New Grad Perebotie Amughan Harnesses the Power of Opportunities
By Becky Kramer
When Perebotie Amughan stepped off the plane at the Pullman Regional Airport to a landscape of ripening wheat fields four years ago, she wondered “Where are the trees?”
Washington, in her mind, was a green place. She’d come from Arizona to study business in the state where Microsoft, Amazon, and Starbucks are headquartered, and she pictured a place of towering opportunities and lofty evergreens.
The promise of opportunity came true for Amughan, who graduated from the WSU Carson College of Business in May. She’s accepted a job with Amazon, where she’ll be working in human resources at a fulfillment center. Her new position is in DuPont, Washington, near the forests she once envisioned blanketing the state.
“Ever since high school, I’ve wanted to work at a Fortune 500 company,” Amughan says. “If anyone had told me when I was younger that I would have the opportunities I have now, I would have been doubtful. I’m very blessed and coming to WSU is part of that.”
Amughan credits her opportunities to her immigrant parents’ hard work and the strength of the Cougar community.
“When I first heard the phrase ‘Cougs help Cougs,’ I shrugged it off. But I’ve seen the impact of those words,” she says. “Cougs truly do help Cougs, and I hope to be a Coug alumna who helps students, too.”
Forming close relationships
Amughan’s parents emigrated from Nigeria to the United States with their three daughters in search of better opportunities.
Amughan was four when her family settled in the Phoenix area. She watched her parents—both professionals in Nigeria—work their way up from low-wage jobs, retrain in new fields, and eventually establish their own business in medical rehabilitation care.
“My dad was so proud when we become citizens,” she says. “He encouraged me to read, to use my voice, and to speak my mind.”
Amughan came to WSU with a budding interest in human resources. In high school, she was a peer mediator called upon to help resolve student disputes. She was confident in her ability to connect with people and make friends.
But Pullman, at first, was a shock to Amughan, a dedicated student who also enjoys shopping, fashion, and time with friends.
“Being Black, I wondered ‘Who will do my hair?’” she says. “And Walmart only had a sliver of Black hair products and beauty products. I was just lost. I didn’t know what to do.”
In what mentors describe as her trademark initiative, Amughan dove into WSU. She made her first friend at the freshman ALIVE orientation—a friend who remained her “bestie” throughout their four years together.
“She’s from Yakima, and she really was a rock in helping me navigate Washington,” Amughan says.
In addition, she formed a close relationship with the Carson College by dropping by the Carson Center for Student Success and doing her homework in Todd Hall, where she’d see her professors outside of class.
Amughan also made a point of getting to know Dean Chip Hunter, a scholar in human resources and industrial relations. She found Hunter personable and genuinely interested in her experience as a Black woman at WSU.
“I talked about how I was often the only Black woman or Black person in my classes, and how I’d like to see that change,” she says. “Dean Hunter really took that to heart. I appreciate that he listened, and that he values diversity and inclusion.”
Developing leadership traits
Amughan joined the Society of Human Resource Managers (SHRM) her sophomore year and was elected president as a junior. “It’s where my academic career and my love for WSU kicked off exponentially,” she says.
The club was only a few years old. Amughan wanted to raise the club’s profile within the college by increasing the number of active members, putting on more events, and sending students to conferences.
“She’s this conduit of energy,” says Ron Moser, clinical assistant professor in the Department of Management, Information Systems, and Entrepreneurship and the SHRM chapter advisor. “She’s great at networking and marshalling resources, and she was the club president during this period of explosive growth.”
Amughan sums up her philosophy by saying: “If you’re intimidated in the face of opportunity, you’re just missing out.”
As club president, Amughan became the student representative on the college’s Human Resources and Management Advisory Board. That’s where she met her mentor, Tanya Platt, an advisory board member and a human resources director at Microsoft.
“I was so impressed with her courage in taking risks and going all-in as SHRM president,” Platt (’93 Child, Consumer & Fam.) says. “She used me as a sounding board for questions like ‘How do I bring the whole team along? How do I delegate? What should I do if someone doesn’t follow through?’”
Amughan spent a week job shadowing Platt at Microsoft, where her poise and thoughtful questions impressed senior managers. She also stayed with Platt and her family when she was stuck in Seattle during a snowstorm.
“Our connection has morphed into a really dear friendship,” Platt says. “My kids adore Pere (her nickname), and she’s such a good role model. She demonstrates that when you work hard, good things happen.”
“I feel like their older sister, and Tanya is like my second mom,” Amughan says. “I have this beautiful friendship with a Microsoft director, and it came about from joining a club my sophomore year.”
Staying involved with the college
Amughan’s job offer at Amazon followed a summer internship with the company in 2020. She’s looking forward to being part of the firm’s dynamic, fast-paced environment.
“Amazon is giving me an opportunity to get into a direct HR role early on,” she says. “At age 21, I think that’s a great opportunity.”
Amughan will also stay connected to the WSU community and the Carson College. Moser has already recruited her to serve as a “friend” to the Human Resources and Management Advisory Board as a young alumna.
“It’s been an interesting journey,” Amughan says of her time at the Carson College. “People were willing to listen to me and provide so much support and encouragement. This environment was more than I could have asked for.”