When you hear about the WSU Alumni Association, you might think of fun events and crowds of spirited Cougs. For students and recent grads, the WSUAA can also be a source of help in making the transition from college into the “real world.” By taking advantage of their membership in the WSUAA, students and new grads can participate in networking events with successful alumni, seek career opportunities (after all, Cougs love to hire fellow Cougs), and connect with Association chapters around the country as they plan their next steps. We find the stories of some of our recent graduates inspiring. We hope you will, too.

For Lisa Heard ’13, “the WSUAA provided me with lifelong friends and a network.” As a student, she knew she wanted to move to New York City to pursue her dreams. “During my senior year, I attended a WSUAA barbeque and was introduced to the WSUAA NYC Chapter president. I had no friends or family in New York and this first connection was one of the best things that could’ve happened to me. A few months later, I went to NYC, and the Big Apple Cougars were there to welcome me. They set up a happy hour for me to meet other WSU alumni in the city. The people I met at that happy hour were my first and now closest friends in New York.”

Other recently-graduated members of the WSUAA have had similar experiences. Preston Smith ’12 says he uses his membership for fun, discounts, and networking. He said “Many of the friendships I made after I graduated were fellow Cougs I met during WSUAA football viewing parties.” Baiba Murray ’12 also capitalized on networking and career opportunities. “As a student, the WSUAA gave me resources to feel connected after I left campus, like how to find my local chapter, and how to stay involved with WSU.”

Ashley Vu ’16 has the unique perspective of being both an alumna and student. A WSUAA Leadership Scholarship recipient and two-time Student Alumni Ambassadors president during her undergrad years, she is currently working on her doctoral degree in mechanical engineering (under Coug extraordinaire Susmita Bose, no less) and later plans to apply to the WSU College of Medicine. It’s safe to say that Ashley is the definition of a Cougar over-achiever. So what does the Alumni Association mean to her? “The WSUAA helps students to learn how to network and build their career with alumni, prepping them for life post-graduation. I feel like the WSUAA is working to assist the broadest cross-section of Cougs—students, alumni, and even future Cougs! That means a lot to me.”

In Lisa’s words, “I am proud to be a Coug and grateful for the help I have received from other alumni.” To learn more about a WSUAA chapter near you and the membership programs offered by the WSUAA, go to alumni.wsu.edu.