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College of Arts and Sciences Alumni

New language scholarship opens opportunities, honors alumnus’ mom

smiling alumnus and his momMolding better Americans is the motivation behind a new foreign language scholarship created for Washington State University students by alumnus Christopher “CJ” Johnson (’02), an officer and linguist in the U.S. Air Force Reserve.

“So few Americans speak a foreign language, and the outcome is that few Americans understand the world outside their immediate circle,” Johnson said. “But studying a foreign language and actually employing it forces you to think beyond your circle, to look beyond America, and that’s important because it » More …

Golden and Diamond Grads: What a time it was!

Collage of alumni One by one, they share memories of curfews, 42-cent dinner dates at the CUB, the JFK assassination, and the birth of women’s lib. A few regale listeners with the infamous tale of the 1964 “Pot Push,” which had nothing to do with cannabis.

These are just a sample of the treats recorded at the Diamond and Golden Grads digital storytelling workshops, led by Rebecca Goodrich, clinical assistant professor in English and former assistant director of the Digital Technology and Culture program

The workshops, held during the Diamond and Golden reunions, are available to visiting 50- and 60-year graduates who would like to contribute oral histories of their time at WSU. The stories will eventually be » More …

Losing Eden: An Environmental History of the American West

Book cover of "Losing Eden"The 1893 World’s Columbian Exposition welcomed millions of people to Chicago to celebrate the rise of industrial America, the 400th anniversary of Columbus’ arrival on the continent, and the romanticization of the “frontier” West. Historian Frederick Jackson Turner presented his thesis that the western advance into a wild and savage frontier defined the American spirit, and the idea took hold in the national imagination.

Historian Sara Dant (’91, ’00) pulls the curtain away from those oft-spun tales of an unspoiled American West in this book about the interaction between people and nature over time. As she examines “deep” history, it’s clear that the myth of virgin territory ignores Native American influence on the region. » More …

Mind your mullet: Using comedy to help students see their potential

Ted Tremper presentationWhat would you do if your part in a local play entailed wearing an especially unpopular haircut? If you were Ted Tremper, you would embrace not only the role but the mullet, too.

Now an award-winning comedy writer, actor, director, and producer living in Los Angeles, Tremper (’04) was a junior majoring in English at WSU when he turned his stage character’s retro-’80s hairdo into the basis for a real-life comedy sketch/social experiment.

Acting unaware of his fashion faux pas, he strolled across the Pullman campus, greeting strangers and friends and taking note of the variety of responses he encountered. » More …

Bear Watching

Chukchi Sea polar bearThe headlines paint a dire picture: By the 2030s, global warming could completely melt Arctic sea ice, imperiling the 19 known polar bear populations that range across the United States, Canada, Russia, Greenland, and Norway.

Could, as some fear, the trend spell extinction for Ursus martimus? » More …

Knowing malice beyond the pale

Winter knowing malice beyond the palePete Simi’s mother wanted him to understand racism, so when he was 9, they watched a PBS documentary on the Ku Klux Klan. Here’s how he remembers one Klansman who was interviewed. “He spoke with such passion, anger, such strong emotion. And it just struck me, as a young child, trying to understand what was driving this person, how this person could get so enmeshed in hate.”

That question stuck with Simi ’96 throughout his undergraduate studies at Washington State University and later as a graduate student at University of Nevada, Las Vegas.

Simi, the author of American Swastika: Inside the White » More …

Campus involvement empowers first-generation, non-traditional student to soar

WSU graduate in his cap and gown getting photo takenWSU Tri-Cities alumnus Geoff Schramm never thought he would go to college.

Coming from a family where no one before him in his family had gone to college, he said it was sort of a family tradition that he goes straight into the workforce after high school.

“That’s just what you did in my family,” he said. “I didn’t have a blueprint for college or someone that could tell me about the experience. In some odd way, I felt it wasn’t for me when I was young.” » More …

Biology graduate earns internship at PNNL, working to combat cancer

Vincent Danna (’17) was in middle school when he lost all of his hair.

He suffers from a condition known as alopecia universalis, which is when the immune system mistakenly attacks the hair follicles. His personal struggle led him to want to become a dermatologist and help those who experience serious skin diseases and other ailments.

“It sounds silly,” he said, “but my experience really spiked my interest in wanting to help other people through medicine.” » More …

Hollywood composer, musician, WSU alum, shares insights

Album cover, view of the PalouseHollywood studio musician, arranger, major film music composer and rising star. It’s not your average resume for someone who grew up on a Palouse wheat farm and graduated from nearby Wazzu.

Paul Henning, a WSU School of Music alum (’98) and Pullman native, returned to campus to talk about his experience in the music program, encourage other music students, share his insights and story and, oh yes, perform with the WSU Symphony Orchestra, including several of his own compositions.

And, despite his great success, his roots are still deep in the Palouse. » More …

History project showcases rare footage of Washington’s 161st Infantry Regiment

WWII archive photo of 161st Infantry soldiers relaxingSometimes you just get lucky. Graduate students Laura Briere and Jared Chastain, along with their faculty adviser, historian Orlan Svingen, were in College Park, Maryland, last spring looking for information about the storied 161st Infantry Regiment when they stepped off the elevator on the wrong floor.

It turned out to be a fortunate mistake. » More …

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