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Education

Winter 2006

Vicki Owens: Into Africa

Twenty-one years ago Vicki Owens stepped off an airplane into the hot air of Kampala, Uganda, thinking she had come for a brief stay, just long enough to help Christian missionary pastors start a primary school.

“I thought I’d do my little thing for humanity and then go home,” she says. It was her first time traveling overseas, and she really had no idea of what she would face in this country in the center of Africa.

Owens, who admits she was naïve to the culture, dangers, and challenges of living in a place like Uganda, had arrived two months after one military coup and … » More …

Summer 2003

The Great Conversation

As diverse as the state, each of Washington State University’s 10 learning centers has its own character, determined both by location and by the personality of its staff. But they share a common mission—to provide opportunity throughout the state to all place-bound adults who desire further education. The learning centers combine “high tech” delivery methods and “high touch” service of the resident staffs, to provide opportunity that would not otherwise be available. Last fall, North Olympic Peninsula Learning Center coordinator Robert Force presented this evocative paean to the experience to Provost Robert Bates and other visiting administrators.

One Saturday evening I was wearing my Washington … » More …

Summer 2006

Learning what it is to do science

A few years ago, Tom Dickinson lifted the lid from his grande americano and started wondering about the water droplets that clung to its underside. Why were they that size? Why did some merge into bigger drops surrounded by little drops?

Coming from someone else, such questions might indicate that the asker has too much time on his hands. Coming from Dickinson, they launch serious research-and new careers.

Dickinson has an international reputation in the physics of surfaces and optics, and a lab that every summer brims with undergraduates doing research projects. In fact, his resume wouldn’t show nearly the breadth it does without his … » More …

Winter 2001

Arts for all

“WOULDN’T you like to write music for someone famous like NSYNC?” a Clarkston High School student asked Greg Yasinitsky.

Tough crowd.

But Yasinitsky, a Washington State University music professor and jazz studies coordinator and a nationally recognized composer, arranger, and saxophonist, can handle it.

“We’re in the only field where we have to compete with dead people for jobs. In jazz, everyone can buy a John Coltrane CD. Why buy yours?” he says.

Yasinitsky reflected on the first of his three years as composer-in-residence at Clarkston High (CHS), sponsored by the Commission Project of New York. He received the project’s inaugural Washington state residency in … » More …

Winter 2002

Mystery of the Martian mummies

One of the last places you would expect to find teenage girls in the middle of July is a science classroom. But for Rachel Milhem, Romany Redman, and nine others, the Washington State University Spokane CityLab Young Women’s Summer Science Camp laboratory was one of the hottest places to be last summer.

“I wanted to participate in this camp, because I really like science, and I thought it would be fun to analyze stuff, like maybe whether or not aliens exist,” says Rachel Milhem, a sixth-grader at All-Saints Catholic School.

Rachel, along with 10 other young girls, decided to spend some of her summer engaging … » More …

Winter 2004

No longer a pipe dream

Dave Van Curen graduated from Kelso High School and followed his father to Longview Fibre Co. in 1965.

“In Kelso, during that time, everybody’s father worked in a mill,” says Van Curen, who spent most of his years at the paper plant as a pipe fitter. “When you grow up in a community where everybody works in a mill, you don’t become aware of the other possibilities.”

Now, at an age when many coworkers are gliding toward retirement, he is keenly aware of other possibilities. This year, he earned his bachelor’s degree in public affairs at Washington State University Vancouver, quit his job before earning … » More …

Fall 2009

Video: Garfield-Palouse students building PAL

A time-lapse video of Garfield-Palouse High School students, with support from Washington State University, building an award-winning lift to heft farmers with disabilities into combines.

“Sean Neal is good at math, but one bit of geometry he can’t master involves moving ten feet up and two feet over. The wheelchair-bound teen isn’t able to climb into a combine to help harvest his family’s wheat fields.

While Neal’s dad was carrying him up a ladder and helping him into the operator’s seat, his math teacher at Garfield-Palouse High School was pondering ways to nudge students toward careers in which they could use their number-crunching skills. … » More …