Every time a vehicle passes by with crimson WSU license plates, Philip Behrend and Kayla Leinweber can say, “Thanks.”

Leinweber and Behrend are two recipients of scholarships funded by the Cougar license plate program, each receiving $3,000 towards their education. Due to the success of the program, that amount will increase to $5,000 next year. Each person who gets a plate for their car, truck, or motorcycle contributes $28 to the scholarship fund.

And that’s a lot of vehicles. Over 19,500 plates are on the road in Washington state—more than twice the number of University of Washington license plates, more than all other university license plates combined, and even more than the Seahawks plates. The number of WSU plates increased almost 7 percent from 2013 to 2014, raising more than $500,000 in scholarship funds.

Behrend, a math and Spanish major from Newport, says he’s honored to benefit from all those plates. The 20-year-old junior says receiving the Alumni Association Leadership Scholarship Award was very motivating. “When people invest in you, it gives you more of a sense of personal responsibility,” says Behrend.

He plans to go into waste management operations, where he can apply his statistical and mathematics education. Behrend honed his Spanish with study abroad in Monterey, Mexico, and also worked in Guatemala during his spring break this year with a group that provides cleft lip and palate surgeries. He plays piano at a local nursing home, does CrossFit workouts, and participates in environmental and business case competitions.

“I’m really thankful to have WSU community support,” says Behrend. “Coming from the small town of Newport, I thought it would a tough transition. You don’t get lost in the shuffle here.”

Leinweber agrees that the scholarship is a good motivator. The junior math education major from Walla Walla, who also studies Spanish, says the financial assistance helps offset the costs of going to WSU, even though she also works as a tutor for student athletes.

“I worked hard through high school to get here,” she says. “I have five younger siblings, so it helps my parents, and I can focus on school without having to worry about a certain number of hours of work. It really relieves the stress and opens opportunities for the rest of my family.”

Leinweber wants to be a middle school math teacher. In addition to her coursework, she is active with her Alpha Delta Pi sorority, her church, and in the student affiliate of the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics. She also went on a mission trip to El Salvador during her spring break.

If you would like to get a WSU license plate and help students like Behrend and Leinweber, see the Department of Licensing website, dol.wa.gov, visit a DOL office, or contact the Alumni Association.

For those of you with Cougar license plates, we’d love to have you post a photo on the Alumni Association Facebook page at facebook.com/WSUAA.

For more information about WSUAA and alumni chapters go to alumni.wsu.edu or call 1-800-258-6978.