Grad Profile: Jennifer Romadka

WOU graduate Jennifer Romadka smiles in her red cap and gown in front of bright pink flowers.

Jennifer Romadka is a graduating Public Policy and Administration student from Beaverton. During her time at WOU, Jennifer has participated in the Honors Program and multiple student leadership positions.

What has your experience been like as an Honors Program student?

My experience in honors has pushed me academically, personally, and professionally in all the ways I wasn’t expecting it to. When I first started college, it was great to have a community already laid out for me through living in the Honors hall, to taking the same classes as everyone. It really helped my transition coming into WOU, and I don’t think I would have branched out and continued trying new things throughout my whole college experience without the Honors Program. Dr. Keulks has always been there for me, even before I came to WOU. I remember writing him an email as a senior in high school, asking him if the honors program was right for me. I expected a response like “well try and find out” or something vague, but he gave me almost a 5-page essay explaining all of the pros and cons of honors in about 15 minutes… and it was written on his phone. I think that email in particular, not even the content, really sold me on the program. Gavin was also a huge supporter when I asked him about moving some credits around to graduate early and start working in Admissions. Not only did he help me figure out how to graduate a term early in about 2 weeks, he consistently told me how good I would be for the job and that really gave me the confidence I needed.

Why did you choose WOU?

I feel like this is a really cheesy answer, but I chose WOU when I walked on campus. I didn’t take a traditional tour, but I visited on a Sunday to meet with my friend who was a student at the time. I think the next Monday was a holiday, because almost every building was closed and there were even less people on campus than usual. I was exploring Valsetz while waiting for my friend because it was the only open building I could find, and when I finally saw her and waved, two random boys getting breakfast and definitely not awake yet waved back to me and asked me how I was doing. At the time I was really embarrassed, but I think that really shows just how homey WOU’s campus is. I felt like WOU was the only place I could actually see myself, which is ultimately why I chose it.

What has been your favorite annual event at WOU?

The Spring Dance Concert has always been my favorite event at WOU. I’ve always been interested in dance, but have never trained technically, so watching performers and knowing how hard they work has always been inspiring to me. It was always a far-fetched goal to be in the Spring Dance Concert for me, and I auditioned my junior and senior year. While I didn’t get in junior year, I was elated to find out I would be an understudy in one of the dances this year. While we never got to perform our dance, the fact that I met so many amazing people and pushed myself out of my comfort zone made me really proud of myself. Actually experiencing just how much work gets put into this production really made me appreciate the production so much more and I really hope I get to watch it next year.

What have some of your extracurriculars been?

I worked a lot in student leadership throughout my time on campus. The leadership experience that impacted me the most was definitely joining Student Ambassadors. To be honest, I didn’t even know what they were when I was first applying to the position. But being able to work with prospective students, help with orientation events on campus, and even plan group visits on our campus really sparked my passion for working in higher education. I’m really grateful to have been given so many opportunities through Ambassadors as well as meeting some of my best friends through the program.

Do you have any advice for current and prospective students?

I think my biggest advice would be to do something that scares you. Take the class you are interested in but not sure how you will do, join a club or organization you’re nervous about, apply for jobs, internships, and even productions you don’t think you qualify for. The best times of my college career were because I applied or did something I was scared to do. The great thing about Western is that even if it doesn’t end up working out for you, you will still find people that will support you during your next steps and adventure. College is truly the time to explore and try new things, and I think WOU is one of the best places to do that.

Who stands out from your time at WOU?

There are so many people that I can name to answer this question. The people I met through student leadership, even if I never talked to them much, have changed my life in so many ways. While I can’t name everyone on here, I am planning to write letters to all of these people to thank them within the next few weeks so I can recognize everything they’ve done for me. In regards to staff/faculty members, I have four people I need to give a massive shout-out to. My thesis advisors, Dana Schowalter and Aislinn Addington have been incredible to me these past two years. While I worked with them in very different ways regarding my thesis, I felt them pushing me out of my comfort zone while supporting me every step of the way and I know I wouldn’t have been able to produce a thesis I am this proud of without them. Chris Jones was my supervisor for three years and is now my coworker, and has been such a huge part in my professional development at WOU. He is the person that made me realize I wanted a career in higher education, and he consistently advocates for me and fights for me. I feel really blessed to have found such an amazing mentor and friend through my leadership experience on campus. Lastly, but certainly not least, is Tie Burcham. I have never met a professor who pushes their students out of their comfort zone to help them grow so much. Tie is incredibly intelligent, caring, and funny, and I am extremely grateful that I was able to take different types of classes with them as my professor.

What was your most visited spot on campus?

This answer is really boring, but definitely our Admissions office. I worked there for three years with four different student worker jobs, so that office definitely became like a second home to me.

What is your favorite building on campus?

My favorite building on campus is definitely RWEC. Not only is it absolutely beautiful, I love being able to walk into the building and always see friendly faces. I know that when I go into a class in RWEC, I would learn something new that would make me uncomfortable and make me grow. I think the ASL faculty are some of the most supportive people we have on our campus, and they really care about who you are as a person, rather than just your grade. For me, RWEC just really represents that.

What are your plans for after graduation?

After graduation, my biggest plan is to renovate the house I’m currently living in. Even though I’m renting, my landowner bought the house to flip it and is letting me work on a huge portion of that. This is the first time I’ll be doing anything like this, but I love working on projects and challenging myself creatively and technically so I’m really excited to start the project.

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