When WSU Pullman student Jessica Gorman’s mother fell ill before Gorman was due to start at WSU and faced a long road to recovery, Gorman was not sure if she was ready to begin her college experience. That was until her grandmother, Marilyn Gorman, vowed to help her live her dream of being a Coug, just like herself and Gorman’s mom. Throughout Gorman’s two years at WSU, Marilyn and her husband, Michael, provided her with transportation, class consultations, much needed words of encouragement, and even surprise gifts.
“I know everyone’s grandparents are special, but if it wasn’t for mine, I would not have had the chance to be successful at WSU,” Gorman said.
In recognition of their tireless support of their granddaughter, Marilyn and Michael Gorman were recognized as the Spring 2023 Chosen Cougs on Saturday, April 1, during a ceremony at Round Top Public House Pavilion in Pullman.
It was Gorman’s grandmother, whom she affectionately calls Mar Mar, who encouraged her to apply for WSU’s ROAR Program. Whenever she hits rough patches on her journey as a student, Gorman said her grandma is always there to encourage her to keep going.
“She has been able to step in when I needed ‘mom’ support and comfort,” Gorman said. “After she comes for a visit, she hides surprises in my room like a book or a Hershey’s bar that I find just when I need them most.”
Both grandparents have taken a close interest in Gorman’s classes. When she signed up for a world architecture class, the three reflected on their trip to Paris together and the different monuments and art they observed there. Her grandpa, who once worked as a jeweler and art teacher, even joined Gorman for one of her geology classes.
When she needs to relax and escape the stresses in her life, Gorman enjoys drawing — something she learned from her grandpa, whom she calls PaPa.
“Drawing has really helped while mom has been sick, because I worry about her every day,” she said. “My papa is always able to help me calm down when I am nervous or worried.”
Miles ‘paved with love’
Of the 69 nominations that were submitted for the award, Colette Casavant, director of student services in the College of Agricultural, Human, and Natural Resource Sciences and a member of the award selection committee, said Gorman’s letter stood out for the many ways her grandparents loved and supported her, and encouraged her journey at WSU. She called it an “amazing submission” that was celebrated by all the reviewers.
“Jessica’s love and appreciation for her grandparents resonated throughout her beautifully written letter,” Casavant said. “Mar Mar and PaPa drove her thousands of miles to and from Pullman so she could be a Coug; those miles were paved with love, family, and dreams…and they are Chosen Cougs.”
The Chosen Coug Award, managed by Student Affairs and sponsored by BECU, recognizes individuals from across the university system who have made a substantial impact on a student’s experience at WSU. It is given twice a year during WSU’s Fall and Spring Family Weekends.
Joining Casavant on the award selection committee were Rob Morales, associate director in the Access Center; Kristina Peterson-Wilson, vice provost for academic administration and chief of staff; and Jeanne Weiler, community engagement director in the Office of the President.
Jessica’s mother, Lisa Gorman, was named the Fall 2022 Chosen Coug for her outstanding support of her daughter.