had.
     My family and I faced our latest challenge and probably not the last this past April. I found myself debilitated and constantly lethargic. My right kidney was now in complete atrophy. It was slowly killing me and had to be removed.
     I’m healing just fine and I do not need to go through dialysis. I have to say, thank goodness for Wi-Fi in hospitals because I was able to still complete my assignments and meet the midnight deadline. I told you, I was not going to let circumstances stop me!
     As I share my story with you tonight, it is apparent that the challenges—or what I see as opportunities to change—will continue. Change is the only constant, it is where growth lies and new miracles begin. I have learned to not fear change, but to embrace it. Sir Edmund Hilary once said that “It’s not the mountain that we conquer, it’s ourselves.”
     I would like to reiterate that despite any mountain that I needed to climb, I did not, and could not, have done it alone. Without the support of my family and friends, my faithful computer, the advantages of Wi-Fi, our virtual mentors, advisor and understanding professors, I would not have been able to successfully complete my degree and be standing here with you tonight.
     As I conclude my speech, I want you to know that I do not wish you an easy journey, because—trust me—you would become quickly bored by it.
     Instead, I wish you a path that overflows with obstacles to overcome and uncertainties that will force you to question and seek answers not outside of yourself, but within your heart.
     I wish you plenty of time to be alone to listen to that inside voice, and then lots of time to be with others to share your insight and take what you have learned in your solitude and apply it to the world in the most compassionate way.
     I hope that your path has as many twists and turns as it does straightaways. I hope that it is as rough and interesting as it is smooth and predictable.
     I hope that life satisfies you and I also hope that it astonishes you. I hope that for all your life, your spirit continues to grow.
     Congratulations to us, the 2011 graduates of Washington State University’s Online Degree Program and thank you everyone who’s been there supporting us every step of the way.

For the full text of Gerry's speech, select this link.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Councilman picked ‘the most reputable
and user-friendly online program’

Mike Urban needed only two courses to certify into his major. But they were offered at 8 a.m. and 2 p.m. He had a job, he had a 30-minute commute. So he took a Mike Urbanquarter off from college. Then another, then another.
     Nineteen years went by. The Mount Vernon, Wash., resident became a planning commissioner, fire commissioner, Rotary Club president, and YMCA board member. He owns an equipment rental store and is in his second term as a city councilman.
     “Not finishing my degree had been weighing on me for years,” Urban said. “I wanted to set a better example to my children and gain knowledge to better manage my business.” 
     Because he’s a busy person, Urban wanted an online program. In 2008, he chose WSU Online. He’s glad he did.
     “WSU has created the most reputable and user-friendly online program available,” said Urban, who graduated cum laude in 2011 with an accounting degree. “The courses were rigorous and practical, and provided an education that far exceeded my expectations.” More...      Along the way, Urban got plenty of help, both from his family, to whom he gives extensive credit, and from WSU.
     “The support system of advisors, professors, mentors and fellow students is simply remarkable,” he said, but one person really stands out:
     “I could never have accomplished this without the efforts and encouragement of my WSU Online advisor, Chrisi Kincaid,” he said. “She represents all that is possible when you take a leap into the unknown, but know you have an expert dedicated to your success. To me, Chrisi Kincaid is the face of WSU.” 
     Kincaid said she felt “a bit humbled” by the praise, but it’s clear she’s also a bit proud when her students succeed.
     “I feel much of the time that I am the lucky one here,” she said. “I get to work with all these folks who inspire me with all they do and the obstacles they overcome—both big and small—on a daily basis.”
     Now that he has his degree, Urban plans to take the CPA exam in January. Judging from his opinion of WSU, he’ll be the guy wearing crimson and gray.
     “I hold the University and, most importantly, its people in the absolute highest regard,” Urban said, “which makes me even prouder to be a Coug.”

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Online student can bust campus students

chris engle

By Kelli Hadley/Moscow-Pullman Daily News

When Washington State University students get into trouble with the Pullman Police Department, they probably don't realize one of their peers may be the one busting them.
     Chris Engle, a part-time student and full-time police officer with PPD, grew up in Pullman and graduated from Pullman High School in 2002. He attended Western Washington University for a little more than three years but returned to Pullman before getting his degree. Engle said he enjoyed the university and the people he met but got burnt out and wanted to begin working, so he moved back, got married and was hired by the police department in 2007.
     Now, at the "prodding" of his wife, he is taking online classes through WSU to finish up his degree, since he was close to obtaining it at Western anyway.
     "I didn't want to be in classes with the same people I was going to have to see at night," Engle said. "Also, we were living in Colfax until July, and with my wife and my weird schedules, trying to go back and forth to Pullman all the time wasn't going to work." More...     Engle takes online classes in a social sciences program that allows the student to select three concentrations in the field. He already had a concentration in business from Western and is developing two more in psychology and sociology. However, he said he always has known he wanted to go into law enforcement and plans to continue working as an officer for a while.
     "I was excited to get into it," Engle said. "I was so burnt out on school, I was ready to start working. It's intimidating at first though, with all the stuff you have to learn, and it's a totally new environment."
     Engle said it's a good thing he doesn't take in-person classes with his peers. As one of the College Hill officers who works 6 p.m. to 4 a.m., Wednesday through Saturday, he interacts with the students "very intensively."
     But since College Hill is home to many people other than students, he said, "It can be very challenging, because everybody up there has a different idea of what the police should do.
     That especially true, he said, "if the students think they should be able to get as drunk as they want and drink in public and ... other people up there think there should be no partying and no noise ever."
     At 27, Engle said he is one of the younger officers in the police department. He said students will often try to connect with him the basis of his youth, hoping he'll be a little more lenient on them.
     "They'll say, 'Oh, you were a kid not long ago, you did this too,' and I'll have to say, 'Well, I'm not any more and everyone has to learn,' " Engle said. "We have to let students enjoy their time here, but at the same time it can't cause too much disturbance to other people's property and lives."
     Because Pullman is a small town, Engle said his favorite part of being in law enforcement is building relationships between the police department and the community.
     "Busting people and driving fast, it's fun, but if that's the only reason you're doing this job, you're not going to enjoy it for very long," Engle said. "Especially in a place like Pullman, it's maybe three miles from end to end, so the adrenaline-pumping stuff lasts for maybe 45 seconds."
     Especially, he said, because one arrest can mean hours of paperwork.
     "We don't love arresting people, it's not exactly fun for us either," Engle said. "DUIs are the worst, as far as being the least level of crime with the most paperwork ... especially when you're brand new, it takes a long time to write reports because they're extremely technical."
     Engle plans to be done with his degree after this next summer semester. In addition to online classes and a full work schedule, Engle and his wife have a 4-year-old, a 1-year old and another on the way. He said balancing work, school and family is the most challenging part of his busy life.
     "My wife gets very sick when she's pregnant, so I can't ask her to take on all of the household load, too," Engle said. "She's a pretty amazing woman, but that's a lot to ask, when you're feeling sick all the time."
     Engle said he and his wife enjoy the western part of the state and may end up there someday, but for now they're happy to stay in his hometown.
     "You couldn't ask for a better community to raise kids," he said. "The education system is great, people are generally very reasonably and task-oriented, and ... we just love it here."

Monday, November 28, 2011

Why study online? Fewer zombies

th_Zombie_hottieA news item from today’s WSU Announcements:

“As we approach the end of the semester, you may encounter students participating in a game of Humans vs. Zombies around campus.
“Through December 9, the group will simulate a 'Zombie Outbreak' on campus. Participating students may only play outside of any WSU facility while marked by a pre-approved (fluorescent green) bandanna handed out from the group leaders to the participants.
“This group has been instructed that Nerf guns must NOT be brought into any WSU facility and can only be used while walking outside in the open and shall only be used against a marked participant.
“If you experience any challenges due to this game, please contact the Police Department and/or Student Involvement.”

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Students get inside info at transfer fair

DSC_9067WSU Online Academic Consultant Joy Thompson, center, with WSU enrollment counselor Kim Mickey.

     Most of the young people in the Spokane Falls Community College student lounge on Monday morning aren’t talking. They’re typing on laptops and tapping on phones. But, in a large room off to the side, representatives from 15 colleges and universities are holding a transfer fair.
     Live people? Isn’t that antiquated in the Internet generation? Why don’t students simply go online?
     Part of the answer is personal contact, says Loren Pemberton, chair of the counseling department at SFCC. Appearances notwithstanding, people still want to talk with other people, especially about such crucial matters as a university degree.
     The other part, he says, is strictly pragmatic. Students can’t always get the right answers online, because they may not have the right questions. Sometimes they don’t know where to start, he said. Or it may be a problem of terminology, such as distinguishing between associate of arts (A.A.) and associate of applied science (A.A.S.) degrees.
     “Often when they ask me a question, I’ll say ‘Did you mean’? And they say, ‘Oh, yeah, that’s what I meant,’ ” Pemberton says. More...     Helen Naho’opi’i, transfer advisor at Gonzaga University, also says live people are better at providing direction and precise advice.
     “Students go to the website expecting to have all their questions answered, but not really knowing what to ask,” she says. “It’s our job to guide them through the process, even give them information that might not be on the website, like inside advice about who to talk to about certain programs.”
     Monday’s transfer fair was sponsored by Washington Council for High School-College Relations, which holds fairs at more than 30 community colleges each year. A schedule can be found on the group’s website.
     Joy Thompson represented WSU’s online degree program at Monday’s fair. She helped a couple of business students figure out how to transfer to WSU Online, then met a woman who really didn’t want to sit in a classroom.
     “She has a bad back,” Thompson says. “When she learned about WSU Online, she said, ‘So, I can actually get through my classes without being in pain?’ And then her eyes lit up.”
     Here’s a schedule of future WSU Online events.

Friday, November 4, 2011

Student newspaper covers Winter Session

2011-12 WinterSession2011webbannerToday’s Daily Evergreen has a nice piece about Winter Session, which lets students earn three credits in three weeks, all online.

This year’s session is open to all students, and registration opens Nov. 7. (Tip: You'll have access to the course space the day after you register. That can really ease the workload.)

Go to the Winter Session website for more info.

Friday, October 28, 2011

Seattle hotel offers great view of future

Burl BattersbyBurl Battersby got sidetracked into success.
 He wanted to be a teacher. One day, when he was working at an Arizona hotel, the food and beverage director came over. Instead of studying to become a teacher, the director said, why don’t you take hotel management courses? If you do, the hotel will pay for your classes.
     That was nearly 20 years ago. Burl Battersby stayed in the hotel business. He moved around, got promoted. He eventually became director of banquets at the Westin St. Francis in San Francisco, and is now the director of Six Sigma at the Sheraton Seattle. He also enrolled in WSU Online.
     “Having a degree from a renowned institution like WSU carries more gravitas than a degree from a lesser-known university,” he said. “The instruction has been world-class, and my interactions with fellow students have been phenomenal. ”
     But Battersby isn’t studying hotel management. Or More...even business. He’s finishing a humanities degree with a minor in Asian history.
     Battersby graduates from WSU Online this spring and will then join WSU’s online EMBA program.
     The EMBA will help him in his current profession. Not coincidentally, it’s also the next step toward a Ph.D. And he’ll need that Ph.D. when he finally becomes a college professor.
     Battersby is already warming up for his new life as an educator. He earned his Teaching English as a Second Language certification, and is leading twice-weekly English courses for associates in the Sheraton Seattle cafeteria.
     “We have a lot of associates from China and the Philippines and many wanted to email relatives,” he said. “Now we do Facebook, or QQ in China. So they’re learning both English and basic computer skills. It’s a lot of fun to see the joy on their faces when they receive their first email or find a family member they haven’t seen in years.”

Monday, October 24, 2011

Spokane woman wants to keep it real

Emily photo-use thisChoosing an online degree program came down to one word: Legitimacy.
     “The fact that WSU’s online degree is considered the same as its on-campus degree is very important to me,” said Emily M. Carstens Namie as she sipped a 16-ounce triple Americano at a Spokane coffeehouse. “It’s about legitimacy. I wanted something legitimate, and for me that’s a real school with a real campus.”
     But a “real school” means more than alumni networks, football games and Cougar pride.
     “I also questioned how well other diplomas are received by real-world employers,” she said. “I just don’t think they’re quite as credible.”
     Emily is from The Dalles, Ore., and earned her associate’s degree from Columbia Gorge Community College. She moved to Spokane in 1998, worked in finance and human resources, then launched a private practice as a counselor/Reiki master. She was also a staffing coordinator and a legal assistant before deciding to push the boundaries of her life. She applied at WSU Online.
     “I was highly impressed with the degree of professionalism I received from the moment I inquired about the program,” she said, “and with how friendly and helpful people were.” More...     When she’s not busy maintaining her 3.93 GPA or working as a senator for WSU Online’s student government, Emily is learning to climb mountains and mentoring at-risk teens. She previously volunteered at Spokane’s East Central Community Center’s Starfish program, and still mentors teenagers.
     “My teenage years were tough and there were people in my life who helped me through it,” she said. “This is my way of paying it forward.” Emily has just begun a new volunteer role, answering calls at Spokane Mental Health’s First Call for Help hotline.
     Emily graduates in December 2012 with a B.A. in social sciences with an emphasis in psychology. Next on her educational to-do list: obtaining a master’s and a Ph.D. in forensic psychology.
     While she hasn’t settled on a specific career yet—“I’m letting the path unfold in front of me”—she has an excellent compass.
     “I want to add value to the people who come into my life. It’s a spiritual principle that I try to adhere to.”

Friday, October 14, 2011

Winter Session will heat up your holidays

snowmanCold weather. Jammed stores. Incessant holiday music.

How would you like to avoid all that while accelerating your education? This winter, you can enroll in WSU Online’s Winter Session, which lets you earn three credits in three weeks over the holiday break.

Winter Session runs from December 17 to January 8. Eleven courses are offered. You can take only one, due to the time demands. Your academic consultant can help you choose the right one.

Completing three credits in three weeks will be challenging. But you can get a head start. You’ll be given access to course content the day after you register. Registration opens Nov. 7, and the course fee is the same as standard tuition rates.

So, while others are clogging the mall parking lot, you’ll be at home, peacefully curled up with your computer, earning your degree.

For more information, and a list of courses, please go to winter.wsu.edu.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

We’re throwing a party for our students

DSC_3099Join fellow students, friends, family and WSU Online staff for a party at 5 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 22, at the Silver Cloud Hotel Seattle-Stadium, 1046 First Ave South, in Seattle. The party includes free food, socializing, and the chance to give Butch T. Cougar a high-five.

At 7:30 p.m., you can walk across the street and watch the Cougs battle Oregon State on CenturyLink Field. Here's a link to ticket sales.

The deadline to register is 5 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 13, so if you’re a current student and want to come, please let us know. Here’s more information.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Local newspaper covers WSU Online

swindellWSU Professor Samantha Swindell discusses online education.

By Katie Roenigk/Moscow-Pullman Daily News

     There is a growing group of Washington State University students who rarely set foot on school property.
     They may not even live near Pullman, Spokane, Vancouver or the Tri-Cities while taking classes. They are members of the university's fifth campus - the one that exists primarily online.
     David Cillay, executive director for WSU's Center for Distance and Professional Education, said more students should have access to online courses at WSU in the near future.
     "What we're really hoping to do is grow our online program mix," Cillay said this week. "We're looking at what we offer on campus and finding ways to move those online." More...     The effort is not motivated by WSU's budget, he said, though online courses could bring in more students and therefore more money. The university is simply looking to reach out to more Washington residents who may not be able to relocate to campus in order to get a degree.
     "The mission of the land grant institution is to provide access to education," Cillay said. "Online education seems to be the 21st century rethinking of the land grant mission."
     Through online courses, students like Erica Vieira of Seattle are able to attend a trusted university without spending time away from their families. Vieira - a 32-year-old wife and mother of three - will earn her bachelor's degree in human development through WSU this December, and she only has been to Pullman a few times.
     That does not mean she has not felt involved in campus life. Two years into her studies, Vieira was elected vice president of the university's online student government. Every couple of months, the group meets with leaders of WSU's other campuses, and Vieira said e-students plan gatherings with one another as well. This month, she will join other online students at an organized gathering before a football game in Seattle.
"You never have to travel too far, if you feel you're missing out," Vieira said.

Teaching the teachers
     The transition to an online classroom requires work from professors as well as students, and Cillay said many WSU instructors are learning new strategies to enhance the virtual forum, in part through the Excellence in Teaching Online certificate introduced this month through the CDPE. The self-paced online course was piloted last spring to familiarize professors with technologies like online discussion boards and live chat rooms that often are incorporated in the e-classroom.
     Though she has been teaching online since 2001, Samantha Swindell, a clinical associate professor of psychology, said she plans to earn her ETO certificate.
"New technology is constantly becoming available that can allow us to do things we weren't able to do just a few years ago," she said.
     When she first taught remotely, Swindell said, students purchased packets of video casettes to watch on their own, then they took exams under the supervision of a proctor.
     "(The professor) was basically there to answer questions," Swindell said.
Now, online teaching is considered another skill set for professors. Swindell said she makes sure her graduate students get some experience in the online setting, and her department is developing some new courses that will allow faculty members to get involved as well.
     "It's not going away," Swindell said of online instruction. "The ability to teach online is a very marketable skill."
Students should be able to receive comparable education even if they are not on campus, Swindell said. She advised professors to "be present" in the classroom, even if it is virtual.
     "Make sure the students know you're there and engaged," Swindell said. "Check in regularly, be responsive to e-mails, and just communicate to your students that you're invested in their success."
Reprinted courtesy of the Moscow-Pullman Daily News.

Monday, October 3, 2011

‘You and my professors cared so much’

wendy mauWe love it when students stay in touch after graduation. Here’s a note Academic Consultant Maria Greaney Curry, below, recently received from Wendy Mau, above, who majored in social sciences.

The mail carrier just delivered to me one of Maria Greaney Currythe most precious envelopes in my life – my WSU diploma. I smiled when I looked at the words: Magna Cum Laude. Again, thank you for your help and encouragement. It meant a lot to me.

Although I finished my degree through an online program, I learned so much more and it felt so much more personal than my other school experiences because you and my professors cared so much about their students.

In the past three years, I worked very hard and all my focus was on studying. I didn’t think much about the idea that WSU was my school. But now that I’ve graduated and have some time to breathe fresh air, I am proud to say that WSU is my school.

Friday, September 23, 2011

New master’s in sport management

Tammy CrawfordWSU plans to launch an online master’s degree in sport management this spring.

The degree “gives students entering the field a big advantage when seeking employment,” said Tammy Crawford, above, a clinical assistant professor at WSU’s College of Education. 

More information is in today's WSU News.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

WSU scholarship application available

moneycomputerThe 2012-2013 WSU Academic Scholarship Application is now available at this link. All students are eligible to complete this application to apply for the more than 700 scholarship programs throughout the university. The deadline for the application is January 31, 2012.

Library help. WSU has created a couple of videos that help students navigate the library websites. You can watch them here.

Friday, September 16, 2011

Earn three credits in three weeks

This hasn’t been officially announced yet, but WSU is offering Winter Session for the second time this year, and it will now be open to WSU Online students.

Winter Session, Dec. 19-Jan. 6, lets you earn three credits in an intense three weeks by taking one online course. Registration opens Nov. 7, and you can get a preliminary look at the 12 courses being offered by going to the website.

Friday, September 9, 2011

WSU Online party to draw big crowd

seattleThe invitation went out 48 hours ago, but more than 50 people have already signed up for WSU Online’s pregame party in Seattle on October 22.

The party includes free food, socializing, and the chance to give Butch T. Cougar a high-five. It will be held just before the Cougs battle Oregon State on CenturyLink Field. The exact time depends on when the game is scheduled.

The party is at the Silver Cloud Hotel Seattle-Stadium, 1046 First Ave South. For tickets, go to the athletics website.

If you and up to five guests would like to come, please let us know by selecting this link.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

One-credit seminars set for October

Jerry PetersonOne-credit in-person seminars are a good way to advance toward your degree.

WSU Online is holding October seminars in Everett, Spokane and Wenatchee.

Snacks will be provided and some of our academic consultants will be there to answer questions and offer advising sessions.

Go to the events page for more information.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Nation agog as cutest baby gets cuter

IMG_6280It’s been nearly a year since we checked in on the cutest baby ever in the whole wide world.

Talia is the daughter of WSU Online Academic Consultant Thomas Wilson and wife, Naomi.

Talia was born in July 2010, and is now 13 months old.

“She’s growing like a weed,” reports Thomas.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Grad earns master’s, ‘just getting started’

heidi hiatt     At WSU Online, graduates sometimes stay in touch with their advisors for years. We always enjoy hearing where their degree has taken them.
     Heidi Hiatt wrote us last September to describe her grad school studies in forensic psychology. This week, she wrote again to tell us she not only finished her master’s, she also graduated summa cum laude with a 4.0 GPA. Congratulations, Heidi!
     Heidi’s favorite course was criminal profiling—“it’s like tantalizing dark chocolate for the brain”—and her career plans include working with crime and domestic violence victims. But her immediate plans include a month off to spend time with family before making any big decisions.
     “There are a lot of things I’d like to do in this field and I no longer have one specific goal in mind,” she said. “I would really like to continue on to a doctorate or law school. I definitely don’t feel done yet. I feel like I’m just getting started.”

Thursday, August 11, 2011

A new topography of knowledge

Richard RuppRichard Rupp, above, in a video from the new course.

     Most maps have two dimensions. Very few have three. Geographic Information Systems creates maps with a fourth dimension, a new topography of digital information.
     GIS works like this. Data is collected about anything that can be measured or calculated: Income levels, waterDSC_8486 pipes, traffic, soil composition, animal habitat, the widgets in a warehouse, the locations of people trapped in quake-crushed buildings. The data can come from traditional sources, such as a census, or from satellite photos and planes that use lasers to create 3-D maps of the landscape.
     Computers place the data over the relevant map. Different data sets can be layered over the same area. People can then make decisions based on a deep new stratum of digital information.
     This fall, students—regardless of their geospatial locations— will be able to learn about GIS in a new WSU Online course, Soil Sciences 368, Introduction to Geographic Information Systems. The course is taught by Richard Rupp, GIS coordinator at WSU’s Department of Crop and Soil Sciences. Also this fall, WSU will begin offering a minor in geospatial analysis, which is a bit broader, and includes remote sensing and spatial statistics. More...      Though GIS technology is relatively new, the practical applications have been of astounding range. Farmers use it for planting, cities for planning, businesses for managing everything from inventory to parking spaces. Rescue workers in Haiti used it to save earthquake victims. The city of Portland uses it to map utilities, fight graffiti and tell commuters when their bus will arrive.
     At WSU, the technology is often associated with precision agriculture and natural resource science, as well as archaeology, geology and civil engineering. But it’s quickly becoming a crucial tool for commerce worldwide.
     “Business is the biggest use of GIS in the country,” Rupp said. “Government is number two.”
     The new online course will focus on geography, but the process applies to other data.
     “Students will learn not just ‘about.’ They’ll learn ‘how to,’ ” said Charmaine Wellington, the e-learning consultant at the Center for Distance and Professional Education who is working with Rupp. “They’ll create a map for each assignment.”
     The course will also include video created by the CDPE and screen-capture sequences made with Camtasia software.
     Rupp earned his bachelor’s in bacteriology from Iowa State University in 1980, and his Ph.D. in microbiology from WSU in 1986. He became interested in GIS about 15 years ago, just as it was growing into a major force. “I’m kind of a data freak,” Rupp said. “I love numbers."
     Rupp’s interest in maps goes back to when he was 10, when he started a National Geographic subscription.
     “Until my wife finally convinced me—in a weak moment—to get rid of them, I had a huge collection of National Geographic maps, going back 20 or 30 years.”
     He still subscribes, still admires the maps, but no longer saves them: “Now I can make my own.”


Monday, August 8, 2011

WSU Online turns tables, sends you rocks

Debbie WhitneyDebbie Whitney is enrollment manager at the CDPE.

     Some stones should be left unturned.
     From 2004-2007, students taking Geology 210 through WSU Online had to identify rocks in their neighborhoods, and send nickel-size pieces to the professor. Instead, students sometimes sent 30-pound boxes filled with “boulders,” as described by Debbie Whitney, enrollment manager at the Center for Distance and Professional Education.
     Faculty hauled boxes of rocks from Pullman’s Van Doren Hall to their offices, then threw them away later. “Their driveways got full of rocks,” Whitney said. One student submitted pieces of slate tile and marble countertop. The instructor left them at the CDPE, where they now serve as coasters.
     In 2007, back-weary CDPE staffers turned the tables. They began sending kits filled with small rocks and fossils to students for identification. But that didn’t mean students could stay home. They still must wander their neighborhoods.
     “I have the students go on self-directed field trips,” said Clinical Assistant Professor Kathryn Baldwin, who has taught Geology 210 both online and on-campus for the past decade. “They interpret the geologic history of their location, then write up a field guide and post it on a discussion board.” More...     In her on-campus course, she takes all the students to the same place. Her online students report back from wherever they happen to live.
     “What is really great is the rest of the class gets to see places all over the world, such as Egypt, Australia, and Japan,” Baldwin said.
     Jessica Zemaitis is a WSU Vancouver student who took the online course this summer. “I was thrilled we were sent out to the field to really learn about our amazing Earth,” she said. “The rock kit was a pleasant surprise. I was a little confused at first, but I kept at it until everything fell into place.”
     While Whitney is glad she’s no longer hauling rocks, she does miss the old days. “We used to send out microscopes from Montgomery Ward’s,” said Whitney, who has worked at WSU for 21 years. “We don’t ship nearly as much fun stuff anymore.”
     In fact, the CDPE doesn’t ship much of anything anymore. In 2009, CDPE staff created and launched an online media center, a single Web page where students can access nearly all course materials, including videos, slide presentations, animations, audio, and movie clips.
     Between 2008 and 2010, shipping dropped 82 percent, students stopped having to worry about mailings, and the cost of materials and copyrights plummeted. All of which makes 2007—in retrospect—look like the Stone Age.


Thursday, July 21, 2011

Becoming a Coug, in her pajamas

SONY DSC                       Natalie and Gene Kolczynski, and their daughter Emily Seaman, are all teachers.

It was time to join the pride: Natalie Kolczynski had seen two daughters graduate from Washington State University, and one become a teacher. She’d seen her husband, also a WSU grad, become a teacher after decades in the printing industry. Natalie had a degree in nursing – a career she set aside to be a mom – but decided to add a social sciences degree to her resume: “I just wanted to be a Coug.”

In 2005, Natalie enrolled in WSU Online. “I really found the classes challenging, rigorous,” she said. “The instructors were phenomenal, very involved in the learning. And I loved that I could be in my pajamas.”

Natalie graduated summa cum laude in 2008 and got a job in the administration office of the Renton School District, where both her husband and daughter taught. Her boss asked her to replace a retiring teacher. She agreed and now teaches at Renton and Lindbergh high schools.

For the complete story of Natalie ('08) and Gene ('74) Kolczynski, and their daughter Emily Seaman ('04), please go to the EduCoug blog.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Multimedia helps both science, students

1Our staff is using cartoon creations to fight global pandemics -- and improve courses. Here's the story.

Monday, July 11, 2011

SAP changes may affect financial aid

moneycomputerThe SAP rules are changing. SAP stands for “Satisfactory Academic Progress” and those requirements may affect your eligibility for financial aid. Here’s a link to a summary of the changes.

Need more information? You can find the complete SAP Manual on the WSU website.

Once you’re done reading the entire manual, you may wish to rest your eyes, then contact our financial aid office for help. You can email finaid@wsu.edu or call 509-335-9711.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

The best degree? One that fits you.

skinny_jeans_1     Here's yet another pseudo-story on what degree you should get. Why pseudo? Perhaps because of the ads inserted between paragraphs. Or the idea that popularity equates to suitability. Or the lead: "Forget about skinny jeans. The most popular accessory in school these days is a business degree."
     Let's put aside the idea that a degree is an "accessory." Let's instead discuss skinny jeans: Skinny jeans may be popular, but they're a bad fit for a lot of people. We want our students to get the degree that fits their goals. Maybe that's business, maybe humanities, maybe social sciences or criminal justice.
     We take this so seriously that every degree-seeking student is given an academic consultant who can help a student choose a major, and find the shortest path to a diploma.
     If you are interested in business, WSU Online offers a bachelor’s degree in business in three areas: Accounting, Management and Operations, and Management Information Systems. All our online business courses are designed and taught by faculty in the WSU’s prestigious College of Business, which is fully accredited by the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB), the nation’s premier accrediting agency for degree programs in business administration and accounting.
     If you're looking to make a real investment in your future, check out the online program at Washington State University. WSU has more than a century of experience, and a worldwide reputation of producing top-quality graduates.
     Otherwise, you may end up with something that doesn’t fit.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Tuition rises, but so does value of degree

DSC_6442     As expected, WSU tuition is going up due to a big cut in state support. Here’s a link to the new rates.
     The good news is there are lots of financial aid options, plus WSU has a great financial aid staff to help students find the funding package they need.
     The other good news is that college degrees are getting more and more valuable. This is from an excellent article in last Sunday’s New York Times:
     “Three decades ago, full-time workers with a bachelor’s degree made 40 percent more than those with only a high-school diploma. Last year, the gap reached 83 percent. College graduates, though hardly immune from the downturn, are also far less likely to be unemployed than non-graduates.”

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

4-H kids load up on knowledge

Sorada ValenciaWSU Online is part of the WSU unit called the Center for Distance and Professional Education. That unit also includes Conference Management, which kept things running smoothly for 400 teenagers and 100 adults during a three-day 4-H conference.

Honor rolls released. The Spring 2011 honor rolls are now available at this link.

Friday, June 10, 2011

Meet the new ASWSU-Online president

joseph nuttingWSU Online’s student government has launched a blog, and the most recent posts feature an introduction to new President Joseph Nutting, and a message from outgoing President Larry Lawrence. Check out the CyberCoug.

The student government funds scholarships, organizes social events, and generally works to make life better for WSU Online students. For more information, go to the ASWSU-Online page.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Not a student yet? Better read this

After last week's approval of the "gainful employment" rules meant to protect students, WSU Online Executive Director David Cillay suggested that prospective students also need to look out for themselves. How do you compare online programs? With this top 10 list.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

New private scholarships available

Money on clothespinThe Mary Cone Barrie Scholarship is offering two awards of $2,500 each. Applications are due by July 29.

WSU also maintains a list of private/donor scholarships, and several new options have been recently added.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

WSU honors human development major

Tess White Distance Senior 2011 photo     When she quit college, Tess White was 19, newly diagnosed with epilepsy and had a 1.9 grade point average.
     Fifteen years later, White had become a stay-at-home mom with three children, including a daughter with autism.
     “Having a child who isn’t developing ‘normally’ made me more aware of development in general,” she said. “I wanted more knowledge — and I was the first person in my family that didn’t finish college. It was time for me to redeem myself.”
     White lives in Orcas Island, Wash., so she chose the convenience of WSU’s online degree program. “It has been amazing,” she said. “I have made some great connections with quality professors.” More...     White is majoring in human development, and teaches preschool at Orcas Island Children’s House.
     This time around, White has a 3.95 GPA. At age 37, she was recently named the Outstanding Distance Degree Senior at the human development program of WSU’s College of Agricultural, Human and Natural Resource Sciences.
     “Tess has highly valued the opportunity to complete her degree by distance, while still focusing on her other important roles,” wrote nominator Mary R. Wandschneider, a senior instructor and director of the internship program at the Department of Human Development. “She is a delightful and talented young woman.”
     White graduates in December. She plans to earn a master’s in early childhood education.
     “Getting my degree at a distance has been so important for me,” she said. “I think I have some great insights as an online student, and could be a good online professor.”

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Slain reservist’s son on track to success

Kerry Clark

    On a rainy Friday, Kerry Clark rode his bike to the Donut Parade in north Spokane. He rarely drives. Too expensive.
     Clark has four roommates. He survives on financial aid and military benefits. The financial aid is through Washington State University, where he’s an online student.
      "I view studying as a job,” he said. “Just like any job, I want to do well at it.” Clark couldn’t do any better. He has a 4.0 grade point average and made the president’s honor roll.
      The military benefits came after his mother, a Navy reservist, was killed in 2005 near Fallujah, Iraq.
      Petty Officer 1st Class Regina Clark of Centralia was a mess hall cook in her first two deployments. In her third, she did checkpoint searches. A suicide bomber attacked her convoy. Regina Clark, a single mom, was the first Washington state woman killed in the Iraq war. Her son was 18.
      “The day I no longer had a parental guardian was the day I really started paying attention,” said Clark, 25. “I had to be responsible for absolutely everything in my own life. That makes you aware of how to win – and how to lose.” More...      One way to lose is to be stuck in an unchallenging job. When Clark worked at a lumber mill, he said, “I felt restricted, like any abilities I might have couldn’t come to the forefront because I didn’t have the necessary education.”
      Clark earned his associate’s degree at Centralia College, moved to Spokane with a couple friends, and enrolled in WSU Online.
      “People assume online courses are more work,” he said. “For me, it’s more work to have to wake up at 8 a.m. every day to get to class than to roll out of bed and start doing schoolwork.”
      Clark is majoring in humanities with a minor in history. He expects to graduate in December, then earn a graduate degree in history.
      “When I see Ph.D.’s now, I think they’re a hundred times smarter than I am. But they had to get there somehow,” he said. “I won’t stop studying until someone gives me an F – and that isn’t going to happen.”
      Clark is also motivated by the people of Centralia. At Fuller’s Market, where his mother used to work, employees still wear buttons with her photo.
      "They seem to miss her as much as I do,” he said. “You can see the difference she made. Hopefully I can do something like that in my own life.”

By Richard H. Miller/WSU Online

Monday, May 9, 2011

Young WSU grad deals with praise, flak

DSC_7272
Article by Kelsey Husky/Moscow-Pullman Daily News

     Things come naturally to 16-year-old Kayla Heard.
     "It's a God-given gift," she said. "Ever since I can remember, it's been this way."
     Heard is the youngest student on record to graduate from Washington State University. She's walking in commencement today with a degree in history and political science.
     She completed her degree as a distance learner in Union, Wash., and was homeschooled before that.
     What sets her apart is that she could talk by her first birthday and was reading at 18 months. She started first grade at age 3, graduated from high school at 10 and began community college at 11.
     What makes her normal is that she hangs out with friends, plays computer games, modifies her computer and enjoys sci-fi TV shows.
     The teenager has caught the attention of many - for the last week, she's been talking to various media outlets about her accomplishments, including Seattle TV stations KING5 and KIRO.
     She said the interviews were scary the first few times, but now, she's used to it. To her, it's just like a normal conversation now.
     However, the public hasn't been the most friendly.
     Heard said she's had mixed responses to her story. Some come up to her on the street and say she's inspiring.
     "If people do think that this is extraordinary, they want to pay attention to me and put me in the limelight, I'm fine with that," she said, but she doesn't crave attention.
     Others criticize. She said there's no reason to let it affect her personally, though.
     "We're just going with the flow with this," she said.
     Criticism includes the idea that she's missing out on certain freedoms, such as hanging out at the mall. But she has a different take on what freedom means.
More...     Heard said teenage-years freedom can't be compared to the freedom you have as an adult in the working world, and the only way to have that freedom is to work hard now.
     Instant gratification isn't as fun as long-term fun as an adult, she said.
     She advises younger generations to be responsible now and "focus on getting good grades and creating stable bases for their lives now."
     Others criticize her homeschooling - people are saying she's confined to her room.
     In actuality, she's traveled to Asia multiple times and across the United States.
     Homeschooling has given her the opportunity to see more of the world and experience more, she said.
     The lack of peer pressure she's had has allowed her to create a venue for self-expression and individuality, she said.
     The personable, fashionable teen plays the guitar and piano and sings.
     She said most would be surprised to know she loves rock music, such as Linkin Park and Green Day, as well as Christian music like Skillet.
     Heard describes herself as logistic and opinionated, which she said works well with her political science studies.
     "It gives me a chance to learn more about societal issues," she said. She enjoys studying legislation and society on a deeper level.
     Heard plans to take distance courses for law school and earn a master's degree in the future as well.
     Until then, she'll continue to sing with her church's worship team. She'll hike and fish, as well as create digital art and photography.
     Her friends will treat her like an ordinary person, just as they always have.

Reprinted with the permission of the Moscow-Pullman Daily News

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Any CrimJ students seeking a police job?

The Spokane Police Department is hiring, says spokeswoman Jennifer DeRuwe. Here's a link.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

WSU Online student to graduate at 16

     Teenager from Union, Wash., could talk when she was 1, and read at 18 months. She started first grade at age 3, graduated from high school at 10, and began community college at 11.
     Check out the story on KING 5 news.

Friday, April 22, 2011

Online student wins top CCE award

Melanie, Erica, KimCenter for Civic Engagement Director Melanie Brown, left, Erica Vieira, and Assistant Director Kim Freier.

They don’t give the T-shirts to just anybody.
     WSU’s Center for Civic Engagement reserves them for people who complete more than 25 hours of service, said student involvement coordinator Michael Schwartz-Oscar. However, when a student said she had volunteered, but hadn’t tracked it through the CCE, Schwartz-Oscar relented. He gave her a T-shirt. In return he got her to promise she’d start tracking her hours.
     That was a year ago. Now WSU Online student Erica Vieira has not only tracked 117 service hours, but also become the first online student to win the Excellence in Civic Engagement Award.
     “I am so glad I trusted her,” Schwartz-Oscar said Thursday. “I think we owe Erica another T-shirt.”
     Each year, WSU’s Center for Civic Engagement recognizes students, a student group, a faculty member, and community and campus partners for their service and commitment to learning, Schwartz-Oscar said. More...     The other 2010-11 winners are Pullman student Michael Herseth, faculty member Ole Sleipness, community partner Palouse Clearwater Environmental Institute, campus partner Kathleen Parker of the USDA and student group Lambda Chi Alpha. All were recognized Thursday at an awards ceremony in the CUB.
     Vieira, vice president of WSU Online’s student government, heard about her award while at a government meeting in Spokane.
     “I was speechless, which is rare,” said the Seattle resident. Her husband was very proud, she said, and her mother sent her an email: “Well, look at you.”
     Vieira is a social sciences major with a concentration in human development, and a mother of three.
     She volunteers at a Tukwila preschool and works with 4-year-olds. “They’re at the perfect age of development,” she said. “They’re free-spirited, they don’t have a worry in the world so it’s really fun to work with them.”
     Vieira’s volunteer work helped the co-op preschool program survive budget cuts, said her supervisor, Marlus Francis. “She’s been a blessing to us and the kids.”
     Volunteering was an “overall great experience,” Vieira said. She recalled one little boy who gave everyone the silent treatment. “He talked to nobody. Nobody. Then he decided he would speak to me. If he tries to communicate with the teacher, he communicates through me. That was one of my favorite experiences.”
     Is she interested in a career in early-childhood education? Possibly, but she’s also considering becoming a counselor for an older crowd.
     “I definitely have an impact on the preschool level,” she said, “but I figure students are almost equally confused when they’re entering college.”

By Richard H. Miller/WSU Online

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Omak mother, daughter on parallel paths

teresa and kayla sheeleyKayla and Teresa Sheeley are both artists.

When her daughter enrolled at Washington State University Pullman, Teresa Sheeley felt restless. She’d attended community college, but always regretted not finishing her four-year degree.
     Teresa lives in Omak, Wash. She’s widely known for her artwork, which tends to be in the cozy home décor category: tea towels, warm paintings, designs you might see in a French countryside café. She sells her work online and at arts and crafts shows, such as Farm Chicks.
     A friend recommended WSU Online, so she enrolled as a social sciences major and plans eventually to earn a master’s. “I want to teach art to little ones,” she said.
     “I was really proud of her when she decided to get her four-year degree,” said her daughter, Kayla Sheeley, who is also an artist. Kayla had her bachelor of fine arts exhibit in April at the WSU Museum of Art. Teresa and her husband, Dave, came to Pullman for the show. More...     “Teresa’s a very, very smart person,” said Dave, as Kayla set out food for exhibit guests. “But if it weren’t for WSU Online, she wouldn’t be getting a degree.”
     Studying online is a lot of work, Teresa said. “But I would recommend it, because it’s so enriching. It makes you a better person, because you’re learning and growing. When I was in high school, none of that stuck. Now it does. I get it, and I enjoy it.
     The courses are “awesome,” she said, but, even so, how does she find the time? She laughed. “I cram because I have to work all day at my business,” she said.
     Visitors began to arrive to see Kayla’s work. Teresa got up to check on the food. Dave kept talking about Teresa’s intelligence and accomplishments.
     “I’ve been absolutely thrilled with what she’s done,” he said. “It’s not only the fact that it opens doors, but what it does for you. What it does inside you. It puts you in a different category; it puts you in a different place. When someone has the capacity she has, not to take advantage of it, well, that’s …” He ended with a chuckle.
     “He just likes to talk,” Teresa said.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Some biz courses to get new prefixes

confusedThe College of Business is changing its business course prefixes. The change will become effective fall semester. What does this mean to you?
Schedules of Classes to change. In the Schedules of Classes, business courses for the summer semester are cross-listed (listed in more than one unit within the college).  Beginning fall 2011, business courses are assigned to only one specific department/unit. The changes will not impact the way courses count towards your degree.
  • Example: In the summer schedule, you see both MGTOP 489 and ENTRP 489. It’s the same course, but it’s cross-listed. You may decide you want to take that course in the fall. But, in the fall schedule, the course will be only called ENTRP 489. 
More...
Academic Progress Report being updated. Your current academic progress report may not yet reflect these changes. Your next APR will include the changes.
  • Example: Your APR says you need to take MGTOP 492. When you go to the fall schedule, you can’t find the course because it’s now called ENTRP 492. 
Your academic consultant is aware of these changes, and will work with you during your advising session. Please keep in mind it is your responsibility to know which courses you need to satisfy your degree requirements. 
Please review the table below for the WSU Online courses that will be affected:
Cross listed courses through
summer 2011
Updated course listing beginning
fall 2011
MGTOP/ENTRP/IBUS 492 ENTRP 492
MGTOP/IBUS 453 IBUS 453
MGTOP/ENTRP 489 ENTRP 489
IBUS/ACCTG 420 ACCTG 420
BLAW/MGTOP  487 MGMT 487
ENTRP/MIS/IBUS  441 MIS 441
ENTRP/MKTG 490 MKTG 490
IBUS/HBM 435 IBUS 435
ENTRP/FIN 426 ENTRP 426
In addition, the following MGTOP courses will have new prefixes beginning fall 2011: 
Listed as MGTOP through
summer 2011
New prefixes beginning
fall 2011
MGTOP 301 MGMT 301
MGTOP 315 MGMT 315
MGTOP 401 MGMT 401
MGTOP 450 MGMT 450
MGTOP 453 IBUS 453
MGTOP 455 MGMT 455
MGTOP 456 MGMT 456
MGTOP 487 MGMT 487
MGTOP 489 ENTRP 489
MGTOP 491 MGMT 491
MGTOP 492 ENTRP 492

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Robert Gates to speak at commencement

Robert Gates Defense Secretary Robert Gates AhH42G3jzTPl     U.S. Secretary of Defense Robert M. Gates, Admiral John Scott Redd and R. James Cook, Washington State University dean and professor emeritus, will be the featured speakers at WSU’s 115th spring commencement Saturday, May 7, at Beasley Performing Arts Coliseum.
     Gates will speak at the 11:30 a.m. ceremony. There’s more information in this news release.
     If you’ll be here for commencement, think about attending our pregraduation party, which includes free dinner, a visit by Butch, and music from a string quartet.

Friday, April 8, 2011

Wants to keep kids out of his workplace

alexcropAlex Esparza is getting used to his job – and he doesn’t like that.
     “You get desensitized to things,” said Alex, a corrections officer at the Skagit County Juvenile Detention Center. “Kids charged with robbery or assault. That used to be shocking and heartbreaking. But, after time, it gets normal.”
     He’s been a corrections officer for eight years, and was recently promoted to shift supervisor. He watches the kids when they leave their rooms, and checks them every 15 minutes when they return. Their ages range from 12 to 17. “When they have their 18th birthday in detention, we have to walk them over to the jail.”
     When Alex was a senior in high school, he left home and moved in with a friend. “We spent most of our time partying,” he said. “I got kicked out of school for not going and I didn’t get my diploma until I was 21.”
     Those early experiences left him with a “passion for being around kids and talking with them about their lives. But it’s hard to help once they’ve been arrested. More... “One of my main goals,” he said, “is to try to work with them out in the community, to be proactive and keep them out of trouble.”
     Alex wants to be a probation officer or counselor. He earned his associate’s degree from Skagit Valley College, but to reach his goals, he needs a bachelor’s degree. “I work 40 hours a week, and moving wasn’t an option,” he said. He and his wife looked at online options — but not all of them.
     “We didn’t look at the for-profits,” he said. “We wanted something from a credible college. I was pretty excited when I found WSU Online. When I found out the degree would say WSU, I thought it would be great to say I graduated from Washington State University.”
     At first, Alex was intimidated by the prospect of taking WSU courses. “Skagit is one thing, I thought, but this is WSU. I don’t know if I’m going to be able to do it,” he said. “But I found out it was manageable, something I could do while working, as long as I stayed focused and disciplined.”
     Alex said the classes are well organized, and he appreciates being able to see the syllabus before registering: “You know what to expect from the course before you sign up,” he said. “That helps a lot.”
     Alex also praised his academic consultant, Chrisi Kincaid. “She laid out my APR (academic progress report),” he said. “Those APRs are just great. You know what you have to do and you can see the light at the end of the tunnel.”
     Alex has a 3.57 GPA and plans to graduate in May 2012 with a degree in social sciences. Then he’ll be able to show others that the tunnel leads to light.