By Sarah English/For The Independent
For many Washington State University students from high schools with the same number of folks roaming the halls as do the streets of Chewelah, their college town of Pullman is the size of a neighborhood back home. For 2015 Jenkins High School alum Tia Justice, Pullman is a gateway to the world.
Justice, studying Biology and Pre-Physician Assistanceship, chose WSU because it is a public research school, and with her interest in the science field it seemed a good fit. WSU has an increased emphasis on research through the “Drive to 25” initiative, with the goal of being among the top 25 public research universities by 2030.
But Justice didn’t just base her decision on marketing brochures mailed out by the university. “I knew a few people here before who really made WSU sound like a fun experience as well as a good education,” she said. “The first time I visited campus I fell in love with it and knew it was the right place for me.” WSU’s location was also a draw, being just two and a half hours from Chewelah, and its supportive “town and gown” connection was a plus. “My favorite thing about Pullman is the community and the spirit. There are so many different types of people that are into different things, but everyone has one thing in common at least, and that is loving the Cougs,” Justice said.
But it wasn’t just the academic programs and the environment that attracted her to WSU, it was also the people. “The people at WSU make WSU so special,” she notes. While just beginning her sophomore year, Justice has already “met so many people that have impacted my life in a great way, and I could not be more happy with all those around me.”
Some of those people she first encountered through her activities outside of class, including a Pre-Physician Assistant club that she co-founded, and a dance team that she was a member of, opportunities that would not have been as readily available at other schools. “There is so much to offer at this school. Your personality and interests will change some and when they do, there is something for your interests here at WSU,” notes Justice.
Though small enough to welcome involvement, WSU is also big enough that “you can be a part of whatever scene you want to be a part of and no one cares about that choice,” she said. The diversity, what Justice calls “a beautiful thing,” surprised her the most, coming from Chewelah.
When not busy with school, work, activities and friends, there are always the Cougars to follow. “There is a lot to do on campus, but I would say sporting events are really fun to go to,” said Justice. “I like to think the best about the football team, so of course we are going to win the Apple Cup,” Justice predicts. As for our chances in the Rose Bowl? “I hope we make it there,” she notes, “but win or lose, we are still Cougs.”
Justice’s freshman year as a WSU Cougar was over too soon but she made the most of it. “I wish I knew how fast time was going to go by. I honestly would not do anything differently, though,” she said; “Each decision I have made and each person at this school I have let into my life–even if they are not around anymore–have all accounted for my time here at WSU and have helped me make life long memories.”
After a Rose Bowl win and graduation, Justice plans to attend graduate school for her masters/Physician Assistant degree, and then “experience life in other places.” “Go Cougs” will then take on a whole new meaning as this Coug’s future begins and her world expands.