Grad profile: Audrey Loudenback

Name:  Audrey Ramirez-Loudenback
Age: 35
Graduate program: Masters of Arts in Interpreting Studies
Hometown: Milwaukie, Ore.
Favorite campus event: First Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Celebration at WOU
Best study spot: First floor study rooms in Hamersly
Advice to incoming freshman: “Enjoy the ride. Enjoy the unknown, there’s no way you can predict your path. Go easier on yourself.”

Back in 1999, Ramirez-Loudenback came to WOU thinking she would be an elementary school teacher. After a high school visit, she had immediately liked the campus, many friends would also be attending, and she had been awarded a Diversity Achievement scholarship.

Since then, she has earned two bachelors degrees from WOU—The Arts (Emphasis in Theater, Dance and Music) and ASL English Interpreting—and will now add a third: Masters of Arts in Interpreting Studies.

“I originally picked this university for teacher education, and I’ve never really left!” she joked.

She had the thought to become a high school drama and math teacher, but working at the Student Enrichment Program (SEP) sparked an interest in ASL.

“I was an office coordinator and later an advisor, and I started to learn ASL because of the deaf students I was working with in the program.”

While she continued working at SEP, she earned a post-bacc in interpreting in 2009. When WOU introduced a graduate program in Interpreting Studies, Audrey did not hesitate to pursue it.

“I like school, I’m a nerd! I think that’s why I like interpreting so much—it’s a dream to get paid to go to classes,” she said.

Ramirez-Loudenback will continue interpreting at WOU and teaching as an adjunct professor in the undergraduate ASL program. It makes sense why she is choosing to stay; her roots to this campus are deep.

“They tease me over at HR about how many jobs I’ve had here, I’m pretty sure it’s a record. There are people who have been here longer than me, but I’ve touched down in a lot of different areas. MSSP, SEP, ODS—many student service positions.”

Based on her experiences, she views graduation through the lens of a faculty/staff member rather than as a student.

“I really love to watch student growth, especially this age range, from 18 to 22. Students’ form their identities and their lives change while they are here. It is so powerful to see them figuring out who they are—it’s beautiful process to be apart of and it’s what keeps me here. I think because of the small size of the campus, you can watch that happen more closely.”

With that mentality, Ramirez-Loudenback has undoubtedly influenced and inspired the students she works with. She credits Anna Hernandez-Hunter (of MSSP), Don Boderman (of SEP and WUC/SLA), and Dr. Elisa Maroney and Amanda Smith (of the Deaf Studies and Professional Studies division) for her own professional development at WOU.

“There are a lot of people here that want to support and see students succeed, I think that’s what makes WOU special. There has been an abundance of encouragement in all the different roles I’ve held. This place is a part of me and always will be.”

The completion of her master’s degree proved itself a different experience than her first two degrees. On top of courses and working as a graduate assistant, she balanced being a wife and mother of two young children.

“There were many balls to juggle at once, and there were struggles throughout the program, but I have my own research and a thesis that is available to the public. The blood, sweat, and tears that went into it are significant.”

Ramirez-Loudenback and her family will be celebrating graduation by going to the MAIS hooding ceremony and enjoying more ‘family’ time this summer.