PULLMAN, Wash. — In 1991 Barbara Aston, a Washington State University student, was named a first team member of the All-USA College Academic Team selected by USA TODAY, the national newspaper.
Eight years later, Aston, now WSU assistant to the provost, has been honored again by the newspaper.
Later this month, when the Class of 1999 is announced in Washington, D.C., Aston will be there as USA TODAY’s guest representing the Class of 1991. She will attend with representatives of the other nine teams as a part of a Feb. 25-26 All-USA College Academic Team 10th anniversary celebration.
“It is an honor to represent the 1991 All Academic First Team in celebrating USA TODAY’s commitment to recognizing student achievement, ” said Aston. I was inspired by the individuals that I met in 1991 and enjoyed the enthusiastic hospitality of the (newspaper’s) hosts. I am excited for the national exposure that I hope this opportunity will bring to WSU’s efforts to increase educational opportunities for American Indians and services to tribes in the region.”
Aston graduated summa cum laude from the university in 1991 with a bachelor’s degree in child, consumer and family studies. A graduate of Idaho’s Buhl High School, she is currently working on a master’s degree in Pastoral Studies through the Loyola Institute for Ministry, Loyola University, New Orleans. A former counselor for the WSU Native American Student Center, she and her husband, Earl Aston, reside near Viola, Idaho, with their children John and Steven. Two older children and four grandsons live in Moscow, Idaho.
Since the academic team program was started in 1990 by the newspaper, seven WSU students or graduates have been named to it. A member of the Wyandotte Tribe of Oklahoma, Aston is the only first team member from WSU ever selected by the newspaper. The most recent WSU representative on the team is Justin Jacob, a 1998 graduate and member of the Yakama Nation.
When Aston was named to the newspaper’s first team, the newspaper’s issue announcing the Class of 1991 included a story and a color photograph taken of her on the Palouse. Similarly, for the 10th anniversary, a photographer was assigned to take her photo. It will appear in USA TODAY along with information about her life since she was named to the team.
According to newspaper officials, the highlight of the celebration will be a two-hour roundtable discussion about the condition of undergraduate education involving the 20 students named for the Class of 1999 first team, Aston and the other eight representatives of previous classes, and several college presidents. A summary of the discussion will be printed in the
March 1 issue of the newspaper. A full transcript of the discussion will be at the newspaper’s web site .
“This is a wonderful and well-deserved honor for Barbara,” said WSU President Samuel Smith. “As a student and now as a valued member of the university’s administration, her efforts on behalf of WSU’s diversity commitment in general and to Native Americans in particular are greatly appreciated.”

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