Danel Camacho is a Community Health Education major and a Human Biology minor from Roseville, Calif. As a 2020 graduate, we interviewed Camacho about her experience being a transfer student, as well as her fondest memories from being a student-athlete and interacting with our WOU community as a whole.
Are you a transfer student? If so, where did you transfer from and what has the experience been like?
I am a transfer student from American River College in Sacramento, Calif. Since I did my first two years of higher education at my local community college, transferring to WOU was definitely a big change for me, because it meant moving away from home for the first time to a brand new state and town. The transition was a little easier, because I came to run cross country and track, which allowed me to meet new people who shared the same passion for running as I did. But being a transfer is a different experience than being the traditional four-year student, because we did not have the chance to build bonds as a freshman in the dorms, but had the same feeling as a first year student on campus. Luckily, WOU has such a welcoming and friendly community that introduced me to lots of kind peers in my classes and had supportive advisors and professors that guided me.
Why did you choose WOU?
I chose WOU primarily because of its cross country and track programs, since I had competed in community college and realized I wanted to finish out my remaining two years of collegiate athletic eligibility. Going to WOU gave me an opportunity to compete at a NCAA Division II running program, and I looked forward to training at a higher caliber level. Academically, I was drawn to WOU because of its small class sizes, because I believed that I would thrive better as a student when I could be more than a number in a classroom and connect better with my professors. I also liked that they offered a B.S. in Community Health Education and [a] minor in Human Biology. Financially, WOU was also a more affordable option as a public school and offered the WUE tuition reduction.
What has been your most memorable class?
My most memorable class would be one of the health electives with Dr. Vala-Haynes, International Health. This class showed me the realities of health on a global scale, and while we covered some intense health issues, this class made me perceive the health disparities, gaps, and barriers there are worldwide. Some of the material I was exposed to impacted me greatly, which left me distraught and perplexed by how certain issues were affecting people’s health detrimentally. Seeing the inequality there is around the world makes me more motivated to contribute [towards] improving health and empowering lives of underserved populations.
What have some of your extracurriculars been? How did those impact your time on campus?
Some of my extracurriculars I participated in are running cross country and track, working as a science tutor at the Science Center, and working home athletic events for the Athletic Department. Being on both the cross country and track teams was a big part of my identity on campus. I loved being able to represent WOU, train with my friends, and do what I love. However, being a student-athlete was a big time commitment, so I learned to manage my time wisely to balance out my responsibilities. Being a student-athlete made me work only if it allowed a flexible schedule; therefore, both my on-campus jobs made it possible for me to work reasonable hours. I enjoyed and did well in all my science courses [at] WOU, so I was compelled to help others succeed in challenging courses like Human Anatomy and Physiology and Microbiology. I also wanted to support WOU athletics by working home games and meets. [If] I was not in season competing or did not have race days, when WOU was hosting an athletic event, I would help set up and take down facilities, assist spectators to have a great game day experience, and cheer on my other fellow student-athletes.
Who stands out from your time at WOU?
Three of my professors stood out to me during my time at WOU, because they played multiple roles in making me a successful student. Dr. Vala-Haynes not only taught some of my favorite classes, but she was one of my assistant coaches for cross country and track. I am so thankful for the relationship I developed with her these last two years, because she was always there for me and made me feel like I could go to her for anything. Amy Hammermeister also impacted my time at WOU greatly, because she made my transition as a transfer student so smooth and I felt lucky to have her as my Community Health major advisor. She was a strong supporter of my effort as a student-athlete and always made my hard work feel validated. Dr. Harwell was my Human Anatomy & Physiology professor for the entire sequence and my Human Biology minor advisor, and she made me love her class so much [that] I wanted to become a tutor. She made me look forward to going to lab even though it was a tough course. All three of these professors believed and instilled confidence in me, and I am so grateful for them.
What will you miss the most about WOU?
I will miss the sense of community that WOU created the most. I loved being a part of a smaller university and town, because everyone starts to become familiar, and it made meeting new people and fostering relationships easier. Monmouth is such a cute little town that feels safe, and [it] was the best second home for the past two years. The WOU community in the classroom, at the library, on the track, at the gym, and basically every part of campus was so pleasant and filled with genuine people I could be comfortable with.
What do you love most about the major/minors you completed?
What I loved most about being a Community Health major was gaining a whole new perspective about health and the importance of prevention. There are so many factors that influence health and affect a person’s quality of life, and learning about how to improve the well-being of a population makes me feel like I can truly make a difference. Being a Human Biology minor was much fun because it is my favorite area of science since I am passionate about health and fascinated by what impacts the human body. This combination of Community Health and Human Biology laid the foundation to pursuing a career in nursing because it makes me look at healthcare in a holistic way.
What has been your biggest achievement, success or accomplishment in college?
My biggest achievement in college so far has been being one of the recipients of the Division of Health and Exercise Science, Outstanding Student Community Health Majors Award. It is an honor that the Community Health faculty think so highly of me and wanted to recognize my hard work inside and outside the classroom. This is a big accomplishment for me, because I only got to contribute to WOU for two years. If they noticed the effort I put in during that short amount of time, everything I have done has paid off.
What are your plans for after graduation?
My plans for after graduation are to complete my internship over the summer, return home to get some clinical or volunteer experience, and apply to an accelerated Bachelor of Nursing or an entry-level Master of Nursing program. I hope to become a registered nurse and then eventually continue my education to become a family nurse practitioner.