From her early days at CWU to the initial stages of her career, Anjanette Wilson has always been confident that she could overcome any challenges life threw her way.
The first-generation college graduate, who completed her biology degree in 2019, arrived at Central not knowing where her higher education journey would take her. But it didn’t take her long to find a comfort zone.
“I had to navigate the academic world practically alone,” said Wilson, whose mother immigrated from the Philippines before she was born. “However, the guidance from my professors and advisors, along with CWU’s support, alleviated the hardships that came with being a first-generation college student.”
Shortly after graduation, Wilson was hired at the Washington State Department
of Health’s (DOH) environmental laboratory as a lab tech testing for shellfish and marine biotoxins. However, her role quickly changed in early 2020 when the pandemic began and the DOH tapped her to work for the COVID-19 Response Team.
Wilson and her team would prepare between 100-300 testing kits every day for the microbiology lab, which performs DNA sequencing of test samples to determine if they are positive or negative.
Just as when she arrived on the CWU campus as a teenager, Wilson quickly found a
way to adapt. She attributes much of that perseverance to the training she received while in Ellensburg.
“I owe it to CWU for all the soft skills required to sustain my work as a lab tech and COVID-19 response worker,” she said. “My training from Central is the framework of my biological expertise, and I will forever be grateful for the biology and chemistry professors that taught me necessary skills to conduct biology research and chemistry analyses.”
During the time Wilson was working in the testing lab, she worked alongside three fellow CWU alumni: Bud Taylor (’87), logistics manager on the incident management team, Brian Hiatt (’00), microbiology office director, and Shelley Lankford (’86), acting director of the Office of Environmental Laboratory Sciences.
“COVID-19 highlighted the injustices and inequities within our nation, and I wanted to be involved in solving complex environmental issues, so I applied to grad school and quickly got started,” Wilson said.
Wilson now works for the National Federation of Filipino American Associations, a nonprofit organization that supports the welfare and well-being of Filipinos and Filipino Americans throughout the US.
She is also working on her master’s in environmental management, with a focus on global sustainability. In collaboration with her master’s project, Wilson is a graduate fellow at Global Seed Savers, an international development nonprofit organization that advocates for food and seed sovereignty in the Philippines.
“As a Filipino American, my passion in sustainable food systems is highlighted in my
involvement and advocacy work with non-profits that advocate for my culture, my motherland, and all that sustain it,” she said.