2021 Outstanding Seniors

Meet Our Global Campus Outstanding Seniors!

In recognition of outstanding academic performance and service to the university and/or their community, WSU Global Campus has recognized 18 outstanding seniors for the 2020-21 academic year. Below they share their stories in their own words, explaining what their Global Campus Experience was like and how it has changed their lives.

Norma Rosado

Accounting Outstanding Senior

Stay tuned for Norma’s story!

More about accounting degree—online

Andrea Mora-Tice

Andrea Tice

Anthropology Outstanding Senior

“I am an aspiring Cultural Anthropologist who has lived for three years in Indonesia, two years in the United Arab Emirates, and now two years in Paraguay. Traveling as a trailing spouse with my husband who is an international teacher, I have traversed thirty countries and twenty-one UNESCO World Heritage Sites with our child in tow.  Living abroad while studying anthropology at WSU Global Campus provided rich cultural immersion that bolstered my discussions in class. When you have professors who are knowledgeable and passionate about what they teach, it makes all the difference in the world. Special thanks to Professor Nancy McKee and Professor Jack McNassar for their immeasurable gift of knowledge and discussion. 

Travel has created a pattern of thinking where I ponder cross-cultural questions while critically examining societal similarities and differences. My goal is to utilize my degree by creating a platform through lessons, books, and lectures where I can educate future generations on the cultural differences that our planet holds and to provide awareness on the importance of viewing the world with an open mind to knowledge outside our own surroundings, to celebrate differences, and to find unity in the one human race. While it is true that not everyone is allotted the gift of traveling the globe, that does not mean we cannot learn about the rich diversity of our world’s cultures through academics.

I overcame self-doubt in my academic abilities as I progressed through my classes and learned academic research, critical thinking and essay writing. While traveling during school was thrilling, it was at times challenging. I hope to continue to live and study abroad once I have found a graduate program that aligns with my cultural immersion. My Anthropology degree has opened the dialogue for the ever-evolving meaning behind being homo sapiens, the cross-cultural similarities as well as the differences that should be celebrated and respected. I plan to attend the Belize Valley Reconnaissance Archaeological field school in the summer of 2022.”

More about anthropology degree—online

Beth Freeman

Beth Freeman, left, with her husband Scott

Criminal Justice Outstanding Senior

“I consider myself a lifelong learner, and getting my degree wasn’t achievable for me when I was younger. I have six grown children, and now a grandson, and as my family grew, I wanted to show that you can always achieve your goals, no matter how long it takes. I really wanted to be a good example for them. Getting my criminology and criminal justice degree was also a way for me to improve my career and explore the subject I am very passionate about.

I currently work as the juvenile division manager for the King County Department of Judicial Administration in Seattle. I’ve had a varied criminal justice career, including work as a victim advocate. I find this work extremely fascinating, as well as a very fulfilling way to help people and make a positive impact on the world. My job means a lot to me, and I wanted to continue working as I earned my degree. With everything going on in my work and family life, it wouldn’t have been possible for me to finish if it had not been through Global Campus.

The online format was flexible and perfect for my lifestyle, all while maintaining the high-quality learning experience WSU is known for. I learned so much, and my advisor was always there for me and very supportive. My husband Scott was also super supportive, and so were my kids. I also want to thank my mentor, Mona Williams, for boosting my confidence to achieve my goals. They have all been my cheerleaders this whole time and kept me motivated, even when things got hard. I’m so grateful I got the opportunity to be an online Coug, and I’m so excited to reach this milestone in my journey of lifelong learning.”

More about criminal justice degree—online

Jessica Smith

Jessica Smith

Data Analytics Outstanding Senior

“Before starting the Data Analytics program at WSU, I earned two degrees in Geology and with a focus in landslide hazard mitigation. Unfortunately there aren’t many opportunities along that career path, so I decided to make the change to Data Science. This is a highly quantitative and analytical field with excellent career growth potential, and also allows for more remote and flexible job opportunities. With this education I can help businesses answer questions and solve problems while I work remotely and pursue my passion for travel.

I chose Global Campus because of the flexibility of learning online, which allowed me to travel while I earned my degree. For example, while I was in school I volunteered in Puerto Rico helping with hurricane relief efforts without having to take time off from my studies.  

After graduation I started a new career as a Business Intelligence Engineer where I use SQL and AWS to query large datasets and create visual displays that tell stories with data. My experiences in the Data Analytics program and the support from the DA team including Global Campus Advisor Chrisi Kincaid, Senior Capstone Professor Rhonda Crate, and DA Department Chair Jan Dasgupta were all instrumental in helping me succeed. I’m very glad that I got the opportunity to learn online and start a new chapter of my life. I’m excited for the future and plan to continuing to travel the world while deriving actionable insights from big data resources.”

More about data analytics degree—online

Emily Reeves

Emily Reeves

Economics Outstanding Senior

“It had been a desire of mine for many years to be able to return to school and finish my degree.  I wanted something that would be flexible yet relevant to career opportunities within my community.  I found the Economics online degree program through WSU Global Campus and it seemed to be just what I was looking for in order to finish my goal of earning my college degree, as well as increasing my marketability.  I started my WSU Global Campus journey fall of 2018, which was exactly 20 years after I had started at the WSU Pullman Campus.

A key side to this was how the opportunity of finishing my degree in an online environment enabled me to still meet the needs of my family.  My family was supportive, but it was an adjustment for all of us.  It required a reorganization of expectations.  This restructuring was very doable, but it did not happen magically. Starting school again has been a learning curve in the challenges of each family member communicating their needs while being understanding to the needs of the others.

Being involved in my community was also very important as I worked on my degree.  For one summer, while I was in school, I volunteered to be the treasurer for a local port commissioner campaign.  Prior to that, I had been involved as a board member for a local non-profit.  These connections, and others, were what helped land a job with a local financial advising firm after graduating.  I had achieved the necessary credentials with my degree and also community credibility from my involvement.  I am looking forward to beginning the next leg in my journey as I learn to be a client focused financial advisor.  “

More about economics degree—online

Sara Morrison

Sara Morrison

English Outstanding Senior

“It has certainly been a challenge getting to this point, but it is incredible to be recognized for my work in this way. It is especially fulfilling considering my history with college. After struggling with my classes initially at another university, I took some time away to focus on personal growth, and now I will be graduating with a 4.0 in credits earned at WSU. 

While earning my degree, I volunteered at the Pipe Organ Foundation in Mercer Island. It was a unique and exciting experience, and I have learned so much about restoration and preservation techniques for antique pipe organs. This endeavor has only made me more certain of my intended career goal of working in film restoration. To achieve this goal, I will be attending San Jose State University to complete the online Master of Archive and Records Administration program. I could not have been accepted into this program, and be on the path toward my dream job, without the degree I received from WSU.  My degree in English has strengthened my analytical and communication skills immensely, and I have already noticed these benefits in my current job in healthcare.

I am so grateful to WSU to have allowed me to complete my degree in a way that compliments my learning preferences while challenging me to better myself both intellectually and emotionally. One aspect of WSU that will stick with me is the intense commitment to inclusion and intercultural discourse. Furthermore, I was always encouraged to be myself and get creative with my assignments. I am so glad I had the opportunity to get a degree from WSU, and I know that doing so will directly influence many positive changes in my life moving forward. “

More about English degree—online

Maggie Craddick

Maggie Craddick

History Outstanding Senior

“Four years ago, I left the real estate business to pursue my dream of becoming an Historian. History has always been my biggest passion in life, and after being in college and changing my major multiple times, I had reached a point where I decided that I wanted a career in something that was meaningful and rewarding to me.  One thing I love about history is that the pursuit of a career in history involves a lifetime of learning, which is why I plan to return to school to get my Master’s in History, and eventually my PhD so I can begin work in the field of Historical research.

Like many Global Campus students, my personal history and the path I have taken to obtain my degree has been unique and full of obstacles. I returned to college when I was in my mid-twenties, working two jobs, and taking care of my daughter all on my own. The thought of going back to school at the time was frightening, and I was unsure how I could find the time and resources to complete this feat. Yet when I found the WSU Global Campus History program, I knew that this accomplishment could be made possible with the flexibility and reputation of the program. With the support of my family, my professors, and my academic advisor, I was able to accomplish my goal and come out of it with a rewarding experience.  I am beyond grateful for everyone who has been a part of this journey with me and have relished the many intellectual discussions and interesting topics covered throughout my courses in this program.  

It is an incredible honor to be the recipient of the Outstanding Senior Award in History, and I am extremely proud to have completed this step in my educational path. The WSU Global Campus has helped me to make a great stride in the direction of becoming an Historian by providing me the opportunity to obtain my Bachelor’s in History. My experience in the History program has provided me with the tools to be a better writer, researcher, and critical thinker so that I may interpret and portray historical topics in a guided, intellectual manner. I have no doubt that these assets will carry with me throughout my life and career in the field of history and academia. Thank you again to WSU and all the wonderful people who have been on this journey with me. Go Cougs!”

More about History degree—online

Amber Wagner

Amber Wagner, left, and her husband

Hospitality Business Management

“During my time at WSU, I worked full-time, moving to Washington during my second semester and transferring to a new hotel in the process. Due to COVID, I had to find new a new job and took the opportunity to explore other forms of food distribution outside of restaurants. During all of my job changes, I have maintained my position on the president’s honor roll each semester and was even given the honor of graduating summa cum laude. This past year, I’ve also had the opportunity to join the National Society of Leadership and Success.

During my time at WSU as an adult learner, I have had to overcome a lot of challenges. During my first year at WSU, I moved from California back to Washington. After that, I spent a lot of time planning for my own wedding that was to take place immediately after spring semester ended. During the COVID pandemic, on top of losing my job, I had to tackle many non-COVID related family medical emergencies and tragedies that made focusing on school difficult. Without pausing my studies, I had to learn a new job, not once, but three times during the year. All of these challenges taught me one important lesson: No matter what good or bad life throws at me, I can get through successfully if I put my mind into it.

My long-term career goal is to become a Food and Beverage director at a hotel, or a top-level restaurant manager. I believe that my accomplishments in already achieving a lower management position have been a result of my classes. Even if I don’t have the opportunity to apply much of what I’ve learned yet, my classes have boosted my confidence in my ability and knowledge. As I move up the management ladder, I will have the ability to apply more and more of what I have learned. My classes have also given me the confidence to mentor and encourage other people to achieve their goals.”

More about Hospitality Business Manager degree—online

Crystal MaCurdy

Crystal MaCurdy

Human Development Outstanding Senior

“Something that I’m proud to say that I participated in during my time at WSU is the recipe project. This project involved creating recipes that could be made with common food pantry items and distributing them, along with food, to low-income families. I am also very proud to be able to say that I graduated summa cum laude. This is a major accomplishment for me, as I am a wife, mother of two, ran my family home preschool 60 hours a week, and overcame significant medical trauma.

In early 2017, I was diagnosed with a brain cyst. By mid-2019, I had debilitating symptoms, including losing my vision and hearing, balance issues, a constant migraine, numbness in my extremities, and partial seizures, to name just a few. I took Fall semester of 2019 off from school and had brain surgery in October 2019. Surgical complications resulted in a series of 8 surgeries in 10 weeks’ time. By all rights, I shouldn’t be here, but I am! I was determined to make the best of my situation and was able to catch up on coursework over the summer. With the support of my husband, Chris, I was not only able to graduate on time, but with highest honors, and I’m so grateful for that.

My career goals have also changed during my time at WSU. When I first began my studies, I wanted to grow my knowledge so that I was equipped to provide the highest quality childcare program/preschool possible. As time went on, I realized that my heart was in family advocacy and working with disadvantaged families, as I came from a low-income family myself. Just before graduating, I was able to secure a position as a Play & Learn Facilitator working with families on their journey to recovery. I still get to plan and engage in fun activities with young children, but I am also supporting families in our community that are very close to my heart!”

More about human development degree—online

Mandi Rosenbeck

Mandi Rosenbeck, 2nd from the left, and her family

Humanities Outstanding Senior

“I am excited to be earning my degree and graduating from WSU Global Campus this year. I originally started my path at WSU Pullman in 2000 and was later accepted into the pharmacy program. Even as I made the decision to leave school early for family reasons, I always hoped to return and finish my schooling as a Coug. Twenty years have passed, but thanks to the flexibility and opportunities provided by Washington State University I am finally reaching my goal.

When I came back to WSU, I chose the humanities degree because it gave me a lot of flexibility with my previous credits. I also appreciated that I could select an emphasis in history as it is something I have become more interested in as I’ve gotten older. The Global Campus was very accommodating with my prior work, and I was very happy to be able to use my past college experience towards completing my degree.

I live in Utah now and I wouldn’t have been able to attend WSU again without the online learning option. I have enjoyed the flexible online class setting that allows me to plan my school schedule and work around our family’s busy calendar. By going back to school, I have shown my kids that you can finish what you start, even if the path to the end looks different than you had initially imagined. I am grateful for the support of my husband and three children while I have attended WSU Global Campus to earn my degree and complete an important chapter of my life.”

More about humanities degree—online

Jason Frederick

Integrated Strategic Communication Outstanding Senior

Jason Frederick

“As far as academic accomplishments, I am proud of the fact that I’ve maintained a perfect GPA since restarting my degree. The only blemish on my WSU record was from a single spelling mistake in a Media Writing class in fall 1995. Back then, the standards were strict, and I received a zero on the paper for that single mistake. That error pushed my grade for the class from an A to a B-plus. I still lament that error, but it reinforced a dedication to getting spelling and punctuation correct in everything I write.

I work in public relations and donor relations for Loyola Law School in Los Angeles. Much of my work revolves around our Social Justice Law Clinics, which provide pro bono legal representation for the most vulnerable members of the community. We have more than 20 pro bono law clinics, including the Project for the Innocent, which works to free those who have been wrongly convicted, the Immigration Justice Clinic, which provides direct legal representation for clients who are facing deportation, and the Center for Juvenile Law and Policy, which supports multiple juvenile justice programs.  This work is sometimes rewarding, sometimes heartbreaking, and almost always exhausting, but I know that I’m making a positive impact in the world, which is important to me.

Though I like the job I have, not having a completed bachelor’s degree is a hindrance to being promoted and to my professional mobility. In addition to the useful skills and knowledge I acquired at WSU, completing my degree gives me a great deal more leverage in my career.

While I am proud of my personal accomplishment, I never could have completed my degree without the stalwart support of my amazing wife, Harmony.”

More about integrated strategic communication major—online

Rosemarie Blanding

Rosemarie Blanding

Management Outstanding Senior

“Pursuing a degree or any facet of professional/personal development can be a long and daunting experience. My personal journey began during my time as a stay-at-home mom. I wanted to get back into the workforce, and I also wanted to be a role model to my children. Having an education is such an integral part of our society and it can help improve your life in various ways. So, I decided to enroll in college and see where that took me.

During my second semester, I ended up gaining a full-time job at another higher education institution, and that’s where all the juggling started. Going to school and working full-time while managing my children and home was no easy task. It took a lot of organizing, scheduling, and dedication to be able to succeed in all aspects of my life at the time. There were a few times where I would become overwhelmed and wanted to slow down, but the strong-willed side of me did not want to give in to self-doubt. I had to ride out many bumps in the road, but no journey is easy, and I knew it would be worth it in the end. So, I stuck to it, and it was one of the better decisions I have made.  

I am glad to say that my experience at WSU was very fruitful. I was able to meet thoughtful and encouraging professors and was able to engage in stimulating discussions with my fellow class. Moving forward, I plan to advance in my career, do some volunteer work, and perhaps take some certification classes. Earning my degree has opened many career opportunities and I am now able to choose where I want to take my knowledge, skills, experience, and capabilities, whether in the private or public sector. Lastly, I would like to thank the WSU staff for guiding me during my time her and also give thanks to my support system and my children. Without you all, I would not have been so motivated to achieve this accomplishment.” 

More about management major—online

Nicholas Lowery

Nicholas Lowery with his two children

Management Information Systems Outstanding Senior

“When I started at WSU Global Campus in 2016, I had a very busy life. I was working and had one kid at the time, but I wanted to do more to progress in my career and knew a degree was important to doing that. A high school friend had a great experience at Global Campus, and recommended it to me, especially because of my busy lifestyle. My wife was also a Coug, along with many of my family members, so I was also excited to continue in family tradition without having to attend on campus.

I had a really great experience as an online student. I really enjoyed my courses, and there was a lot of resources and support to take advantage of. I enjoyed all my teachers and got great support from my advisors as well. They helped me choose the MIS major and showed me how it was the best choice from my career path. Working in a technology company, I was able to put what I was learning into real world use. After the experience I had, I’m looking to work on my master’s degree as well.

Pretty soon after starting my degree, we had a second child, which added to the challenge of juggling family, school, and work. There is no way I could have done it without the option of working online on my own schedule. However, I also couldn’t have graduated without the crucial support of my family and friends who were there with me every step of the way. I can’t thank them enough!

More about management information systems major—online

Megan McAlister

Megan McAlister

Marketing Outstanding Senior

“My time at WSU Global Campus led to a lot of unforgettable experiences. Along with graduating from WSU with a Marketing and Management degree and a 3.90 GPA, I was able to participate in Study Abroad in Greece during summer 2019. I feel very fortunate to have been able to be a part of this program, not only did it allow me to take classes over the summer, explore a completely new country and culture but it allowed me to build strong relationships with my professors and peers. I built a great relationship with Professor Mario Reyes, who connected me with his daughter. She became a mentor to me and has helped me navigate my last two years of college and the beginning of my post grad life. 

I became a Global student after I had attended the Pullman Campus for two years. Making the decision to switch campus was a huge challenge for me. Besides adjusting to the new online learning format, I had to learn to be more proactive about understanding the materials and to seek help when needed. My grades remained the same throughout this change, and I think this showed me that I am capable of more than I thought!

Throughout my time at WSU, I really enjoyed everything I was learning and found it useful. This made diving into the materials very enjoyable for me. I’ve already used a lot of what I learned in my marketing classes and explored different marketing avenues and their effect in the real world. For example, I was able to use my new social media marketing skills while working at Seattle’s Interbay Golf Center. My efforts had real-world effects, helping Interbay to win a social media improvement award at a professional conference. My degree shaped me into the young professional I am now, and I just landed my first professional job at CBRE, the largest commercial real estate company in the world.”

More about marketing major—online

Justin Knutson

Justin Knutson

Psychology Outstanding Senior

“As an aspiring educator, one of my goals while at WSU was to help grow our outstanding Global Campus psychology program, one in which my own mom enrolled in when I was a child. Global Campus provided her, a single parent with a full-time job, the chance to take classes and pursue a degree on top of her other responsibilities. Because of her experience, I knew that our online program could provide unique opportunities to those who might otherwise find college inaccessible. As a student, I hoped to not only take advantage of those opportunities, but to also create more for the students who would come after me.

As a junior and senior, I was honored to help run two student organizations on Global Campus, Psychology Club and Psi Chi. These groups helped other psychology students connect with each other and pursue their professional careers. I also had the opportunity to work with two wonderful mentors, Dr. Daffin and Dr. Quock, in editing and revising Open Education Resource textbooks for the psychology degree. Dr. Daffin also helped me conduct a study into the perceived validity of the Implicit Association Test, which I presented at SURCA and was fortunate enough to win an award for.

These opportunities have helped prepare me for graduate school and beyond, but more importantly, they have allowed me to give back to this community that has done so much to support me. I hope that I have left Global Campus a better place than it was, and that future students, professors, and faculty will not only reap the rewards, but make improvements of their own. Although this is only the start of my journey to become a teacher, I will always be thankful to my friends, family, and the people at WSU who have helped get me this far. Good luck to all of you, and go Cougs!”

More about psychology degree—online

Cory Parker

Cory Parker

Political Science Outstanding Senior

“I had been traveling the world when I decided to pursue my degree in Political Science, captivated by the stories of success and failure of states around the globe. I wondered why some governments thrived while others faltered for decades. How is it possible that one government could make so much progress in improving the lives of its citizens, while others faltered, or ever made the lives for its citizens worse?

I volunteered many times, from teaching English in Turkey to working as a cook in rural Sri Lanka. These might seem unrelated to the political field, but developing relationships with individuals abroad, although usually enjoyable, can be a tricky and inherently political. The first thing a traveler is usually asked is where they are from, and when that place is the United States of America it is usually assured that the other person already has an opinion which could be positive or negative. How an individual feels about a given country can impact the relationship you have with them, perhaps they feel strongly about an event that is occurring between the two countries, or has occurred in the past. I leaned a lot through these interactions.

Because Washington State university offered the political program entirely online, I was able to continue traveling, meeting people from other countries. That way, I could discuss the political situation in their country with them, and apply that information to my studies and discuss it remotely with my classmates. This method of studying political science helped me apply what I was learning to real world situations. I’m very grateful that I had the chance to study my field of choice while gaining so much practical experience at the same time. “

More about political science major—online

Emma Olivier

Emma Olivier

Social Sciences Outstanding Senior

“As an isolated single mother with a special needs child, it was often difficult for me to find time to juggle between school, work, and motherhood. COVID-19 made things even more of a challenge, as my son now had to learn from home, and our financial situation became strained as I lost my job due to the pandemic. Fortunately, WSU was able to help us and sent us emergency funds that allowed us to pay rent and utilities.  I held on to my dream of graduating in spite of all these hurdles.

Since I finished High School back in 2004, I was curious about understanding the human mind, mental health and studying the human condition. Social Sciences embrace several disciplines, such as Human Development and Psychology, that lead me to answer some of my questions during classes. What I learned has opened my eyes to the big picture of what’s going on around me and has even helped me in my professional life. For example, I currently Applied Behavior Analysis therapy services to special needs children, and my degree helped me understand my clients’ challenges, strengths, and overall behaviors.

I also hope that my BA to be the first chapter to something bigger. I seriously consider pursuing a Master’s Degree in either special education or ABA. I’m still weighing my career options and deciding how I want to move forward. As I look back on my time at WSU, I’m very proud of what I accomplished, especially considering that I was barely able to speak American English only eight years ago. I’m also excited to see what the future has in store.”

More about social sciences degree—online

Grace Allen

Grace Allen, left, with her children and grandson

Sociology Outstanding Senior

“Graduating from WSU Global means a lot to me as a single mom of three, a first-generation college student, and a daughter of Mexican immigrants. Coming from this background, I always wanted to achieve and prove to myself that hard work and dedication pays off. I always got good grades, but life’s challenges caused me to wait until a little later in life until I could go back to school and graduate. I want to inspire my kids and show them that you are never too old to achieve your goals.

While earning my degree, I worked full time as an educator and part time as a youth monitor providing counseling and mentorship for at-risk immigrant children. This work means a lot to me, and it’s another reason why I decided to go back to school. I want to be able to advocate for youth and minorities, and I know that higher education is a must have in making an impact and having your voice be heard. I’ve always been very sociologically minded—it’s just a part of who I am. So, I really enjoyed exploring issues concerned with social justice and advocacy in my courses.

A lot of challenges came my way over the last year or so, including some severe health issues with my children. The flexibility of learning online really helped me to continue with my studies. I had a lot of great professors who worked with me and helped me to make things work. I also really appreciate the great reputation that WSU has as an institution, which is another reason I chose to become a Coug. I’m honored to receive this award, and incredibly happy to know that I have made in impact while at WSU.”

More about sociology degree—online

Want to read more outstanding senior stories? Check out our 2020 outstanding seniors page!