Works with and advocates for university’s veterans

Sometimes people put down roots where they least expect it. Veterans Affairs Coordinator Charii Higgins did not think in 1982 that Pullman would become her permanent place of residence. But 24 years later, she is still here.

“I learned how to do wheat weaving when I came here,” said Higgins. “I never would have done that before — all I had to do (to get the materials) was go out my back door!”

Wheat weaving aside, Higgins has learned a great many things since coming to the WSU Pullman campus. For instance, the merits of good penmanship: “When I first started working in the Registrar’s Office, all adjustments and additions to the WSU transcript had to be written in by hand,” she said. “My supervisor wanted to see a sample of my handwriting before hiring me.”

While the technology has changed, Higgins’ work has not. Her co-workers are not hesitant to praise her.

“I have seldom met anyone who is as passionate in their job,” said Barbara Schmidtlein, petitions and residency program assistant in the Registrar’s Office. “She is instructive, kind, compassionate, patient and a wonderful listener when she is with students.”

Higgins’ responsibility is to provide assistance to veteran students by functioning as a liaison for them with the university and the Department of Veterans Affairs. She ensures they get their Montgomery GI Bill benefits and, if they have been overseas, that they adapt back to WSU life.

“We must let them know we are here for them and we will watch over them just as they watched over each other (while on active duty),” Higgins said. “WSU has a responsibility to make our veteran students’ return to school a positive experience.”

The students she helps are quick to sing her praises. “She opens up her house on Thanksgiving to veterans that can’t make it home or that do not have a home to go to,” said Samantha Fauver, a student working in the Veterans Affairs Office. “She takes her job seriously and does not let anything get in her way to help out veterans.”

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