Supporting women of color, the Miss Black USA Organization, the first and largest pageant to do so, has awarded over $500,000 in scholarships. The pageant prioritizes empowering women to own their power and celebrate unique talents, traits, and beauty. Ashley Wells had been waiting for this opportunity to participate and the wait is over as Wells was crowned 2023 Miss Black Washington USA.
Beginning her journey as a Ph.D. student in American Studies and Culture at Washington State University last year, Wells’ research revolves around Black American Women and mental health disparities. In addition to being a Graduate Assistant for WSU’s Multicultural Student Services, Wells also served as Senator of the Graduate and Professional Student Association within the institution.
When asked how it feels to be Miss Black Washington USA and a Washington State University student, Wells responded, “being Miss Black Washington USA and a WSU student is a great combination of experiences. I am originally from New York and have lived on the East coast my entire life. So, to be able to make an impact specifically on Black Women in Washington has been so exciting.”
Now earning the crown and title, Wells’ platform revolves around her nonprofit work as she is the co-founder of The Prosp(a)ity Project, a 501(c)3 organization that is dedicated to improving the economic mobility of college-educated Black women.
“We do this primarily through our 35*2 Free Initiative which provides retroactive scholarships to women combined with a year-long program of financial literacy training,” said Wells. “I want to stress the importance of financial literacy and educational options to the black community as a whole.”
The Intensive American Language Center (IALC) on the Pullman campus moved its classrooms and staff to Daggy Hall this summer after the decommissioning of Kruegel Hall, which previously housed the center.
The IALC is where international students learn and polish their English and knowledge of American customs through beginner, undergraduate and graduate programs. In addition to the IALC moving its staff and class spaces, the IALC’s Learning Support Center found a new home in Thompson Hall through a partnership with CAS’s School of Languages, Cultures and Race, which runs the Language Learning Resource Center (aka Language Lab).
Having the IALC’s Learning Support Center and the Language Lab in one place will provide WSU students taking foreign language classes and international students studying English the opportunity to learn from each other at the same location.
“This partnership provides a nexus for language and cultural exchange that can benefit both groups of students,” said Carmen R. Lugo-Lugo, director of the School of Languages, Cultures and Race.
Lisa Guerrero has been named the inaugural vice chancellor for equity and inclusive excellence for WSU Pullman, effective July 1, 2022.
Guerrero joined the Washington State University faculty in 2004, and has served as associate vice provost for equity and inclusive excellence for the last two years. As part of that role, she has led WSU’s faculty cluster hire in “racism and social inequality in the Americas.”
“It is critical that we have strong, dedicated leadership in diversity, equity, and inclusion at our flagship campus,” said WSU Pullman Chancellor and Provost Elizabeth Chilton. “Dr. Guerrero’s strong experience and leadership make her uniquely qualified for this role. I’m looking forward to working with our equity leaders in Pullman and across the WSU system and building on the important foundation that has already been laid.”
Guerrero has served in several roles at WSU, starting as an assistant professor and advancing to associate professor in 2010. She served as director of the Graduate Program in American Studies from 2012-17, and chair of the UCORE committee from 2013-2018. Guerrero earned promotion to professor in 2020.
Five Washington State University faculty proposals for Smith Teaching and Learning Grant awards have been approved for funding.
Projects this year were sought that address WSU’s commitment to inclusion, diversity, equity, and access (IDEA), and focus on specific areas that improve student learning through innovative practices.
“The five projects funded by Smith grants will literally impact the student success and academic progress of hundreds of WSU students, and we are impressed by the innovative ideas advanced by all of the applicants,” said William B. Davis, interim vice provost for academic engagement and student achievement. “We will look forward to seeing the progress on, and the results from, these projects, with final reports due in August 2023.”
In CAS, Faculty applying as principal investigators on the awarded grants are:
Sonia López-López: “Spanish 308 for Heritage Speakers” It involves the creation of a 300-level Spanish language course for students who speak Spanish fluently, having learned it at home, but whose competency might be limited due to a lack of formal understanding of the language. The course could help students gain better writing skills in their native tongue and contribute to their higher academic success.
Washington State University math major Annie Lu and alumna and staff member Amethyst Freibott have received Fulbright awards to research and teach, respectively, in Hungary, the Distinguished Scholarships Program said.
“Both Annie and Amethyst have detailed plans for their Fulbright experiences that start this fall, and they will be excellent ambassadors in Hungary for both WSU and the U.S.,” said April Seehafer, DSP director.
“I am flooded with gratitude to have Fulbright support me in this opportunity to do something I love so much,” said Freibott, who received a Fulbright English Teaching Assistant (ETA) award. She works from Boise as assistant director for the top scholars initiative in the Office of Admissions.
“I’m excited to receive the Fulbright U.S. Student award to study and research abroad,” said Lu. “It’s very rewarding to have years of hard work pay off in this way. I’m lucky to get this opportunity and have a platform to show my work and contribute more.” Lu conducts research into computational mathematical biology with mentor Nikos Voulgarakis.