Amanda Litzinger, this year’s Julia McCulloch Smith winner for outstanding graduating female, is part of a Western Oregon University legacy. Her mother and grandmother both attended the school. In fact, it’s the only university Litzinger applied to. “I came here when I was little and I was stuck on it from the beginning, even then not knowing anything about the programs here,” she said.
When the time came for her to begin studying at WOU, she knew she wanted to become more involved with campus activities. “On such a small campus there are so many possibilities, I found myself getting involved everywhere on campus. It motivated me, because I wanted to seize the opportunity.”
Her biggest involvement has been with Abby’s House, a resource center on campus to help students with issues such as sexual violence, relationship violence, sexual harassment, stalking, women’s and mental health, and more. She first joined Abby’s House when she saw a poster for the organization in her residence hall. Litzinger has been critical to the group’s evolution over the past three years. When she first joined, the organization was comprised of three advocates – her and two other students – now there are 20 trained advocates. “Within Abby’s House, I am really passionate about the issues we take on, related to women’s rights and equality. I love that we are able to provide a space on campus for students that they are able to feel safe at. And if they have questions they are struggling with, we find the answers to help them,” she said.
Litzinger also served as the judicial administrator this past year for the Associated Students of Western Oregon University. “I oversaw the judicial branch, which has been an amazing and eye-opening experience when it comes to the role government plays, especially student government at the university level.”
She’s found many connections between her activities and her work in the classroom. Not only have her professors helped her by proofreading news releases she’s written for Abby’s House, but the subject matter in the classroom has been directly applied to her work on campus. Dr. Molly Mayhead, professor of communication studies, said of Litzinger, “Amanda has never done anything halfway. Her papers for my classes (legendarily difficult) have all received the highest grade and she generally finished at the top of each class. She is respectful of the kind of diverse audiences one finds at a campus like ours, and while she is not afraid to express her opinion, even if unpopular, she is open to new ideas and positions.”
Litzinger’s involvements at WOU have shaped her career goals as she plans to continue studying communications after graduation, a field she’s clearly succeeded in thus far having a grade point average of 3.9 in her major. She will return to Portland to begin an internship with Providence Hospital’s marketing and physician recruitment department. Then she hopes to begin working on a master’s in public relations or marketing. Her experience with Abby’s House has shown her that education and outreach are important to her and she wants to work with issues such as victim advocacy. She hopes to find a master’s program with an emphasis in social impact communication and advocacy communication.