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Mentors make a difference


Mentors make a difference

Friends, confidants, guides – no matter what you call them, mentors make a big difference for first-year WSU students. A 2014 Gallup poll cited mentors as one of the biggest factors in student success.
The Multicultural Student Mentor Program serves a crucial role in helping hundreds of new students acclimate to campus life, keep their goals in focus, and find valuable resources.
Get to know some of the Multicultural Student Mentors, and get more information at

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Hear from Lesley & Kim

McCaslin finds her A Game

Anne McCaslin sat in her post-tonal theory class two years ago, and her mind began to drift. She had trouble concentrating in her vocal pedagogy class. Study sessions were often unproductive, and she became frustrated, even mad, with herself.

The college finish line was in view, but things were getting cloudy.

McCaslin excelled in school to that point, but as her academics became more rigorous, she struggled to keep up. She eventually failed the two courses. McCaslin doubled her efforts the next semester, but still felt like something was off. She consulted with professor Sheila Converse and McCaslin agreed to get tested for attention deficit disorder. When she found out she had ADD, it explained a lot, and McCaslin began to arm herself with tools to compensate and complement her learning style.

That’s where The A Game came in handy. Converse had assigned the book, which lays out “Nine Steps to Better Grades,” and McCaslin studied up on concept mapping, a technique discussed in the book that helps many students visualize and organize ideas.McCaslin_1816

“Concept maps were something that was really effective for me in utilizing the way my brain works because I have ADD,” McCaslin says. “Utilizing that high rate of connectivity to make concepts more integrated into the knowledge I already had was so helpful.”

McCaslin turned her F’s into A’s. She will be student-teaching this fall and graduating in December with degrees in music education and psychology. McCaslin plans to pass on the tips and techniques in The A Game. She’ll have plenty of opportunities as a teacher.

“I didn’t read the book until my junior year – I really wish I had gotten these techniques earlier,” she says. “I got to the point where I was academically deficient one semester. I got tested for ADD, and the next semester I got the highest GPA I had ever gotten. I didn’t really use the resources available to me until I found out I had ADD. I think reading the book and getting some of those techniques were definitely a step in my turning point.”

Converse uses The A Game in her courses and even with experienced students, she finds that it makes a difference when students are able to apply the tips and techniques.

“I’m a huge fan of The A Game,” Converse says. “I gave it to all my students in my vocal pedagogy class because they’re all going to be teachers, and I told them, ‘This is all the stuff that I’m going to say to you, but also what you should say to your (future) students.’ For some students, concept mapping is like magic. And that’s what it was like for Anne.”

McCaslin is excited to teach students of her own. She hopes to teach overseas after graduation, and eventually in low-income areas where she can truly make a difference for young students. She’s overcome obstacles and has a lot of valuable advice to pass on. What would she tell a nervous freshman about starting at WSU?

“Introduce yourself to your professors early on,” McCaslin says. “It’s not weird. You think it’s going to be weird, but it’s not. I’ve taken professors out to coffee, just to get to know them and it’s incredible what that foot in the door will do. Get a tutor. Use the unit overviews for your class and see where you can find information other than the textbook. Especially if you have a hard time reading, which has been my biggest problem, find another way to get the information. Our brains tend to store information better when it’s presented in a variety of ways.”

Shedding light on mental health

Shedding light on mental health

Morgan Slack _4134
Morgan Slack is one of many students at WSU working to remove the stigma around mental health issues.

The conversations are difficult. The subject matter is often taboo.

But there are a growing number of WSU students determined to bring mental health issues into the light.

“Anxiety and depression are growing problems and we can’t get rid of them,” says Morgan Slack, a WSU senior. “We’ve had a 30 percent increase in freshmen students coming in with mental health issues and sometimes they’re embarrassed to go see someone for help. We want to help mediate a bridge between WSU staff, school and students.”

Slack gained insights on the subject, and the stigma surrounding it, over the summer. She interned for Washington state representative Tina Orwall, and helped set up the implementation of House Bill 1138, which Gov. Jay Inslee signed into law earlier this year. The bill calls for the creation of a task force on mental health and suicide prevention in higher education, and the development of further resources for suicide prevention.

One of the most important messages students can hear is: there are people who care.

“There are a lot of people feeling helpless and hopeless and they may not know that resources are available,” Slack says. “WSU is a great place, and I want to help people here any way I can.”

She’s not the only one. James Whitbread is another WSU student turning his experience into action. When his mother was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s last year, Whitbread set out to help others, and start conversations about mental illness on campus.

Whitbread led the first meeting of the National Alliance on Mental Illness on Campus at WSU last month and encourages students to join the group and make a difference.

“One in four students will deal with depression at some point, so this is in no way a small group of people,” Whitbread says. “It’s OK to talk about depression, it helps. Even if you’re not the one suffering, it will only benefit you by being more aware of those around you.”

James Whitbread, center, founded the NAMI Group on Campus at WSU earlier this year. The group is working to raise awareness of mental health issues, remove the stigma around mental illness and prevent suicide and self-harm.
James Whitbread, center, founded the NAMI Group on Campus at WSU earlier this year. The group is working to raise awareness of mental health issues, remove the stigma around mental illness and prevent suicide and self-harm.

The WSU campus offers numerous resources for students, and those concerned for their peers. The Office of Counseling and Psychological Services offers Individual and group counseling, psychological testing, drug and alcohol services, self-help, and 24/7 crisis counseling. Students have many options to get help, or help others.

Victoria Braun joined the WSU Health and Wellness Services team earlier this year as the Emotional Health Coordinator. She is the advisor for the NAMI student group, leads mental health first-aid courses, and works to raise awareness of mental health issues, and the resources available on campus.

“A lot of what we’re trying to do is ‘myth-busting,’” Braun says. “We want this to be a safe place for those impacted by mental illness—a place we can have open conversations about it.”

Looking at the statistics on mental health can be overwhelming. But Braun says we are making progress as a society, and as a University. There are many reasons to be optimistic.

“The biggest reason to be hopeful is there are so many people out there who care,” Braun says. “I think we are experiencing a culture change. People are talking about mental health, and they’re able to identify symptoms, even in themselves, and there are communities of support.”

Market at Global Scholars Hall: Inspiring healthy eating

Market at Global Scholars Hall: Inspiring healthy eating

Washington State University students are often the ones providing fresh, new and innovative perspectives, but this time, the Market at Global Scholars Hall is taking the lead. Incorporating locally grown products alongside numerous organic and natural food choices, the Market is elevating the standard for college cuisine.

Dining Services wanted the Market to inspire healthy eating while providing specialty food items not found anywhere else on campus. With diverse, ethnic food options from across the globe, the Market is bringing together unique perspectives through culinary convenience.

“Global Scholars Hall reaches a broad spectrum of students here on campus,” says Gary Coyle, Director of Dining Services. “It is important to bring ethnic foods to the Market to have a better reach to campus as a whole; to go beyond what you would find at a grocery store.”

The Market is elevating college dining and catering to numerous dietary needs. Even the peanut butter and jelly section, a much needed staple for the average college student, is layered with many different organic, substitute items. Eating healthy has never looked so good.

For those with special dietary restrictions, the Market is committed to providing items that fit the needs of all students. There are gluten-free and vegan options, as well as supplemental ingredients for those with allergens to specific foods.

“Students are different today than they were 10, 20 or even 30 years ago,” says Don Brabb, General Manager of Dining Services. “There is a lot more knowledge out there about what should and should not be eaten, and students have grown up knowing what items are good for them and nutritious for them.”

The Market is committed to providing items that contribute to both a healthy lifestyle and to sustainability. Many of the produce items found on the shelves are locally sourced and some products even come from WSU alumni. When purchasing from the Market, shoppers are investing in the Pacific Northwest, and in some cases even the Cougar spirit.

“The Market provides local and organic options that fulfill our sustainability commitment,” Coyle says. “We share in the responsibility and work with local farmers and local businesses to help source our platforms.”

With a salad bar, self-serve frozen yogurt and an Einstein Bros. Bagels shop in the same retail space, there are countless reasons to incorporate the Market into your eating routine. Whether shoppers are walking through the aisles of the Market, or taking a break in the lounge, they are surrounded with scenes from Pike Place Market and of historical downtown Paris on market day. There’s a sense the walls are talking, inspiring students to create decadent meals, experience new tastes and to branch out from their daily eating routines.

The Market is open Monday through Friday, 7:30 a.m. to 1 a.m., and Saturday and Sunday, 10:30 a.m. to 1 a.m.

Matthew Tradewell, Administrative Services Marketing

Manage Stress for Success

Manage Stress for Success

Student schedules are hectic. With tests this week, a group project due the next, all while juggling five papers, community service and social activities, it’s easy to get overwhelmed. Luckily at WSU, there are many resources to help students stay on track and reach their academic goals.

Stress is unavoidable in college. However, it is manageable. When students are stressed, performance drops, creativity crumbles and regular day to day tasks can become daunting. » More …

Q and A with ASWSU President Adam Crouch

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Q and A with ASWSU President Adam Crouch


Meet Adam Crouch, a senior working on a double-major in Marketing and Management. Rather than graduate last spring, Crouch opted for a fifth year at WSU and took on the ultimate multi-tasking job of ASWSU President on May 9.

In the following interview, he talks about how he got involved with ASWSU, his top priorities for the year, and how you can, and should, get involved.

» More …

Summer Advantage shows students the Cougar way

Summer Advantage shows students the Cougar way


If there is an advantage to be found, Jessica Fernandez is likely to jump on it.

So when the ambitious sophomore from Vancouver saw a brochure for Summer Advantage during orientation last year, it was a no-brainer.

Fernandez now works for Summer Advantage, the program that played a major role in transforming her from nervous high school grad to confident, college freshman. » More …

Frost warms up to WSU

Frost warms up to WSU


As Jordan Frost drove through the rolling wheat fields outside of Pullman, five hours from the familiar suburban sprawl of King County, the questions began running through his head:

“Where am I?” JordanFrostBlogPic

“Are we sure there’s a college out here?”

“Will I make any friends?”

“How am I going to fit in?”

Like most first-year college students, Frost encountered doubt. He was overwhelmed by the unknown and lacked the confidence he carried throughout high school.

“I was freaking out,” he says.

Two years later, Frost is a leader on campus and a high-achieving student. He’s spending a big chunk of his summer in Pullman, helping other students get acquainted with the campus that he now considers his second home. The transition from freaked-out freshman to sterling sophomore wasn’t without its hurdles. But by utilizing the many resources on campus and learning from his mistakes, Frost found his place. » More …