Grad Profile: Louann Casares

If you asked first-generation student Louann Casares how long it took to complete her bachelor’s in Business Administration and minor in Humanities, she would tell you her freshman year took 24 years and the rest took three. She transferred to WOU from Linn-Benton Community College with credits she earned between 1991 and 2015 and completed her degree with an amazing 3.98 GPA!

Why did you choose WOU?
I work in Disability Services (ODS) and after settling into the university as a staff member and being exposed to academia I decided to complete my degree. I also had a generous amount of support from my partner and my colleagues – they were strongly encouraging me to attend WOU to complete my degree!

What do you love most about WOU?
The family environment, small class sizes and approachable faculty (besides the crew at ODS!).

What do you love most about the major/minors/degree you completed?
I have always had a natural passion for business. I served as an officer in both business clubs in high school (DECA, FBLA) and have worked professionally in the business world for 16 years. My courses I took for my major in Business Administration confirmed that I am on the right track.

Outside of classes, what are you involved in around campus? My work at ODS and my involvement on numerous committees on campus have provided an opportunity for me to grow personally and have challenged me to learn more about how large organizations operate. These experiences have added value to my education and have provided practical applications of the concepts and theories I have learned in my courses.

What has been your biggest achievement, success or accomplishment in college?
I have obtained a 3.98 GPA while working full time, having a fourth child, and providing part-time care for my granddaughter. We have a loving, involved family with 6 children and one granddaughter in aggregate and while I was definitely distracted, I was still able to be mom and gramma without totally losing my mind! At least, that’s how I see it, my family may view it differently!

Has there been a class or professor that has been particularly inspiring to you?
I think the class that challenged me the most was BA 345W with David Shaw. This was an intense course but I learned A LOT and use this course as my yardstick for measuring what a human can do! If you can make it through that course, you can do just about anything. In terms of most impact – BA 362 Business Ethics with Paul Disney. I would take it again. Every year. I came away with better critical thinking skills which has impacted every course I have taken since and every major decision I have made since. I would say that Disney’s course is the one course that changed me.

What will you miss most about college?
Being forced to learn. I am curious by nature and I want to delve deeply into everything but real life doesn’t have enough hours in the day to do that. When you are a student, you are forced to spend time on learning. Without the pressure of an exam, I know I won’t learn as much as I would like. That is also what I am most looking forward to :). I would like to mindlessly browse Pinterest without feeling guilty!

What are your plans for after graduation?
I plan to fully embrace opportunity and very selectively make my next career move. But before that, I’m going on a cruise and I am doing absolutely nothing with my most supportive cheerleader, my husband.

What advice do you have for current and future Wolves?
1. Appreciate the opportunity that is before you. Education is a privilege treat it as such.
2. Always work to your fullest potential.
3. Always stay curious.
4. “Go confidently in the direction of your dreams and live the live you have imagined” – Henry David Thoreau

What do you know now that you wish you knew your first term in college?
That an education doesn’t need to be put on hold because you decide to start a family. Also, there are literally hundreds of people at a university who are employed for the sole purpose of assisting students. If you have a question, ask someone.

What is your favorite spot on campus and why?
My favorite spot on campus is in APSC 405 – My wamily (work-family) lives there and aside from my husband, they have been my largest support system. They have encouraged and supported me through my frustrations and successes.

Did you have any funny mishaps or moments of confusion when you first started at WOU?
My biggest mishap occurred in spring 2018 when I was ill and stayed home from work with a sick toddler. I had asked my husband to leave work early so I could at least attend my BA 491 – Strategic Management class with Randy Palmer (another fantastic professor). My husband made arrangements to come home, we swapped kid duty and I raced off to class (a 30 min drive). It wasn’t until I got to class that I realized that I was 1.5 hours late and class was already over.

What’s the most important lesson you learned about yourself while in college?
I am strong. I am smart. I am capable. I am freaking wonder-woman…yet… I sometimes still feel weak, unintelligent and incapable, just like we all do. An education opens the door to unlimited opportunity, but we need to continue our learning journey and we need to surround ourselves with people who will lift us up during our moments of doubt. I know my degree, hanging on my wall (yes, I’m hanging it up, it took 24 years to get it), will remind me of my strength and intelligence and abilities when I need it most. A degree is not the end, it is just the beginning.