Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Long flight leads to homey welcome

Heather Conley visits WSUOutside Van Doren Hall are, from left, Heather Conley, advisor Kathreen Miller and Heather’s mother, Janet.

She was fed up with overcrowded colleges, poor service and uncaring staff. What the Anaheim, Calif., resident really wanted was a homey feeling and a supportive university.

Then Heather Conley saw a TV ad for Washington State University. The ad showed WSU’s world-class research activities, but what really got her attention were the bucolic Pullman campus, the historic buildings, and the warm welcoming atmosphere.

Heather signed up for WSU’s online Global Campus, and discovered that community values can indeed travel over the internet.

“It’s been so easy here,” said Heather, who is majoring in accounting. “The sense of community means I get the same support I would if I were based on campus. My advisor has been really informative, and I knew if I ever had a problem I could just contact someone to get help.”

Heather was so impressed with WSU faculty and staff that in June she and her mother, Janet, flew up to Pullman to visit the campus. They saw the grizzly bears, bought Cougar shirts at The Bookie and had ice cream at Ferdinand’s.

Afterward, they stopped by Van Doren Hall, where they chatted with Heather’s academic advisor, Kathreen Miller, as well as Debbie O’Donnell, director of marketing and student services, and Kelly Newell, director of outreach and program development. Kelly—as if to exemplify Pullman’s small-town feeling—had just watered the flowers on Van Doren’s porch, and was carrying a watering can.

“I came here to get a better connection with the school,” Heather said. “Now I can feel its full effect. I can feel a sense of purpose and know that this is something I really want to achieve.”

Heather’s visit had another powerful effect: She decided to move out of California. She’s transferring to WSU Pullman next year.

Thursday, June 9, 2016

Grad launches nonprofit to help moms

Hope Evans1In her day job, Hope Evans is a copywriter who helps well-off couples take luxurious vacations at Caribbean resorts. After work, Hope helps a different clientele: struggling single moms. On Mother’s Day 2016, she launched a nonprofit called Hope for Single Moms, which offers funding, resources, opportunities for spiritual growth, and education.

Hope is a single mom who had long considered helping others like herself. In January 2015, she enrolled in the online strategic communications master’s program offered through The Edward R. Murrow College of Communication at Washington State University. That decision brought both inspiration and empowerment.

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Inspiration came when she realized that balancing education, work and child care is especially tough for single mothers.

“The demands of a toddler far outweigh the demands of master’s degree—or pretty much anything else in life,” she said. “It made me realize the lack of resources and support services available for single mothers.”

Empowerment came from her strategic communication courses.

“The program helped me focus and fine-tune the ideas I already had for the nonprofit,” she said. “It reached far beyond traditional communication methods, and taught me how to be a designer, a digital communicator, a researcher, a psychologist—a CEO of my own communication business.”

Hope chose WSU’s program based on first-hand experience. The Lynnwood, Wash., resident earned her bachelor of communication from WSU Pullman in 2007: “I know that WSU has one of the top communication programs in the nation, so when I decided to pursue my master's, WSU was the first, and only, place I looked.”

She finished the online master’s program in a year, and with a 4.0 GPA. Her degree, she said, has created new career options. “Equipped with this master’s, I now feel more marketable as a writer and communicator,” she said. “I’m ready to start a new adventure that allows me to unify writing and serving others—that’s why I’m here.”