community service Tag

RICHLAND, Wash. – Washington State University Tri-Cities will honor 13 individuals as part of its first women of distinction class during a gallery exhibition opening and reception at 5:30 p.m. on April 13 in the entrance to the East Building on campus.

The program recognizes WSU Tri-Cities female students, staff, faculty, alumnae and community members who have made notable contributions to the campus and community through service, teaching or involvement.

“This is a way to honor our female leaders within the WSU Tri-Cities community who have gone above and beyond to improve access to educational opportunities, driven momentous initiatives within their respective professions and have given generously of their free time in dedication to service and volunteerism,” said Chris Meiers, vice chancellor for enrollment management and student services.

Those being honored as WSU Tri-Cities’ 2017 Women of Distinction include:

  • Amber Eubanks – WSU Tri-Cities community engagement specialist
  • Anna King – news correspondent for the Northwest News Network and Northwest Public Radio
  • Cindy Bruckner-Lea – project manager at the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory
  • Dana Parmenter – WSU Tri-Cities junior in digital technology and culture
  • Elizabeth Hernandez-Osorio – WSU Tri-Cities master’s student in educational leadership
  • Jana Kay Lunstad – WSU Tri-Cities academic affairs coordinator
  • Katherine Banks – WSU Tri-Cities instructor of political science in the School of Politics, Philosophy and Public Affairs
  • Kay Olson – WSU Tri-Cities clinical nursing instructor
  • Lisa Godwin – executive director of Tri-County Partners Habitat for Humanity
  • Lura Powell – chair of the WSU Board of Regents
  • Michele Acker-Hocevar – WSU Tri-Cities interim vice chancellor of academic affairs
  • Selene Torres-Medrano – WSU Tri-Cities senior in biological sciences
  • Shawnta DiFalco – commanding officer in the Washington National Guard and secondary school administrator

Photos of the Women of Distinction and their biographies will be on display in the hallway nearest The Bookie, WSU Tri-Cities’ student bookstore, through May 12.

For more information, visit https://tricities.wsu.edu/wsu-tri-cities-women-of-distinction-program.

PULLMAN, Wash.—Washington State University will introduce five recipients of this year’s Martin Luther King, Jr. Distinguished Service Award at a ceremony in the CUB Senior Ballroom at 6:30 p.m. on Jan. 26.

The award is given out each year to individuals or groups within the  Washington State University community who have demonstrated altruism, community service, efforts to advance diversity, and an educational commitment to inclusion.

Recipients this year are Computer Science Professor Behrooz Shirazi, Academic Success and Career Center Assistant Director Sharon Ericsson, WSU Tri-Cities graduate student Brent Ellis, the WSU Crimson Group, and Family Promise of the Palouse.

Shirazi

Shirazi

Since arriving at WSU in 2005, Shirazi has been instrumental in building a diverse, world-class faculty in the School of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science (EECS), one of WSU’s most rapidly growing areas. The Huie-Rogers chair professor stepped down in December 2016 as the director of EECS to lead the School’s new Community Health Analytics Initiative (CHAI). His many accomplishments include helping EECS’s Power Engineering Program become recognized as one of the top three programs in the world. He provided leadership for the development of a new software engineering program and the creation of new graduate degree programs to better meet industry needs. In his department, he is known for his outstanding leadership, mentoring, and for taking special interest in his faculty, staff and students. Nominator Barbara Lyon, an EECS fiscal specialist, said he has fostered an environment in which diverse people thrive and feel highly valued. “He has gained the respect of his colleagues and peers for his exemplary character, integrity, as well as his honesty and ethical stance,” she said.

Ericsson

Ericsson

Through Ericsson’s work with College Success Foundation students and Passport Scholars, she advanced diversity in powerful ways by making WSU a welcoming place for students traditionally excluded from higher education. She specializes in helping first generation, low-income, and foster care students, often serving as one of their initial contacts when they arrive on campus. Nominator Karen Weathermon, director of First-Year Programs, has observed the difference Ericsson’s hands-on mentoring makes in the success of these students. “They graduate from WSU despite some very significant personal challenges,” she said. “It’s a testimony to Sharon’s unwavering and active encouragement, connecting them to resources and mentors, and encouraging them to see their potential in new ways.”

Ellis

Ellis

After violence forced him to flee his home country of Burma and spending years in a refugee camp in Thailand, Ma Thu Sha La has been building a new life in Tri-Cities, Wash. Since 2011 he had been living in a cramped apartment with his wife and three children. Thanks to Ellis and Habitat for Humanity, his family now has a home they can call their own. Ellis served as project leader for the construction of the home, otherwise known as “Coug House”.  His group of WSU faculty, staff and alumni collectively donated over 1,250 hours to the project.

Crimson Group

Crimson Group provides a peer network for its members and promotes higher education to undocumented communities on and off campus. It hosted the inaugural UndocuQueer Conference in the fall and reaches out to hundreds of undocumented high school students across the state.

Family Promise of the Palouse

Family Promise of the Palouse’s motto is “ending homelessness on the Palouse, one family at a time”. By coordinating the resources of 27 congregations of various faiths, they provide temporary housing, meals, transportation and daycare for those in need. Since it was established two-and-a-half years ago, it has assisted 34 families.

The awards will be presented during the 30th Annual MLK Community Celebration, a free event open to the public. Charlene Carruthers, a community organizer, writer, and advocate for social justice and feminism, will give the keynote address. To learn more about Carruthers and all WSU events planned in recognition of Martin Luther King, Jr.’s birthday, visit mlk.wsu.edu.

Contact:

Maria de Jesus Dixon, WSU Culture and Heritage Houses Manager, 509-338-9209, mdj.dixon@wsu.edu

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.”

ashlee-iverson
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.