Donations from the CougParents program are helping to support programs and activities for nine Washington State University registered student organizations.

“This funding will allow us to build a vacuum chamber to test our electric propulsion prototype,” said Colin Warn, president of the Cougs in Space club.

Reanne Cunningham, president of the Clinical Psychology Graduate Student Organization (CPGSO), said the money her club received will support a two-hour, live-streamed event called Coug Voices. Planned for mid-April, Coug Voices will provide a platform for students to share stories about their mental health journey.

The CougParents Advisory Board, which selects the award recipients, is organized by the Division of Student Affairs. The board strives to support new and innovative programs that directly contribute to the transformative student experience, which includes enhancing learning, leadership, and life of WSU students outside of the classroom.

The CougParents Fund is made possible by support from contributing parents, family members, alumni and friends. Advisory board members allocated a total of $39,000 to support student programs and activities.

Gaining real-world experience

Cunningham and many of the graduate students in her organization serve as therapists in WSU’s Counseling and Psychological Services. They noticed students are carrying a lot of weight on their shoulders due to the pandemic.

“As a student and a therapist, I am noticing many students are struggling right now,” Cunningham said. “The presenters in Coug Voices will let them know they are not alone, we are in this together, and want to share any wisdom they have.”

The group’s $3,000 award will be used to reserve a room, rent lights and sound equipment, and advertise the event. While Coug Voices will be a virtual experience for audience members, CPGSO wants to provide the presenters with a real stage experience, while making sure to follow all safety protocols.

By organizing the event, Cunningham said it is a valuable opportunity for club members to practice how they will serve as psychologists in the world.

“Being a psychologist isn’t just about being a therapist,” she said. “It also involves community outreach which is where we might make the greatest impact.”

After building the electric propulsion system prototype last spring, Warn said he and some club members shared their feat at a NASA-sponsored conference. While the concept of electric propulsion has existed for many years, only big corporations within the space industry have been able to research and test the technology.

“We want to see if our student organization can take this technology, downsize it, and make it more accessible to student engineers across the nation,” he said. “This technology could someday provide a much cheaper and more efficient way for rockets to go to the moon.”

Warn said the only way to know if his club’s prototype works is to test it in a zero-gravity environment. He said his club is thrilled to receive help from the CougParents Fund, which will allow them to build a vacuum chamber. He said their research, if it continues to grow, has the potential to put the Cougs in Space Club, the mechanical engineering department, and the university in the national spotlight.

Making dreams come true

The CougParents advisory board consist of volunteers who are family members of current or former WSU undergraduate students and WSU alumni.

Kari Sampson, assistant director for Student Experience and External Relations in the Division of Student Affairs, said board members have a vested interest in the success of WSU students and strongly support their out-of-the-classroom experiences.

“By supporting these student groups, it is a way they can help make the dreams of students come true,” Sampson said. “From their own experiences as WSU students, they realize the importance of support programs like this one that can help propel students to opportunities they wouldn’t otherwise have access to.”

Advisory Board member and WSU Pullman graduate Edgardo Quiroz-Moreno said he found the quality of the funding applications to be outstanding and was very inspired by the variety of student programming ideas.

“These activities are really important to students, and as a committee, we take their applications very seriously,” Quiroz-Moreno said. “Our goal is to make our decisions as impactful as possible and it is an awesome feeling to be part of it.”

WSU alumna Mary-Jo Bradley added that the Board gave special consideration this year to programs addressing student isolation caused by the pandemic.

“It makes me proud to be a part of this Cougar family that has many interests and excels in so many diverse areas,” Bradley said.

The CougParents advisory board is accepting applications for new members until Feb. 1. Those interested in making a donation to support registered student organizations can visit this WSU Foundation giving page.