Debra Barnett claims she’s no spring chicken, but this bird’s not ready to roost.
Barnett works full-time as principal assistant with education programs at WSU Vancouver. She also is studying for her bachelor’s degree in anthropology with a minor in English.
“I’ve only got nine credits to go,” she said. “I’ve been working on the degree one or two classes at a time and have enjoyed every minute of it. I just love learning.”
Thrives on variety
It’s this love for learning — the new and different — that helps Barnett enjoy the many facets of her job.
“I do lots of miscellaneous jobs throughout the school year,” she said. “Managing the budget, scheduling and organizing the mentor teacher stipend process for student-teaching internships are among the largest.”
Barnett assists the unit director with designing course schedules each semester. The process of appointing teachers and guaranteeing that classes and programs don’t overlap can be challenging, she said.
“It’s kind of like piecing together one big puzzle,” she said.
Barnett enjoys creating innovative programs to improve her department. In 2000, she established a series of photo rosters that serve as academic networking devices. The rosters, which she maintains and gives to faculty members and students at the beginning of each academic year, contain the photo, phone number and e-mail address of each student in the program.
Grad school next?
Barnett said she is passionate about producing quality work and grateful to those whose support gives her the lift she needs to soar.
“I couldn’t do any of it without my family,” she said. “My husband, children and grandchildren are most important. “I just feel very fortunate to work with an outstanding team, on a beautiful campus, always knowing that the people in my life are there to support me.”
With only nine credits to go, what are Barnett’s plans after graduation? Possibly an application to graduate school. Because, after all, this bird’s still in flight.
Staff Spotlight is an occasional series about WSU staff. If you have a suggestion of someone to be featured, please contact intern Jordy Byrd at