Photo: WSU’s Bonnie Wagner will graduate with a master’s degree during WSU Spokane Commencement ceremonies May 4. (Photo courtesy of Bonnie Wagner).
Bonnie Wagner never thought attending and graduating from Washington State University was a possibility. Now it is a reality.
Wagner, a first-generation college student, is graduating from WSU Spokane with a master’s degree in education leadership and administration after 2 1/2 years of study. She holds a B.A. in education from Eastern Washington University.
“Being a Cougar was never really an option for me,” Wagner said. “It was just financially unlikely.”
Wagner, who works for the Area Health Education Center, WSU Extension, was able to take classes at WSU Spokane for about $5 a semester.
“It’s a benefit of any professional, technical or faculty position as long as there is room available,” she said.
Work and school
Her favorite part of her job as a full-time health career coordinator is that it allows her to work with students.
“Our aim first is to get students interested in math and science and then into health careers,” Wagner said.
The most challenging aspect of earning her degree was balancing work, school and a personal life.
“I knew that I had to give 110 percent at work and at school as well,” she said. “Balancing that was a challenge.”
Wagner credits Joan Kingrey, academic director and clinical practitioner of education programs at WSU Spokane, with helping her choose WSU.
“She heard I was going back to school and said, ‘We need to make you a Coug,’” Wagner said.
“I was surrounded by people who really valued that I was in school,” she said. “That really helped when things were due or I was feeling stress.”
The education program WSU offers is anchored in theory and research, Wagner said.
“The program here (at WSU Spokane) really allowed me to see the education system in a more holistic way,” she said.
She believes her master’s degree will help her pursue various interests, which include working with students from impoverished and underserved populations.
Wagner does not plan to leave her position with WSU after graduation. She will continue working there and hopes to work in the future with students.