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New student regent is a first‑gen college student and parent

Shain Wright
Shain Wright

PULLMAN, Wash. — A WSU Vancouver graduate who returned to the University to pursue a Ph.D. now will also serve on the Board of Regents.

Shain Wright, a second year student in the Cultural Studies and Social Thought in Education doctoral program, was selected to serve a one-year term as WSU’s student regent. Wright holds a Master’s in Public Administration from Evergreen State College as well as two bachelor’s degrees from WSU Vancouver.

A first generation college student, Wright got involved early on at WSU Vancouver all while balancing academics and figuring out how financial aid worked.

“There were times where it felt overwhelming, but there was a lot of support on the Vancouver campus,” Wright said.

Wright got involved at the campus’ diversity center, first as a mentee in a peer mentorship program and then as a student employee. Soon thereafter, the center got its own dedicated space and used grant funding to renovate and put on programs for students.

“In moving from five student staff in a cubicle to an actual space where the programming was really taking off, I found a home and community that felt very connected,” Wright said.

As president of the campus’ gender inclusivity student club, Wright forged connections with student government officials, eventually deciding to run for student body president, running and winning on a platform of diversity, equity and inclusion.

A meeting with WSU Vancouver Chancellor Mel Netzhammer helped take a passion for helping to meet students’ needs in a more focused and thorough direction.

“As a student, it’s easy to get passionate and swept up in an issue, but you have to do deeper work to move ahead and make lasting changes,” Wright said. “You have to be willing to hear from as many students as possible while also learning more about the costs of projects, what state laws say and other factors before moving ahead with proposals.”

While six months pregnant, Wright returned to WSU in 2020 to participate in the Cultural Studies and Social Thought in Education program.

“Being a parent is one of greatest pleasures and joys in my life and continuing in my education allows me to focus of my future career while keeping my family first,” Wright said.

Wright’s foremost goal upon taking over as student regent is soliciting feedback from students by attending student government meetings across the system.

WSU’s Student Regent represents all students from across the WSU system. They have full rights and voting privileges aside from issues related to the hiring, discipline or tenure of faculty members and personnel.

“My goal to be accessible to students regardless of whether they are in a leadership position or not,” Wright said. “I also want more students to know about the student regent and understand that it is a resource and opportunity to elevate student voices.”

Wright is succeeding Arliegh Cayanan, who joined the board in 2020 as a fourth year student from the College of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences at WSU Health Sciences Spokane.

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