RICHLAND, Wash. – Washington State University Tri-Cities announced today that it has earned the 2017 Military Friendly School designation from Victory Media, publisher of G.I. Jobs, STEM Jobs and Military Spouse.

First published in 2009, Military Friendly Schools is the most comprehensive resource for veterans selecting a college, university or trade school to receive education and training to pursue a civilian career. WSU Tri-Cities will be showcased along with other schools in the annual Guide to Military Friendly Schools, special education issues of G.I. Jobs and Military Spouse magazines and at

NMilitary Friendly School 2017_designationine percent veteran students

Of WSU Tri-Cities’ student population of approximately 1,800, nine percent are veterans.

“We feel a great sense of pride both educating and providing a welcoming university atmosphere for our veteran students returning to civilian life,” said Nancy Roe, WSU Tri-Cities coordinator of veterans affairs.

“I don’t think there is a school that is more accepting and more supportive of its veterans,” said Manny Bonilla, WSU Tri-Cities computer science student and member of the U.S. Air Force reserves. “I love this school and it has been one of the best decisions I’ve ever made.”

Criteria, ratings methods

Institutions earning the Military Friendly School designation were evaluated using both public data sources and responses from Victory Media’s proprietary survey. More than 1,600 schools participated in the 2017 survey and 1,160 were awarded the designation.

Ratings methodology, criteria and weightings were determined by Victory Media with input from the Military Friendly Advisory Council of independent leaders in the higher education and military recruitment community. Final ratings were determined by combining the institution’s survey scores with the assessment of the institution’s ability to meet thresholds for student retention, graduation, job placement, loan repayment, persistence and loan default rates for all students and, specifically, for student veterans.

For more information about WSU Tri-Cities’ commitment to attracting and supporting military students, visit

For Emmanuel “Manny” Bonilla, Veterans Day holds a special significance.

The son of undocumented immigrant parents, and formerly an undocumented individual himself, he joined the United States Air Force at 27 as a means to improve life for himself and his family.

manny-bonilla-3“I signed up at 27 for two reasons: one, I was an illegal immigrant and I wanted to get citizenship, and one of my other dreams was to use it as a way to finish college,” he said.

The military would help him accomplish both. Bonilla is now a U.S. citizen. He is also currently pursuing his dream major of computer science at Washington State University Tri-Cities. Now, he and his fellow veterans at WSU Tri-Cities are giving back to the veteran community through a tribute at the university, as well as a drive that will send donated items to military members overseas.

The WSU Tri-Cities Veterans Center held a ribbon event his week, where campus and community members were invited to write the name of loved ones that served in the military on a ribbon, which were then hung and displayed throughout the week on the Hero Tree near the entrance to the East Building on campus. The group is also holding a package drive where they are taking donations of toiletries, food items, games and miscellaneous items that will be packed and sent to active duty servicemen overseas as part of Operation Thank You.

“The purpose of Veterans Day is to honor all of our past and current soldiers, airmen, sailors and other current and 30727073692_48a5985c50_zformer members of our branches,” he said. “One of the things we are trying to do is show respect to all of our servicemen who are currently out there right now or who have already served. We noticed a lot of students came out, grandparents who served, friends of people who are currently out there right now. It means a lot for us to honor them.”

Bonilla said the university holds veteran students in high regard, and truly supports its students’ transition back to civilian life by preparing them for the next stages in their career.

“I don’t think there is a school that is more accepting and more supportive of its veterans,” he said. “I love this school and it has been one of the best decisions I’ve ever made.”

Bonilla’s story

Bonilla enlisted in the U.S. Air Force more than five years ago and served in two tours overseas at seven months each: one in Oman and one in the United Arab Emirates.

“The fun parts were honor guard, I got to see the world and I also got to meet lots of outstanding individuals in the military,” he said.

manny-bonilla-2The tours overseas and training regimens that kept him away from his family throughout the years, however, were what made him consider a career change. Growing up in the Tri-Cities, Bonilla said he always saw WSU Tri-Cities as a natural fit, especially for veterans. He also feels comfortable serving in the U.S. Air Force Reserves while working on a full-course load at WSU Tri-Cities because of the support system in place.

“It is like hitting the brakes in a car going 60 miles an hour,” he said of transitioning from military life to civilian life. “It is a complete shock. A lot of us have a lot of problems with that. You are so used to structure. Every day, you know what you’re going to do. You wake up early every morning. Once I got to school at WSU, it really helped with the transition.”

Bonilla said the university, from the teachers to the administration, are always willing to work with his schedule in the reserves and make accommodations for his classwork.manny-bonilla

“They are always willing to work with me, especially when I have to go the Air Force base for training and other requirements for the reserves,” he said. “Some topics are hard to talk about for us veterans and they understand.”

“TRIO student support services at WSU Tri-Cities was also a crucial tool for me,” he said. “From the tutoring to the individual support they provide, they were so valuable. It’s been a great environment for veterans.”

Looking toward the future

Bonilla said he reaps the benefits of the challenging coursework at WSU Tri-Cities with industry connections, especially in his specific degree field of computer science.

“I have been a geek since I was born,” he said with a laugh. “I’ve always liked computers and electronics. So that was naturally what I saw myself drawn to as a future career option.”30727074532_4c8be159ee_z

Bonilla said growing up with all of his family members working in the field, they didn’t have money to purchase new electronics, so he learned to fix broken pieces of equipment for his and his family’s use. He said he feels privileged to now turn his past into a forward-thinking career at a university with so many industry connections.

“My computer science courses here at WSU are definitely hands-on,” he said. “Our professors here work with all of their students to start slowly and then we build on what we learn through each course and each lesson. That certainly doesn’t mean it is easy, but I like the challenge. That coursework then applies directly into internships, which are held in plenty in the Tri-Cities.”

Bonilla is working to secure a computer science internship at the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory. After graduation, he said he would love to eventually work for Microsoft as a computer programmer.

“That’s the dream,” he said. “I feel honored that I got the chance to serve my country and had the privilege of putting on the uniform and completing some of the things that my brothers and I did. Now, I’m lucky enough to pursue a different dream. Some of our friends didn’t make it, that is all the more reason why what I am doing is so important. I have to take advantage of these opportunities because some of my brothers don’t have that luxury.”

WSU Tri-Cities holds the designation of “Veteran Supportive Campus.” The designation is declared by the Washington State Department of Veteran Affairs based on the university’s ability to meet individual veteran needs, its supply of potential benefits for veterans and its assistance in helping veterans obtain internal and external benefits and care.

For more information on resources available to veterans or to see how you can donate for the Operation Thank You drive at WSU Tri-Cities, visit or contact the WSU Tri-Cities Veterans Center at 509-372-7364.

RICHLAND, Wash. – The Nov. 8 vote is over, but Tri-Cities community members can still exercise their civic duty by volunteering during Washington State University Tri-Cities’ first service week Nov. 12-19.

“This is the first time we’ve had a whole week connected directly to student and community volunteerism,” said Amber Eubanks, WSU Tri-Cities community engagement specialist.

25708496054_74c79da380_zAs part of the effort, she said, donations of nonperishable food for the WSU Tri-Cities Cougar Cupboard and Second Harvest will be accepted through Friday, Nov. 18, in in East 228. Donations also are welcome through Tuesday, Nov. 15, of gently used cotton shirts, towels and clean socks that will be recycled into toys for shelter dogs and cats.

“This is an excellent opportunity for us to join forces with community members to make a difference for local programs that have a direct impact in the Tri-Cities and across Washington,” she said. “We have something for everyone throughout the week.”

The week is hosted by WSU Tri-Cities’ Cougs in the Community and the Associated Students of WSU Tri-Cities. Service opportunities include:

Saturday, Nov. 12

  • 9 a.m.-noon, Bateman Island trash cleanup at Wye Park, Richland, organized by the WSU Tri-Cities Environmental Club. Bring gloves, snacks and a reusable water bottle. Bags and buckets will be provided by the city.

Monday, Nov. 14

  • 11 a.m.-1 p.m., Operation Thank You card writing to military members serving overseas, WSU Tri-Cities West Atrium.
  • 3-5 p.m., Operation Thank You package sorting for military members serving overseas, 1004 Long St., Richland.

Tuesday, Nov. 15

  • 8 a.m.-noon, Operation Thank You package sorting, 1004 Long St., Richland.
  • 11 a.m.-1 p.m., Toys for Pups fabric toymaking for shelter animals, WSU Tri-Cities East 228.

Wednesday, Nov. 16

  • Noon-2 p.m., make children’s sensory toys for the Autism Society of Washington, WSU Tri-Cities 244.

Thursday, Nov. 17

  • 9 a.m.-5 p.m., walk dogs and play with cats at TC Animal Shelter, 1312 S. 18th Ave., Pasco. Bring closed-toe shoes and a photo ID. The shelter has collars and leashes but feel free to bring your own.
  • 9 a.m.-5 p.m., stop by the West Building entrance during Giving Day to learn how you can donate to WSU entities. WSU Tri-Cities has a campus goal of 100 donations.

Friday, Nov. 18

  • Noon-2 p.m., Thanksgiving feast for students, faculty and staff with donation of at least one nonperishable food item, WSU Tri-Cities West Atrium.
  • 7-9 p.m., free ice skating and collection for winter clothing drive, Toyota Ice Rink, Kennewick. Clothes will go to Skyline Adventures Outreach for youth programs. Recommended donations include: gloves, socks (must be new) and jackets in good condition.

Saturday, Nov. 19

  • 10 a.m.-1 p.m., Turkey Drive to help Second Harvest distribute turkeys, the TRAC, Pasco.  Sign up in East 228 before the event and wear warm clothing.


By Kaury Balcom, Wine Science Center

RICHLAND, Wash. – A free talk about using sensors and digital mapping to track vineyard health will be offered 4:15-5:15 p.m. Wednesday, Nov. 9, at the Ste. Michelle Wine Estates Washington State University Wine Science Center, 359 University Dr., Richland.

To register, visit or call 509-372-7224. For more information, contact Kaury Balcom, 509-372-7223 or, or Michelle Moyer, 509-786-9234 or

Terry Bates, director of the Cornell Lake Erie Research and Extension Lab, will discuss using sensors in the vineyard to gather measurements of soil, crop and canopy conditions. These can be used to identify weaknesses and enhance the ability to predict crop size, yield and quality across an entire vineyard.

Bates is a national leader in juice grape research and extension. His efforts focus on understanding how the environment affects vine productivity and how to adapt practices in the vineyard to improve farm efficiency and profitability.

The free event is part of the Ravenholt Lecture Series, which brings grape industry professionals to WSU to share their research and professional perspective. The series is made possible through an endowment from the Albert R. Ravenholt Foundation.


News media contacts:
Michelle Moyer, WSU viticulture extension, 509-786-9234,
Kaury Balcom, WSU viticulture and enology, 509-572-5540,

PULLMAN, Wash. – Twenty-five Washington State University students at Pullman, Tri-Cities and Vancouver have received $1,000 awards for 2016-17 from the Office of Undergraduate Research for scholarly and creative projects.

Results of research by students and faculty mentors will be displayed at the annual Showcase for Undergraduate Research and Creative Activities (SURCA) in March.

Students seeking undergraduate research awards for fall 2017 can apply on the Office of Undergraduate Research website until Feb. 1. For more information 28126684276_17f9a34439_zabout undergraduate research, visit

“Supporting undergraduates in their research aligns with our land-grant university’s key emphases,” said Shelley Pressley, director of the office. “We are fortunate to have generous alumni and friends whose gifts have enhanced the academic experience of hundreds of students.”

The Scott and Linda Carson Undergraduate Research Endowed Excellence Fund was established by these alumni in 2013. The Auvil Scholars Fellowship began in 2006 with a gift from the estates of Grady and Lillie Auvil, Wenatchee tree-fruit entrepreneurs.

Carson Fellows for 2016-17
Holly Lane, organic agriculture systems and agricultural biotechnology major, mentored by Michael Neff
Brett Merritt, mechanical engineering at WSU Vancouver, Hua Tan

Auvil Fellows for 2016-17
Madison Armstrong, a biology major mentored by Mark Dybdahl
Sierra Bishop, chemistry and material science engineering, Cliff Berkman
Andrew Cannon, physics, Jeffrey McMahon
Grace Carrell, microbiology, Alan Goodman

Zachary Croft, physics, Jeffery McMahon
Casandra Evans, mechanical engineering, Jacob Leachman
Joseph Hall, bioengineering, David Lin
Zachary Howard, genetics and cell biology, Alan Goodman

Ashley Huynh, biology and Spanish, Omar Cornejo
Brennan Hyden, agricultural biotechnology, Amit Dhingra
Estifanos Kassa, microbiology, Rey Carabeo
Elizabeth Magill, zoology, William Snyder

Marina Martin, biochemistry pre-medicine, Alan Goodman
Jonathan Moore, materials science and engineering, Michael Kessler
Lysandra Perez, psychology, Monica Johnson
Elizabeth Rice-Reynolds, genetics and cell biology, Michael Griswold

Mia Ryckman, biology, Carrie Cuttler
Seth Schneider, genetics and cell biology, Anthony Nicola
Allegra Sundstrom, biology, Joanna Kelley
Mitchel Wagner, biological sciences, Jim Cooper

James Whitbread, mathematics, Shiv Karunakaran
Essence White, zoology pre-veterinary medicine, Erica Crespi
Heather Young, animal sciences and Spanish, Amber Adams-Progar

RICHLAND, Wash. – When Ashlee Iverson went fishing with her dad recently on a remote stretch of the Yakima River, the last thing they expected was company. They were surprised to find a homeless man named Brett living by the river.

“He was friendly and well-mannered but living pretty far away from civilization,” said Iverson, a Washington State University nursing student. “We were at least 10 miles upriver from West Richland. That is a long walk to town.”

Nursing student Ashlee Iverson at WSU Tri-Cities.

She and her father found that Brett had lost a good job before becoming homeless. She immediately felt a desire to assist him.

“As a nursing student, we learn empathy and altruism. I couldn’t just walk away without helping,” Iverson said.

She and her father provided Brett with a warm jacket, sleeping bag, cleaning and hygiene supplies and more. She mentioned his needs to her nursing class and the students were happy to help.

“I’m so proud of my classmates,” Iverson said. “The students at the nursing school took up a collection of clothing, food and supplies for Brett.”

She and her father check on Brett every few days.

“He mostly stays in West Richland,” she said. “We’ve talked to him about going to the mission in Pasco, but he is uncomfortable with that right now. We can tell he has had a hard time and we want to support his well-being and safety.

“I try to keep in mind that one kind gesture done for someone else can make a huge difference in their life, whether it’s a simple smile to show you care or offering someone something they need at that time,” she said.

RICHLAND, Wash. – Washington State University Tri-Cities recently received a $25 million seven-year GEAR UP grant to prepare students in low-income schools to enter and succeed in post-secondary education.

The Gaining Early Awareness and Readiness for Undergraduate Programs project will hire close to 100 new employees to work with students in middle schools.

This is the seventh U.S. Department of Education GEAR UP grant received by WSU Tri-Cities since 2002. Earlier awards have helped the university serve more than 25,000 students in middle and high schools.

Low-income, rural partnerships

The grant goals are to improve academic performance, completion of rigorous courses, knowledge of financial aid and post-secondary education, on-time graduation and post-secondary enrollment.

The grant “will raise student awareness and readiness for post-secondary education and career opportunities,” said Chuck Hallsted, GEAR UP director. “It will really make a difference in our communities, especially for first generation and underrepresented populations.”

The program serves 4,500 students in 10 partner districts: Walla Walla, College Place, Dayton, Prescott, Touchet, Kennewick, Othello, Warden, Moses Lake and Soap Lake.

New staff will provide individual guidance

WSU Tri-Cities GEAR UP staff will assist students beginning in the sixth and seventh grades in the districts’ 14 middle schools. Staff will follow the students through high school and into their first year of post-secondary education, which includes four-year colleges, community colleges and vocational technology schools.

Staff will serve students via in-class tutoring, mentoring, college trips, career exploration, after school programs, summer programs, technology, skill development for success and professional development for teachers.

Staff will work collaboratively with school district partners to ensure an effective team approach, Hallsted said.

Elinor Lake and her family have always been environmentally conscious. From ensuring their appliances were energy efficient to making the effort to turn off the lights every time they left the room, she and her family knew that even small actions could make an impact.

But when Lake started as a student at Washington State University Tri-Cities, pursuing undergraduate degrees in biology and humanities, she took her efforts to the next level, hoping to promote a culture of sustainability through campus initiatives and community projects.

26583192595_093debdaa0_zLake’s efforts began shortly after she attended a luncheon with CH2M. The organization had provided Lake with funds for a research project through the WSU Tri-Cities Chancellor’s Summer Scholars program where she studied professional women in academia and highlighted the traits, qualities and academic contributions that made them successful. Lake presented her research during a meeting with company executives and attended the luncheon thereafter.

“During the luncheon, I asked representatives from CH2M if their company recycled and I discovered they had an impressive sustainability program,” Lake said. “All of their events are zero-waste. They made a corporate commitment to be as environmentally-friendly as they could.”

Lake said she didn’t think anything would come of that initial discussion, but CH2M communications specialist Lynn Tegeler and Director of Public Relations Dee Millikin contacted Ken Fincher, WSU Tri-Cities assistant vice chancellor of advancement and engagement, voicing they would support Lake’s sustainability efforts in any way they could.

“Dr. Fincher came to me and that was right when I was getting involved with WSU Tri-Cities’ environmental club,” Lake said. “We now had the corporate support, in addition to the administrative support, which was when everything really started to come together.”

Creating new opportunities

Backed by campus administration, community organizations and under the mentorship of Environmental Club advisor Gretchen Graber, Lake and her fellow environmental club members created a number of opportunities for the campus and regional community to get involved in sustainability efforts.

This past school year, the club organized two separate cleanup days at Bateman Island in Richland, Washington, in partnership with organizations such as the city of Richland, the Tapteal Greenway Association and several others. The two events attracted more than 120 volunteers who collected a combined 50 large bags of trash – half, of which was recycled.26097670065_b2ecbf8057_z

“The Bateman Island events were actually far more successful than I had anticipated,” Lake said. “It was inspiring and encouraging to see just how many people, both from WSU Tri-Cities and the general Tri-Cities community, were interested in cleaning up one of our local recreation areas.”

The club also organized their first Earth Day celebration last school year where they welcomed panel members from all over the mid-Columbia region. The event featured food from Ethos Trattoria, which uses sustainable materials, and the club handed out promotional items that define what people can do in their own homes and in the community to reduce, reuse and recycle.

“It’s a great way to publicize not only how people can start recycling more on campus, but also how they can take matters into their own home,” she said.

Lake said Graber was instrumental in the club’s success as she provided the knowledge, community connections and experience that served as a backbone to the group’s efforts.

“Working with Gretchen Graber in the club over the past year and a half has undoubtedly been one of the greatest learning experiences of my time at WSU Tri-Cities,” she said. “Gretchen contributed tremendous efforts toward the club and was invaluable with regard to my growth as a leader and as an aspiring change agent. She connected the club with key community partners. She deserves so much credit.”

Partnering with campus community

Lake recently turned her attention toward working with the campus maintenance and facility teams to publicize recycling and other sustainable practices on campus, with the hope of adding to the positive momentum the university has taken within the last several years to reduce waste.

20235317054_da00575ce3_zCarrie Ann Andersen, assistant director of campus facilities and operations, said she had her team make a conscious effort to reduce waste and improve upon the safety standards for cleaning materials on campus. Andersen said she and her team have added several recycling containers on campus, encouraged individuals to have their own paper recycling bins in their offices, as well as adding a few glass recycling containers on campus for the first time this year.

Anderson and her team also switched to environmentally-friendly cleaning products, which reduces the amount of contaminants that are released out into the environment.

“We have cut down the amount of waste and trash sent to the landfill by 50 percent in the last four years,” she said. “We used to have trash pick up on Monday, Wednesday and Friday. Now, our trash pick up is on Monday and Friday.”

Anderson said Lake has been a huge help in spreading word of their efforts and educating individuals on how they, too, can take sustainability into their own hands.

“With Elinor, her biggest help is that she is out there, she is talking to people, she is educating them,” she said. “We’re creating a culture of recycling and a culture of sustainability. It’s not only helping the planet. It is good business. Everyone wins.”

Art of nearly very variation will be featured during Washington State University Tri-Cities’ Night with the Arts from 5 p.m. – 8 p.m. Oct. 28 on campus.

Those attending will enjoy the Chancellor’s Art Exhibition Series, the WSU Tri-Cities student art exhibit, a community exhibit and live performances.

“It is a great way for the mid-Columbia Basin community to enjoy a wonderful evening of visual art and performances on the beautiful WSU Tri-Cities campus,” said Amber Eubanks, WSU Tri-Cities community engagement specialist.

Some of the live entertainment includes performances from the Urban Poets Society, an interactive installation for the Peace Mural that WSU Tri-Cities staff and local students created, a live-painter and musical artists.

The WSU Alumni Association will have a booth where people of all ages may paint pumpkins. Recreations of classic novel covers will be on display as part of a touring collection hosted by Mid-Columbia Libraries. The Allied Arts will also have booth to discuss their efforts in the area and how people can get involved.

The event is free and open to the general public.

For more information, visit

Washington State University Tri-Cities invites the public to explore the university’s programs, facilities and more during its fall open house from 10 a.m. – 1 p.m. on Oct. 22.

Throughout the day, prospective students and their families will meet with staff as they explore student life, find answers to their college questions, learn how to apply for admission, how to pay for college, as well as how they can get involved on campus before and after they become students. Information will be available for students of all levels, from prospective freshmen to transfer students, to prospective running start students.

A resource fair detailing academic and student life information, student clubs and club athletics and recreation will run from 12:20 p.m. – 1 p.m. Tours will take place at designated times throughout the day.

“Our open house presents an excellent opportunity for prospective students to get a feel of the WSU Tri-Cities campus and learn more about the college admissions process,” admissions counselor Gaby Corona said. “It’s going to be a fun day of exploration.”

Those interested in attending the open house should RSVP at For more information, contact the WSU Tri-Cities office of admissions at 509-372-7250.



Gaby Corona, WSU Tri-Cities office of campus admissions, 509-372-7221,

Jeffrey Dennison, WSU Tri-Cities director of marketing and communciations, 509-372-7319,