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One class a semester leads to master’s, bright future

Benjamin Franklin once said “an investment in knowledge always pays the best interest.” Charles Hemphill, the WSU space allocation manager for Capital Planning and Development, takes those words to heart. For over three years, he has taken one class each semester and during the summers to earn a master’s of education degree in higher education administration, while working full-time to support his family.

“Working and going to school is a challenge, but it is fun and gives you a good feeling,” he said. He sees it as a way to reach his goals. “Acquiring knowledge and career advancement are objectives, but leading by example for my 10-year-old daughter, Alexandra, is a big part of it.”

Ultimately, he hopes to be president of a university.

“It might be a long shot, but everyone needs to have goals,” he said. “If you aim too low, you hinder your potential to go above.”

Hemphill was born and reared in Tacoma, and attended Eastern Washington University for a year on a wrestling scholarship. The next fall he transferred to WSU, graduating in 1990 with a bachelor’s degree in finance. He put those skills to work as a vocational rehabilitation manager for Palouse Industries, a nonprofit agency in Pullman that provides services to adults and children with disabilities.

“I learned that one person really can make a difference,” Hemphill said.

Even after switching to a position at WSU, he remained on the board of directors for seven years, serving as president, treasurer, secretary and financial officer.

Hemphill is currently a space allocation manager for WSU. For 11 years, he has analyzed and allocated space for many individuals and departments all over the university, which he says is not an easy task at times.

In order to make time for his education, he uses his lunch hour to study, and he takes advantage of evening classes after a full day of work.

“It is amazing how much studying you can get done in just one hour a day, five days a week,” he said. Unfortunately, his other favorite noontime hobby of exercising had to go by the wayside in order to fit in his studies.

But even though he earned his Ed.M. on May 10, he doesn’t plan to stop learning anytime soon. His next step is to earn a Ph.D.

Having lived in Pullman since 1986, he says he has no intention of leaving.

“This is home,” he said. “WSU’s old tag line was ‘it really is something special,’ and I hang on to that.”

“When in Rome, do as the Romans do,” he advises. “If you are at WSU, why not take advantage of learning?”

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