2022 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 15 outstanding seniors for the 2021-22 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.

Jennifer Gaffney

Accounting Outstanding Senior

Jennifer Gaffney

“I returned to college after a twenty-seven-year break. When my youngest child entered high school, I decided it was time to make my dream of obtaining a college degree a reality. I had been home-schooling my two youngest children prior to going back to college in 2018. Juggling family responsibilities and college has been a challenge, but my family has been supportive. I thought I might have to drop out of school in early 2021 due to family members with health issues, but with the encouragement of my family and the staff at WSU, I was able to keep going. 

Having the flexibility and time to volunteer in my community has been very important to me and being an online student at Global Campus has allowed me to continue to do that. I have been involved in home-school support groups, Scouts BSA, Girl Scouts, 4-H, and my church. And last tax season, I learned how to prepare tax returns with AARP Tax-Aide, a volunteer-run tax preparation service.

Outside of my regular schoolwork and volunteer activities, I completed the Cougar Leadership Program through Global Campus in 2020. I belong to the Tri-Alpha Honor Society for first-generation students. And I received the Cougars of the Desert Leadership Award for the 2021-22 school year.

My accounting degree at WSU is the first step toward becoming a licensed CPA. Getting my education has enhanced my life and encouraged my three children to attend college as well. I have been impressed with the support I have received at WSU. I thought I would just be another number at a big, public university, but I learned that Cougs really do take care of their own. I am very proud to be a Coug and hope to pay it forward.”

More about accounting degree—online

Caroline Covak

Anthropology Outstanding Senior

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More about anthropology degree—online

Callie Jenckes

Criminal Justice Outstanding Senior

Callie Jenckes

“After receiving my Associates Degree at Bellevue College, I transferred to WSU Global Campus. I chose Global Campus because I wanted to start a career in law enforcement and getting a respected degree with the flexibility of working online was a great way to work towards that goal.

My entire college career, I balanced school full-time and work full-time. At first, I worked in childcare, and currently I do private security. I have been at this job for almost three years now, using it as a steppingstone into my career goal of law enforcement. I am excited and proud to now have a bachelor’s degree that I can also apply to my career. 

I am also extremely proud of my academic achievement, graduating Summa Cum Laude. School and grades have always been very important to me, and I worked hard for this achievement. The friends and family who saw me during college can attest that I never took a day off from schoolwork.

After two years at WSU, I graduated in December 2021 with a Bachelor of Arts in Criminal Justice and Criminology and a minor in Sociology. Now that I have graduated, it has been a huge adjustment not having any schoolwork or deadlines anymore. I can finally just focus on work and my family, and I am excited for this new chapter in my life. GO COUGS!”

More about criminal justice degree—online

Sydney Yeargers

Data Analytics Outstanding Senior

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Amanda Mottershead

English Outstanding Senior

Amanda Westbrook, left

“My journey to get into college as an adult learner was difficult. When I started college as a teenager, I didn’t have the drive to keep going, and I ended up dropping out with a low GPA. Ten years later I decided to go back and was turned down because my grades from before were too low. So, I enrolled in a community college, where I worked very hard to maintain a 4.0 GPA. When it was time to start my third year, I decided to apply to WSU Global Campus. Global Campus admitted me based on my recent hard work rather than my old, bad grades, and I’m so glad they did.

It has been challenging to work a 50-hour week, raise four children, and to still make time for school and hobbies on the side, but when I want something, I go ‘all in’ to get it. I have maintained a 3.96 GPA during my time at WSU and been on the President’s Honor Roll every semester. I have taken courses both for my major and for my own personal enrichment, typically six courses per semester and some during summer term too.

I am an extremely proud member of the WSU Chapter of the Tri-Alpha Honor Society, an organization for first generation college students. One of the reasons I have worked so hard to get my degree through WSU is to become the first member of my family to graduate from college and to bring that legacy forward for my children.

I currently work in retail, but I am pursuing a career in library science. Now that I have finished my English degree at WSU, I plan to leave my current job and work full time remotely as an online editor while pursuing a master’s degree in library information science. Because of WSU, I have all the skills and resources that I need to continue on my path and achieve my goals.”

More about english degree—online

Tanisa Kang

Environmental and Ecosystem Sciences Outstanding Senior

Tanisa Kang

“As an international student, I am grateful to be able to pursue my education at WSU Global Campus from my home in Jakarta, Indonesia. Even more so now and feeling incredibly honored that I’ve been recognized through the Outstanding Senior award program for my major.

The environment provides a basis for our homes and actions, understanding our relationship to Earth is an important part of being human. I’ve always hoped to be a positive force for the environment and a degree in environmental and ecosystem sciences will surely aid my efforts.

My undergraduate journey hasn’t been a clear shot. It started with me studying fine arts in Minneapolis, and as I decided to shift my studies to science, I transferred to a community college and completed an associate degree. Before transferring again to a university, circumstances brought me to move back home and take a break from school. During this time, I also found myself exploring a career in English language education for a while. When I found this program at WSU Global Campus in 2020, I thought it was perfect for what I needed to finish my degree. 

After four semesters at WSU, I am excited to finally graduate with a degree in environmental and ecosystem sciences with a 3.96 GPA, a minor in biology, and a certificate in professional science & technology writing. I’ve also had the pleasure to explore opportunities at a local environmental start-up and others relating to ESL and digital illustration while studying. I’m glad to be able to juggle different passions and hope to continue combining them in the future. Thank you WSU!”

More about environmental and ecosystem sciences degree—online

Lisa Muong

History Outstanding Senior

Lisa Moung

“One of my biggest challenges was relearning how to be a student again. It had been some time since I had to sit down and study, write essays, and take exams, and I felt rusty! Time management was another hurdle. I enrolled at WSU after having my second child and struggled to strike a healthy balance between school and family, while finding the time to care for myself. I only had so many hours during the day that I could study, so I really had to make the most out of my evenings and plan ahead.

Despite all the challenges, I’m proud to say that I was able to get on the honor roll and graduated summa cum laude. It took a lot of juggling and hard work, but the flexibility of learning online and support from my family helped me to get through. I’m so happy to have achieved my goal.

Now that I’ve graduated, I plan on applying to law school. My history classes sharpened my research skills and my ability to process and reflect upon what I found and draw conclusions from that research. On a personal level, history has always been one of my favorite subjects, and the opportunity to study it on a deeper level was fantastic. Now I’m excited to see what the future holds!”

More about history degree—online

Andrea Halpin

Humanities Outstanding Senior

Andrea Haplin

“I originally started my degree back in 1995 and only had the opportunity to return to finish it starting in 2019. It was a life-long goal to earn my BA.  After spending six years living in Europe and then settling in Seattle, I attended my son’s Accepted Students orientation at WSU, which was a big part of my decision to choose WSU to finish my degree. I saw right away that the Cougar community is very strong, and I wanted to be a part of it. I’m very proud to call myself a Coug!

I earned my degree while being an at-home parent to one teenager and one fellow Coug. I was dedicated to ensuring that I was giving my best to both my schoolwork and my family. Time management and motivation was essential to completing my degree.

I have been on the Presidents Honor Roll and I graduated Summa Cum Laude in December 2021, something I had set as a goal for myself and am very proud of achieving. I am now enrolled at Johns Hopkins University’s Krieger School of Arts and Sciences and am working on my Master of Liberal Arts degree. I hope to go on to teach or work in a research capacity in the future.”

More about humanities degree—online

Lori Castro

Integrated Strategic Communication Outstanding Senior

Lori Castro

“I have attended school much of my life. I started 30+ years ago at Glendale Community College in Arizona. Four community colleges, one art school, dozens of books on marketing, countless conferences, and several certifications later, I still had no college degree. It was during a conversation over dinner in 2019 that I mentioned to my husband that I wanted to go back to school. I submitted my application the next day.  

Global Campus was perfect for me. With a more than full-time job, I didn’t want to give up even an hour of my day commuting to a college campus every evening. I also love to travel, and my online classes allowed me to take a 10-day trip to England and a trip to Miami, and still keep up with my homework.

The integrated strategic communications program at Global Campus addressed the two skills I was looking to build−my writing ability, and my online campaign expertise. My public relations, media, and persuasion classes helped me grow both skills in a way that has already made a positive difference in my marketing career. I am filled with gratitude for the professors, my advisor, classmates, friends, and family that helped me, and pride in what I accomplished.

Getting my degree was hard work though, and I had the additional challenges of losing my father and stepson during those years. But my incredible husband Alex’s continuous support and encouragement helped me through those hard times, and I cannot thank him enough. I also want to thank my boss, Crystal Donner (WSU ’90), a devoted Coug herself, who supported my academic journey and was caring and encouraging. She had told me what an incredible school WSU is, and I’m happy to say I was not disappointed.”

More about integrated strategic communication major—online

Nicole Eaton

Management Outstanding Senior

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More about management major—online

Scott Ercoline

Management Information Systems Outstanding Senior

Scott Ercoline

“I’m originally from Redding, California. I joined the Navy at 18, earning veterans’ education benefits that I would use later. After getting out of the military, I started a career in IT which would lead to 14 years working for Microsoft. As time went on, however, I felt that my career was starting to plateau. I noticed gaps in my knowledge that were keeping me from growing and advancing professionally. In order to expand my skillset and knowledge base, I finally made the decision to go back to school.

I chose WSU Global Campus for two reasons. First, I wanted to juggle school and work while I earned my degree, and learning online allowed me to do that flexibly and without having to move near a campus. Also, while I was working in the Seattle area, I heard a lot of great things about WSU. The university has a great reputation, so I was very happy to learn about online learning opportunities with Global Campus.

Once I started, I wasn’t disappointed. I immediately started filling the gaps in my knowledge and expanding my professional toolbox. Faculty and staff were all exceptional, and I learned a lot very quickly. Overall, my experience was absolutely amazing.

After graduating Suma Cum Laude, I had to make the decision on what to do next. I’m already in a much better spot in my career, but I know that I have lots more still to learn. So I decided to stick with WSU Global and I’m now in their online Executive MBA program. I can’t thank Global Campus’ faculty and staff enough for the experience I’ve had on the knowledge I’ve gained. It’s had a huge impact on my life, and I can’t wait to see what the future brings.”

More about management information systems major—online

Alija Quinonez

Marketing Outstanding Senior

Alija Quinonez

“Ever since I was 12 years old, I have been serving local and international communities. During my time at WSU, I have gone to Mexico three times to build homes for homeless families. Since I was 12, I have been there over 10 times, and I have been to other places like Honduras, Haiti, Swaziland, Cambodia, and Indonesia as well. My father runs a veteran non-profit organization that takes veterans to Mexico on Memorial Day weekend to help them heal from their PTSD by building homes for those in need. Serving those in need is very important to me and earning my degree online with WSU Global Campus has enabled me to keep travelling and doing what I’m passionate about while I learn.
 

I did have to face some challenges as I earned my degree. Though I was fortunate to have my father’s veteran status and GI Bill to pay my tuition, I still needed to work and take care of myself and my dogs. Unfortunately, two of our four family dogs passed away just a couple months apart. Both had reached 10 years of age making it a bit more bearable but continuing my studies through my grief was difficult.
 

When I first decided to pursue a degree, I knew I wanted to go into business, but I didn’t know what exactly. My father suggested I take on marketing so I could learn how to market for his businesses and non-profits. This is what I do now, running social media and creating other marketing materials. My learning curve for business administration and marketing was steep, but I learned so much! Now I’ve got the tools and knowledge to help run my father’s businesses and non-profits and I still get to volunteer and serve knowing I’m financially secure enough to support these missions.”

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Sierra Sumner

Psychology Outstanding Senior

Sierra Sumner

As a mother and manager of a household, the flexibility of an online program was appealing to me. I chose WSU Global Campus due to its outstanding reputation and the fact that I could participate in research while in an online psychology program. I mentored under, and was advised by, Dr. Lee Daffin whose encouragement and guidance helped me to grow as a student, leader, and researcher.

One thing I really enjoyed was the ability to get involved in extracurricular activities, and perform research, while I worked on my degree. I am a member of Psi Chi International Honor Society of Psychology, of which I had the opportunity to serve as president for a year. Additionally, I presented my research at the Showcase for Undergraduate Research and Creative Activities (SURCA) and won an award. I participated in other research as well, through PSYCH 499-03 under Dr. Tiffany Reiss for three semesters. For this research, I applied for, and was awarded a highly competitive grant to fund my field research. My research partners and myself are currently attempting to publish our most recent review. Additionally, I had the opportunity to act as a teaching assistant in Abnormal Psychology for two semesters, which ignited my love for teaching. My time at WSU deepened my appreciation for academia and provided the encouragement and opportunities I needed to apply to a Clinical Psychology PhD program, to which I was accepted. I begin my program this fall, 2022.

My goal is to go into clinical counseling and open a private practice serving trauma survivors and individuals who have been victims of crime. I would also like to teach at the collegiate level one day and continue to dabble in research, both of which my PhD program will empower me to do. I am where I am today because of WSU Global Campus and my advisors and mentors, including Dr. Lee Daffin, Dr. Tiffany Reiss, and Dr. Alexis Bridley. I am grateful for the opportunities I have been privileged to participate in as well as my time at Global Campus.

More about psychology degree—online

Jen Bull

Social Sciences Outstanding Senior

Jen Bull

“After 21 years I decided to go back to college to pursue my undergraduate degree. My children were approaching college age and I saw this time as an opportunity to accomplish that goal before they embarked on their own college journeys. I have been a massage therapist for 22 years and always felt the desire to do something more in the medical field. My choice of a social sciences degree allowed me to maximize the transfer of my past credits from community college, saving me time and money. While at WSU Global Campus, I maintained a 4.0 GPA and feel like the learning I received helps me every day in my interactions with patients, employees, and my family. 

Since starting at WSU Global Campus, I have gained a passion for working with those in poverty and the military. My studies in social science focused on poverty, both in the United States and abroad, and my minor in political science helped create a framework for understanding global affairs while connecting information on systemic issues here at home. In healthcare, helping those who have made a commitment to protecting our freedom has been a priority for me personally. During the past few years, I have worked with disabled veterans who are searching for non-traditional methods of healing, and I have been able to provide pro-bono treatments for them and other disabled members of the community who might not otherwise have access to the costly, alternative healing modalities offered at my clinic. 

Owning a business, having three teenage boys, and maintaining a marriage and household, all while going to school with a full credit load was a tremendous undertaking. But the online platform at WSU Global Campus made the once seemingly unattainable goal of finishing my degree a reality. I am very grateful for the flexibility the program provides. Looking ahead, I would like to pursue a master’s degree in marriage and family therapy to allow me to integrate bodywork with mental health counseling for families of active-duty personnel and disabled veterans in need.

I am glad to have obtained a degree from WSU and would encourage those interested in Global Campus to learn more! My advisor, Kerri Hill, helped me tremendously and was patient and informative. She made the process less overwhelming, and I felt supported the whole way. I am so proud to be a Coug and a part of the graduating class of 2022!”

More about social sciences degree—online

Trisha Nelson

Sociology Outstanding Senior

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More about sociology degree—online

Want to read more outstanding senior stories? Check out our 2021 outstanding seniors page!