Jose Raul Magana Mendoza is an Early Childhood/Elementary Education major with a minor in English to Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL). He is from Salem. As an outstanding 2020 graduate, we interviewed Magana about his most notable experiences from WOU, as well as his future plans.
What has your experience been like as a transfer student?
Yes, I’m a transfer student. I transferred from Chemeketa Community College, here in Salem. The transition was very difficult at first, mostly due to transportation and having to leave my full-time job as an instructional assistant, therefore making living arrangements a little tricky. Thankfully, I adjusted over time, and am now nearing the end of my WOU journey.
What has your experience been like as a first-generation student?
It has definitely helped motivate me to keep going and earn my degree, even when I felt like giving up due to a number of circumstances. I was not the best student coming out of high school and didn’t think I had a future in higher education, but I’m grateful I eventually made the move to go to college and finish, and hopefully make my family proud along the way.
What has been your most memorable class?
At Western, my most memorable class has been both of my linguistics classes with Dr. Hargreaves: Ling 210 – Intro to Linguistics, and Ling 314 – Language Study for Elem/Mid Teachers. My dive into linguistics was the first time in a very long time that I felt I was learning something truly surprising, relevant, and monumental, much like my first experience learning about cellular biology. I intend to ask for his advice and recommendations going into my first year teaching and beyond. My most memorable class at Chemeketa Community College was Writing 121 – The College Essay with Justin Rigamonti (shoutout!). He really illustrated to me the power of writing, and [he] helped me discover my passion and appreciation for the art.
What has been the highlight of your time here?
The staff I met and friends I made have been my highlight of my time at WOU. My advisors, professors, and all of the friendly, helpful staff at Western have made my experience truly memorable, and I am grateful for all their hard work and effort made into connecting with each of us. I’m also thankful for the friends I made at WOU.
What will you miss most about WOU?
I will definitely miss the overall environment and the staff. I will miss walking down the halls (or along the seemingly never-ending Monmouth Ave), and running into the amazing people at WOU. I was always comfortable [here], and I always felt that the staff made an effort to get to know me; they genuinely seemed to care about me. I will especially miss Mandy Olsen, Courtney Fortenberry, Carmen Caceda, Jessica Dougherty, David Hargreaves, Maria Dantas-Whitney, Mark Girod, and Anne Ittner. They often reached out and helped motivate and inspire me to continue this journey, even when I began to doubt myself. In their own way, they also taught me some valuable lessons I won’t be forgetting. I’d like to extend a sincere thank you to each of them, and everyone else who helps make the education program a success.
What has been your biggest achievement, success or accomplishment in college?
My biggest achievement is finishing. I used to think college was out of reach and not a place for me, especially since I did not start right after high school. It took several years for me to really dive in. I didn’t understand the process, and I didn’t think I could ever afford it. I also didn’t think I was “smart” enough. However, once I got the opportunity to go for it, I gave it my all and ended up being very successful. I remember thinking, wow, I have so long to go! Especially after receiving my associate’s degree and finding out I still had not two, but three more years to receive my bachelor’s. Now here I am.
What are your plans for after graduation?
I’m taking a break over the summer from anything school or education related. I’m exhausted in many ways, and the COVID-19 situation exasperated that. I will continue to work part-time at GNC for a while, assuming we can get back to work soon after graduating, and hopefully take a train ride to California to visit friends and family in July. In the fall, I expect to begin substituting for teachers as I do some soul searching, and perhaps jump into my own classroom the following year.