WTE increases student dreams

Washburn student, Sydney Spyres eats doner kebab in Maastricht, Limburg, Netherlands. She has completed a community service WTE and an international education WTE. 

The Washburn Transformational Experience (WTE) declarations reached an all-time high of 416 students during the 2012-2013 academic year.

The Washburn Transformation Experience provides opportunities to help students achieve their dreams and provide life changing experiences.

Washburn designed this program after Ron Wasserstein, former vice president for academic affairs, meet with staff at a faculty dinner. Those at the dinner thought of all the experiences they enjoyed and those that impacted their life during their college days and created the WTE.

“He [Wasserstein] had this great phrase,” said Mike Russell, WTE director of the scholarly and creative area. “‘A big bold innovated idea.’ And so he thought, let’s have a big bold innovated idea for Washburn. Something amazing for our students.”

The WTE provides students with $1,000 to complete a WTE of their choice. The goal of the WTE is to give students the chance to do something they have always wanted to do without the major expense. Some WTEs do cost more than the $1,000, however, the idea is that the additional cost to students will not exceed more than the total cost of a semester at Washburn would cost. Students may also receive course credit for completing a WTE.

“All a student has to do is think of something they would like to do. Think of all the dreams,” said Russell.

There are four WTE areas that students can complete. These include community service, international education, leadership and scholarly/creative activities. Within these areas, students can get funding for research, supplies or travel and learn new things.

Community service WTE provides students the opportunity to help make the world a better place by helping others.

International education is designed to help students who want to travel abroad or visit a foreign country.

Senior Sydney Spyres completed an international education WTE last fall. Spyres traveled to the Netherlands, where she studied abroad for a semester.

“It was hard to put into words what the WTE gave me,” said Spyres. “I gained a lot of friends and international perspective. When you go to a foreign country were you don’t know anyone and you don’t know the language, the biggest thing you have to rely on is yourself. I gained a better picture of who I am and the type of individual I want to be.”

The leadership WTE gives students the opportunity to change the world and think of new ways to approach something.

The last area students can get a WTE in is “scholarly and creative.” Students can make resources for research to discover new things, create something new, or go places to learn about things that interest them.

The process to set up a WTE is simple. There are three forms for students to fill out and submit, and they must find a faculty member to be their mentor.

“The WTE is one of a kind. There is nothing like it in the whole country,” said Russell.