Driven, empathetic, and passionate are just a few words to describe Shaina Rol, graduating senior at WOU. Rol is a gerontology major, which is the study of older individuals and the aging process. Since she was mostly raised by her loving grandma, Rol couldn’t imagine her life without the influence of the older population. Ultimately, this is what inspired her to get a degree in gerontology, and why she plans on becoming an occupational therapist for older adults. Rol’s graduation cap is decorated with the image of a butterfly and says “This one is for you.” When her grandma passed away four years ago on Thanksgiving morning, there were several monarch butterflies outside her window; the multitude was unusual for that time of year. Now every time Rol sees a butterfly she is reminded of her grandma’s presence, which she still believes is guiding her, and she can’t help but feel extremely thankful.
Coming to Western was an easy decision for Rol because it was the only university on the west coast that had her major of interest and wasn’t going cost her “an arm and a leg.” Rol is from Hawaii and was fortunate enough to receive the Western University Exchange Scholarship (WUE), which has allowed her to go to school without having to take out any loans. Due to her strong work ethic, she will be graduating early. Rol has only been at Western for three years and has taken 18 plus credits each term and summer school every year. While maintaining a high GPA, Rol has also been very involved in the campus community. She is a member of Sigma Phi Omega, which is the national academic honor society in gerontology. She was the secretary for the Gerontology Student Association Club and has volunteered her time at the Monmouth Senior Center, where she has taught zumba and played guitar for the older adults. Another passion of Rol’s includes dancing, and she has been on dance team since her freshmen year, performed in dance concert, and been part of the Rainbow Dance Theatre at WOU. Despite her claim that she is bad at sports, Rol has also done intramural volleyball and softball, and says she “loves being on a team.”
Although Rol doesn’t like Oregon weather, she says that “the people at WOU make up for it.” Meeting new people and getting to know her professors has been the highlight of her college experience. She claims that at larger universities “you are just another number,” and most classes are held in huge lecture halls. On the other hand, WOU offers smaller class sizes, giving students more of an opportunity to maintain a relationship with their professors. Rol has particularly fond memories of her very first class, General Psychology with Dr. Strapp. She says that Strapp’s enthusiasm was captivating and got her really excited about taking college classes. Rol encourages incoming students to get to know their professors on day one.
After graduation Rol is looking forward to graduate school, which will get her one step closer to her career goal. Yet, Rol claims that it’s not the destination but the journey that really matters. She sees success as a never-ending process and with each day, there is the opportunity to work toward a goal.
Outstanding Senior Award