Thursday, December 17, 2015

Grad parties: New friends, new futures

DSC_2890They hugged friends they’d never met before. They frolicked with Butch T. Cougar. To find their Global Campus classmates, some wore red sweaters emblazoned with WSU logos and snowflakes.

This year’s ASWSU Global commencement receptions in Pullman and Seattle drew more than 100 exuberant graduates and family members.

“It’s the first time I’ve met everybody,” said strategic communications graduate Wayne White, who sported one of the festive sweaters at the Pullman event. “I’ve worked with them for two years, seen their pictures, but to actually talk and interact with them is a different thing.”

The sweater idea came from a strategic-communications Facebook group. “We peer-pressured everyone into buying one,” said White, a video editor at KOMO-TV news. “Now we can all identify each other.”

Other ASWSU Global events include free zoo trips, ski trips, museum visits, and tailgate parties. “Most online programs would never do these kinds of things,” said Jonathan Olp, the incoming ASWSU Global president. “But it brings the students closer so they can connect with one another and the faculty.”

Criminal justice major Lindsey Clark attended the Seattle graduation reception with a full family entourage: Mother, father, husband, 4-year-old son, sister, brother-in-law, mother-in-law, and niece. Her support network quickly came in handy:

“Before showing up, I was thinking, ‘it's just a lunch,’” she said. “But clearly it meant a lot more to me because immediately after walking in the door, I burst into tears.”

Monday, December 14, 2015

Teen earns master's online at WSU

A 19-year-old has become the first graduate of WSU’s online master’s in electrical engineering program.

Alexander Anderson completing his degree in three semesters, and has started a company and filed two patent applications for airborne generators. The North Bend, Wash., resident is now launching an effort to bring light, power and entrepreneurial opportunities to residents of Jiwaka Province, Papua New Guinea.

He's also designing an unmanned hybrid-electric aircraft.

Anderson did his WSU lab work in his family’s home workshop, where he built and tested his airborne generators and energy augmenter. “From power systems analysis to smart grid cybersecurity to high voltage electromagnetics, every course was something that I really wanted to know and understand,’’ he said.

Full story here.

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

New course: Human-Animal Interaction

hai courseWSU Global Campus is delivering a new online course, Human-Animal Interaction: What We Know and What the Future Holds.

The noncredit course offers a basic understanding of the value of human-animal interaction, and the benefits of animal intervention in health-care and other settings.

More info here.

Monday, November 23, 2015

Musical mash-up at grad receptions

IMG_0237At Washington State University commence- ments, the musicians play Pomp and Circumstance. But at WSU Global Campus pre-commencement receptions, there’s not much pomp, and the circumstances are more eclectic than classical.

That’s because the Global Campus student government, which organizes the Pullman and Seattle events, lets students choose their favorite songs, then assembles them into a wide-ranging playlist: Classic rock. Contemporary country. Pop. R&B, hip-hop, and the uniquely peculiar Dead Milkmen.

Some songs inspire: “Today is where your book begins/The rest is still unwritten.”

Some songs empower: “We ride and never worry about the fall/I guess that's just the cowboy in us all.”

And some may comfort those with average grades: “Happiness on earth/Ain't just for high achievers.”

The auditory free-for-all started last spring, when ASWSU Global decided to better tailor the receptions to the students’ tastes.

“They’re all sharing this incredible sense of pride and accomplishment,” said ASWSU Global liaison CeCe Smith. “We thought they should be able to share their music too.”

The diverse music reflects the diverse student body, Smith said. “Our students have a wide range of cultural and professional backgrounds,” she said. “It's one of the benefits of Global Campus courses: Students learn from their classmates as well as their professors.”

Does that make up for hearing Glenn Miller segue into Van Halen into Tim McGraw into Bon Jovi?

“These folks are WSU graduates,” she said. “They know how to embrace differences—and find beauty in unexpected places.”

--Richard H. Miller/WSU Global Campus

Thursday, October 22, 2015

Free tickets spread the power of crimson

Angi and Jim DavisJim and Angi Davis at the WSU Pullman tailgate party.

WSU Global Campus students were recently immersed in Cougar spirit—complete with knuckle-biting plays, screaming fans, and glorious victories—thanks to free football game tickets from the student government.

ASWSU Global usually hosts skiing events, zoo visits, tailgate parties, the Tacoma Rendezvous, and graduation receptions, all funded by student activity fees. This fall, the student government voted to give away about 200 tickets to four away games, Homecoming and the Apple Cup.

Shandie Morrison got tickets to see the Cougs battle the Ducks in Eugene, Ore. She had never been to a WSU game before. “It was a night I will never forget,” said the social sciences major from Vancouver, Wash. “My husband and I got decked out in Coug gear, and screamed and cheered while standing in the middle of a sea of Ducks.”

The game went into overtime, then double-overtime before WSU made an interception to win, 45-38. “After the game I have never been high-fived and hugged by so many strangers in my life,” Morrison said.


Angi Davis, an MBA student from Snoqualmie, Wash., was already a dyed-in-the-wool Coug when she got tickets to the Homecoming game, where the Cougs beat Oregon State, 52-31. Davis’ husband, Jim, is a former Cougar defensive back, and her daughter is a WSU cheerleader. “I love WSU,” Davis said. “Free tickets or not.”

Love, however, has a flip side: In the Davis household, there’s an edict against a color associated with a rival school. “We seriously own no purple,” Angi Davis said. “When they were younger, the girls weren’t allowed to buy clothes in any shade of purple. I am not allowed to plant purple flowers in the summer.”

Mollie Erickson, an accounting major from Spokane, still allows purple in her house—but maybe not for long. Her conversion to Coug-mania started with last year’s ASWSU Global Homecoming party and barbecue. Then there was January’s free skiing night, followed by free tickets to this fall’s Homecoming game.

“These events have made my whole family into Cougars,” Erickson said. “My husband just bought a Cougar cap. And my daughters now say they want to go to WSU too.”

For Sarah Gardner, a psychology major who came to Homecoming from Sammamish, Wash., the ticket giveaway was less about gridiron clashes and more about the softer side of Cougar spirit:

“I think these events just add to the whole feeling of what WSU is about,” she said, “warm and welcoming and inviting.”

Thursday, September 17, 2015

WSU Global Campus is on your team

Sina staff support WSU Global Campus is dedicated to helping students achieve their goals. In addition to the many resources offered by the entire WSU system, Global Campus provides its own resources. Here are a few: 

Personal advisors. Your advisor is your personal navigator on your academic journey.

eTutoring. Get free unlimited online tutoring on everything from accounting to writing. eTutoring website

Virtual mentors. The VMs are in many courses to help with non-academic issues. Most are WSU Global Campus seniors or graduates.

Tech support. 24/7 help from our tech support office.

Career help. Map out your future with a  free advice from WSU career counselor Chris Miller.

Proctored exams. Global Campus staff offer an online proctored exam service.

Other support. Here's a link to our support services staff.

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Grad now helps run Seattle’s largest hotel

Burl Battersby-wsmBurl Battersby had been in Japan a day and a half. He was 18, an exchange student from Arizona. Someone handed him a book and asked him to read it to a classroom of 14-year-olds to improve their English pronunciation.

“I think the book was Greek fables,” he said. “I had trouble saying some of the names.”

When he finished, he heard the desks shaking. Three thoughts went through his mind: 1) Wow, this must be the Japanese version of applause. 2) This is great, I really like teaching English. 3) It’s an earthquake!

The ground stopped moving, but Burl’s desire to become a teacher had taken root. In so much of life, however, inspiration is seismic but accomplishment is incremental.

To pay for college, Battersby got a room-service job at a Scottsdale resort. He got promoted—got promoted again and again—working at top Arizona hotels, the Westin St. Francis Hotel in San Francisco, the Sheraton Seattle.

By 2006, Battersby’s teaching goal had been derailed by success. He was director of Six Sigma at the Sheraton Seattle. He had a dream job—helping re-envision the future of 1,100 hotels worldwide—in a dream location: A marble-floored high-rise next to the convention center in a city vibrant with technology and aerospace.

In 2007, the Sheraton added a new tower and became Seattle’s largest hotel, with 1,236 rooms, 44 meeting spaces and two posh ballrooms. “This a city in itself,” Battersby said, “with upward of 4,000 people here on a given night, plus 500 or so associates, who represent almost every culture you can imagine.”

The new tower required new employees, many of whom spoke little English. Battersby saw a chance. He got an ESL certificate, and taught hundreds of classes in the basement cafeteria.

Re-inspired, Battersby enrolled at Washington State University Distance Degree Programs, now called WSU Global Campus. By 2012, he had earned his bachelor’s in humanities—“it gave me a global perspective, and helps me work better with the different cultures here”—and went on to earn his 2013 Executive MBA online from WSU.

Last year, Battersby became director of rooms at the Sheraton, where he oversees nearly every aspect of the guest experience. Also last year, he finally became a faculty member. He teaches hospitality business management classes for Skagit Valley College’s online program.
Did the reality match the dream? “It’s exactly what I wanted it to be,” Battersby said.

Battersby plans to start his doctorate —perhaps moving to Pullman—in the next few years, then become a full-time professor.

For now, he’s delighted to be both a teacher and a hotel executive. Each, after all, involves sharing knowledge. And, in each role, he offers people the same advice he’s followed for 25 years, advice that applies whether you envision yourself running an opulent hotel or a college classroom: “Don’t lose sight of your end goal,” he said. “I never gave up. Don’t give up.”

--Richard Miller

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Top tips from three amazing grads

tips from three gradsGlobal Campus graduates, from left, Katie Walsh, Paul Cummins and Cynetha Blacketer.

To have a successful semester, says one WSU Global Campus graduate, remember these three words: “Plan, plan, plan!”

Katie Walsh graduated this past spring with a bachelor’s in business. She was an ASWSU Global senator and won WSU’s 2015 President’s Award for Leadership.

“I once took seven classes in one semester,” she says. “I created a spreadsheet to track the assignments and when they were due. By putting all this information side by side, I was able to schedule the time I needed to complete the assignments.”

Another 2015 business graduate, Paul Cummins, used a similar strategy to earn 74 credits in a single year—while working full-time, raising two kids, coaching his eldest son’s basketball team, maintaining a 3.6 GPA, and running an occasional 200-mile relay race

He listed all his due dates in a spreadsheet, and each week reviewed the spreadsheet to make sure he was on track. “You never want to be behind,” he says. “If you get a little behind, you have to work so much harder to get caught up.” Cummins also recommends “grouping” courses: Taking classes with similar curriculums so you can apply concepts learned in one class to another.

Global Campus graduate Cynetha Blacketer also advises being organized, but added another tip, perhaps related to her 2015 psychology degree: “Pick one day a week when you will not deal with schoolwork,” says Blacketer, who also was a student senator. “This helps you decompress and avoid the dreaded burnout that we all experience at some point. We all learn in a specific way and at a specific pace, so pace yourself in the manner that best works for you.”

Friday, August 7, 2015

Global Campus goes beyond classroom

Money Talk video promoGoing to a university can mean more than going to classes. That’s why Global Campus offers you extracurricular activities and events that range from tailgate parties to guest lectures to fascinating webinars.

In general, in-person events are organized by the student government, ASWSU Global, and online events are organized by the Global Connections program.

You can find a list of ASWSU Global events here.

Global Connections has just opened registration for its first three online events this fall: how to get the most financial aid (see video, above), a webinar on the human-animal bond, and a virtual 5K run. Check out the website.

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

WSU email changes; new name for zzusis

WSU Student Working on LaptopWSU has two big announcements for fall semester:

WSU email addresses changing.

  • Many email user names were “first.lastname.” That’s changed. All user names are now the network ID user name—the same name you use for zzusis and Blackboard. (If that’s already your email user name, then it hasn’t changed.)
  • The word “email” has been dropped from “”
  • Example? If you used to log in as, you’ll now log in as simply
  • Starting Aug. 24, all official WSU email messages will be sent to your WSU email account. If you had a different account listed as “preferred,” that account will be automatically switched to your WSU account. Be sure to use that WSU account.
  • Emails sent to your old address will be forwarded.

These changes include a bonus: When you log in to, you can get Microsoft Office for free.

Zzusis has been renamed.

Zzusis is now called myWSU. None of the content is changing, just the name. If you go to zzusis, you’ll be automatically redirected, but you might as well bookmark the correct URL:

Thursday, July 2, 2015

U.S. News: Global Campus in top 20

US-News-option3U.S. News & World Report has ranked
WSU Global Campus
20th in the nation among online undergraduate degree programs.

The 2015 Best Online Bachelor’s Programs report rated 296 schools on four categories: student engagement, faculty credentials and training, peer reputation, and student services and technology. (Complete methodology here.) WSU Global Campus was awarded 91 out of 100 points in the category of faculty credentials and training.

“WSU faculty have always been the heart of our online program,” said Dave Cillay, WSU vice president in charge of the Global Campus. “They bring not only a profound understanding of their fields, but also a genuine commitment to helping students succeed.”

The Global Campus offers eight undergraduate and 12 graduate degrees, as well as undergraduate and graduate certificates. Global Campus students also engage with the WSU community through unique extracurricular options, such as an online student government, face-to-face gatherings, and the Global Connections program, which presents online educational and cultural events.

Last year’s U.S. News report ranked the Global Campus undergraduate program 21st in the nation.

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

New student government takes office

ASWSU Global leaders 2015

The new ASWSU Global student government is in place and ready to begin working for you. Want to know more about some of your classmates? Check out their brief bios. They’ll be organizing this series of fun events. You can get a quick look at past events in this YouTube video.

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Global Campus ranked 12th in nation

     WSU Global Campus has been ranked the 12th best online university in the nation by The Best Schools organization.
     “We selected the best online colleges based on academic excellence, faculty credentials, student support, awards, rankings, and reputation,” said senior editor Brian Jenkins.
     In 2014, the group ranked WSU Global Campus as the best in Washington state.
     Wondering about other Global Campus awards? Select the “More” button below for a long list.

· Undergraduate program ranked No. 20 in nation (top 10 percent) by U.S. News and World Report
· OMBA and EMBA ranked 21st in nation by U.S. News

· Best in State from Edudemic
· CrimJ Bachelors best nonprofit in nation by Criminal Justice degree Online
· Top online college in Washington state by The Best Schools.
· Global Campus ranked 12th in nation for graduation rate by Online Schools Center
· Graduate degree programs in business and engineering ranked third in nation for veterans by U.S. News & World Report
· Bachelor’s degree program ranked eighth in nation for veterans by U.S. News & World Report.
· Social Sciences degree program ranked ninth in the nation for affordability by the Social Science Careers website.
· Criminal justice program ranked 10th in the nation by Create a Career.
· Criminal justice program named sixth in the nation by
· Undergraduate program ranked ninth in nation by The Best Schools.
· Undergraduate program ranked No. 21 in nation (top 10 percent) by U.S. News and World Report.
· OMBA program ranked seventh by U.S. News and World Report.
· Engineering program ranked 21st by U.S. News and World Report.

· The Ralph E. Gomory Award for Quality Online Education by the Sloan Consortium.
· Online MBA ranked first in the nation by U.S. News and World Report.
· Third in the nation for online bachelor’s degree in psychology from
· Third in nation for online sport management master’s by TheBestSchools.
· Ninth best public online college by Affordable Colleges Online.

· Third place from TheBestSchools for online criminal justice bachelor’s degree.
· Sixth place for supporting the military by the 2012 Guide to Online Schools.
· Ninth place from SuperScholar for undergraduate business degree.
· Seventh place for the bachelor’s degree in criminal justice by SuperScholar.

· Fourth place for the overall degree program by the SuperScholar website.
· Institution Achievement award by the National University Telecommunication Network.
· Sixth for student services by U.S. News and World Report.
· Online MBA program ranked first in admissions selectivity and third in student engagement and accreditation by U.S. News.
· Fourth in nation for online degree programs by SuperScholar.

· Center for Transforming Student Services Innovation Award for Virtual Mentor Program.

· Institution Achievement Award from the National University Telecommunications Network.

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

GC student wins leadership award

Katie WalshWSU Global Campus student Katie Walsh has won WSU’s 2015 President’s Award for Leadership, which honors those who “demonstrate exceptional leadership and service to the university.”

“When I heard the news, I was ecstatic,” said Walsh, an ASWSU Global senator who is graduating next month. “It is such an honor to be seen as a leader in my community.”

Among those nominating her was John Larson, ASWSU Global president. “She has been a tremendous asset through her recruiting efforts to bring needed talent to the organization,” he said. “We will miss her cheerful nature and resourcefulness.”


Nominator Kelsea Holbrook, ASWSU Global vice president, praised Walsh for launching a ski event for Global Campus students. “Katie wanted a face-to-face event for the students of Eastern Washington,” Holbrook said. “Instead of just providing suggestions, she researched the feasibility of a skiing and tubing event at Mount Spokane and coordinated all the details.”

Walsh is chair of the ASWSU Global Technology Committee, ASWSU Global secretary and pro tempore treasurer, member of its Governing Documents Task Force, and on the Center for Civic Engagement Student Advisory Board. She is double-majoring in management operations and management information systems. The Redmond, Wash., resident will use her degree to find a management position integrating data analytics, internal auditing and compliance.

Walsh, along with her sister, two sons, and niece, will be attending the 5 p.m. April 23 awards ceremony at WSU Pullman. The rest of her family, she said, will be watching the live-stream presentation, which will be available at this link.

Monday, April 13, 2015

CrimJ student helps run Amazon security

Matthew NugentThe burglar alarm awoke 10-year-old Matt Nugent. His mom grabbed him and his sister, barricaded them all in the master bedroom.

“There was a sense of panic,” said Nugent, now 25. “Then I looked out the back window and saw two patrol cars and immediately knew everything was going to be OK.” The alarm turned out to be false—the paperboy had slung the Sunday edition into the front door—but Nugent had found his passion: To work in law enforcement.

As a teenager, Nugent put aside the siren call of law enforcement, and considered more lucrative careers. But when he was 18, the police arrived again: Nugent was in community college and working as a waiter. An officer stopped by for a to-go order.

“I went up to him and said, ‘How would someone get into law enforcement?’” The officer didn’t hesitate. “Let me take you on a ride-along,” he replied.


Nugent never turned back. He transferred to Bellevue College to study criminal justice. He got a job monitoring alarms at Microsoft’s global security operations center, and worked his way up to shift manager. After his Microsoft contract ended, he enrolled in WSU Pullman’s criminal justice program.

Before he could move to Pullman, Amazon came knocking. They needed someone to build its global security operations center for corporate facilities. Nugent was 23. No way could he pass up that chance. He quickly re-applied to WSU’s Global Campus and started as an online student in January 2013.

Nugent spent 11 months creating the security center for Amazon. It monitors 175 offices worldwide and responds to about 10,000 alarms per week, dispatching either local law enforcement or on-site security. Most are minor breaches, such as people using an emergency exit or not swiping their security badges. But Nugent and his team also deal with bomb threats, medical emergencies and building evacuations. “We’re training for the absolute worst, the worst of the worst,” he said, “things like active shooters.”

Nugent also helps out protect his own community as a volunteer with the Kirkland Police Department. He started in 2008 with the department’s Police Explorers program, which introduces teens to law enforcement, and is now a civilian advisor, acting as liaison between the department and the program.

Nugent will graduate this spring, and has begun applying for master’s degrees in emergency management, criminal justice, and cybersecurity.

“I’d like to work toward obtaining a position in local or federal law enforcement,” he said. “My folks think I’m absolutely crazy to leave something like what I have. But I want to follow my passion and my heart.”

Friday, April 10, 2015

Two students win top WSU awards

award clip fieldcropTwo WSU students will be honored by the College of Arts and Sciences this evening for their writing and research.

Julie Harrington, a business major with a history minor at WSU Global Campus, will receive the Asia Program Award for Best Paper in Asian Studies. James Pappas, an ASWSU Global senator, will present his research at the same reception, and receive the Asia Program Award for Excellence.

Harrington, of Kennewick, Wash., wrote her paper on Ban Zhao, known as China’s first female historian.

“When I received the email telling me I had won the Asia Program best paper award, I was ecstatic,” Harrington said. “I love history and it was so much fun to dive deep into Ban Zhao's life and work—and then to receive an award for something that was already so rewarding was awesome.”


Her advice to other writers? “Love what you write—and what you are writing about,” she said. “If you are passionate about a subject, let that passion flow into your words.”  

Pappas, of Liberty Lake, Wash., won the Crimson Award, the top award for research excellence, in the humanities category of the Showcase for Undergraduate Research and Creative Activities. His project was titled “The Enemy Within: A Case For What Defeated The Japanese Kamikaze Corps.” It was also nominated for the Howard C. Payne Award for Excellence in Research.

In 2014, Pappas also won the Harold and Jeanne Rounds Olsen Writing Excellence Award for his writing portfolio. “This is all quite humbling, really,” Pappas said of the awards.

Pappas graduates this spring, and will start earning his master’s in history at WSU Pullman this fall.

Before coming to WSU Global Campus, Pappas served eight years abroad in the U.S. Marines and during the Desert Shield/Desert Storm War, and spent 20 years in corporate leadership.

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Construction worker builds new life

Taurean WashingtonA ditch box resembles a huge steel sandwich. Two eight-foot-long steel panels are held a few feet apart by metal rods. An excavator lowers the box sideways into a deep and narrow ditch. Inside the sandwich, where the jam would be, and often far below the surface, workers connect pipes.

The boxes hold back hundreds of tons of dirt, which can crush the ribcage and leave the victim to suffocate underground. Ditch boxes are also called trench shields. Given the instability of soil and the risks of working around heavy equipment, some workers call them coffins.

Taurean Washington, above, started at Washington State University in 1999. He was 18, and spent very little time studying. He dropped out in 2003. He went back to the West Side, found a job in construction, and ended up in a ditch box. Over the next 11 years, he got promoted from general laborer to foreman, but still worked in the box.

“I almost got buried twice,” he said. Last September, he escaped by leaping onto a pipe, and gave serious thought to changing jobs.


It wasn’t only the danger, and the three back injuries. He is married now, lives in SeaTac, Wash., and wants to have a family. “I was working 50 to 60 hours a week, from the first sunny day to the last sunny day,” he said. “That’s not a schedule to be present as a father.”

With the support of his wife, Taurean left his job, and, in spring 2015, enrolled at WSU’s Global Campus. He’s now 33, taking five courses and studying full time. “I wake up and start doing stuff, and I do it all day,” he said. “I wind down at the end of the week and start over on Monday.”

When Taurean enrolled, he thought Global Campus courses involved mainly watching lectures online. But four out of his five courses involve reading materials, then discussing them with professors and other students. “Turns out I’m doing the best in the four classes that don’t have lectures,” he said. “It’s actually a much better format; you get a better grasp of what they want you to learn.”

He is majoring in both social sciences and criminal justice, and will graduate in May 2016. “The plan is to start working on kids then,” he said. “And on finding a job.” Taurean is an accomplished mixed martial arts fighter, and hopes those skills, along with his WSU diploma, will be the one-two punch that leads to his ideal position:

“I’ve always wanted to be in law enforcement,” he said. “I’m hoping to become a defense tactics instructor for a police department.”

Monday, February 23, 2015

Hockey player always moving forward

Tyler AlosTyler Alos moves fast. At 14, he was drafted by the Seattle Thunderbirds hockey team. At 15, to get experience, the Spokane resident played for the Coeur d’Alene (Idaho) Lakers. At 16, he moved from Spokane to Seattle to play for the T-Birds, living with a host family and completing high school between practices and games. He played 201 games, and racked up 19 goals and 37 assists before taking an assistant coach position in 2012.

Even though he now wears a tie instead of a jersey, Tyler is still on the move. The team plays 72 games a year and travels for 36 of those games.

When you’re always on the run, things get left behind. For Tyler, 22, that was his four-year degree. He had earned an associate’s degree but wanted the additional opportunities and income that a bachelor’s would bring. So he thought back to his high school days:


“All my friends from Shadle Park and North Central high schools were headed to WSU,” he said. “I had always wanted to be a Cougar but never had that option because I was pursuing my hockey career.”

In fall 2014, Tyler found that option. He enrolled in WSU’s online program, the Global Campus, and is on track to become the first in his family to earn a degree.

“I don’t want to struggle like we did growing up,” he said. “That’s really why I’m earning my degree, to provide myself and my family a comfortable lifestyle free of monetary worry.”

With Wi-Fi on the bus and in hotels, Tyler’s travel time is now study time. “I have studied in every western province in Canada as far east as Brandon, Manitoba,” he said. “There has been a lot of studying done on those Canadian prairies.”

Tyler is majoring in social sciences, and considering either advancing as a coach or working as a law enforcement officer or firefighter—preferably something that doesn’t involve sitting in an office.

His home base is in Renton, Wash. He lives with his girlfriend and is putting off marriage—despite her hints, he says—because he wants more financial security before settling down. But a wedding may not be far off, judging by her persuasiveness: “She sends me a picture of a little dog at least once a day,” he said, “just to let me know she wants a puppy.”

Monday, February 9, 2015

Amazing journey: Runaway to therapist

Sherrie St. ClairIf you have a boat, she asks, and you replace each plank one at a time, will it still be the same boat? She laughs. She says, “What if the planks are ideas—the ideas that make us who we are?” and taps the plastic top of her paper cup and recounts her past as if it were on index cards:

A child in an abusive home. Two-time high-school dropout. A 16-year-old who decided to kill herself by hitch-hiking. Staunch Christian. A foster child, just like her parents. Someone who vowed never to have children. (“Abuse is so generational. I figured I’d just stop all of it.”) Now a married mother of five. Now the first person in her family with a bachelor’s degree, the first with a master’s.

“I don’t want to be defined by where I come from,” Sherrie St. Clair says in a spacious north Spokane coffee shop. “It’s not me.” She laughs—she laughs a lot—and adds, “It is me, but it’s not me. It’s just a snapshot. I’m still becoming.”


Sherrie is 46 now, and wondering what she will become next. Her future options seem as numerous as her past challenges: She could volunteer at the Vanessa Behan Crisis Nursery. “So I can go cuddle babies,” she says. Teach self-esteem classes. Write books for children in counseling. “Parents would read them to kids, and both would learn,” she says. “Writing, teaching, counseling—I’m in a really creative space in my life right now.”

Her choices are diverse, but all rooted in her desire to help others, especially young people. Her first big step toward that goal was in 2008, when she enrolled in Washington State University’s online program. She wasn’t sure she could succeed; she still remembered her father’s words: “What makes you think you’re smart enough?” The scholarship, she says, was WSU’s reply: “Yes, you can do this.”

In 2010, she graduated with a bachelor’s in Social Sciences and a 3.96 GPA. In 2014, she earned her master’s in counseling from Liberty University with a 3.95 GPA.

Many WSU Global Campus online course spaces have virtual mentors, who offer non-academic support. A virtual mentor noticed Sherrie’s leadership abilities, and asked her to apply for the program. Sherrie was accepted, and even now, five years after graduating from WSU, she’s still helping others along the same path.

Part of a virtual mentor’s job is to read the discussion boards. Sherrie has found a kind of camaraderie amid all the course-specific dialogue, a shared belief that by bettering your own life, you can better the lives of others.

“I see a lot of people who are there because they want to inspire their kids, because they want to make a difference in their families and communities,” she says, “and I think I’m not really as different as I thought.”

“You seem so wise,” a listener says.

“Mostly I think I’m nuts,” Sherrie says. And we all laugh.

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

eLearning also includes ski learning

ASWSU Global leadership1From left, John Larson, Katie Walsh and Zack Lipana.

Online education is all about cozying up at home and thinking deep thoughts, right? Think again:

A long trough descends through the hard-packed snow atop Mount Spokane. The children are gleeful. The adults show no fear—although some wonder why the inner tubes carry ads for dental services. ASWSU Global Senator Katie Walsh hesitates before lowering herself onto a tube. She hasn’t gone tubing since she was a child. It’s the first time for her 9-year-old son, Jeremy. Jeremy is excited. Katie is thinking that, at age 30, bones take longer to heal.

Katie has only herself to blame for her predicament. She organized the Global Campus evening skiing and tubing trip. Most ASWSU Global events—the Tacoma Rendezvous, tailgate parties, zoo trips—are on the West Side. “Our East Side students had been asking for more events over here,” she says. They especially enjoy events suited for children. “A lot of them are in their 30s, so they want something they can bring their kids to.”


Heather Potak, a social sciences major, has brought her husband and three children. “It’s a fun family event,” she says.

IMAG4226When accounting major Ashley Grubb signs in at the ski lodge, she mentions her home town, and gets a cheer from fellow accounting student, ASWSU Global President John Larson. Both, it turns out, are from the small city of Chewelah, Wash. John is delighted. “I’ve met people from Stevens County before,” he says, “but I can’t recall meeting anyone from Chewelah at one of these events.”

Ron Moser is earning a graduate certificate in engineering and technology management online. He’s a former executive at Schweitzer Engineering Laboratories and the University of Phoenix. He’s now a leadership consultant who also teaches a business course at WSU Pullman.

“We want to be more involved with WSU,” says Moser, who brought three of his four children. “And this is a good opportunity to get out and meet people.”

When the evening ends, the last two guests return from the tubing hill. Neither has broken anything. Both are jubilant. “We closed it down,” Katie says. “We were the last ones there. It was great!”

For a list of upcoming face-to-face events, visit the ASWSU Global events page.

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

New biz major: Hospitality management

Business meeting at dinnerWashington State University is launching an online bachelor of arts major in hospitality business management for fall 2015.

Students will learn the fundamentals of operating hotels, restaurants, sports and convention centers, senior facilities, and tourist destinations, both in the U.S. and internationally. Here’s a link to the news release.

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Student earns 74 credits in one year

Paul CumminsA full-time WSU student earns about 30 credits a year. WSU Global Campus student Paul Cummins earned 74 credits in the past year—while working full-time, raising two kids, coaching his eldest son’s basketball team, maintaining a 3.6 GPA, and running an occasional 200-mile relay race.

Paul is a consulting systems engineer who supports infrastructures for nationwide wireless networks. He lives in Snoqualmie, Wash. He’s soft-spoken, self-effacing, and often uses the word “efficient.”

The first step, he said, is to find the right major. “You should spend a lot of up-front time figuring this out,” he advised, “because if you change it later on, it will cost you time.”

Paul decided WSU’s online business degree would best provide relevant skills and career advancement: “Getting my degree is something that I’d overlooked,” he said, “but others don’t.”


He examined WSU’s management information systems major, but determined that attending just one college would take too long—“I wanted to be efficient,” he said—so he enrolled at both WSU Global Campus and Bellevue College. Last summer, he was simultaneously taking six accelerated six-week courses, three from each institution. “I don’t ever want to do that again,” he said. “It was nuts.”

Paul also earned 15 credits through proficiency tests called CLEP exams. But Paul used CLEP only for what he calls “the easy stuff,” like math, English and psychology. “I went to school for the more business-centric material,” he said. “The process of learning should be longer for things you need to spend more time on.”

How did he find that time? One strategy is “grouping” the courses: He takes classes with similar curriculums so he can apply concepts learned in one class to another. He also tries to find courses in which the due dates don’t conflict.

To stay organized, he lists all due dates in an Excel spreadsheet. At the end of each week, he reviews his spreadsheet to ensure he’s on track. “You never want to be behind,” he said. “If you get a little behind, you have to work so much harder to get caught up.”

Paul also uses a separate color-coded spreadsheet (see sample) to organize his waking hours. That spreadsheet—which includes work, learning and family—is based on more than efficiency: “You’ve got to have family in there,” he said. “Otherwise my wife would kill me.”