RICHLAND, Wash. – The apartments currently being constructed on the Washington State University Tri-Cities campus are now taking applications for when they open this fall.

The apartments, known as The Brelsford Vineyards, are scheduled to open in August 2018 in time for fall semester at WSU Tri-Cities. For more information and to apply, visit 

The apartments, which will be located north of the Consolidated Information Center at WSU Tri-Cities, will feature one, two, three and four-bedroom units that will each include a washer and dryer and a full-sized kitchen. Other amenities on the apartment grounds will include a heated swimming pool, sport court, recreation and fitness rooms, community study rooms, a barbecue area and reserved covered parking options.

The apartments are owned by Vineyards Apartments, LLC, and operated by DABCO Property Management, which also manages several apartment complexes near the WSU Pullman campus. 

WSU Tri-Cities partnered with Corporate Pointe Developers who has formed Vineyards Apartments, LLC, and agreed to build the apartments on the university campus in an effort to provide students with an on-campus housing option. The joint venture was approved by the WSU Board of Regents.

“We are extremely excited to be a part of the WSU family in Richland,” said Corporate Pointe Developers President Duane Brelsford. “Furthermore, we are focused on providing a full-time living experience for WSU students where they can live and learn, next to the WSU campus.”

Although the apartments are not managed by WSU Tri-Cities, Chris Meiers, vice chancellor of student affairs, said the proximity of the apartments on university grounds will significantly improve access to educational resources for students on campus.

“Simply by having an on-campus housing option, students are closer to their classes, academic resources like tutoring and study spaces, as well as the library,” he said. “They are also more likely to connect with their peers on a personal level and are more encouraged to get involved in campus programming, which reinforces persistence and academic success.”

For more information on The Brelsford Vineyards, contact Kerri Jo at Corporate Pointe Developers or email For general housing questions at WSU Tri-Cities, visit



Kerri Jo Staniszewski, Corporate Pointe Developers director of operations, , 509-334-4700

Chris Meiers, WSU Tri-Cities vice chancellor for student affairs, 509-372-7381,

Maegan Murray, WSU Tri-Cities public relations specialist, 509-372-7333,

By Maegan Murray, WSU Tri-Cities

RICHLAND, Wash. – Adam Halvorsen knows that providing the best possible patient care is crucial in the health field, which is why he is using his degree in nursing from Washington State University Tri-Cities to advocate for better care for patients and for his nursing colleagues across the state.

Halvorsen got involved in advocating for nursing policy as a student at WSU Tri-Cities. Little did he know, his efforts would lead him to become the WSU College of Nursing Outstanding Undergraduate Student this fall.

“It’s been an amazing ride so far,” he said. “I’ve been very humbled by this profession and by my incredible colleagues, and I’m excited to see where it leads me.”

Inspired by service

Halvorsen’s passion for service grew out of his start in the military. The day after 9/11, he signed up for the U.S. Marine Corps and spent four years active-duty with time in Okinawa, Japan, as well as through a tour in Iraq.

“Sept. 11 happened and on Sept. 12, I signed up,” he said. “I saw a need and I went for it. My core philosophy is service. I believe in service to others before self.”

After he left the armed forces, Halvorsen continued his career in service in two jobs: as an emergency management technician for Medstar Ambulance and as a firefighter for the Gallup Fire Department in Gallup, New Mexico. He enjoyed those roles, he said, but he wanted to be a part of the long-term care and recuperation of his patients, rather than just being a part of their initial care in his emergency care roles.

“The thing with nursing is you don’t see a person at their height of being – you see people at their base,” he said. “To be able to be allowed in that moment of their lives and to try to have a positive impact, it is a blessing to be able to do that.”

He enrolled in the WSU Tri-Cities nursing program, which is where he was introduced to opportunities that would allow him to use his passion to better nursing and patient care for Washington state.

Leadership in nursing

In addition to the hands-on training he received from his experienced professors and instructors in the WSU Tri-Cities nursing program, Halvorsen received the opportunity to take on leadership roles within several state nursing organizations.

He served as president of Nursing Students of Washington State. His experience at WSU also led him to serve as part of the Washington State Nurses Association, as well as attend a national conference through the National Student Nurses’ Association. Through these affiliations, Halvorsen had the opportunity to provide input on association policy, expand communication efforts through video, as well as generally advocate for his peers and future colleagues in nursing.

Adam Halvorsen with a peer at the 35th annual Nurse Legislative Day

Adam Halvorsen with a peer at the 35th annual Nurse Legislative Day

Last year, Halvorsen also joined his WSU peers to represent WSU at Nursing Day at the Capitol in Olympia, which allowed him to interact with prominent government figures to advocate for patient care and speak publically about the importance of nursing education and the nursing profession.

Halvorsen said he hadn’t initially planned on getting involved with these types of leadership roles or that it would lead him earning the WSU College of Nursing Outstanding Undergraduate Student award.

“I honestly didn’t expect it, but I’m honored to represent my incredible peers for the work we have accomplished together,” he said.

Future as a nursing leader 

Halvorsen said the primary reason behind his activism in the nursing field is that he is able to have a positive impact, not only on the current state of health care, but also its future.

“If we could get more students interested in being proactive, not only in policy, but in their communities, we could have a much better impact in nursing, compared with what we think our limits are as student nurses,” he said. “Washington has amazing potential – we have a lot of schools and students out there. There’s an amazing opportunity to grow nursing and help people.”

After graduating this fall, Halvorsen now has the opportunity to exude even more leadership through his role as a director for the National Student Nurse’s Association where he is also head of the ethics and goverance committee for the organization. Additionally, he has accepted a position as a full-time nurse in the cardiac department of the Kadlec Regional Medical Center.

After spending a few years as a full-time nurse, he plans to obtain his doctorate of nursing practice. He hopes to use his career experience and academic credentials to continue with advocacy work and volunteer opportunities. His long-term goal is to work with the American Nursing Association to develop and refine nursing policy.

“It’s been incredible experience so far, both through my education with incredible professors at WSU, in addition to what I’ve been able to participate in through state and national organizations,” he said. “I hope to keep having an impact in nursing so that everyone can benefit.”

Halvorsen said he couldn’t have accomplished his feats without the mentorship he received from the the nurses at WSU, WSNA and those within the NSNA.

“Their guidance and leadership has taught me so much that I will continue to use throughout the rest of my career,” he said.

By Maegan Murray

RICHLAND, Wash. –  A Washington State University Tri-Cities education professor has partnered with her father, a software engineer, to develop a fun and hands-on educational tool that will allow students to virtually explore geographic areas, expand their spatial awareness skills and improve overall geoliteracy.

Students at Marcus Whitman Elementary School use PuzzleMap as a classroom resource

Students at Marcus Whitman Elementary School use PuzzleMap as a classroom resource.

National Geographic defines geoliteracy as “the ability to use geographic understanding and geographic reasoning to make far-reaching decisions.” Sarah Newcomer, assistant professor of literacy education at WSU Tri-Cities, said students use the skill in a range of academic fields, in addition to everyday life.

That is why she and her father, Fred Newcomer, created the program, PuzzleMap, which features moveable map elements with interactive clues and images to expand the user’s knowledge of any geographic area.

“With this project, we’re really looking at how this tool supports kids in developing their geographic literacy and spatial reasoning, as there are many kids who prefer to learn that way,” Sarah Newcomer said. “Not all kids may be successful with pencils and paper. It’s a different way of learning and approaching the material, as well as a different modality that they can learn through.”

From GIS to integrated classroom technology

Fred Newcomer spent a year developing the platform. He said he wanted to use his years of experience with geographic information systems in the public safety sector to help address global environmental concerns. The project quickly showed its value for elementary students, thanks to the advisement of his daughter.

A student uses PuzzleMap at Marcus Whitman Elementary School

A student uses PuzzleMap at Marcus Whitman Elementary School.

“My initial intent was to simply make something that other people might find interesting and enjoy doing,” he said. “Games like Tetris, Candy Crush and Pokemon Go have attracted many juvenile and adult players, but they don’t really offer any secondary benefit … When Sarah first saw PuzzleMap, she immediately suggested that it could be a valuable classroom tool.”

Sarah Newcomer worked with her father to create a PuzzleMap of the United States specifically for use at the elementary school level. Students use the program to complete a puzzle by placing a state in its correct spot on a blank map. The individual pieces also feature useful facts ranging from population, to climate, to key industries in each region, which the students can use as clues.

Success in the classroom

This year, Sarah Newcomer and Jonah Firestone, assistant professor of science education and assessment, partnered with two fifth-grade classes at Marcus Whitman Elementary School in Richland and a fifth-grade class at Barbara McClintock STEM Elementary School in Pasco to assess PuzzleMap’s effectiveness in the classroom.

Although data analysis is in the preliminary stages, Newcomer said an initial review of the results indicate that the program helped students retain information at a greater rate than if they hadn’t used the program – and typically by a wide margin.

“We hypothesized that the group that supplemented their regular curriculum with Puzzle map would do better, but we didn’t plan for just how well they would do,” she said. “It just goes to show that adding supplemental resources with the regular curriculum can provide a huge benefit to students.”

Excitement for learning

Most of the students participating in the study said they loved using the program. Students enjoyed exploring both states that were unfamiliar, as well as their favorite states. Other students said they enjoyed competing with themselves to improve their proficiency score.

McKenzie Munn speaks with students at Marcus Whitman Elementary School

McKenzie Munn, a fifth-grade teacher at Marcus Whitman Elementary School, speaks with a couple of her students. Her class was one of the first group to test the viability of PuzzleMap in the classroom.

“I can place all of the states on the map in 1 minute and 40 seconds,” said Divine Salazar, a fifth-grade student at Marcus Whitman. “I even got an app on my phone to study it at home, too.”

McKenzie Munn, a fifth-grade teacher at Marcus Whitman Elementary, said students were more engaged with their geographic curriculum when they completed PuzzleMap in conjunction with their given material.

“This resource is a tool that we can use to supplement everything we were already planning on teaching,” she said. “It is not a replacement and not going to change the way we do social studies, but it is just going to make it better.”

Trevor Dunstan, a technology specialist at McClintock agreed, noting the program “would be an excellent resource for working hands-on with different content areas.”

Future of PuzzleMap

Fred Newcomer said he plans to continue working with his daughter to develop more PuzzleMap content for elementary students and on adding features that will facilitate classroom use. He is currently developing a variety of PuzzleMap ideas to raise environmental awareness, promote public spaces and market regional products. The platform is also being used to highlight the complexities of legislative districting.

The program is available now for schools and other organizations to use. For more information on PuzzleMap and related technology resources, visit

By Maegan Murray, WSU Tri-Cities

RICHLAND, Wash. – Two teams at Washington State University Tri-Cities have partnered with Washington River Protection Solutions to procure and program an autonomous vehicle and develop a form of ultra high-performance concrete to help protect workers in radioactive areas at the Hanford Site and safely immobilize solid secondary wastes.

Srinivas Allena and students

Engineering professor Srinivas Allena and students work with in the concrete lab at WSU Tri-Cities.

WRPS is the U.S. Department of Energy’s Tank Operations contractor responsible for managing Hanford’s 56 million gallons of highly radioactive waste and preparing it for delivery to the Waste Treatment Plant on the site. The partnership for the projects will provide WRPS with customized technology to fit their needs, in addition to further improving the safety capabilities of its employees and environmental impact stemming from the tank farms at the Hanford Site.

Robotics to analyze radioactive vapors

WRPS provided a WSU team with an initial contract to procure and program an autonomous vehicle that would be used for measuring vapors, or chemical gases, within the tank farms.

The WSU team consists of Akram Hossain, vice chancellor for research, graduate studies and external programs; Scott Hudson, professor of electrical engineering; John Miller, associate professor of computer science; and Changki Mo, associate professor of mechanical engineering.

The team plans to purchase a pre-fabricated, compact and programmable vehicle, which has the capacity to hold 40-50 pounds of equipment. The team will then eventually outfit, customize and program the vehicle for its desired purpose within the tank farms. The vehicle must be able to follow a defined path, dock itself to charge its battery, withstand long-term use, be able to run autonomously, as well as allow manual override operations.

“This vehicle will be going into areas, minimizing personnel entries, so we need to assure that it can operate reliably and it won’t break down,” Miller said “We have to make certain that the quality is of impeccable standards and that the system can demonstrate operational longevity in these areas.”

The design of the autonomous vehicle marks the first phase of what will potentially turn into a multi-phase project. WRPS has also expressed interest in having the robot detect obstacles in a changing environment, change filters at the site and monitor radiation. Miller said those challenges will most-likely be addressed in future phases of the project.

“This is a great opportunity, both for WSU, as well as for our students,” Miller said. “It creates opportunities for undergraduate research, as well as providing funding for graduate research. It is the perfect opportunity for us.”

The team plans to have the first phase of the autonomous vehicle completed and demonstrated to WRPS in the next few months. The team will conduct demonstrations and additional phases of development over the course of the year. When fully developed, the autonomous vehicle would be deployed in tank farms to support construction and operations.

Ultra high-performance concrete to encapsulate nuclear waste

Srinivas Allena, WSU Tri-Cities associate professor of civil and environmental engineering, received a contract to develop an ultra-high performance cementitious

Cementitious material created by Srinivas Allena and his team

Cementitious material created by Srinivas Allena and his team at WSU Tri-Cities.

material to potentially be used as a grout to encapsulate solid secondary waste from the Hanford tank farms.

“WRPS is currently using a grout that they obtain from a local concrete supplier, which uses a regular cement mix with sand and some other chemical additives,” Allena said. “But the goal with our research is to use locally available materials to create a composite with low permeability, superior durability and greater stability that would perform at the same level as the commercially available pre-packaged ultra high-performance concrete.”

Allena said there is currently limited types of ultra high-performance concrete available on the market with high operational costs associated with use of the material. He said by using locally available materials and by optimizing mixture constituents with those that are more environmentally friendly with his team’s composite, however, they would be able to keep the costs low, while maintaining the same quality in the concrete and reducing the impact to the environment.

“We will be able to compare our grout materials with properties that WRPS is currently using and show the improved properties,” he said. “The goal is to provide a cheaper, more environmentally friendly option that will compete with the best product on the market.”

The team plans to have initial mixtures ready with their mechanical and durability properties evaluated by September.

The projects are a part of solving some of the world’s Grand Challenges. They pertain particularly to developing sustainable resources and smart systems by harnessing technology to improve quality of life. The projects are also in line with WSU’s Drive to 25.

By Maegan Murray

RICHLAND, Wash. – Organizations and private individuals from throughout the Columbia Basin joined together last month to support the future of regional business, but not in the traditional sense.

Ryan Leaf speaks as part of the Point to Success Brunch at Anthony's at Columbia Point in Richland

Ryan Leaf speaks as part of the Point to Success Brunch at Anthony’s at Columbia Point in Richland.

The dollars didn’t go toward supporting new up-and-coming businesses, building facade renovations, or promoting the next booming business product. Rather, the $36,695 raised at Point to Success brunch event will benefit the Washington State University Tri-Cities’ Carson College of Business. The college will use the funds to support classroom innovation, student academic services and career success activities, and faculty research.

In support of the event, Anthony’s at Columbia Point donated its entire restaurant space, a first-class meal and service for the mid-morning event that welcomed more than 100 people. Other businesses and individuals donated wine for a wine grab at the event, lavish vacation packages, rounds of golf and tours and tastings from local wineries, all of which were auctioned to benefit the Carson College.

McCurley Integrity Dealerships sponsored the appearance of Cougar football great Ryan Leaf at the brunch, who shared his inspiring story of overcoming years of drug abuse to now supporting others in the recovery process. The aspect of community, Leaf said, was crucial to his recovery.

Alaska Airlines, The Lodge at Columbia Point, Abadan, Hampton Inn Seattle Southcenter, NewEdge and Bonsai Audio also gave generously by making Leaf’s trip to the Tri-Cities and stay possible and by sponsoring the costs of the event programs, signage and sound equipment.

“The community support we have seen through the years is truly incredible, given the significant drop over the last decade of state funding that supports the University,” said Robert Harrington, director of the WSU Tri-Cities academic program. “Community support allows us to continue providing a premier education our students will use to provide first-class service in the business sector.”

It just makes sense

For Mike Tvedt, general manager of Anthony’s at Columbia Point, investing in the future of wine and hospitality business just makes sense. Investing in the

A chef cooks an entry that was served as part of the Point to Success Brunch at Anthony's at Columbia Point in Richland

A chef cooks an entry that was served as part of the Point to Success Brunch at Anthony’s at Columbia Point in Richland.

education of future business leaders, ensures students are well-prepared with premier business knowledge, research-driven business methods and a mindset for success, he said.

“The reason we got involved with the Carson College of Business was because of the hospitality program moving to WSU Tri-Cities a couple of years ago,” he said. “It goes back to the founder and owner of our company, Budd Gould, who believes it is important to give back to the community. It seemed like a natural fit that we would be involved with the program and do what we can to make it successful, because we are always in need of great hospitality employees.”

The Point to Success brunch isn’t the only way that Anthony’s has given back to a WSU Tri-Cities program, either. Anthony’s Restaurants own the next-door Budd’s Broiler, which holds the annual release party for the WSU Blended Learning wines. Through the Blended Learning program, wine science students partner with local wineries to produce premier wines. Budd’s Broiler donates the space, service and food for the event each year.

The family-owned-and-operated Anthony’s Restaurants are well-known across the Pacific Northwest for their first-class service, premier food and exceptional standards. But in order to continue that legacy, and even further improve upon their hospitality service, Tvedt said they must prepare those who will lead the business on into the future.

“We strive for five-star service and a five-star experience because that is what people expect,” Tvedt said. “We want to make sure that the future of our business is prepared and has the knowledge and know-how to meet those standards. WSU Tri-Cities is helping us meet that need.”

Impact on the community 

A Carson College Coug herself, Hamilton Cellars owner Stacie Hamilton said her WSU business education has benefited her own business success. In turn, she gives

Hamilton Cellars owners at WSU Tri-Cities Wine and Jazz event

Stacie Hamilton (right), one of the owners of Hamilton Cellars, has used her degree from the Carson of College of Business in her own business.

back to the WSU Tri-Cities business program, not only as a business owner, but also as an advisory member for the Carson College and as an adjunct faculty member at WSU Tri-Cities, because she knows the return will be tenfold for the local community.

In addition to giving monetarily to events like the Point to Success Brunch and donating Hamilton Cellars wine and products, Hamilton creates real-world learning opportunities for students at the winery.

“In addition to classroom education, WSU students require the real-world practical experience, which they get through internships, jobs in local business and generally through mentors in their business field,” she said. “They apply that combined knowledge to develop businesses of their own or grow established businesses. The reciprocity between the community and the university is special.”

Looking to the future

Harrington said the support the Carson College of Businesses has received from community

Robert Harrington (left) and Pauline Garza, a recent graduate of the Carson College of Business

Robert Harrington (left) and Pauline Garza, a recent graduate of the Carson College of Business. Garza is now the head chef at The Lodge at Columbia Point.

individuals and organizations will have an immediate and lasting impact on the future of businesses across the state.

“WSU’s business programs consistently rank among the top programs in the country, and the community support has been a crucial component,” he said. “We wouldn’t be able to do what we do without our community support.”

WSU’s hospitality business program, specifically, ranks eighth in the nation among all programs, nationwide. Harrington said the Tri-Cities-based program, being in the heart of Washington wine country, has the potential to grow immensely and be a huge treasure for the regional business community.

“We strive for excellence across the board, and it shows in our graduates,” he said. “We aim to produce the best business graduates so that our community and their businesses may benefit.”

By Jessica Roth, WSU Tri-Cities

RICHLAND, Wash. – WSU Tri-Cities recently launched an initiative to combat the growing need for food availability and improve population health and wellbeing on campus.

“For students in particular, we know that academic performance can be affected by not having enough food to eat, having poor nutrition and trying to feed a family,” said Debbie Conner, director of WSU Tri-Cities health and wellness.

In 2016, a campus financial survey revealed that 33 percent of students at WSU Tri-Cities experienced financial difficulty. Many students in the WSU Tri-Cities 2017 fall class also met high-risk factors for food insecurity, according to the survey. As a result, Conner developed the Personal Food Security and Wellness Project.

The program aims to deepen the understanding of food insecurity among students, faculty and staff and mobilize efforts to ensure the campus community is food secure. A grant from The National Consortium for Building Healthy Academic Communities will help the project get off the ground.

Through the WSU Tri-Cities project, campus personnel will conduct a food security survey, expand the existing food bank and community garden, provide campus wellness education and develop community educational partnerships to improve food security and educate about related applicable life skills. Utilization rates for the basic food bank on campus over the past two years included 350 requests for food. The project is estimated to serve more than 500 people during its first 12-month period.

Conner said food insecurity is correlated with decreased attendance, lower grades, lower test scores, lower reading skills and decreased study skills. Students who struggle with accessing food are more likely to miss school or discontinue their education entirely, she said.

“For a growing campus like WSU Tri-Cities, we really want to know about the prevalence of food insecurity and how we can improve the wellness and life skills for our campus community,” Conner said. “This project will increase the access and knowledge students have regarding healthy food consumption and will reduce their reliance on fast food.”

By Maegan Murray, WSU Tri-Cities

RICHLAND, Wash. – WSU Tri-Cities recently became the only four-year university in the Pacific Northwest to be named a highly certified institution for AVID programming.

AVID, which stands for Advancement Via Individual Determination, is a nationwide program that prepares students to succeed by providing academic and social supports, which transcend into daily life. Although traditionally held at the elementary, middle and high school levels, WSU Tri-Cities joined a collection of colleges and universities in recent years to introduce the AHE program.

WSU Tri-Cities earned the designation after meeting five essential characteristics in providing students with the supports to be successful, in addition to providing instructors with high-engagement strategies to ensure students persist, complete and are successful beyond college.

Those characteristics include:

  • Campus leadership support
  • A campus team to develop, implement and sustain the program
  • Professional development for faculty
  • Inclusion of an AVID seminar
  • Using data to inform changes and improvements to university programming

Benefits of AVID in the classroom

Kate McAteer, WSU Tri-Cities assistant vice chancellor for academic affairs, said the largest benefits of the AHE program is that it encourages students to become engaged on campus, make friends through a common course and that students learn study and other practical skills that they can use in classes across the board.

Through the program, all freshman take an AVID seminar course that encompasses an academic subject, which at WSU Tri-Cities, is Human Development 205. The course also meets the communication requirement for graduation. In that course, students have one of their first experiences working intensively in groups, they participate in service learning, learn how to use the range of campus resources and attend at least one campus event – all in addition to the regular course material.

Many students have expressed that it was one of their favorite courses since beginning at WSU Tri-Cities, mainly because it was the course where they met friends, learned practical skills to help their studies and that it helped boost their confidence for their college courses.

“Human Development 205 is responsible for my increased self esteem that I was able to use to make friends and get a rewarding on-campus job,” said Zachary Harper, student body vice president. “Without being a part of this class, my college experience would have probably been much more boring and lonely.”

Harper said one of the strategies that was most helpful in the class was learning about peoples’ conflict and work styles.

“I’ve been able to successfully apply this knowledge to all of the group projects I have been working on in class since then,” he said.

For student Riley Santo, the main benefit of the course was that it helped provide her with a successful transition from high school to college.

“It felt more like what my high school classes were like, but not in a bad way,” she said. “I enjoyed that the class had a more familial structure. You learned everyone’s name in class, we had group projects and there were lots of conversation between the professor and students, as well as between students. I also enjoyed the opportunity to express my personal beliefs with peers, and theirs to me.”

Preparing instructors with best-practice teaching methods for student success

With AVID, professors at WSU Tri-Cities are trained with best-practice teaching styles that help ensure student success.

All WSU Tri-Cities faculty have the option of attending a training that teaches these best-practice standards and styles, in addition to providing the option for professors to observe their colleagues’ teaching styles so that they may learn effective practices from one another.Judy Morrison instructs a class at WSU Tri-Cities

“It has been a huge benefit for us,” McAteer said. “You watch your colleague teach a class and you go, ‘Oh, I should do that,’ and you bring it into your own class. It also reinforces group work among the faculty. We expect the students to work as a team, so we better know how to work as a team.”

Judy Morrison, one of the leaders for the teacher preparation program, said WSU Tri-Cities’ regular teacher preparation programs are a part of the AVID Teacher Preparation Initiative, which means they use AVID strategies in some of their courses and help future teachers learn how to implement AVID strategies in their own teaching.

Morrison said they have led workshops ranging from reading, to writing, to general student engagement. This month, they will host workshops on metacognition and Socratic seminars. Morrison said the main benefit shown in students is increased understanding of their own capabilities, improved reading and writing skills, better communication and the development of organization skills.

“Having our campus be part of the AVID Teacher Preparation Initiative is very beneficial for the teacher preparation program and our students,” she said.

Katie Banks, instructor in the School of Politics, Philosophy and Public Affairs at WSU Tri-Cities, said after going through her first AVID for Higher Education Summer Institute in 2016, she revamped her teaching philosophy and the strategies she uses to convey content in the classroom.

Some of the AVID methods she has adopted include:

  • A social contract, which requires students to co-create the classroom expectations and physically sign-on to them
  • Think-Pair-Share, which requires students to think or write about a topic for a short period and then share with a partner to investigate the question or issue posed
  • Socratic seminars, which are formal discussions where students bring their open-ended questions to their peers, asking them to think critically and articulate their thoughts and responses

“These high-engagement strategies allow students to refocus – away from their notes, but also away from other distractions, like technology or zoning out – to really explore the course material a bit further,” she said. “No longer are students asked to be passive observers of my expertise as an instructor. Instead, we’re a community of learners, and we can each build from the knowledge of one another.”

By Maegan Murray, WSU Tri-Cities

Susana Butterworth

RICHLAND, Wash. – The emotionally powerful, poignant “Empty Photo Project,” created by Washington State University Tri-Cities student Susana Butterworth, that details the tragic and emotional experience of what it is like to lose a child, will be on display from Jan. 12-Feb. 8 in the WSU Tri-Cities Art Gallery.

The exhibition, which Butterworth began in a fine arts course at WSU Tri-Cities after losing her own son in utero, tells the story of 25 parents who have lost a child, and the physical and emotional impact it has had on their lives and their relationships with family, friends and even strangers. In addition to the written stories of each parent featured, each features a photo of the parent taken by Butterworth, which represents both the physical and mental hole left in the parents’ lives after the child’s passing.

The Empty Photo Project offers insights into the emotional stories of 25 parents, like Miriam, who have lost a child.
The Empty Photo Project offers insights into the emotional stories of 25 parents, like Miriam, who have lost a child.

An opening reception for the exhibition will be held 5 p.m. Friday, Jan. 12, in the WSU Tri-Cities Art Gallery.

Butterworth lost her son Walter in March 2017. Butterworth’s son suffered from a rare condition known as Trisomy 18 where the baby develops with an extra chromosome. The condition disrupts the normal pattern of development in significant ways and leads to death in approximately 50 percent of cases. Butterworth’s son passed away at 36 weeks in utero.

“After losing Walter, I was experiencing a lot of grief, but there was also this disconnection with people that I was feeling,” she said. “I wanted to explore this realm of capturing emotions that people go through, but I also wanted to make it relevant to what I was going through. Coming out of the hospital, I want to show that losing a baby is a big deal. Some people don’t realize that or know what to say.”

The Empty Photo Project has now been viewed by thousands after being featured by a variety of platforms, some of which include Babble (a parenting website operated by Disney), the Huffington Post and Pop Sugar. Butterworth said she plans to continue the project as long as there are people who want to contribute their stories to the project.

“Child loss is not going to stop,” Butterworth said. “One out of four women experience miscarriage and approximately 26,000 pregnancies result in stillbirth. I think that so often as child death happens, there is always going to be a need to talk about it. As long as people want to share their story, there is always going to be a need for this project.”

For more information on Butterworth’s project, visit or her Facebook and Instagram pages.



  • Susana Butterworth, WSU Tri-Cities student,
  • Maegan Murray, WSU Tri-Cities public relations specialist, 509-372-7333,

By Maegan Murray

During the couple of weeks that artist and urban planner Sarah Kavage was at Washington State University Tri-Cities this fall, she had quite the busy schedule.

She met with students about her life as an artist and urban planner, provided an in-depth and hands-on look at her works and presented about her efforts in improving communities by introducing art and culture.

Artist Sarah Kavage lectures to students during her residency at WSU Tri-Cities

Artist Sarah Kavage presents to students about an art project she completed in recent years involving the uses of thousands of pounds of flour she had purchased and the discussions she was able to bring about on access to food and other related areas through the project.

But in addition to what she was able to bring to the students and community of the Tri-Cities through her artistic experience, she also had the opportunity to gain some cultural knowledge of the area and explore possible future art installations as part of her own professional repertoire.

Kavage’s visit was part of the new Cultural Capital Residency Program at WSU Tri-Cities, which is the brain child of Peter Christenson, artist and WSU Tri-Cities fine arts and digital technology and culture professor.

An enhanced scholastic experience

Christenson said his goal with the residency program, which kicked off this fall, is to introduce artists and other scholars to the Tri-Cities community with the goal of expanding upon traditional learning opportunities typically held in a university setting. Through the program, scholars with backgrounds ranging from the arts, to engineering, to urban planning, to social work, temporarily live in a living learning community among WSU Tri-Cities students, which is located adjacent to campus.

At the living learning community, the scholars participate in community dinners, discussion sessions and generally interact with the students in the living learning communities. Additionally, the scholars hold open informational office hours at WSU Tri-Cities where they welcome interaction with students on campus, complete art and other creative projects with classes at WSU Tri-Cities, present guest lectures to the students and Tri-Cities community, in addition to using the experience as a means to explore and learn more about the Tri-Cities.

Visiting scholar Sarah Kavage talks to students about a recent art project she completed that involved vegetation braiding. The students then had the chance to try out the technique for themselves.

Visiting scholar Sarah Kavage talks to students about an eco-art project she completed. The students then had the chance to try out some of the techniques for the project, themselves.

“With the Cultural Capital Scholar Residency program, we wanted to enhance the educational model,” Christenson said. “We want to give exposure to a variety of research agendas and forms of scholarship. Through this program, we get to pick from an international scope of scholars. This way, students get access to a broad range of scholarship.”

Giving back, giving forward

Kavage marked the second scholar to participate in the residency program at WSU Tri-Cities. Her work centers around place, history and ecology. The first scholar was multimedia artist and communicator Laurel Terlesky, whose work examines the use of technology to communicate and build relationships.

Kavage said she had participated in residency programs prior to completing her experience at WSU Tri-Cities, but that this was the first time she had the opportunity to have in-depth interactions with university students.

“It is always wonderful to have people to pass your knowledge on to who are interested in sharing and learning about your work,” she said. “I appreciated the dialogue that we had. Some of what I did in Allison Matthews’ environmental psychology class was asking students about their perceptions of this area, given its history with Hanford. I also had the opportunity to work with students on an eco-art project. It’s been an awesome experience.”

Kavage said one of the things that drew her to the residency program at WSU Tri-Cities was the Tri-Cities’ cultural and historical ties to the Hanford Site.

“Being here and doing the tours of the B Reactor and Hanford site has given me a much better insight into this area,” she said. “There is a lot here. It is a really complex place with a lot of big history. It provides great opportunity, artistically.”

As part of the residency experience at WSU Tri-Cities, every scholar is required to submit an art piece or other works back to the university that becomes part of a collection hosted by WSU Tri-Cities. The piece can consist of something they created while they were at WSU, or it could consist of something they had created, prior. Kavage submitted some sketches about possible art installations that could one-day take shape at the Hanford site.

Diversity of scholars and benefit to students

Christenson has a selection of scholars that will participate in the residency program in the coming year. Those individuals include photographer June Tay Sanders, sculptor and multimedia artist John Henry, multimedia artist Tra Bouscaren and milliner Jean Hicks.

The variety and diversity of the artists and scholars selected for the program is important, Christenson said, as it encourages diversity of thought, opinion and sharing of ideas among WSU Tri-Cities students and overall Tri-Cities community.

“The students in our community are really diverse,” he said. “Part of a role of a university is to expose our students to a diversity of views, opinions and ideas. Bringing these folks here gives us all an opportunity to think about the world differently, projects differently and our place and community from a different paradigm.”

Student Jessica Roth said the experience of having a visiting scholar, particularly in the arts, proved to be a major benefit to her academic experience at WSU Tri-Cities. She said she enjoys the fact that the artists come to campus, from not only around the country, but from around the world, and that it adds diversity to their studies.

“This exchange of ideas and exposure to different types of successful working artists and their practice is a huge benefit to students because it helps them navigate their own career paths by exploring many creative professional options,” Roth said.

“The diversity in the resident artists, their works and the creative paths that their careers took helps to expand the artistic perspective of our students and lend insight into the endless ways an artist’s work can be culturally informed, unique and successful,” she said.

For more information on the Cultural Capital Scholar Residency Program at WSU Tri-Cities, contact Christenson at

By Maegan Murray, WSU Tri-Cities

RICHLAND, Wash. – An elementary statistics in psychology course at Washington State University Tri-Cities partnered with Grace Clinic, a free health clinic in the Tri-Cities, to assess the mental health of its diabetic patients. The clinic now plans to use the data to maintain and improve its methods in meeting patient resources and health needs.

WSU Tri-Cities students talk with Grace Clinic leadership about the resources they offer through the clinic

WSU Tri-Cities students talk with Grace Clinic leadership about the resources they offer through the clinic.

Throughout the fall semester course, the students analyzed the clinic’s diabetic patient A1C score data, which indicates the degree to which patients have their diabetes under control, and used a range of statistical assessments to determine the mental health of patients based on several potential barriers to treatment – some of which include age, race, language spoken and gender. They presented their results this month to Mark Brault, Grace Clinic’s chief executive officer, and clinic director Avonte Jackson.

The experience proved beneficial to both the clinic and the students.

“I believe that the students gained a lot of insight from this project –  into themselves, the field and their community,” said Janet Peters, clinical assistant professor of psychology and instructor of the course. “The project also gave them a very marketable skillset related to quantitative literacy, social responsibility and communication skills.”

For the Grace Clinic, the main benefit is that the data provides support for some of the patterns they had been informally observing and the leg work to accomplish the analysis of that data, Peters said.

“Larger health organizations have people to do this kind of thing,” Brault said. “We have limited resources for this kind of in-depth analysis. We plan to use this data as we move forward.”

Student findings

Through their analysis, the students found that the clinic was doing an excellent job of creating access to health care. They determined that there was no definitive statistical differences in the observed mental health of their patients based on potential barriers to treatment such as primary language spoken and race.

Grace Clinic CEO Mark Brault takes WSU Tri-Cities students on a tour of the clinic

Grace Clinic CEO Mark Brault takes WSU Tri-Cities students on a tour of the clinic.

The students did find, however, that there was a slight negative correlation between age and mental health, meaning that older patients reported slightly lower levels of mental health than younger patients, overall.

During her presentation, student Lindsay Bernesky recommended that the clinic leaders dedicate additional time to educating patients about the mental health services offered.

Impact on Grace Clinic

Both Brault and Jackson said the student presentations were informative and confirmed many of the things that their staff had suspected, but hadn’t had the time to dive into and assess.

“It is nice to have some statistical analysis to confirm many of these things,” Jackson said.

Grace Clinic CEO Mark Brault presents to WSU Tri-Cities psychology students about the clinic and the services they offer

Grace Clinic CEO Mark Brault presents to WSU Tri-Cities psychology students about the clinic and the services they offer.

She also said the clinic plans to follow up on the mental health gap for their elderly patients, and that it has already started to introduce some additional services for that population.

“One of the gaps we recently discovered is that there is limited access to mental health services for Medicare patients,” she told the students. “We recently added patients with Medicare to our mental health area,” which affirms some of the student findings.

Brault said the clinic also is adding additional safety nets and services to support patient mental health throughout their clinic. In addition to seeing a physician, a scheduled health visit might also include seeing a mental health professional.

“It was good to hear that a lot of what we’re doing is working, and that a lot of what we’re putting in place will serve the needs of our patients,” Brault said.

Real-world benefit to students

Many of the students said they enjoyed the real-world aspect of the course and that it provided a greater understanding of statistical analysis in psychology research.

“I can read through a case study and understand all of the terminology and be able to fully understand the results,” student Nagat Deng said.

“To know that we took a burden off of them and that we are giving back in that way is amazing,” student Caitlyn Carroll said.

Student Martha Herrera said she appreciated that the real-world experience was interwoven with regular course material, which allowed students to work as a team.

“Dr. Peters gave us this opportunity to do something that would be beneficial for the community,” she said. “I think it is awesome that we have that opportunity here at WSU.”