My Fourth Year At WSU: Elevation

Wow. Can it really be four years? I have now worked at Washington State University for the length of time between Presidential Elections, leap years, and Summer/Winter Olympiads. I guess I am a well-seasoned Coug by this point.

It’s crazy. I have now worked at WSU for four years.

Memory Lane

But even with the passing of four years, my vivid recollection of March 16, 2020 is sharp. I woke up early to meet my then-boss (shout out Dave Wasson!) at a gas station right outside of Spokane. I hopped in his truck and we drove to Pullman for my first day of work. What has now become an icebreaker/inside joke among my University Marketing and Communications colleagues, that mid-March Monday would be my only day in the office for a long time. That afternoon we received the directive to work from home indefinitely as COVID-19 shook our world.

That turbulent and unpredictable period in our world’s history ensured that my first 365 days at WSU centered on reacting. By the time my second year came around, although we were still dealing with the Coronavirus, I embraced the building stage which, in normal times, would have transpired during my rookie year. My third year was about emerging as I became more than a Zoom square and our social program made tangible, measurable progress.

My fourth year? It was all about elevating.

Because I am a NERD, I always like to wear the same outfit on my work anniversary that I wore on my first ever day of work at WSU.


A year after our social program invested in brand marketing, amplified major university accomplishments, and presented on the national stage at conferences, we did more of the same in Year #4 but to a greater degree.

By the time my third year was wrapping up, our social program was active in the first two installments of our #GoCougsMeans brand marketing campaign. During my fourth year, I had the privilege of doing social media ad buys for the next seven installments of the campaign. Furthermore, I grabbed a front row seat for the additional brand marketing work we started with a nationally renowned agency (big things to come!). And when it came to amplifying major university accomplishments from both a paid and organic front, our social team was called upon for strategy and execution. Communication projects included the establishment of a pediatric medical residency, the breaking of ground on Schweitzer Engineering Hall, and the renewal of a partnership with Pullman Regional Hospital. Finally, after presenting at the American Marketing Association’s Higher Ed Conference with Pac-12 colleagues during my third year, I submitted a proposal this past year solely on behalf of WSU. Stacked against stiff competition, it was among the 11% of accepted proposals, paving the way for Cara Hoag and myself to present at the 2023 AMA Higher Ed Conference in Chicago.

I presented at the American Marketing Association Symposium for the Marketing of Higher Ed in Chicago in Nov. 2023.

Besides those prominent opportunities to elevate, I had many other chances to make an impact. Over the past 12 months, I ran paid campaigns for numerous campus partners, assumed the project manager role of our UMC team’s effort to recognize #WSU’s Top Ten Seniors, presented to communicators system-wide on a variety of social media topics, and provided consultation to numerous departments about social media strategy.

I had a lot of fun, too. In this fourth go-around I collaborated with the video team like never before as we made some creative and memorable videos (favorites include this, this, and this). In May, the WSU communicators conference led me to Everett where I hung with my colleagues throughout the Washington State University system for a couple days. When fall arrived, I covered the WSU vs. Wisconsin football game as we answered a certain question everyone wanted to know. Then, in February, we successfully launched a social media organic campaign called #CougCounties—a project that had hovered at the top of my goal sheet.

It was a lot of fun working with video during my fourth year at WSU.


With all that said, seldom do you journey through a year without adversity. Our department helped navigate our university through some challenging times. The Idaho murder case/court proceedings continued to linger, our academic student employees went on strike, leadership was questioned, and budgets continue to hang in the balance.

And then there was the Pac-12. The way the “Conference of Champions” disintegrated that August day was sad and shocking. But any personal hurt feelings I harbored needed to be cast aside because the days and weeks that followed would prove to be a big lift. Statements, court cases, short term agreements, and so much more kept us on our toes. My responsibilities thrust me right into the thick of it.


But those challenges can’t cloud the positivity cultivated during my fourth year at WSU. While the highlights and growth are neat, the best part of my job is the UMC team I work with. I am constantly heartened by our team of writers, photographers, videographers, designers, and developers who go out of their way to support our social program. Without these colleagues, our social media presence would be shoddy at best. Well, at least it would be if I was the only member of our social team. I am grateful to have Matt Haugen serve as our social media manager—he can do a lot with a little as his passion for WSU leads him to do great things for our program.

I would also be remiss if I didn’t recognize a couple other team members who played a big role in my fourth year. Let me once again mention Cara Hoag, our enrollment management marketing director, who presented with me at the AMAs. Whether it was preparing for that major conference, driving to Everett together, or trying to pinpoint strategies to bring more students to WSU, it was so nice to work with her and also have someone to talk with about the daily joys and challenges of raising young kids. Also, our creative director, Eric Limburg, continued to go out of his way to make sure our social team always had everything we needed from a video/photo/design perspective. The conclusion of my fourth year at WSU coincides with Eric’s final month at the university. He landed an incredible job at another university and I will miss him a lot. Thanks for everything, Eric!

Cara and I collaborated a lot this year. This is us returning to Spokane from Everett.

Finally, what more can I say about my boss? Holly Sitzmann is invested in my success and the accomplishment of my goals. Her guidance in my development as a professional is what most employees can only dream of when it comes to their supervisor. But as I have said on numerous occasions, the support she gives me as a WSU employee is only outdone by the recognition she gives me as an individual. Holly allows me to put my family first and pursue the quirkiness and weirdness of the person I am. 😉


I am thankful to be at WSU. In fact, two of the people I just mentioned—Holly and Eric—were on the search committee who brought me here…so special thanks to both of them! I am grateful for the opportunities I have been afforded and I hope to continue to contribute. I look forward to Year #5 as I try my best to rep the crimson and gray. GO COUGS! Don’t Blink.

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