2020 Delmer Dewey/Julia McCulloch Smith Award: D-Dré Wright

D-Dré Wright ’20 has a penchant for acronyms, especially one that inspired and guided her success at Western Oregon University.

Wright recalls arranging three words in her mind when she finally decided she was going to ACE everything in her life – Accept, Change and/or Embrace it.

Woman smiling at the camera
D-Dré Wright ’20 plans to explore a career in medicine following her graduation from Western Oregon University.

From competing on three intramural athletic teams to a challenging science project for the Academic Excellence Showcase, Wright’s acronym has served her well, including earning the 2020 Delmer Dewey/Julia McCulloch Smith Award.

“Being chosen for the award is the greatest honor I ever received. It makes me feel like I genuinely made the most of my college career, and I was lucky enough to be recognized for the things I’ve done all while having a blast with each activity,” she says.

Today, she graduates with a Bachelor of Science in chemistry along with minors in mathematics, medicinal chemistry and pharmacology. She plans to continue her education to become an orthopedic surgeon.

“The versatile qualities I gained from my experiences at WOU will be carried throughout my life and my career in medicine,” Wright says. “It has been an honor to serve my undergraduate years at WOU.”

A resident of Hawaii, Wright chose to attend WOU because of the faculty-to-student ratio, the rigorous academics and the variety of leadership, athletic and volunteer opportunities.

“I love being busy and filling the gaps. College taught me there is a lot of time to do a lot of things throughout the day,” Wright says. “It helped that I enjoyed all the activities I participated in. I would encourage others to make the most of their college experience, because college will provide you with opportunities you most likely will never see again.”

Five people at an event
D-Dré Wright ’20 – middle – is grateful for every experience at Western Oregon Oregon University that taught her to be a leader.

Wright did not arrive at the university with established leadership skills. With each new responsibility and step outside her comfort zone, she developed the confidence and leadership tools to flourish wherever she goes and for whoever is in need. She’s incredibly grateful to everyone who helped her throughout her journey at WOU, especially her mother, Donni Ching.

“My mother single handedly raised me and my brother most of our lives. She is the epitome of hard work and perseverance as she does her best to support us to the fullest despite financial hardships,” Wright says. “My mother’s work ethic is inspirational, and I am grateful she was able to instill that work ethic into me.”

Wright’s accomplishments and activities include playing on intramural basketball, rugby and soccer teams, working as a scribe at Salem Health, participating in the Hawai’i Club, earning the Presidential Scholarship, being in the Honors Program, serving as a resident assistant and being a PLUS team member.

“The activities and leadership opportunities I had at WOU have allowed me to serve as a resource, positive role model and a voice for those in the community while developing versatile qualities like teamwork, effective communication, adaptability and empathy – all fundamental for navigating life and a career in medicine,” she says. “It is humbling to look back and see the impact I have made within WOU’s community and how WOU has aided in my growth as a leader, student and person.”

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