Dear friends,

Some of you have heard me tell stories about my dad, Larry Hunter. He grew up in a small Kansas town, where his high school graduating class had 12 students. His parents were farmers.

A Boy Scout leader spotted my dad’s potential and encouraged him to go to college. He became the first person in his family to earn a four-year degree, and it opened up a lifetime of opportunities for him.

At the Carson College of Business, the education we provide continues to open doors for our students—including people whose families have not previously benefited from higher education. First-generation college students represent about 31 percent of our student body. Like others before them, they are reaching for opportunities that come with a four-year degree—the chance to develop their talents, work at meaningful jobs, provide for themselves and their families, and leave their mark on the world.

In May, we’ll graduate the first class of The Next Carson Cougs. They were first-year students when we rolled out significant revisions in the college’s undergraduate business curriculum. With input from industry partners, we kept our strong technical focus while ramping up expectations for students to develop the soft skills—such as communicating, contributing to a team, running meetings, and building a network—they’ll need to be successful in the workplace.

Soft skills benefit all of our graduates, but they are particularly important for first-generation students. If you are the first person in your family to attend college, you might equate learning primarily with classroom assignments. We now expect students to get involved in clubs and organizations early in their college career, so they can start building a professional network and developing leadership skills.

In this issue of eDividend, we share stories of how first-generation students benefit from the Carson College experience. Olga Gira, a first-generation American, will graduate with an accounting degree in May. At WSU Vancouver, she leveraged opportunities to grow her professional network, resulting in internships, scholarships, and a job offer after she graduates. Kole Lappe grew up on a ranch in Montana. Through WSU’s First-Gen Abroad program, his dream to study in Spain came true.

Alumnus Max Prado (’18 Fin.) is from a family of farmworkers in central Washington. He talks about the challenges he faced as a first-gen student and how a supportive community at WSU and the Carson College helped him overcome them. You’ll also hear from Victor Pimentel (’15 PhD), whose experience in the college’s doctorate program had life-changing impacts, which he now pays forward.

In this issue, we also bring you the college’s 2022 holiday retail report, which shows Pacific Northwest shoppers aim to be more fiscally conservative this holiday season. Amid inflation concerns, they expect to spend at levels similar to the outlays during the height of the pandemic.

Through the dedicated work of our faculty and staff, and with the generous support of alumni and friends of the college, we are changing lives and giving our students a future some never dreamed was possible. As they become business leaders, supportive alumni, and proud family members helping subsequent generations, they’ll contribute to making others’ dreams a reality.

Your year-end gift to the Carson College is a critical resource that enables the college to continue to deliver transformational education experiences.

From all of us at the Carson College of Business, I wish you a very happy holiday season.

Go Cougs!

Chip Hunter, Dean