NW Cougar Quarterly

Fall 2023 Issue

Table of contents

Wave the Flag recap

Wave the flag event

On Aug. 21, 59 volunteers helped celebrate one of WSU Vancouver’s favorite traditions, Wave the Flag. Alumni and friends gathered to welcome students back to the campus for the first day of classes. By waving Cougar flags and wearing Coug gear, volunteers helped kick off the semester on a high note. Thank you to all who joined us to wave the flag—and making the first day of classes memorable. We look forward to seeing you again next year.

View the Wave the Flag photos

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Alumni Spotlight

Brian Bates

Brian Bates
B.A., 2005, Digital Technology and Culture

Brian Bates credits his “working-class union family” for getting him started on his college education. “They emphasized the importance of education in figuring out a long-term career path,” he said. Bates earned his associate's degree at Clark College and transferred to WSU Vancouver for his bachelor's degree, changing majors several times along the way. He went from business to computer science, “then ultimately landed on digital technology and culture after a fun and fruitful advising session with one of my professors.”

Bates is currently the web content manager for the City of Vancouver. He is responsible for supporting and building the intranet as well as the main public-facing website. He is working on what he calls “major modernization projects” to create a new public website and an engaging intranet. “My main goal is to make information easier to find and more accessible for people of all abilities, ages and backgrounds,” he said.

On the personal side, he loves to travel with his wife Stephanie and three children—the beach, the mountains and central Oregon. “We just took the kids to Disneyland for the first time last year, so that was a fun core memory to build,” he said. Having young children has limited his time for volunteering, but he recalls several rewarding experiences in the past, working with Rotary International as a Santa clothes shopper, judging communications awards for Northwest Public Power Association, and fostering dogs. He recommends volunteering to anyone with the time: “It brings a new perspective on life and helps you get outside of your daily routine to get involved with your community and meet interesting people.” What’s more, he added, volunteering need not be formal. “Something as simple as picking up trash in your neighborhood or at a public park goes a long way toward improving the livability of our city.”

Bates said he misses the campus. “The mountain views are unlike anything else in the region. The campus architecture and landscaping are beautiful, and as a learning institution, the university is an important asset for the community and our state,” he said. “The professors are doing important research work to improve the lives of future generations. The staff are amazing and passionate about their work. The facilities crew works tirelessly behind the scenes to keep the campus in pristine condition. It's a very cool culture.”

As a communications expert, Bates believes in spreading the word. “I mention the campus to many people in the region who don't know about our hidden gem,” he said. “I have also made donations to WSU Vancouver over the years for programs that were meaningful to me, namely student scholarship funds. As someone who relied heavily on financial aid, I know firsthand how important it is to be able to pay for college. Every dollar helps.”

He is happy to see Cougs everywhere—the grocery store, the beach and nearly every vacation he takes. “It’s always nice to hear a ‘Go Cougs!’ in return when you see someone in a Coug hat or shirt,” he said.

One of his favorite traditions is Wave the Flag. “It was so much fun to wave the flag during the first week of school,” he said. “The enthusiasm of new Cougs coming up the hill to the WSU Vancouver campus, many for their first time, put a smile on my face.”

He offers some practical advice for current students. “College is a unique experience,” he said. “Take advantage of your time earning your degree. Invest in your learning. Talk to your professors when you don't understand something or if things are unclear. Use the resources on campus, especially career services. Find an internship to build your resume before you graduate. Start looking for jobs before you graduate.”

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Kymberly Heney

Development and Alumni Relations welcomes new program specialist

Kymberly Heney joined the Development and Alumni Relations team as a program specialist this summer. She is responsible for office management, gift processing, donor stewardship, and project management for alumni newsletters, social media and donor events. Alumni and friends of WSU Vancouver interested in participating in volunteer and engagement events on campus can connect with her for details and how to participate.

Heney most recently worked as a sales development representative for ZoomInfo. There she was responsible for generating new business opportunities and helping to manage her team’s sales pipeline. She has also worked as a copywriter helping local and national brands with website and social media content and SEO strategy.

Heney is a 2019 graduate of WSU Vancouver and lives in Woodland. She has a dog, Bailey, and a cat, Jack, both of whom love to explore the outdoors with her. Heney enjoys making art of all kinds, trying new recipes and learning to play the drums.

Her favorite thing about WSU Vancouver so far is the warm and welcoming environment and all the wonderful walking trails around campus. She can be reached at kymberly.heney@wsu.edu or 360-546-9600.

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Santa Butch

Save the date for holiday photos with Butch T. Cougar!

Celebrate the holidays with WSU Vancouver and Butch T. Cougar! Save the date for holiday photos with Butch Thursday, Nov. 30. Wear your favorite Coug gear and get ready to kick off the holiday season with fellow Cougs. Stay tuned for updates and registration information through social media and email. Go Cougs!

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Meet the ASWSUV student body president and vice president

The two top officers for 2023/24 answered our questionnaire.

Diana Luis-Contrearas

President Diana Luis-Contreras:

Tell us about your journey to becoming a Coug.
When I was senior at Columbia River High School, I knew what school I wanted to attend. After receiving my financial aid package from that school and all the other schools I applied for, I realized I wasn’t going to be able to attend them. I worked really hard my last year applying for a ton of scholarships, and at the end I didn’t have enough money, but I was able to afford WSU Vancouver. I am really grateful I was able to afford coming here, and I have enjoyed my time here a lot—being close to home, going to a small campus and getting to know other students.

What are you studying?

I am double majoring in psychology and human development and minoring in neuroscience.

Why did you become involved with student government?

My biggest push was that I was very shy and kept to myself. I wanted to challenge myself by putting myself out there. Last year I started a couple of clubs on campus—one with my brother, who motivates me to put myself out there. I enjoyed connecting with people, and I wanted to challenge myself a bit more, and running for student government sounded like a great way to do that.

What do you enjoy most about being a WSU Vancouver student?

I enjoy being on a small campus because it is easier to connect with students. I also like connecting with my professors and getting to know them more. It makes being a student more fun when you talk to others and join clubs on campus.

What is your favorite class?

My favorite class is Neuroscience 404—Neuroanatomy taught by Dale Fortin. I liked doing the research, seeing and working with actual brains, working with my classmates and the interactive environment Fortin created.

What advice would you give to high school students thinking of attending WSU Vancouver?
Don’t be afraid of getting to know people and exploring different resources on campus. Even if you don’t know what to major in, explore all your interests and get to know yourself.

Samuel Crawford

Vice president Samuel Crawford:

Tell us about your journey to becoming a Coug.

I graduated from high school during the pandemic and wasn’t really sure if I wanted to go to college or if I wanted to leave the area. WSU Vancouver was a great choice for me as I lived within 30 minutes of the school, and it had a lot of the majors I was interested in. I was also able to investigate the resources and opportunities I could have and do at WSU Vancouver through orientation.

What are you studying and what are your plans for after graduation?

I am studying political science (pre-law track). I plan to attend law school and become a civil rights or appellate attorney.

Why did you become involved with student government?

I started in student government as a way to get more involved around campus and find more community. I was able to really find a passion for policy work within WSU Vancouver and our own student government.

What do you hope to accomplish in your role?

We have six plans and goals to focus on. They include uplifting all student voices; collaborating with our identity-based clubs; continuing to support our diversity, equity and inclusion efforts; creating workshops on campus issues; working to support veteran students; and working on basic life necessities for students.

What do you enjoy most about being a WSU Vancouver student?

What I enjoy most is that the campus is small and students can really get to know people and gain close relationships with administrators and professors. Even with the small-school feel, I still have been able to do big-school activities and have access to a lot of resources that bigger schools have. One of the downfalls is the lack of on-campus food and housing, which can make it hard to get people to stay on campus.

What is your favorite class?

My favorite class is History 105 with JoAnn LoSavio. The class covers contemporary issues of history and how issues of the past connect to issues we have now. The class also helps you learn and hone your research skills, which I loved as it better prepared me for other classes. LoSavio set up the class to gradually introduce you to the process of writing a research paper and gain research tools to prepare you not just for school but for work as well.

What advice would you give to high school students thinking of attending WSU Vancouver?

Take a tour of the campus and see how beautiful it is. I would also look at all the resources that WSU Vancouver offers, and all the possibilities and opportunities here.

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