Student Health Advocate Wins Two Honors College Awards

PULLMAN, Wash. — Amanda Porter, a 2001 graduate of Washington State University and an advocate for access to public health care for all people around the globe, is the recipient of the top two awards from the university’s Honors College.

She received the Dean’s Award as the graduating senior who best exemplifies the mission and values of the college. This award consists of $250, an engraved Honors medallion and a commemorative tile with her name that will be placed permanently in the Honors College Hall. She also received the S. Town Stephenson Award for her academic excellence, growth and talent in and beyond her field of study.

A double major in zoology and Spanish, Porter will be attending George Washington University in Washington, D.C., in the fall to pursue a master’s degree in public health in international health promotion. Her goal is to work for the World Health Organization to improve immigrants’ access to primary care in Latin America.

Porter said participating in the Honors College helped her to decide what she enjoys and what she wants to do with her life. “I made a lot of friends and had great classes and professors. I was challenged,” she said about her experience at WSU. “I love Pullman and was sad to leave.”

Mary Wack, dean of the college, said Porter excelled in the sciences, humanities and the social sciences as well as in community and volunteer service. “She has studied cockroach resting patterns, but can also explain the history of U.S. intervention in Central America. She can shift from teaching cat circulation to discussing Argentine romantic literature,” Wack said. “Her honors professors have remarked on her superior writing, her strong, intelligently formed opinions and her deep and reflective thinking.”

Porter, a 1996 graduate of Walla Walla High School, came to WSU as a pre-medicine student. Her goal was to become a rural physician with a family practice in an underserved Hispanic population. She then participated in an international student exchange program to Costa Rica from July 1998 to May 1999 that changed her life.

Porter studied the impact of the 500,000 Nicaraguan immigrants on the economic, social and political structures of Costa Ricans for her senior project in the Honors College. She was particularly interested in the negative stereotypes that native Costa Ricans hold of Nicaraguans with regard to criminal activity and the abuse of public education and health care. She really enjoyed this project, which made her realize that she wants to do research to help more people gain access to physicians and basic health care, Porter said.

In addition to her academic work, Porter served the university and the community in a variety of ways during her years in Pullman. She also found time to join the Student Alumni Connection, volunteer as an aide in the emergency room at the Memorial Hospital and serve as a driver for the Women’s Transit program.

Porter is working as a receptionist at a pediatric clinic in Seattle this summer. Her parents are Kimberly and Ronald Porter of Walla Walla.