PULLMAN, Wash. — Washington State University is welcoming back alumnus Enrique Cerna as the newest member of its Board of Regents.
Cerna, a veteran journalist with more than four decades of media experience in the Seattle area, officially took on the new role March 16.
“I was able to pursue my dream because of Washington State University and the people I met there,” Cerna said. “Now, I have a 40-plus year career in journalism and media – not bad for a farm kid from central Washington.”
The 1975 graduate said he’s particularly interested in helping WSU reach and assist students from underserved backgrounds. Eliminating technology as a barrier to education is among the pursuits he sees as vital for WSU. Cerna is also excited to represent the Latino community as a member of the Board of Regents.
Prior to retiring from Cascade Public Media’s KCTS 9 in February 2018, Cerna spent 23 years producing and hosting award-winning current affairs programs as well as documentaries. He also reported and produced numerous news segments for national PBS programs, provided election analysis for PBS NewsHour and moderated U.S. Senate, Congressional, Gubernatorial and Mayoral debates.
Cerna has earned nine Northwest regional Emmy awards among a litany of other awards and honors. His coverage of diverse communities has been recognized by the Pi Lambda Chapter of Alpha Phi Alpha, the first intercollegiate fraternity established by African Americans, as well as the Seattle Chapter of the National Latino Peace Officers Association and the U.S. Mexico Chamber of Commerce Northwest Chapter Executive Board.
His ongoing community commitments include serving on the Washington State Historical Society Board of Trustees, the Yakima Valley Museum Board of Directors as well as King County Television’s Citizens Advisory Committee. He’s also previously served on the boards of United&nbps;Way of King County, the World Affairs Council of Seattle, Seattle City Club and the Chief Seattle Council’s Scout Reach program. His time as co-chair of the successful Plaza Roberto Maestas Capitol Campaign saw the raising of more than $40 million toward the construction of low-income housing on Seattle’s Beacon Hill.
“We look forward to the perspectives on the vital work WSU is doing that Enrique brings as an accomplished journalist, engaged community member and of course proud alum,” said Board Chairman Brett Blankenship.
Cerna grew up in the central Washington community of Wapato. He was the first in his family to attend a four-year university full-time, and knows well the challenges that beset students from similar backgrounds.
Cerna experienced tremendous adversity during his first semester at WSU. A car accident and severe illness left him barely able to attend class and he scraped by with a 2.07 GPA. The experienced filled him with a desire to achieve, no matter the hurdles he faced. Cerna finished each of the next seven semesters with a 3.4 GPA at minimum, graduating with a degree in communications.
“I remember I took a summer job at small radio station making $2 an hour,” Cerna said. “Another opportunity to make a lot more money came up, but I stayed on as a DJ because I wanted the radio experience. My mom asked me, “Do you know what you’re doing?” and I told her that I’m taking a shot, because if don’t try, I’ll regret it later. She said “Just do it then,” and from that point on she understood this is what I wanted to do, and my parents always supported and were there for me.”
Cerna replaces Scott Carson, who served on the WSU Board of Regents for 12 years.