Friday, August 30, 2013

Global Campus delivers Cougar pride

DSC_2181Katey Koehn wants to scream her head off. She wants to paste stickers on her face. She wants to shout herself hoarse.

Sure, she could do that at home—it’s not for us to judge—but it’s a lot more fun among fellow Washington State University fans.

If you’ve watched WSU play Stanford or Berkeley, you may have seen Katey belting out the Cougar fight song in the stands; she’s at every football game near her Morgan Hill, Calif., home. The Global Campus student made her first visit to Pullman for the nerve-wracking 2012 Apple Cup—“a glorious memory that will never leave me.” And she waved the WSU flag for ESPN’s College GameDay:

“I got up at 4 in the morning and drove to Palo Alto,” she says. “I waved the red one and ran over to the other side and waved the white one.”

Another crazy college kid, right? Not even close. Katey is in her 40s. She was a manager at eBay, and is now an executive at Yahoo. She has a 3.93 GPA, and has been on the President’s Honor Roll for seven straight semesters. And she didn’t choose WSU’s Global Campus only because she looks good in crimson. She wanted a respected diploma, and she listened to a wise friend.

More... “I had a mentor who said you should look for an online university with a real campus, real community involvement, a real sense of purpose, a vision, and a mission.”

Katey enrolled in 2010. Her major is social sciences with concentrations in anthropology and history.

“As these last three years have gone by, my enthusiasm has grown as I interact with other Cougs,” she says. “There’s a camaraderie here that doesn’t exist anywhere else. Being part of this community is phenomenal.”

Sports are a big part of that community (“It’s a way to be with your people,” she says). So is her involvement in the Northern California Alumni Association, and with Global Campus social events, such as the recent Tacoma Rendezvous. But the frosting on Katey’s cake is made of cheese.

“When I came for the Apple Cup, I drove around Pullman with this wonderment, this excitement,” she says. “I felt like a kid again. Then I discovered Cougar Gold cheese. Oh my gosh. All these years, how did I not know about the cheese? It’s amazing.”

Katey has done her best to re-create the Pullman magic at home. “I have a Cougar shrine in my office,” she says. “I have the fight song printed out—I walk around work singing it—and I have the pompons, a mug, pennant and pins. I feel like I’m in my virtual Pullman.”

At the Tacoma gathering, she snagged more memorabilia: pens, a globe, paw-shaped clips, note pads, carabineer, T-shirt—“I will pick up anything with a cougar head on it and slap it on my body,” she says. But, after the last door-prize number was called, Katey, like all sports fans, found the pursuit of glory always brings the chance of disappointment.

“I was bummed I didn’t win that garden gnome.”

-- Richard H. Miller/Global Campus

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Zoo loves Cougs -- except for one

Butch on the phone

Nearly 600 WSU Global Campus online students and family members will gather at Seattle’s Woodland Park Zoo from 11 a.m.-2 p.m. this Saturday. But the most animalistic WSU representative has been told to stay out.

Is it because WSU mascot Butch T. Cougar is too boisterous? Because he’d scarf up all the food? Because other critters would envy his dance moves?

It’s just to keep everything mellow, said Toni GodwinSells, zoo events manager. “Seeing Butch walking around could trigger the zoo animals’ predator or prey instinct.”

In other words, Butch would have the same effect he has on opposing football teams. But not to worry. Even without the furry feline, the Global Campus students will have lots to do. They’ll see the 92-acre collection of animal exhibits—including the week-old giraffe and 5-month-old jaguar triplets—eat a free lunch, and meet their online classmates in person.

More...Global Campus in-person events usually draw no more than 200 people, said John Larson, a senator with the online student government. This inaugural zoo event, called “Rendezoo,” topped everyone’s estimates with more than 580 sign-ups.

“We were blown away by the response,” Larson said. “It’s going to be great seeing Woodland Park Zoo full of crimson and gray.”

The high turnout required the Global Campus to move the event from the zoo’s Family Farm to the vast North Meadow.

“Fortunately the zoo has lots of options for private events,” said ASWSU-Global advisor Erica Vieira. “The zoo staff has been a huge help. And the event coordinator I’m working with is a WSU Global Campus graduate.”

The Global Campus also invites online students—and Butch—to graduation parties, tailgate parties and luncheons.

“We always enjoy seeing students get their first taste of the Coug Nation,” said Debbie O’Donnell, Global Campus director of marketing and student services. “But for them this is just the beginning. They’ll have that sense of Cougar pride all their lives.”