Amplifier Program Helped ‘Push Me out of My Comfort Zone’
By Becky Kramer
Alex Stuart arrived at WSU looking for ways to get the most out of his college experience. The Carson Career Amplifier Program became his ticket to exploring opportunities in the Carson College of Business as well as a $3,000 scholarship.
Stuart received the scholarship for attending more than 80 extracurricular activities last year through the Amplifier Program, which encourages students take part in career-building activities early in their college years.
“In high school, I wish I had been more involved,” says Stuart, a South Seattle resident with a double major in accounting and management information systems. “So coming to college, I was like, ‘I’m going to put myself out there and get involved in as many areas as I can.’”
Stuart earned points for attending Amplifier workshops on topics such as résumé writing, Linkedin profiles, and interviewing skills. He also started developing a professional network by attending meetings of Beta Alpha Psi, an accounting fraternity.
As a first-year student, Stuart was required to earn a minimum of 50 Amplifier points. But he blew past that threshold, accruing a whopping 1,045 points.
“Alex is a naturally driven human being,” says Michelle Chapman, the Carson Center’s assistant director for student engagement and scholarship. He came to WSU as a sophomore, having already earned a year’s worth of college credits through Advanced Placement classes in high school.
Beginning early in the semester, Stuart showed up for many of the Amplifier events. “Then we announced the Amplifier scholarships, which were awarded to the top point earner on each WSU campus, and he went nuts,” Chapman says.
“I did,” says Stuart, chuckling. “When I found out there was a scholarship, I knew I had to go for it.”
After class, he’d hustle back to his dorm room in Pullman and change into “business casual” shirt and slacks for Amplifier events. “You’re going to another one of those meetings tonight?” his roommate would ask.
“Yeah,” replied Stuart, who sometimes didn’t get back to his dorm until 9 p.m.
“I found it to be really fun—the points are just a reflection of everything you’re learning,” he says. “I was going out, meeting new people, and seeing all these different things to do. And I was building foundational skills that business majors need.”
Preparing students for professional life
The Amplifier Program is part of The Next Carson Coug curriculum, which includes a strong focus on workforce readiness. Through participating in extracurricular academic activities, undergraduate business students are developing the soft skills and confidence they’ll need to be successful in college and in job interviews, Chapman says.
By the time they graduate, Carson Cougs should be ready to manage their careers, communicate effectively, and demonstrate leadership and professionalism.
The Amplifier Program launched in the fall of 2019. Students participate in the program through their senior year, gradually getting more involved in activities related to their majors and taking on leadership roles.
Becoming part of a tightknit community
Stuart credits the Amplifier Program for helping him find his place in the Carson College of Business.
With nearly 5,000 undergraduates, “Carson seems like such a big college. There are so many majors and so many faces,” he says. “But when you get involved, you start recognizing people. You see a tightknit community of students who really want to excel.”
Attending events also put him on a first name basis with the staff at the Carson Center for Student Success.
“When you come around that often, they start to remember you. Then conversations happen and opportunities present themselves,” Stuart says.
With the Carson staff’s encouragement, he’s a Carson Ambassador this year, helping peer mentors who provide support to first-generation college students. He’s also involved in Cougs Cancel COVID, a campaign to promote safe behaviors among students during the pandemic.
“The Amplifier Program helped push me out of my comfort zone,” Stuart says. “I learned things I wouldn’t know if I had spent those evenings in my dorm room. I wanted to be involved in building a community, and I feel that I’m making strides.”