Carson College Students Anticipate In-Person WSU Experience
By Becky Kramer
Amiyah Johnson can picture herself in Martin Stadium and Beasley Coliseum, cheering for WSU with friends she first met online.
After a year of attending class via Zoom from her bedroom, Folasa Faaitu is excited about having face-to-face conversations with her professors.
And AJ Diaz is ready to begin her college town adventure, which will include her first experience with snowy winters and a four-season climate.
“To be honest, I haven’t even visited Pullman yet,” says Diaz, a transfer student from Sunnyvale, California. “My parents and I are planning a road trip to move me out in August.”
Johnson and Faaitu were freshmen last year, and Diaz was a junior. While COVID-19 changed their expectations for their first year at WSU, the Carson College of Business students still made the most of their online experience, finishing with strong academic performances, involvement in student clubs, and friendships they formed online. Now they’re looking forward to a full college experience in Pullman.
The Carson Center for Student Success helped smooth their path. As first-generation college students, Johnson, Faaitu, and Diaz took part in the Carson EDGE program, which paired them with peer mentors.
“Since my first year of college occurred during a global pandemic, having a mentor really helped me,” Faaitu says. “I appreciated talking to someone who understood what it’s like to be a freshman, and who gave me ideas about what I needed to do.”
The students recently shared their WSU experiences to date, and what they’re looking forward to in fall.
Having fun, meeting people, and a 4.0
For Johnson, it’s the chance to live in a residence hall and meet more of her peers.
After picking her mentor’s brain about various residence halls, she and a high school friend will be roommates in Rogers Hall this fall. She’s excited about fixing up her room with items she purchased more than a year ago.
“When I found out that WSU would be online last year, it initially crushed my spirit,” says Johnson, a finance major from Tacoma who is interested in the stock market and real estate. “But I had fun, met some people, and finished the first semester with a 4.0.”
With a houseful of younger siblings, Johnson moved to her grandmother’s house in the Tri-Cities so she could concentrate on her studies. She got involved in the Black Student Union and also took part in Krimson Kouture, WSU’s majorette and hip-hop influenced dance team—activities she’ll continue this year.
“WSU has a lot of clubs that involve people of color, and I really appreciate that,” Johnson says.
Fulfilling a dream of going to college
For Faaitu, online classes were a big adjustment. She dedicated a corner of her bedroom to school and channeled her discipline.
“At first, if I didn’t want to wake up for class, I’d watch the Zoom recording later. Then I got more motivated,” she says. “I pictured myself in the classroom with the professor and other students. I pretended the professor was talking directly to me.”
Faaitu, an accounting major, carried a full load. She took seven classes during fall semester and six classes in the spring while working as a sales associate at Target. Faaitu also coordinated her class schedule with her younger sister’s high school classes.
“The Internet is kind of spotty where we live, so sharing the Wi-Fi was a hassle,” she says. “Sometimes, I had to turn off my camera in order to speak in class.”
With an aptitude for math and a keen interest in business, Faaitu enjoyed her Carson College classes. She also found a creative outlet in her drawing class. “I finished the year with all As and Bs, so I was proud of that,” she says.
“It’s been a dream of mine to go to college for a very long time,” Faaitu adds. “I’m loving it as it is, and I’m really excited to be on campus to see what it’s all about.”
“I’ve only seen photos”
Diaz is eager to see her Pullman apartment and meet her roommate. COVID-19 delayed her plans to move out of the house after she earned an associate’s degree a local community college.
“I was a bit bummed, but in the bigger picture, not being on campus last year wasn’t the end of the world,” says Diaz, a finance and entrepreneurship major. “I was glad I could continue my studies and didn’t have to take a gap year.”
But she’s ready to see what else WSU Pullman has to offer. That includes checking out opportunities to study abroad through the Carson College, visiting restaurants and local landmarks recommended by other students, and getting acquainted with her peers.
“I’ve only seen photos, so I’m just really excited to be there,” Diaz says. “The fact that I’ve been at home for a year has amplified that. I enjoy school, and I’m looking forward to applying myself in a normal school environment again.”