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Washington State University

Undergraduate students receive President’s Award for Leadership

By Kyla Emme

At the 2017 LEAD Ceremony, three College of Education undergraduate students received President’s awards. The WSU Center for Civic Engagement had received over 175 nominations, but only 42 undergraduate students were chosen.

Mark Figueroa
Secondary Education, History teaching – Senior

• Nominated by mentor/counselor/friend, Rafael Pruneda, who is also the guidance counselor for the Chicano/Latino Multicultural Center
• “I feel fortunate to be able to receive this award along with other outstanding students who have done a lot to impact the community and strive to make the WSU community better than how we found it when we came into it.”
• “Leadership comes in many ways, shapes and sizes. Leadership does not mean, recognition, and it is not a position. Leadership is a way of living the day to day. Being a leader does not mean you must be at the helm of an organization leading others. Being a leader on campus means having a selfless will to serve others in any way, shape or form.”

Kelsey Jones
Sport Management & Journalism and Media Production – Junior

• Nominated by Murrow College advisor, Amber Denman
• “I think it is enough to just see the growth in those I have had the pleasure of working with, but I was extremely humbled and appreciative of those who took the time to recognize me.”
• “I would say that the best way to be a leader is to listen. As a leader, it is rarely your job to be the loudest in the room. Instead, you should be lifting those around you up, making sure they are heard and can grow.”

Alyssa Griffin
Kinesiology, Pre-Occupational Therapy – Junior

• Self-nominated
• “I am very grateful to have received a President’s Award for leadership. This award will stay with me in my heart to remind me and encourage me to keep pushing forward and motivating fellow students to be the best they can be.”
• “If you want to be a leader on campus, I would say you gotta start somewhere! Even if you just join a club as a member, or volunteer somewhere, or apply for an entry level job, there is always a ladder to climb up in the process of becoming a leader. Bottom line is, take a step out and talk to people and ask what they’re involved in and how they got to be in their position; find an activity that interests you, invest in it, and take chances while you watch yourself grow and inspire others!”

Grad student honored by the Canadian Bureau for International Education

By Kyla Emme

We’ve all gotten that participation trophy at the end of the season, or that certificate of appreciation at the end of a grueling project.

But then you have WSU graduate student Faraj Aljarih, snagging a spot as an honorable mention for the CBIE Libyan Student Excellence Award. With 2016 being the inaugural year of the annual award, the nominees set a high bar. There are around 2,500 Libyan students with the CBIE in the U.S. and Canada, there were only 200 applications accepted, and then it was narrowed down to 6 winners. These winners included medical doctors, avid volunteers, and intense researchers – all of them making contributions to their campuses, industries and communities here in the U.S./Canada and back in Libya.

Faraj was self-nominated for the award, but his idea to do so only came after some encouragement from WSU Professor, Dr. Joy Egbert. Both she and Dr. Sara Chang wrote letters of recommendation for Faraj, all the while being a solid support system for him throughout his on-going work on his Master’s thesis. His Master’s research is looking into the relationships between inclusion of culture and learner engagement in language tasks. His hopes are that his research paper will get published in a well-known academic journal in the field of teaching and learning, and that he will be able to present his research in several conferences. He graduates this spring semester, so you may end up seeing him at a conference near you soon.

But receiving this award and eventually getting published are just stepping stones for Faraj as he sees a much bigger purpose for doing all this work.

“I hope I can give more to the society. As an international student from Libya in the United States, I have a big responsibility. I have a responsibility toward my society back home in Libya as I am sponsored by the people’s money to study abroad.” Faraj said. “Also, I have a responsibility toward the society here as I was nicely welcomed and given the opportunity to accomplish my life goals. So whatever I do for the society, whether here or back home, will be small. Giving back to society is a pledge that I will do all that I can to keep.”

WSU alumni are teacher of the year finalists

By Kyla Emme

Two WSU education alumni have been chosen as regional finalists for the 2017 Washington Teacher of the Year Award. Jose Corona, a third grade teacher at Kirkwood Elementary School, completed the WSU teacher prep program in 1995. He was the regional finalist for ESD 105. Kendra Yamamoto, a preschool teacher at Martin Luther King Elementary School and teacher mentor for Vancouver Public Schools, completed her ESL endorsement at WSU Vancouver. She was the ESD 112 regional finalist.

This year, eight regional finalists had been chosen for this award, but only one has received the honorary distinction of “Teacher of the Year.” This honoree will now represent Washington as its nominee for the National Teacher of the Year Award.

All regional finalists have gotten the opportunity to share their teaching stories with legislators and educational leaders. They also have been provided with the opportunity to go around the state and share their expertise with the community and up-and-coming teachers. There are cash awards and other prizes given for their achievements also.

Kendra received a “full-ride” scholarship for her endorsement that stemmed from a grant of WSU Vancouver’s Dr. Gisela Ernst-Slavit. “TEAMS is a 1.3 million funded program by the US DOE,” Ernst-Slavit explained, “it’s designed to prepare practicing teachers and school administrators to work with ELLs in Southwest Washington.”

Since graduating from WSU, Jose has spent his 20 years of teaching at Kirkwood Elementary School. This school was no random choice, though, as he grew up in Toppenish and felt the need to go back.