WSU is advancing Washington industries …
WSU teams with aviation to develop sustainable aviation biofuels …
WSU partners to develop bioproducts that reduce dependence on petroleum imports …
WSU works with state commodity commissions to conduct needed agricultural research …
WSU developed the technology used for wood-plastic composites used for buildings …
WSU researchers work to improve dairy productivity and reduce disease …
WSU research has made Washington one of the world’s most productive wheat-growing regions …

Cougar Chat, My WSU Impact

My WSU Impact – Janita Harris: a student’s story


WSU Impact shares the fifth entry in our series, “My WSU Impact”. Washington State University student, Janita Harris recently joined WSU Impact for a leisurely lunch on a beautiful afternoon on the Seattle waterfront. We were personally inspired by Janita’s story, enjoyed listening to her reasons for being an advocate for higher education and WSU, and impressed with her student activities and related accolades while making time to share her views and personal story with her elected officials in the state legislature.

Ann Goos, ’88  – WSU Impact

janitaWhen you first meet WSU student and WSU Impact member Janita Harris, you are immediately struck by the positive energy emanating from  her small, compact frame.  She radiates an intensity for living life that is infectious, with a ready smile that lights up easily in conversation. We recently sat down in downtown Seattle on a sunny July afternoon to talk about WSU Impact.

When I asked Janita why she chose Washington State University for her undergraduate studies, she answered, “…in reality, WSU picked me  – and I am so glad to be a student and learning so much.” When I asked what she meant by the statement, Janita explained that she met a WSU alumna who encouraged her to apply to WSU, in part because of WSU’s commitment to maintaining and building a diverse and multi-cultural student body. After reviewing her application, WSU provided her with the financial assistance and the promise of student support services that made this first generation college student confident that she was in excellent hands.

Janita is an active student, currently majoring in communications at the WSU’s Edward R. Murrow College of Communications. With the help of mentors, advisors, and her own grit and determination, Janita is carrying an excellent GPA, serves as a director for the Associated Students of WSU, mentors other students, and serves as a project leader for the Center for Civic Engagement. And, we are proud to say that Janita is a member of WSU Impact while being involved in many elements of WSU campus life.

“As an engaged student on campus, I became concerned about the rapidly rising cost of tuition,” says Janita. Along with other students, Janita worked with the leadership of WSU and ASWSU to learn more about the issues and helped to organize a rally in support of adequate state funding and reinvestment in higher education to keep tuition from continuing its upward spike.

“The rally to talk about tuition and the relation to the state budget was just a portion of a series of actions to ensure student voices were being heard in Olympia. ASWSU and other students also organized to attend the student lobby day in Olympia this last session and we made sure WSU had excellent representation,” explains Janita. “That’s why I joined WSU Impact. I knew I could access the latest information on what was happening in Olympia, learn more about how it was impacting WSU and students, and use the WSU Impact tools to immediately and easily contact my legislators via my personal webpage.”

Janita learned a thing or two about advocacy, policy, politics, and getting fellow students to work together for the good of all. “Students are like anyone else: we are really busy! It is easy to get distracted and only focus on what is most immediate,” says Janita. “But I care about WSU and acknowledge how much opportunity college has provided to me, so I want to be engaged and encourage others to get and stay active.” Janita is happy with the results of this last legislative session. “It is great to see the reinvestment in public higher education, a zero increase in tuition fees, and to know that citizen voices can be part of the policy dialogue.”

Janita anticipates she will continue lending her voice in support of WSU in the future. “WSU has helped me so much and I have met so many positive people who have invested in me, I want to give back.” says Janita.  “A mentor asked me early in my college career, ‘what is your brand going to be?'” says Janita, with marked passion. “I want my brand to be that I do all I can do to make these college years the best they can be, commit to success, and experience as much as I can”.

WSU Impact says a big “Go Cougs” to this kind of proactive and positive approach to life and glad Janita is on our WSU Impact team.

Janita Harris will be spending the WSU fall semester participating in Semester At Sea, returning to the WSU Pullman Campus in January 2014. Janita serves as the Assistant Director of Multicultural Affairs and Outreach for ASWSU and her twin sister, Jalisa is an ASWSU Senator. Both sisters are members of WSU Impact, and registered by accessing

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