CWU News

Central Washington University Course Provides Life-Changing Benefit for Puyallup Resident

Learning about emotional intelligence—or the ability to perceive and manage your own emotions or those of other groups or individuals—has had a big impact on the life of Ron Anderson.

Anderson, 52, who lives in Puyallup, lists himself on the autism spectrum, so relating to others can sometimes be challenging.

But after studying the subject through a Central Washington University certificate course held online via Zoom during summer, he says he has gained skills that help him better understand how to read other people.

“As soon as I was learning it, I was putting it into practice and I’ve seen a lot of changes in relationships with people that I know,” he said. “It’s opened up doors.”

These skills will be useful to Anderson as he transitions into a new phase of his life. At the end of winter quarter, he will complete his CWU Bachelor of Science in Business Administration, focusing on leadership and management. He then intends to pursue a Master of Business Administration and, ultimately, open another small business.

CWU Emotional Intelligence logoAnderson previously owned an upholstery shop but also worked as a heavy-equipment mechanic at the same time. But that career came to a sudden end 14 years ago. An on-the-job accident ended up leaving him with a partially crushed back and spine.

“So, I was a stay-at-home dad until 2015,” he said. “I spent the next year working out. I essentially had to learn how to walk again. I knew that I wanted to go to school, but I had to get to a physical place where I would be able to go to school and sit through a class.”

Anderson began his college career at Pierce College in January 2017. He decided to continue at the co-located CWU-Pierce County Univesity Center because of its proximity and affordability. That’s important as Anderson relies on a small Social Security income. He looks to change that when he opens his business.

Anderson’s emotional intelligence course instructor from last spring, Anderson Parks, is also now leading one of his fall quarter classes.

“From the first time I met Ron, I saw a lot of potential in him and I’m so glad he took the emotional intelligence course so others could see all that untapped potential,” Parks said of Anderson. “Ron really embraced the topic and was fully engaged in every class session. By the end of the course, I noticed a marked difference in Ron’s self-awareness, communication style, and his comfort level engaging with the other students.

“With the skills he learned, others will now see more of Ron’s talents,” Parks continued. “His positive and enthusiastic attitude sets such a positive tone in the classroom and brings out the best of the other students and instructors.”

Before coming to CWU, Parks led strategic management, marketing, and planning for many of Coca-Cola’s largest corporate customers and understands the importance of emotional intelligence.

“A lot of the example we were using, and case studies at the end, were actually based on experiences that he [Parks] had,” Anderson said. “He used his real-life experiences to teach us.”