From the stage to the altar

WSU alumni recount relationship’s origins, offer advice to graduating Cougs



Brian and Ashley MacMillan met in the early 2000s at WSU. They now live in Oregon and have two little Cougs in the family.


For alumni Brian and Ashley MacMillan, the theater program at WSU was not only a huge part of their college career, but also where their relationship started. 

Ashley said she met Brian when she was a freshman and he was a sophomore. The theater program was holding auditions for One Acts that fall, and the two were put in the same audition group. 

After their roles in the One Acts, they continued to do theater together but did not start dating until four years after college. Brian said even though they were seeing other people in college, they were still close friends during their time at WSU. 

Once they both graduated, they ended up living in Seattle at the same time, so they were still able to remain friends, Ashley said. Shortly after, Brian received a job offer in Oregon. Ashley encouraged him to take it, and the two promised to stay in touch. 

She said a couple of months after he moved to Oregon, she decided to go visit him; what she thought was just a weekend trip visiting a friend turned out to be a surprise romantic weekend trip. 

“[Brian] took me to the top of Mount Bachelor, and this was in the summer, so it was just beautiful and sunny,” Ashley said. “Later that night, we went out to dinner, and I think we both knew at that point in time that we were really into each other.”

The couple ended up getting married in May 2011, and they implemented WSU into their wedding. Ashley said she had a Coug-themed garter.

Brian said they even had the WSU fight song play in the background after they said their vows; they now have a 4-year-old and a 7-year-old daughter. 

The couple visits campus occasionally and brings their children with them, he said. Their children even learned the fight song in their early days. 

Brian graduated from WSU in 2003. He said even though he was sad about leaving Pullman, he was happy to graduate and get the degree he worked hard for. 

“It was a little sad knowing I wasn’t going to be in Pullman anymore,” he said. “Pullman is a special place and anybody who goes there knows it.”

Ashley graduated in 2005. She said it was a whirlwind for her because it was so busy and exciting and she was taking a big step in her life. 

“WSU will forever be one of the best times of my life,” she said. “I knew in the moment … what a special experience being at WSU was.”

Brian said one of the best things to do after graduation is to never forget a professor, especially the ones who made a connection with a student. 

Not only do professors want to know how their previous students are doing, but they can also provide good connections when searching for a first or second job, he said. 

“It’s been almost 20 years now and I still keep in touch with my old professors,” he said. “When I go back [to WSU], I go to see them and they care about their students … use that Coug network because it’s really strong.”

The WSU Alumni Association is really strong throughout the country and is a good resource for new graduates; Ashley said she and Brian made a lot of connections through the association after they moved to Oregon. 

After they had just moved to Oregon, they went to an Alumni Association event and instantly clicked with the people there.

“We found our home away from home and we found our people,” she said. “Reach out to the Alumni Association, find those other Cougs, because Cougs love to mentor and help and lift up other Cougs every chance we can get — especially people graduating today.”