Mary Senter

Our “Global Campus Legends” series celebrates the 30th anniversary of WSU Global Campus by putting a spotlight on the unique experiences and journeys of Global Campus students throughout the years. Global Campus Legends features students who graduated from Global Campus since it was founded as WSU Extended Degree Programs in 1992.   

“My story begins like so many others. I started college after high school but couldn’t find my stride. I joined the military, started a family, and got busy with life. After many years of working in backbreaking construction and facility maintenance, I was working as a corrections officer at the county jail when I decided I finally needed to go back and finish my degree in order to get somewhere in this life. As a full-time worker and full-time single parent, attending school in a physical classroom was not an option for me.

I found the social sciences program at the WSU Distance Degree Program (DDP) that would give me the credentials I needed for a desired promotion. I enrolled full-time and went straight through for five semesters and graduated, with honors, in fall of 2009, at 39 years old. During that time, I studied during the day and worked at the jail until midnight. I didn’t clean the house or wash the car or hang out with friends or do any of things that aren’t necessary to sustain life. There wasn’t time for anything else. The sacrifices were many, but it was worth it in the end.

I took my family to Pullman to attend graduation and got some peculiar looks when I asked for directions to the CUB while wearing graduation regalia. It was my first time on the WSU campus.

In the meantime, the 2008 economic downturn eliminated the job I was hoping to get and I’d decided I no longer wanted to work in corrections, anyway. I kept seeing postings for jobs that involved digital design, social media, public relations, publishing, and other creative activities and I knew that’s what I wanted to do since I’ve always been creative and artistic and am happiest when making something. But I didn’t have the skills to apply for those jobs.

I was notified about the brand new Strategic Communication MA through WSU DDP and at first I didn’t pay much attention (because, in truth, I didn’t even know what it was!). Later, I looked closer and realized it was just what I needed to get where I wanted to go.

I was accepted three days before classes began. I went full-time for three semesters plus two half-time summers and was a part of the second graduating class in summer, 2015. I attended commencement the following December. WSU Online hosted a lovely reception for the Cyber Cougs and I had the pleasure of meeting my classmates face-to-face for the first time.

We were invited to say a few words to those in attendance. I stood in front of my family and new friends and bawled—and I am horrified by public crying! I cried because I was overwhelmed by the magnitude of the accomplishment of earning a master’s degree—something I never dreamed I would do. I cried because I was so grateful to WSU DDP, to the veterans’ grant that allowed me to afford it, to my family who sacrificed, to my professors who taught me so much, and to the eclectic cohort of wonderful students who supported and encouraged me. I am beyond proud to say that I hold a Master’s in Strategic Communication from WSU!

I now work in communications and design in the public sector. I am writer of fiction and nonfiction, the graphic designer for a Seattle literary journal, and recently started a small press. I’m not yet where I want to be, but I’m well on my way, and it wouldn’t have been possible without WSU Global Campus!”

-Mary Senter, ’15

Mary Senter