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Chosen Coug Award wows the crowd for Family Weekend

The word “wow” can mean many things, but for WSU Pullman sophomore Jessica Gorman, it describes one thing: her mom.

“People say to me…WOW! Look at how successful you have become! Where does your success come from?” Gorman said in her nomination letter. “I will tell you…just turn the word [wow] over…and what do you get? MOM!”

Gorman, who is a student in WSU’s ROAR program, said she and her mother have faced a number of challenges since Lisa Gorman adopted her in 2004, including a serious bus accident when Gorman was young and, more recently, a cancer diagnosis. Throughout it all, her mother has made sure she is safe and supported.

“My mom knew that I had some special needs, but she knew she loved me and that we would face my challenges together,” Gorman said. “She always encouraged me to do my best and helped me to do more!”

For her tireless support of her daughter, Lisa Gorman was named the Fall 2022 Chosen Coug on Saturday, Nov. 12 during a ceremony at Round Top Public House Pavilion in Pullman.

The award, managed by Student Affairs and sponsored by BECU, recognizes individuals who have made a substantial impact on a student’s experience at WSU. It is given twice a year during WSU’s Fall and Spring Family Weekends.

‘Always supported by her love’

Gorman credits her successes in life, from childhood to high school to WSU, to her mother’s support and belief in her. 

“My mom was always there for me, at home, at school, sports, and with my 4-H and FFA activities,” she said. “My successes were because of her. She surrounded me with people who believed in me, and I was always supported by her love.”

That belief in her abilities has helped Jessica thrive at WSU, and the support system Lisa Gorman has always surrounded her daughter with has been increasingly important in recent years as the family grapples with a cancer diagnosis. 

“For the past three years, we have faced her challenges together,” she said. “Leaving her at home when I came to WSU was difficult for me. I knew she would have to continue her recovery without me being there, because she didn’t want me to miss my once-in-a-lifetime chance to be a Coug. Today, we continue to celebrate her recovery, and every day is special to us. She is my WOW!”

Celebrating nominees’ impact on the Coug experience

The Chosen Coug Selection Committee received nearly 50 letters this fall from students nominating parents, friends, WSU faculty and staff, grandparents, and more. Kristina Peterson-Wilson, chief of staff in the Office of the Provost and Office of the Chancellor and member of the selection committee, said that all the nominations were impactful, but Jessica’s was chosen because of the incredible support Lisa Gorman has always shown her daughter, through good times and bad. 

“Jessica’s nomination was exceedingly moving because it demonstrated Lisa’s impact on her daughter’s career at WSU and the efforts she made to help her daughter successfully engage in higher education,” Peterson-Wilson said. “In the detail and enthusiasm behind nomination, it was evident that Lisa provided her daughter with numerous opportunities as well as support and encouragement to excel at WSU.”

Joining Peterson-Wilson on the selection committee were Jeanne Weiler, coordinator of presidential projects, Office of the President; Rob Morales, assistant director of student services in the Access Center; and Colette Casavant, director of student success in CAHNRS.

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