Chosen Cougs are part of our Cougar family.

For nearly 70 years, we've recognized parents and family members who have distinctly impacted their child’s collegiate experience at Washington State University. WSU students’ parents, advocates, and chosen family are all celebrated as part of the Cougar family.

If you have someone special in your life who has positively impacted your WSU experience, we want to hear about it! Chosen Cougs can be anyone — parents, siblings, other family members, neighbors, friends, mentors, etc. 

Nominations for the Spring Chosen Coug Award have closed. 

Finalists and their nominees are invited to a celebratory brunch with delicious food and plenty of Coug spirit. The winner must be present and will be announced during the event. The Spring 2024 Brunch will be held on Saturday, April 6

Recent Chosen Coug Awadess

Fall 2023 winner: Jihae Han

My younger sister, selflessly setting aside her own crucial moments, made the long journey from South Korea with my three-yearold child and me, determined to help us settle into this quaint college town. She offered her support in every way possible: from babysitting to cleaning and even preparing meals. My first year in my doctoral program was marked by chaos, but thanks to her presence, I not only survived but thrived through that challenging first semester


Marilyn and Michael Gorman (Nominated by Jessica Gorman)

Sophomore WSU student Jessica Gorman nominated her grandparents, Marilyn and Michael Gorman, lovingly called MarMar and PaPa, whose tireless support has allowed Jessica to succeed this semester and throughout her WSU experience. 


Her grandmother, who received her master's from WSU, was the one who encouraged her to apply to the ROAR program. Marilyn has been by Jessica's side from the beginning, fueling her passions in the girl scouts, 4-H, and sports, and now supports her as a Coug. She often drives to Pullman to help Jessica and her roommates, hiding surprises in Jessica's room and sending care packages when she most needs them. 


Jessica's grandfather Michael has inspired Jessica's curiosity and creativity. His passion for the arts, rocks, gems, and animals has all been passed down to Jessica. Michael encourages her to audit classes that speak to her interests and is eager to chat on the phone after class to discuss what she's learned. 


Support from her grandparents has helped Jessica through her WSU experience and as she worries about her mother, who lives with serious medical conditions. Jessica writes, "[My} Mom is my great encourager; Mar Mar and PaPa are my drivers!"

John and Kimberly Smith
Nominated by Jackee Smith

Both my parents deserve to be the Chosen Coug because they aren't just two separate people, they are one team. I wouldn't be okay this semester if it wasn't for both of them. They put their own lives aside to make sure that I can get through to graduation and that I don't drown under the pressure. They worry and they cry over me. But they also laugh and support me from the sidelines. My mom and dad are everywhere in every aspect of my life, and nominating them for Chosen Coug is the least I can do to say thank you.

Brandon Winner

Brandon Borcher
Nominated by Alexis Curcio

Student Alexis Curcio nominated her brother Brandon Borcher who stepped in as a father figure when he was needed the most, after the loss of their father. Alexis writes: Even as a busy working father, my brother still has the motivation to call me while he’s at work and home to help me remember that it is not just my mom that remembers I’m away at school and I am not totally alone with where I am. My brother has always been my protector and I will always rely on him to stand up for me no matter the situation. He is my inspiration, and the closest thing I have to a father now.

Brandon has always been a Coug at heart; supporting our school since he graduated, and even still to this day, he attends the football games every chance he gets. If anyone deserves this award it is my brother Brandon because even though my father can’t be here for dad’s weekend, Brandon is still going to show up, but not just for one weekend-but my whole life.

Kaliman Winne

Rebecca Kallman
Nominated by Davi Kallman

Rebecca has not only made an impact on her daughter’s life at WSU, but she’s also been a positive influence on her daughter’s friend’s lives. “In addition to serving as my mother, she has gone above and beyond the call of motherly duties to be a surrogate mother to my friends in Pullman. She sends letters and gifts to my friends who are not as supported as I am, and by doing this, she has truly changed how my friends see themselves and in turn, it has positively impacted their time at WSU.”

Rebecca would come down to Pullman for Thanksgiving to host, she would have her daughter invite friends and peers who couldn’t go home to celebrate with their families. She has helped her daughter along with others financially and has always been supportive of their hard work while getting their graduate degree.“My friends and I often struggle financially and emotionally due to the struggles of graduate school.  Realizing these stressors, she has sent my friends money for groceries and has helped them with going to academic conferences even when she does not personally have the funds.”

Mama K, as everyone calls her is “truly the embodiment of the Cougs helping Cougs spirit.”