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Pullman students developing app to help local businesses

Local Cougs team photo

Pullman students developing app to help local businesses

RJ Wolcott, WSU News & Media Relations

The original story was published in the WSU Insider on 4/8/2022. You can check it out here.

The app – Local Cougs – will allow users to learn more about the businesses around them and ideally generate a vital wave of support coming off of two years of struggling through the pandemic.

A team of Washington State University students is developing an app that’ll help connect members of the Pullman community with local businesses.

The app – Local Cougs – will allow users to learn more about the businesses around them and ideally generate a vital wave of support coming off of two years of struggling through the pandemic. Local Cougs is currently in the prototype stage, with plans for beta testing this summer.

The five-student team is led by Marley Schneider, a web development and advertising senior, and Jennifer Espin, who is majoring in civil engineering with a minor in mathematics. Three other students – Daniel Chia, Stephany Lamas, and Roshani Shiwakoti – assist with the coding and development of the app.

The idea of finding a way to better connect the Pullman community – particularly students – to local businesses was pitched to Schneider and Espin by Ray Combs, director of entrepreneurial studies at Voiland College of Engineering and Architecture’s Harold Frank Engineering Entrepreneurship Institute. Combs told the pair that Elizabeth Chilton, who’d recently started her tenure as provost and executive vice president, was particularly interested in finding a way to help local businesses emerging from the pandemic.

“The biggest barrier we’ve identified is people not being knowledgeable about what businesses have to offer,” Schneider said.

Whether it’s finding a place to get a tire patched or a cup of coffee, the Local Cougs team is determined to get local businesses front and center in the minds of students and Pullman community members. The project is also a valuable learning opportunity for the team that’s bound for the workplace in the years to come.

Local Cougs prototype
The app – Local Cougs – will allow users to learn more about the businesses around them and ideally generate a vital wave of support coming off of two years of struggling through the pandemic.

“I was really excited for the opportunity to learn more about the business and marketing aspect of engineering,” Espin said. “That’s really where the entrepreneurship center came in and presented this opportunity to talk with local businesses and get better connected with people in the industry.”

In the past year and a half, Schneider and Espin have met with local business owners and advocates to get a sense of their situations and what they can do to help them thrive. Conversations with students have also netted valuable insight into the perceived barriers between them and the businesses right on their doorstep.

“We identified a lack of enthusiasm among students for going downtown, so we’re looking to create an incentive within the app that rewards people who use the app at downtown businesses,” Schneider said, citing examples like a free smoothie at Sanctuary after attending two yoga sessions.

While Schneider is on track to graduate in May, she plans to continue to be involved with frequent visits and remote collaboration with the team.

“Because we have a big cohort, we’ve been thinking about bringing more people onto the team, to be able to get as many hands working on the prototype as possible,” Espin said. “We need to grow to get this project out, and we’ve been fortunate to have great advisors helping us out.

Combs has been particularly impressed in the team’s efforts to understand the problem that the app aims to solve – local businesses’ lack of marketing horsepower compared to larger chains.

“They’ve done good boots on the ground research, talking to local business owners and commerce people to understand what business need for this app,” Combs said. “It’s really encouraging that they’ve done this kind of work, because it’s the kind of effort that engineering teams fail at – understanding the problem their technology aims to solve.”

In addition to preparing the app for beta testing in the months to come, members are also gearing up for the university’s annual business plan competition later this semester.

Johanna is Pac-12 Player of the Week

Johanna Teder walks across a basketball court
Photo by Andrew Thill

Johanna Teder is the Pac-12 Player of the Week

By: Max Ciot

During the final week of February, DTC senior and WSU basketball player Johanna Teder received the Pac-12 Player of the Week award. Johanna was excited to receive this award, stating that “there are so many good athletes and players at our conference” and that she did not expect to receive this award at all. She won the award for most outstanding statistics in two days in a single week when she averaged 20.5 points a game.

For Johanna, basketball has taught her a lot about discipline and time management. She says that it isn’t easy to be a student when practices and games take a lot of energy out of her, but she wants to do good in school in addition to athletics. There are a lot of other things that basketball gives to Johanna as well, including; good friends, travelling, opportunities for education, and memories.

As a Digital Technology and Culture student, Johanna is currently trying to learn and get better. She chose DTC due to her interest in art and want to try something new. “I feel like DTC was a good choice and I am really excited to see where it takes me. As a student-athlete, sports take most of the time of my day, but I am willing to get better in things as well,” says Johanna.

HOP Participates in National Day of Service

Humanities on the Palouse Participates in
National Day of Service

By: Esmeralda Solis Garcia

Inequity is something that is present in many different communities. However, with the help of the newly founded Humanities on the Palouse (HOP) program, WSU students can help these marginalized groups and build their humanities and art-based skills while participating in compensated internships.

The primary mission of HOP is to place WSU humanities and arts students in compensated internship opportunities at organizations in the Palouse area that surrounds Washington State University. Compensation for participation in HOP is provided in the form of an educational stipend administered at the end of service by AmeriCorps. The HOP internships are focused on exploring the link between skills developed in Humanities and Arts coursework and the professions. Skills like critical and creative thinking, adaptation, information literacy, social responsibility, working with diverse groups, empathy, writing, public speaking, translation, textual analysis, teamwork, and leadership. A secondary goal is to address inequity in compensated internship opportunity for women, students of color, queer students, and other marginalized populations.

HOP founder and faculty leader Ruth Gregory states “I read several reports that noted that uncompensated internships did not help a student place into the professions at nearly the same rate at those who did a compensated internship during their time in college. I wanted to address that inequity since service-learning is a major part of the Digital Technology and Culture program.”

In addition to their service at regional sites, AmeriCorps members also come together to do group service projects.  On January 17, 2022, the Humanities on the Palouse group and advisor Ruth Gregory came together to serve at the Inland Oasis West Side Food Pantry on  the National Day of Service to honor the memory of Martin Luther King, Jr. During their time there, the HOP Members got an orientation to the food-pantry, helped paint the walls for the drop-in center, and got some time to talk with members of Inland Oasis about their programs. HOP members also brainstormed with the Inland Oasis about future projects and events for the communities in the Palouse. Also, on hand were additional student volunteers from the WSU Center of Civic Engagement. Together the students and Inland Oasis volunteers put several coats of primer and paint on the walls of the drop-in center.

HOP Member and Inland Oasis Drop-In Center Coordinator Nick Kawaguchi states, “I never noticed that MLK Jr. Day was a service day. I always thought of it as just a day off from school.”

Teamwork, organization, and communication between each member of the HOP team made this day an amazing experience and surely put each student’s skills to work.

More information about the Humanities on the Palouse Program is on their webpage.

Student-created identity stories air on KRFP community radio and online

June T. Sanders and Benjamin Wang work with audio recording equipment in a media laboratory.
June T. Sanders and Benjamin Wang work with audio recording equipment in a media laboratory.

Student-created identity stories air on KRFP community radio and online

By Adriana Aumen, College of Arts and Sciences

The original story was published in the WSU Insider on 1/5/2022. You can check it out here.

What advice would you give to your younger self? How do you know if you’re gay? Which expressions in other languages endure in English speakers’ hearts?Exploring answers to these questions and more was the creative basis of a WSU student-led digital storytelling and technology skills-building project that recently aired on community radio station KRFP and is now accessible online.Seven students in digital technology and culture (DTC) Assistant Professor June T. Sanders’ class last fall conceived, developed and produced the project, applying what they learned about interviewing, scripting, framing and other aspects of creating nonfiction stories while gaining hands-on experience with audio recording and editing equipment.

From humorous to tender and scary to profound, the collected stories provide intimate glimpses into peoples’ actual lives and reflect Sanders’ contention that nonfiction doesn’t have to be dry or presented as documentary to be effective.

“You can work within the realm of real life while still having fantastical narratives and fantastical stories,” she said.

Each student selected their own topic within the theme of identity/identity creation and produced a professional-quality audio narrative using technology in the DTC media laboratory. Sanders, who is an experienced radio producer, combined the individual stories into a seven-part show they called “Underpinnings” as a synonym for foundation.

“We were thinking of solid foundations of identity, foundations of our community, what holds us up, what creates us and what affects how we move through the world,” Sanders said.

Through interviews with friends, family, classmates and strangers, the students examined topics ranging from the hidden struggles even outwardly successful people face to a dad’s philosophy about drinking beer.

In student Jayce Carral’s story, a woman talks about the beginning and end of a years-long friendship with a ghost. Senior Willow Yaple’s story focuses on an interview with her twin sister to explore changes in their identity relationship since they started college.

For her story, psychology senior Clara Peninger asked random passersby how they would counsel their younger selves and recorded some unexpected—and useful—responses.

“A lot of the advice received was something I could apply to my own life, which was definitely a pleasant surprise,” Peninger said.

Leigh Robartes, station manager at KRFP, welcomed the chance to broadcast the students’ work for the Moscow, Idaho–Pullman community and hopes to have similar opportunities in the future.

“It’s rare that we get to air such a densely produced local production,” Robartes said. “It flowed in the podcast-style of storytelling that’s popular these days. For local, volunteer-driven community radio, it’s one of the ideal types of local programming.”

Among Sanders’ goals for the project was providing her students with professional experience and insights about the role of community media and other forms of broadcast and production, including online platforms, that operate outside of giant media conglomerates and corporations.

“It was also intended to encourage thinking about the broader implications of whose story is being told and why—in everything from documentaries to radio stories, video games and TV shows—and understanding how to be contemporary, fresh, critical and poignant when it comes to telling those stories,” she said.

“We live in a pretty saturated media landscape where everyone has a platform and everyone broadcasts their own image most of the time. ‘Underpinnings’ allowed the students to use their skills and abilities and their own life experiences to highlight other people’s stories and lift up other voices—a very useful and important skill to have.”

Yaple, an advertising major minoring in DTC, said the project experience will be useful in her future career.

“Of course, there are the objective skills I gained, such as familiarity with audio editing and interviewing. However, I was also able to develop my narrative-building skills more, which is very appropriate for any creative field I go into. I am currently working toward a career in advertising and graphic design, and both rely on creating stories that audiences will be interested in.”

Jacob Riddle’s Artist Talk

A man talks in front of a crowd in an auditorium

Jacob Riddle’s Artist Talk

By: Max Ciot

On October 7th, 2021 DTC faculty member Jacob Riddle presented an Artist Talk for the WSU Department of Fine Arts. The presentation delved into Jacob’s journey as an artist from more of a traditional photographer to his currnet interest in generative design.

Jacob started out with an anecdote about how he began to think about photos as information around 2010 or 2011, and made a hexadecimal file called .jpeg. This inspired him to start messing with what we do to photos such as jpegs and do it to a physical object, so he ran his file through a paper shredder. Jacob stated that this was still visual. He removed his JPEG from the code even further and ran it through text to speech software and created JPEG.mp3. At the time, text to speech was not as amazing as it is today, so it sounded a little odd. Afterwards, Jacob ran his file through a printer, which took three days.

Later on in 2012, Jacob started also thinking about Graphical User Interfaces (GUI) as a space that can explore photography. He started to reject traditional photography methods. He instead began to think about ways you can interact with User Interfaces (UI). He created screenshots and animated GIFS, including a program that watched da window just get stuck. He then dove into some video work, still dealing with UI, and created a buffer video to show how our constant connectedness has conditioned us to expect things. For example, the spinning wheel means “we wait” even though there is nothing to wait for.

While he was working on his Masters of Fine Arts (MFA) during the years 2014-2016, Jacob had also started learning 3D modelling. As time went on, Jacob also started thinking about software as a studio space and dove head in. He began to realize that there were similarities between the 3D modelling workspace and a photography studio. For example, in the 3D modelling workspace, there are lights, focus controls, moving cameras, and so on, such as in life. He created still life images. When people would ask if they were real, he would think “dreams are real, hallucinations are real,” as a rebuttal to the question. This is to prompt the realization that they are asking the wrong question. According to Jacob: “Real brings a value connotation with it that does not need to be there.”

Around 2017 or 2018, Jacob also bought a piece of purple drywall and tilted it in a way he could cut a hole inside that was still level, and could fit a painting inside. When you looked at it straight-on, you would realize what you thought was an object was an image after all. However, all of this felt too rigid and structured after a while, so Jacob wanted a change. Drones were being tested in his yard often, he would watch them in the sky with his camera and noticed the trees move. Inspired to simulate fluid motion and with a background dabbling in VR for a few years at this point, he had come across VR sculpting tools. These, he explained, were like spray-painting in a 3D space. He created gestural marks in this 3D space, recorded video for the background with drones, and also placed pillars in the foreground of his simulation. Afterwards, Jacob suspended a TV screen in a gallery from the ceiling so people could lay underneath it to watch it. However, due to this format, a lot of people did not view his work, he reflects.

A crowd looks at their phones

A separate work of art Jacob also created more recently (starting from late 2019 and is ongoing) was related to Disruptive Pattern Material; also known as camouflage. After researching the history of camouflage and becoming fascinated over its nature-imitating properties, Jacob fed a selection of camouflage from various places and time-points in history to an Artificial Intellegence (AI) program. This AI program; a GAN could be trained to learn the similarities between a group of images it is fed, and generate images it thinks it fits into that group. It also learns to select other images that it thinks belong in the same group. Using this, Jacob created a variety of camouflage patterns.

After researching more into generative design and playing around with that, Jacob found out about something called topology optimization (often wrongly referred to as generative design). Simultaneously learning about mushrooms and the complex connections between trees and mushrooms, he realized they felt networked like the internet. He started foraging for mushrooms and scanning them in 3D. Recently, he created a Snapchat filter that shows you various 3D scanned mushrooms in the space you are in. This is animated and cycles through various mushrooms. Jacob ended his talk by showing the crowd how to use his snapchat filter.

Jacob Riddle’s work can be viewed on his website.


Zahra Debbek and Sabrina Hoenes Intern at the WSU Museum of Art

Zahra Debbek and Sabrina Hoenes Intern at the
Jordan Schnitzer Museum of Art

By: Max Ciot

This year, DTC Seniors Zahra Debbek and Sabrina Hoenes are interning at the Jordan Schnitzer Museum of Art on the WSU campus.

Previously, Zahra had worked at the Museum of Art as a marketing intern in 2017. When Zahra had a clearer idea of what she wanted to do after graduation, she reached out to the museum to work with them again. After a few interviews, Zahra was offered the position of Museum Assistant. She also enrolled in Fine Arts 490: Gallery Procedures with the Museum of Art, which is part of her Exhibition Studies minor and has enhanced her experience at the museum. Sabrina got her internship through the museum’s Educational Coordinator and former DTC Faculty Member, Kristen Becker.

Zahra’s responsibilities at the Museum of Art include: creating different types of media such as taking photos, videos, and posting on social media. Other duties include welcoming visitors into the museum and participating in ongoing events. Sabrina is in charge of capturing videos of public events taking place at the museum, and any video editing that the museum may need.

Students put together letters for the letter press at the Museum of Art.

Sabrina’s favorite aspects about working for the Museum of Art are getting to experience the public and private events. Zahra likes being surrounded by so much creativity, as it keeps her and others inspired. Connecting with the community and allowing students learning opportunities is also something Zahra enjoys about working at the museum. Recently, Zahra and Sabrina were given the opportunity to record footage of the visiting artists from the Black Lives Matter Artist Grant Exhibit. “It was so nice meeting and talking to them and hearing their thoughts on their artwork! I also love working with the staff at the museum, they are all so nice and friendly,” says Sabrina.

This internship is helping Zahra and Sabrina build up not only their resumes, but also their portfolios. According to Sabrina, the internship has helped her gain experience working with cameras as she produces videos for the museum. She also has had the opportunity to further strengthen and improve her skills in Adobe Premiere Pro.

After graduating, Zahra is planning to work in the creative side of marketing, mainly for museums. Majoring in DTC with a minor in Exhibition Studies through the Department of Fine Arts will enable her to use all of the skills that she is learning in her future career. Sabrina is unsure of exactly what she wants to do, but she wouldn’t mind a career in the museum industry if the opportunity presented itself.

Students Have Their Portfolios Reviewed at AIGA

DTC Students Have Their Portfolios Reviewed at the
2021 AIGA Portfolio Festival

SIGA Portfolio Website

In July 2021 two DTC Students, Paige McNamara-Pittler and Ciara Parkhurst, were given scholarships to participate in the 2021 American Institute of Graphic Arts (AIGA) Portfolio Festival. On their site, AIGA describes the festival as a chance for: “…students, recent graduates, emerging designers, and those looking to refresh their portfolio. Focused on mentorship, collaboration, and learning, the Portfolio Festival features content from design practitioners, influencers, educators, and partners, who can help you tailor your portfolio to your next opportunity.” The 2021 festival was online, but both Paige and Ciara still found the experience interesting and engaging. Below they elaborate a little more on their personal experiences.

Ciara Parkhurst

The 2021 AIGA Portfolio Festival was filled with insightful presentations and support for emerging students and seasoned professionals alike. Specifically, I had the pleasure of receiving constructive feedback from Oona Stern, VP Design Director at Nickelodeon. Her experience as a creative professional brought a refreshing perspective and critical perception to my constantly changing portfolio. Some memorable feedback relayed includes suggestions for enhancing my professional portfolio, such as scaling back on the number of works included in my portfolio. As we further discussed the portfolio, she mentioned that some works were more memorable than others because of their uniqueness and creativity. Often in visual communication, there are layouts and compositions that are mundane or predictable – she encouraged me to extend past the obvious or expected and take a project “as far as it can go.” Overall, Oona’s responses have propelled my design and visual communication comprehension, while also posing critical advice necessary for acquiring a positive future in the design community.

Paige McNamara-Pittler

I recently had the privilege of attending the 2021 AIGA Portfolio Festival. As a designer, my portfolio is a very important part of my job application. During my time in college, I was able to create many pieces that demonstrate my design skills. At the AIGA portfolio festival, I was given support from professional designers, educators, and industry leaders to enhance my portfolio. The festival included a week-long series of keynote speakers. After each talk, there was the opportunity to have a live review of your portfolio. I found these sessions especially useful because I was able to get inspiration from other designers and learned about different critique processes. The best part of the festival was my private review session, where I was matched with a professional designer and given feedback on my portfolio. We discussed aspects such as page layouts, and the content that I should edit. In the session, we also worked on a new User Interface (UI) for my portfolio that will optimize the employer experience. Lastly, the reviewer and I also discussed how to create case studies for my UI/UX projects. Overall, the mentorship, feedback, and advice I have received on my portfolio has given me the confidence to apply for high-level jobs.

Jacob Riddle Mentors Interns with the Coeur D’Alene Tribe

Jacob Riddle Mentors Coeur D’Alene Tribal Game Design Interns


A GIF of a Bitsy Game A GIF of a Bitsy Game

By: Max Ciot

For the second summer in a row the Coeur d’Alene Tribe’s Department of Education collaborated alongside Washington State University to host a paid internship program targeted towards youth tribal members. The program lasted for three weeks and was designed to give youth the important skills and the academic footing they need in order to become future leaders within the Coeur D’Alene (CDA) Tribe. There were three internship tracks interns could choose from: (1) Game Design and Coding, (2) Photography, or (3) Arts & Animation.

Tony Brave was the lead for the Game Design and Coding track within the internship program. He worked closely alongside Michelle ReBecca who supervised and was in support of the track from the CDA Department of Education and DTC faculty member Jacob Riddle. In Brave’s words, Jacob “Enriched the program with his expertise and experience with game design software and coding.” The group used an open source game creation/editing program called Bitsy. Jacob focused on how he could expand the possibilities of each platform they worked on by using coding and how they code use these platforms to teach it.

The internship group was small and diverse and reacted in different ways to content within the program, resonating individually with different skills and lessons they learned. As stated by Brave, what they hoped was for the interns to come away with “not just the skills of working with one game making tool or another, but the belief in themselves that they can be successful if they just put in the effort, as well as the importance of communication.”

The mentors within the Game Design and Coding internship track recall the growth the interns showed in the program, as well as their ability to adapt in an environment that guides their growth. For example, one intern during his first iteration of his game articulated that he felt it was not very good. After one of the feedback sessions the internship hosted it was clear that his game provided a numerous amount of quirky and fun elements such as a time travelling cat and a possible murder mystery. At the end of feedback sessions such as these, the intern commonly seem to be glowing with pride and an increased sense of confidence. His game was initially a mere two rooms, but after getting feedback, he’d added multiple rooms. He had even created a maze through which the character had to navigate through a series of caves with only the light of a candle. In addition, Easter eggs were hidden throughout the game that conveyed the positive message of “anything is possible” which, according to Brave, is the type of message the program hoped to impart in the next generation of Native youth.

You can play some of the Bitsy games the interns created here.


Dallas Hobbs is the 2021 Outstanding Senior

Dallas Hobbs is the 2021 DTC Outstanding Senior &
Is Named One of the Top Ten Seniors at WSU

By: Max Ciot

Every year, one award is given out by the Digital Technology and Culture program to a graduating senior that shines above and beyond and exemplifies in the DTC program. The recipient of this year’s award is Dallas Hobbs.

A man equipped in football gear looks off towards the cameraNot only is Dallas double majoring in DTC and Fine Arts, but he has also managed to maintain a 3.8 GPA at WSU while simultaneously being on the WSU Football team and WSU Track and Field Team.  Additionally, he is a co-founder and member of the Black Student Athlete Association and an up-and-coming activist on a national level. Dallas has a strong presence in the online world as well, where he receives commissions to do various design projects including album covers for music artists. These are just a few of the many examples of how Dallas shines in the DTC program with his strong presence and multitude of achievements.

Double majoring in DTC and Fine Arts while maintaining a high GPA was often-times difficult for Dallas. Even so, he has always had outstanding time-management and planning skills. In addition, his majors did not feel like work to him most of the time, as the work assigned was something he enjoyed to do. Originally, Dallas was not planning to major in the DTC program. He was, however, interested in graphic design and planning to come to WSU for Football. After talking to various people, one common recommendation was the DTC program, which he figured was close enough to what he wanted to do. “It was not a major I was fully expecting, but I got more out of it than I was hoping,” says Dallas. He also wants to mention that the professors in the DTC and Fine Arts department were spectacular, he was able to learn a lot from them, and was “grateful to share a classroom with his professors and fellow students.”

According to DTC faculty Ruth Gregory, Dallas “represents the unique combination of social justice and digital creativity that are central to the Digital Technology Program.” In fact, Dallas, as a part of the We are United program he began pushing the Pac-12 to standardize their health and safety protocols for college athletes. After the imminent storm of COVID-19 blowing through the United States, Dallas had concerns that the right protocols were not being put into place. He decided that there was something he needed to do to represent his fellow athletes and state their demands. This something was an infographic, which, after being finalized, spread across social media in a flash of lightning, Even more than that, Dallas picked up skills from the DTC program in Data Analysis and was able to create spreadsheets for his teams that players used to track peer responses to a survey.

Dallas was also one of this year’s recipients of a Top Ten Senior Award in Athletics from the WSU Alumni Association; a first for the Digital Technology and Culture Program. Every year, ten seniors who demonstrate excellence receive an award in one of the following categories: academics, athletics, campus involvement, community service, or visual & performing arts. Dallas was nominated by WSU Athletic Director Pat Chun.

Dallas’s plans after graduating are “right now kind of all over the place.” While he did want to go into sports design originally, he is beginning to look into different graphic design fields if he isn’t able to reach the NFL with his skills. One thing Dallas would also really like to accomplish in the future is to create a safe-space platform for athletes, students, and the younger generation in general where groups of diverse people can come together and collaborate to “create change for what is going wrong.”

While Dallas may be unsure of his exact plans for the future, DTC faculty and staff know he’ll make a positive impact. In the Outstanding Senior nomination letter Ruth Gregory stated: “the DTC faculty are constantly in awe of Dallas’ diverse array of talents and his unwavering generosity towards others. We know that no matter where he goes, that he will be a valuable and thoughtful contributor.”

Kyle Kopta is the Tri-Cities’ DTC Distinguished Scholar

Kyle Kopta is Honored as the Tri-Cities’ DTC

Distinguished Scholar & A WSU Top Ten Senior

By: Max Ciot

Kyle Kopta made his way to the top on the Tri-Cities’ WSU Campus this year. Not only is Kyle the recipient of the DTC Distinguished Scholar award for the campus, but he is also one of the 2021 WSU Alumni Association’s Top Ten Seniors in the category of Visual & Performing Arts. To top it off, he was also named the WSU Tri-Cities Student Employee of the Year.

Dedicated to making the world and his campus a better place, Kyle often advocates for the less fortunate. During his Junior year he was a part of Associated Students of Washington State University Tri-Cities and earned the organization’s Perseverance Award for Excellent Work. Kyle plans, delivers, markets, and advocates for a range of university events such as those that focus on LGBT issues, diversity, equity, and more. “He is a student that goes above and beyond in every area, often without recognition,” says Maegan Murray, Director of Marketing and Communication at WSU Tri-Cities, who was one of the people who nominated Kyle for the Top Ten Senior award.

A man looks into the camera and smiles

Kyle is a leader and serves his fellow students and faculty by encouraging and helping them when he can.  In the classroom and outside of it, Kyle goes above and beyond and invests dozens of hours practicing his design skills, and ensuring that his projects and work surmount typical expectations and top up to professional standards. Frequently, students and faculty members seek out Kyle to create design pieces to advertise campus events. He also helps other students develop their design-work and find answers to their problems with, according to his supervisor Monique Van Sant, a “smile on his face and a can do attitude.”

In high school, Kyle took an interest in art and design and ended up graduating with a certificate in multimedia arts, and later an associate of arts degree in Visual Arts from Blue Mountain Community College. Kyle was then attracted to the multi-disciplinary nature of the DTC program as it would allow him to explore all of his options as an artist, rather than being stuck to a rigid structure like other programs.

Kyle did encounter some difficulties adjusting to distance learning initially. Working from his bedroom and not being able to bounce ideas off of peers began to have a negative effect on his creative output. He missed the invigorating feeling of working side by side with others, which made him appreciate the inspiration he can get from his surroundings and others.  He became inspired by Franz Kafka’s “The Metamorphosis” which compelled him to create some projects that related to his idea of alienation, the disconnect between mind and body, and existential anxiety. This included creating a collection of abstract self-portraits, and a 3D printed bug-human hybrid.

Kyle is a first generation college student and has held a 4.0 GPA while serving in various capacities on the Tri-Cities campus. Previously, he was a student graphic designer through the Associated Students of WSU Tri-Cities and is now a Teaching Assistant and Tutor through the DTC program. In addition, he is an intern with the WSU Tri-Cities’ Marketing and Communication Office. Kyle also practices as the campus photographer, even for high profile events with Chancellor Sandra Haynes. Besides his roles as an intern and student on the Tri-Cities campus, he is also on the art committee for the Washington State Art Commission where he oversees the Washington State Art Collection and helps the organization allocate grant opportunities. Kyle also collaborates with local artists for WSU installation work.

One of Kyle’s favourite projects he has worked on is when he helped put together the Undergraduate Research Symposium and Art Exhibition at the end of every semester. Kyle says that the students at WSU Tri-Cities are creating innovative, thoughtful, and impactful work, and it is a pleasure to be able to amplify their voices in any way he can.

After finding a passion for marketing, Kyle would like to continue to work with it in the future as it allows him to work with design, photography, and video simultaneously. He would further like to continue working in a higher-education setting as well, as collaborating with various groups of people on different projects is important to him and the college setting allows him to do such. In addition, he would like to contribute to the local Tri-Cities art scene in any way he can. Growing up in Hermiston, Oregon, there was virtually no art presence in the community, and to him, fostering a tight-knit artist community in the Tri-Cities would be amazing. This would include curating some in-person gallery shows.

Kyle also has a personal website you can check out.