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Alumni

Spring 2009

Cougar Memory

An essential part of being a Cougar (as well as being human) seems to be the need to tell one’s story of one’s youth and experiences here at Washington State University.

To make it easier to do so and to share it with your fellow Cougs, we have introduced a new feature on our website called Our Story.

Together, the 140,000 or so living alumni of WSU have an extraordinary collective story to tell, not necessarily of the comings and goings of presidents and professors, of scientific breakthroughs and other major news, but of the day-to-day life on campus, of one’s fellow students, of … » More …

Winter 2008

Joey Nelson – What he saw

In the rough-hewn world at Columbia Vista Corp.’s lumber mill near Vancouver, the sight of Joseph “Joey” Nelson ’00 pushing spectacles into place might invoke visions of Clark Kent there among the conveyor belts and screeching saws.

But if the workers around him knew that it’s Nelson’s laser-scanning equipment–technology he started developing as a high school kid–enabling their mill to convert raw logs into perfect lumber within seconds, they’d recognize a technological Superman in their midst.
Nelson founded his company, JoeScan, from his dorm room in Washington State University’s Streit Hall in 1999, the year before earning his bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering.

A … » More …

Winter 2008

Carol Edgemon Hipperson – Writing History

When Carol Edgemon Hipperson was growing up in Coulee City, the eastern Washington community was too small for a library. However, every other Thursday during the summer, the Bookmobile from the North Central Regional Library pulled into town. “I was allowed to check out as many books as I could carry,” says Hipperson ’75. “I’d go straight home and curl up with my books until dinner time.”

The idea that one day books with her name on the spine would appear on library shelves and in book stores didn’t occur to her. “I never intended to become a writer,” she says. “I just wanted to … » More …

Winter 2008

What I’ve Learned Since College: An interview with Sonny Spearman

Sonny Spearman ’86 has traded technology for toys. As co-founder and chief marketing and operating officer of Matter Group, she leads a company focused on creating products to foster awareness of the environment.

Spearman started her career in technology and media, riding the wave of the Seattle-based tech boom in the late 1980s and early 1990s. She’d still be in the tech sector if she and company co-founder Amy Tucker hadn’t decided develop a business focused on sustainability.

Their first product, which was released in 2006, is Xeko, an award-winning eco-adventure game for children eight and older. With a force of “secret agents” intent on … » More …

Winter 2008

Letters for Winter 2008

Coming home

I am one of the lucky. After years of looking out onto a sea of suburban rooftops, my husband and I have been gifted the opportunity of returning to Cougar Country with our three boys and now watch nature at work as the seasons change the fields of the Palouse from winter gray to roborant green to an elegant and rich gold that glistens as it dances to the tempo set by the winds.

The winds and colors change and so do I. In this return to Pullman, I am learning to appreciate a saying I heard many times from my mother’s deeply … » More …

Winter 2008

L’Américain en Provence

A story about an expatriate—and about his wine. Provence is a world away from Bellevue, where Denis Gayte '97 grew up. And French winemaking is another world away from the public relations career he abandoned. So there he was, with his French heritage and a newly minted "young French winemaker" degree—but still referred to (and always affectionately) as l'Américain. » More ...
Summer 2006

A course of one's own, or The Coffee-Can Country Club

If I’ve never seen a prettier golf course, I suppose it’s because I built it myself, and because I was eleven.

It was 1966, and in my Salem, Oregon, neighborhood, I was that most exotic of hothouse flowers: a golfer. I loved playing baseball. I loved football, too, at least the passing and catching, if not the hitting and hurting. But I regarded myself as a golfer. Golf was uncanny, old, impossible, beautiful, soul snatching. I knew these things already. In a neighborhood of robust, rowdy, baseball and football-loving brawlers, I was, at best, a curiosity.

The field behind my house, all 290 yards of … » More …

Spring 2008

Clarence A. (Bud) Ryan: A scientist who catalyzed excellence

Clarence A. (Bud) Ryan, one of WSU’s preeminent scientists, died suddenly of a brain aneurysm in October. Ryan pioneered the study of the innate immune response of plants. Prior to his work, plants were assumed to contain protease inhibitors all the time, as a deterrent to being eaten. Ryan discovered instead that plants make the inhibitors in response to an attack. He further showed that an attack on one part of a plant sets off chemical signals that spur production of inhibitors throughout the entire plant. Besides his scientific renown, Ryan was well known around campus for his graciousness—-and his ability on the … » More …

Spring 2008

Kathleen Sayce: Keeping a heritage alive

Wielding loppers, Kathleen Sayce cuts through brambles smothering a parcel in the heart of historic and otherwise tidy Oysterville on southwest Washington’s Willapa Bay.

Between a leaning red alder and a mangled Sitka spruce, Sayce (’78 M.S. Bot.) opens a narrow trail through native bittersweet, salmonberry, and red elderberry plants. With verve, she hacks invasive ivy and blackberry vines. In the center of the thicket she unveils shredded food wrappers, perhaps the plunder of black bears living on Long Beach Peninsula.

The science officer at ShoreBank Pacific, Sayce—-sporting a sheen of perspiration and bug repellant—-is no buttoned-down banker. She is the only working biologist or … » More …

Spring 2008

What I've learned since college: An interview with Johnnetta B. Cole-anthropologist, author, activist

Johnnetta B. Cole launched her career as an educator and activist at Washington State University in 1964. While in Pullman, she taught anthropology, helped found the Black Studies Program, and served as the program’s first director. In 1970 she was named Outstanding Faculty Member of the Year. After leaving Pullman, she held a number of teaching and administrative positions at several East Coast schools. In 1987 she became the first African American woman to be president of Spelman College, the country’s oldest college for African American women. In 1992 Cole landed in the national spotlight as a cluster coordinator on President-Elect Bill Clinton’s transition team … » More …