leadership Tag

By Maegan Murray

After a successful first year, Washington State University Tri-Cities will grow its offerings for professional development training, expanding to offer opportunities for individuals state-wide in leadership, project management, executive communication, professional engineering and more.

Instructor Semi Bird leads leadership class at WSU Tri-Cities

Semi Bird, senior instructor for WSU Tri-Cities’ professional development and community education, leads a leadership course at WSU Tri-Cities. The program is now expanding its course offerings to be open to individuals and companies state- and nation-wide after a successful first year.

“We started out with our Leadership in the 21st Century course last September, and the feedback from our professional students was so significant and so overwhelmingly positive that it inspired us to broaden our course delivery,” said Semi Bird, associate director and senior instructor for WSU Tri-Cities’ professional development and community engagement.

Bird said unlike many traditional leadership and professional development courses, the trainings offered through WSU Tri-Cities are all in-person and incorporate real-world experiences. The curriculum is based in individual participant experiences in the workplace and delivers dynamic discussion and role-play on how to handle difficult conversations and other situations. Participants also develop a common bond through shared personal experiences in the work place, all of which are broken down and discussed in the trainings.

“Students leave understanding that they are not alone and they leave better prepared with tools to grow their productivity and satisfaction in the workplace,” Bird said. “We’ve seen people return time and again for our different courses because they’re getting something out of the experience that they can use immediately in their work environment and role within their organization.”

Renowned leader teaching the courses

Bird is a demonstrated leader. His previous professional experience ranges from his leadership in the U.S. Army Special Forces as a Green Beret, where he earned the Bronze Star for Valor and the Purple Heart for wounds received in combat, to his role as the senior advisor to the United States ambassador of Bangladesh, to his proven track record of success as an entrepreneur in private business.

Bird said he was inspired to enter into the sector of professional development because he wanted to share his career knowledge as a leader with others so that they can grow and thrive within their respective organization. The return, he said, is that the individual’s employer wins, because their employees not only have the skills to be successful, but also the skills to better interact with their fellow employees.

Instructor Semi Bird talks with participants in a leadership course at WSU Tri-Cities

Semi Bird, senior instructor for WSU Tri-Cities’ professional development and community education, presents during a leadership course at WSU Tri-Cities.

Becky Chamberlain, WSU Tri-Cities director of continuing education, said Bird has a gift as an instructor and mentor.

“He teaches from experiences and delivers his curriculum with great passion,” she said. “I have been told by so many of our students that our Leadership Academy training is the best training they have experienced. Our students always take away calls to action using the skills and tools they received in our workshop.”

One student from CH2M stated that their favorite part of the training was “the open, free dialogue and trainer’s enthusiasm for the subject matter.” Another student from Mission Support Alliance said, “The dialogue with Semi and the other participants was invaluable. This allowed for a conversation, as opposed to a presentation format.”

Diversity in thought

Bird said students in the courses come from a wide-variety of industries where they gain from one another’s similar and dissimilar experiences, all within the same session.

“We are training employees of federal agencies, law enforcement agencies, banks, contractors, engineers, scientists and project managers,” he said. “This allows us to have highly-impactful discussions and engagement across disciplines.”

Participants in a leadership course at WSU Tri-Cities

Students in a WSU Tri-Cities leadership course present their strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats (SWOT analysis) at the end of their experience. Participants come from a range of positions, experience levels and organizations to participate in the courses.

The WSU Tri-Cities courses are offered to individuals from all experience levels, from entry-level employees to executives. Throughout the last year, WSU Tri-Cities grew its program to offer a variety of courses geared toward maximizing employee success, growing team efficiency and effectiveness, leadership preparation for aspiring leaders, as well as maximizing leadership dexterity for executive management.

WSU Tri-Cities has partnered and contracted with a range of regional and national corporations, some of which include the U.S. Department of Energy, Washington River Protection Solutions, regional Native American tribes, Mission Support Alliance, CH2M, Gesa Credit Union, the Tri-City Regional Chamber of Commerce and Gear Up.

Expanding leadership training to meet state and national needs

This year, with the influx in courses offered, WSU Tri-Cities also aims to expand its offerings to individuals and organizations across the state and nation.

“Our training is real,” Bird said. “You can learn what you want in a book, but this is practical, tested, real-world training that has a proven track record for success within any organization.”

“You come through one of our courses and you go back to your workplace and see real results,” Bird said. “Right now, the feedback we’re getting from our students, who are leaders, themselves, is that they want to put their employees through the same or similar trainings. We are answering that call and need in our community and we want to grow the program to meet the need across the state and beyond.”

For more information on the courses offered through WSU Tri-Cities’ professional development and community education program and to sign up for a course, visit https://tricities.wsu.edu/pdce/ or contact the office at pdce@tricity.wsu.edu or 509-372-7174.

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.

By Maegan Murray

Ryan Wagstaff struggled to find his path in high school.

He felt ahead of his fellow classmates mentally and intellectually and was ready for an academic experience that was more challenging.

“I wanted to get more involved and wanted more opportunities to network and meet new people,” he said.

30569074280_af920d22e2_zAs a high school sophomore, one of his friends mentioned running start as an option. Shortly after, he found out about the program at Washington State University Tri-Cities, which welcomes high school juniors and seniors to take university courses at no cost.

“I found it put me at ease,” he said. “It has been a really good fit for me. I’ve gotten a lot more involved, I’ve taken on leadership roles and I’ve put my best foot forward as a future professional.”

Wagstaff, now a high school senior and in his second year of the running start program at WSU Tri-Cities, is well on his way of pursuing a degree in psychology. He takes on a full course-load while working as the student manager of the campus’ Hospitality Café, in addition to leading up other developments around campus.

Wagstaff and classmates Yesenia Alcaraz and Madison Stredwick founded the Queer and Allies Club, which provides resources and support for those who associate with and support the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community. He is also a member of the psychology club on campus, which provides resources for students based in psychological methods, as well as networking connections and resources for students studying psychology. Additionally, Wagstaff has spoken as part of several student panels for various events, as well as serving as one of the speakers for the running start program’s one-year anniversary at WSU Tri-Cities last year.

“It has been a great platform to really develop myself as a professional,” he said. “Being a running start student, at first you have this perception that people will treat you differently as a high school student, but no one really knows that. I’ve had a really great experience with the program.”

Wagstaff said the professors take the time to get to know their students and provide every resource they can for ensuring students are successful and that they have every opportunity to develop their leadership potential.27240104466_401d9c4bb3_z

“The people here are like my number one thing,” he said. “The professors are all kind and accepting people. Working at the café, I have the flexibility and affordability to interact with my classmates and professors here on campus while on the job. I also get to go to all these cool events, meet new people and generally grow as a person in a mature environment.”

Wagstaff said the program, however, has rigorous standards that interested students must take into account. He said the program is geared towards students who are college-ready, with the academic and social skills to keep up with the rigorous college lifestyle.

“It’s a step up from regular high school classes, for sure,” he said. “I recommend it for students who are diligent, prepared and are performing at least a 3.5 grade-point average in high school.”

Looking toward the future, Wagstaff said he has already applied to WSU Tri-Cities as a possible choice for the remainder of his bachelor’s degree. His ultimate goal, he said, is to become a psychiatrist so that he can help a wide variety of people through medicine.