“Stay on the sunny side” – with Tara Ostrander

Tara comes from the small town of Vernonia, Ore. When searching for colleges she wanted a close, affordable school, with a good dance program. At the time, she had not danced since she was a young girl, but the prospect of getting involved with dance team was something she was interested in. Tara found Western to be the right fit for these margins, and the perfect place to spend her college career.

Tara is majoring in communication with a minor in dance, and looking forward to Commencement. A few fun facts about herself are—she was born in Mexico and lived there until the age of three, and she has the amazing ability to solve a Rubix Cube in around a minute.

She has had an amazing experience here at WOU, here is a look back on her involvement and favorite memories…

For the last three years, Tara has worked as a resident assistant (RA). She has been assigned to all-girls halls in Landers the last two years and this year, Tara has a coed hall in Heritage. “This year’s dynamic is a lot more different,” Tara says, “it’s very mellow, very sassy, and funny. They are really sweet residents.” This year, Tara is working as Heritage’s ARA and student advisor to Hall Government, “It’s a challenge…but it’s really fun, I like it a lot.” Tara says, when commenting about advising Hall Government. She also mentioned the biggest program the Hall Government put on, their yearly traditional. The event is a dance called “Cinderella Ball”, which this year was held at a new venue—Green Villa Barn in Independence. The dance was Footloose themed and Tara was delighted with their work, “I was really proud of them. It’s always neat to see students put on something that’s their own.”

Like many college students, Tara has had to overcome a few challenges while in school. One of them has been learning how to balance academics with leadership opportunities—which Tara has gotten an excellent handle on. Another is mental health problems, and Tara kindly spoke of her experience, “Recently, my biggest challenge has been mental health stuff. Which has been really interesting, because I think people don’t talk about it a lot. For me it’s been depression and anxiety. Learning how to cope with that and school and everything else has been hard, but it’s been a really good learning experience. There are a lot of really helpful people on this campus, which has been really nice—the student health and counseling center has been amazing and my staff and advisors have been really supportive.”

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Tara and Friends

Looking back on her years at WOU Tara has had a lot of amazing memories. One of them was when she attended a program at Arbor Park put together by Blaire Osborne. Blair, along with her boom box named “Fats Domino”, created a s’mores party. Music was blasting, people laid out blankets, and everyone was having a good time. Tara says, “These are my favorite types of memories, just enjoying the school and the scenery and the weather.”

In terms “post college life” Tara’s original plan after Western was to become an Area Coordinator, but after a sudden realization, she discovered that was not the path for her. So now, she is simply looking forward to finding something she can be passionate about. Perhaps as a social worker or working for an adoption agency. Looking forward, she is certain that she wants to be working with people in any capacity possible.

Tara’s favorite motto to abide by is, “stay on the sunny side.” She adds, “I’m an optimist, and I like to see things in the best light possible and always find the silver lining.”

By Katrina Penaflor

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