At the beginning of the 2016-17 school year, four students became Cougar Connectors – ambassadors for the WSU Health Sciences campus. As Cougar Connectors, Haley Bodeau, Lauren Mueller, Kenna Uddenberg and Megan Strom act as an important face of WSU Spokane.
When high school students visit campus, it may be the first time they’ve ever thought about college. Cougar Connectors are there to answer questions, share their own stories and help the students understand their path to college.
“I love to help people find their home at WSU,” Mueller said. “I found it and we all found it. It’s fun to show prospective students the programs we have and see their eyes light up and figure out this is where they want to go.”
Mueller, from Victorville, Calif., found her way to WSU in Pullman before beginning her graduate studies in the Health Policy and Administration program.
Strom, a first-generation college student, has learned how much higher education can mean. She uses her own experience to inspire others to pursue a college degree.
“I see high school kids who don’t have families that went to college either and I think, ‘You can go! You can do this and I’m going to tell you how!’,” she said. “It makes me passionate when I talk to high school students.”
Strom is also the director of the Student Entertainment Board. She uses her experience in that role to promote the inter-professional opportunities on campus.
“You get to collaborate and work with all programs on campus, whether it’s volunteering or going to inter-professional events,” she said.
The inter-professional aspect of campus is a big selling point to campus visitors.
“We like to interact with other programs because that’s how it’s going to be out in the workforce,” Mueller said. “It’s great to establish those relationships early on and not have biased opinions on other programs or professionals.”
Uddenberg likes to highlight the support students receive both on campus and in the community. She said health professionals at hospitals and clinics in the community are excited when a WSU student joins for a clinical rotation or volunteer work.
The support is also evident on campus.
“I like to showcase how much the instructors and professors are interested in our lives and in our success,” Uddenberg said. “This is a very personalized campus and the relationship building is an important part of that.”
All of the Cougar Connectors said they’ve learned a lot about themselves. They all have a passion for higher education and are ready to use the experiences they’ve had as Cougar Connectors in the working world.
“I think this job gives me the confidence that I can go out into my career and interact with different groups of people,” Uddenberg said. “As Cougar Connectors, we interact with students, teachers and community members. We meet students our age and younger, so it’s helping me build my confidence in interacting with other people.”
2016-2017 Cougar Connectors
Program: Speech and Hearing Sciences
Hometown: Wilbur, WA
Program: Health Policy and Administration
Hometown: Victorville, CA
Hometown: Gig Harbor, WA
Hometown: Clatskanie, OR