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Social work

Winter 2009

Florence Wager ’54—Vancouver park activist without par

Florence Wager bought a set of golf clubs when she wrapped up her career in arts and education.

“I had this preconceived notion about retirement,” says Wager, 81, who earned a bachelor’s degrees at WSU in speech in 1950 and education in 1954 and spent most of her career boosting the San Francisco Symphony. “I thought you played golf, played bridge, went to tea parties.”

Then, after moving back to her native Vancouver in 1990, she volunteered for the Chinook Trail Association. Then she volunteered for the YWCA. Then the parks and recreation department. Then the Fort Vancouver Regional Library District. She joined boards and … » More …

Winter 2006

Barbara Novak: Business as ministry

After Barbara Novak ’72 received an M.A. in bassoon performance from Southern Illinois University, she became second bassoonist in the Spokane Symphony. “I really got a chance to play everything from the great second bassoon parts to the great contra bassoon solos. I had a great time . . . . I think that the training I got in the orchestra here [Washington State University] was superb. It probably was the catalyst that . . . launched me into performing as a career.”

Novak’s life was changed, though, by the tragic death of her son, Steve, in a mine exploration accident.

“When my son died, … » More …

Spring 2003

Working toward a common goal

Maybe I can’t save the world. But I can try to make a difference somewhere. But how?

I researched several volunteer organizations, but most of them required a three-month to two-year commitment, which was not possible for me. After weeks of extensive research, I found Cross Cultural Solutions, a non-profit organization that places volunteers in different countries to gain new understanding through sharing ideas and working together toward a common goal. They offer programs from three weeks to six months in duration for those who want to help but can’t afford to take a lot of time away from their jobs.

My assignment was to … » More …

Winter 2001

South African experience important to WSU alumna

“It is hoped that in Africa, as in the U.S., the process will speed the move from poverty and unemployment to steady jobs.” —Liz Peterson

May and early June 2001 found alumna Elizabeth C. “Liz” Peterson teaching “dependable strengths articulation” skills (DSA) in Johannesburg, South Africa. No, she wasn’t conducting workshops for physical therapists eager to accumulate continuing education units. Rather, she and her five-member team were teaching individuals to identify and help each other explore the things they feel they have done well, are proud of, and also enjoy doing.

Their reasons for doing so go to the heart of South Africa’s recent … » More …

Spring 2009

Hunger for justice

On November 5, an overflow crowd in the CUB Senior Ballroom heard some hard truths about the global food crisis. Dr. Vandana Shiva, founder of several organizations that promote agricultural diversification in India, described how corporate/government practices that are billed as beneficial to farmers, such as patenting seed and outlawing local varieties of crops, have driven rural people off the land and caused massive food shortages in more than 40 countries.

Shiva laid out her case in warm, often humorous, tones that didn’t entirely mask her anger at what she has witnessed.

“If you want to get me really engaged,” she said, “tell me a … » More …

Winter 2008

An Afghanistan success story

The people of Laghman province in eastern Afghanistan suffered through a severe drought from 1997 through 2001. On top of years of conflict, the drought took an enormous toll on its people. Farmers sold off their cattle as the drought worsened, unable to grow forage or grain to feed them. Then they sold the sheep, then the goats.

Without adequate irrigation, fruit and nut trees withered and died.
By the time the drought eased, Laghman province farmers had lost 70 percent of their livestock. Milk and cheese had traditionally been a major source of protein, and cows served as draft animals as well as … » More …

Winter 2008

Living free from addiction

When an alumnus like Bus Hollingbery ’44, a former Cougar linebacker and son of football coaching legend “Babe” Hollingbery, comes to the university with a good idea, the university listens.

A few years ago, Hollingbery, a recovering alcoholic, was thinking about how difficult it can be to start recovery. His own grandson, Will, had just taken a leave of absence from WSU to sort out his life and get clean. For a kid like Will, returning to campus and falling back in with his old friends and routines could be a problem, he thought. So while here for a football game one weekend, Bus wondered … » More …