NW Cougar Quarterly

Fall 2019 Issue

Table of contents


Alumni Spotlight

Kimbree Brown, '07, psychology

Tell us about your journey to being a Cougar.

I grew up in a small town in Washington state, loving the outdoors and dancing. I attended the Vancouver (Washington) School of Arts and Academics, where I spent my time dancing, and learning from wonderful teachers and friends. In 2004, I enrolled at WSU Vancouver. I pursued a degree in psychology and was involved as a research assistant and a student ambassador.

Where did life take you then?

After graduating, I spent two years with AmeriCorps serving in a low-income elementary school in Kelso, Wash. This cemented my passion for working to support strong educational systems for young children and families. I then headed to the University of Oregon and earned a Ph.D. in counseling psychology. As a graduate student, I specialized in supporting the social-emotional health of young children and families, as well as strong family-school partnerships. I recently became the Child Development Program manager at WSU Vancouver.

What did you most enjoy about the WSU Vancouver campus and your program?

I enjoyed the small class sizes and hands-on learning opportunities. As an undergraduate student, I got to be involved in both research and professional opportunities often reserved for graduate-level students.

Do you have a favorite memory of your years on campus?

My favorite memory was being a student ambassador. I enjoyed working with the other ambassadors and learned a lot about myself. I conquered some of my natural shyness to take on more leadership roles.

How has WSU Vancouver changed since you were a student?

It has grown into a four-year campus since then. It has also added new buildings.

How do you support WSU Vancouver as an alumna?

As the Child Development Program manager, I bring the knowledge and skills learned while I was a student. I also support opportunities to clean up or improve the campus.

What is your advice for current students or future Cougs?

Don’t wait until after college to start figuring yourself out. Explore lots of things, follow your interests, and learn your strengths and weaknesses. Also take time to slow down and truly enjoy the journey.


Cougar Business Alliance Spotlight

Southwest Washington Contractors Association
Nelson Holmberg, '02 Pullman, Communications

Nelson Holmberg recently became executive director of the Southwest Washington Contractors Association, a professional group with 450 members that advances the construction industry through advocacy, partnerships and education.

SWCA was founded in 1946 to provide information about current projects, construction trends and expanding markets. It has expanded into government affairs, community partnerships and philanthropy, providing volunteer opportunities and contributing more than $10,000 a year in scholarships, particularly to students interested in working in the industry.

While the organization itself doesn’t have Coug traditions, Holmberg said, “There is most certainly a daily Coug presence in our office.” That would be him. He has decorated his office with his degree, a Cougar football helmet and a Cougar Athletic Fund poster, and he observes “Crimson Friday,” when alumni, students and other Cougs show their school spirit by wearing crimson and gray.

“Once a Coug, always a Coug,” Holmberg said. “I’m incredibly proud of the academic programs across the WSU system, no matter if it’s in Vancouver, Pullman or one of the other system campuses. We are all Cougs, regardless of which campus we attended classes on.”

His family includes half a dozen Cougs—an aunt, an uncle, two cousins, Holmberg and his sister. “And my wife, Susanne, is a Coug by marriage,” he said.

Holmberg was born and raised in Vancouver and has lived in the community most of his life. He sees WSU Vancouver as a major asset to Southwest Washington.

“I wish our community would more broadly understand the importance of having a Tier I research institution right here in Vancouver,” he said. “The power of having this institution at the heart of Clark County’s economic ecosystem is immense, and frankly our community sometimes misses that. Some of the best research WSU is doing, systemwide, is happening right here in Vancouver, and that’s pretty cool.”

As a Coug through and through, he cherishes what he calls his “great, random Coug moments,” such as walking toward Neuschwanstein Castle in Bavaria and meeting a pedestrian who responded to his crimson-and-gray hat with “Go Cougs!”; and the barista in Washington, D.C., who recognized the logo he was wearing and commented on how much he enjoyed watching the Cougs’ “Air Raid” offense.


Scholarship Recognition Reception

Chancellor Mel Netzhammer and Notable Alumni Morgan ParkerNearly 300 scholarship donors and recipients attended the 2019 Scholarship Recognition Reception on Oct. 9 to celebrate the power of philanthropy in educational opportunity.

The evening began with a video in which scholarship recipients shared how scholarships have impacted their lives.

The Notable Alumni Award was presented to Morgan Parker, B.A. English and B.A. public affairs '12, and M.P.A. '14. Parker was selected because of her devotion to helping youth in our community and her continued involvement with WSU Vancouver. In an award video, Parker shared her ultimate career goal: “I hope that I’ve changed some sort of big education policy that allows kids who don’t have access to the same resources as other kids, that they’re able to move through their schooling in the same way that kids who have access to resources are able to.” 

David Choi, B.S. biology '16 and current Elson S. Floyd College of Medicine student and scholarship recipient, noted that donors’ generosity had played a big role in his academic success. “I aim to become a psychiatrist for the Vancouver area and a donor (to support scholarships) once I finish my training,” he said. “I wanted to emphasize that we are so very thankful for the kindness you and others like you so freely give. My family would be nowhere near as whole today without it. I’ve been able to focus on my education, community work and leadership only because of the support from donors.”

Thank you to the attendees who made the night a success, and special thanks to Opsahl Dawson for sponsoring the Notable Alumni Award.

To support scholarships at WSU Vancouver, visit the giving web page.


Volunteer with Cougs in the Community

Providence Academy entranceProvidence Academy Cleanup

9 a.m. – noon Oct. 19

Volunteers will sweep debris and clear a historic attic of furniture. Bring your own gloves, brooms and dustpans. The Historic Trust will provide dust filter masks.

Volunteer today!

Save the date

Clark County Food Bank

5:30 – 7:30 p.m. Nov. 18

Help sort and repack food donations to be distributed to Clark County Food Bank partners.

Noel Christmas

Dec. 14

Assist families in need who will receive presents, winter coats, a wreath and a hot meal at this event.


Selby Tower dedicated

Chancellor Mel Netzhammer and Gay Selby cutting the ribbon to Selby TowerIn honor of Gay Selby’s commitment to education, passion for all things Cougar and generous contributions to WSU Vancouver, the iconic Tower Room was renamed Selby Tower at a ribbon-cutting event on Aug. 13. Selby made education her life’s work—first in Washington K–12 public schools, then as a College of Education faculty member. She served on the WSU Vancouver Site Selection Committee, was the first chair of the WSU Vancouver Advisory Council and chaired the search for WSU Vancouver’s second chancellor. Selby is an alumna of WSU Pullman, a WSU football season ticket holder and a Legacy donor who has supported student scholarships for more than 25 years.

If you are interested in including WSU Vancouver in your estate plans, wish to discuss naming opportunities or legacy giving, please contact 360-546-9600 or jessica.r.wells@wsu.edu


Spreading the message of peace

Peace pole at WSU VancouverWSU Vancouver permanently installed its Peace Pole—a gift from the Rotary Club of Vancouver—in July. A Peace Pole is a hand-crafted memorial typically with four or six sides. Its message is always the same—“May Peace Prevail on Earth”—and is most often displayed in the language of the country and several other languages as well. For WSU Vancouver, “May Peace Prevail on Earth” appears in American Sign Language, Arabic, braille, Chinese, Chinuk wawa, English, Lushootseed, Russian, Sahaptin, Spanish, Swahili, Ukrainian and Vietnamese.

The 13 languages, the most of any Peace Pole in the area, were selected by a small committee that carefully considered languages spoken on campus and in the community, followed by important languages around the world.

“We wanted to include languages that are significant for our region—not just numbers of speakers—but in terms of cultural history,” said Renny Christopher, vice chancellor for academic affairs. “We also wanted our students to see languages very different from one another from around the world.”

Rotary International, the organization behind the Peace Pole Project, is a worldwide service organization that promotes peace, and conflict prevention and resolution. Local Rotary clubs take on part of this work by giving Peace Poles in their communities.

The Peace Pole can be viewed between the Science and Engineering Building and the Firstenburg Student Commons on the WSU Vancouver campus.


Join the Alumni Association today.