Alumni Profile: Karen Edwards

WOU alum Karen Edwards smiles for a photograph. She is wearing a red sweater and is leaning against a white pole.

As part of our ongoing alumni profile series, we spoke with Karen Edwards, ‘16, an Interdisciplinary Studies grad who specialized in Early Childhood Studies and Communication Studies. At WOU, Edwards participated in multiple extracurriculars, including student government, on-campus jobs, and leadership activities. She mentioned that when she was not in class, she would attend various WOU sporting events, “from volleyball, football, baseball, softball, and basketball.” 

The summer after graduation, Edwards found herself working in a few different positions, including working at a summer camp for individuals with autism and as an inclusion assistant with the Portland Parks and Recreation department. Now, Edwards works at Oak Grove Preschool & Daycare in Clackamas County, and she is also working as a teacher assistant at Clackamas County Head Start. 

Before WOU, Edwards attended Clackamas Community College. As a transfer student, Edwards had a fairly unique experience at WOU, and she mentioned that one thing she wishes she had done differently is to have been involved with more events her first year at WOU. Her roommates her first year were uninterested in attending on-campus events, which unfortunately affected Edwards’ decision to attend these events. She also mentioned that transferring to WOU helped her learn how to study more effectively, as well as how to ask for help when needed. 

As for why Edwards chose WOU, she spoke about the value higher education has always held in her family. Her original college plan was to attend Oregon State University, but after visiting the campus with her mother, Edwards found the university too large to fit her needs. They soon headed to Monmouth to check out Western Oregon University, where they found a smaller, more intimate school with an exceptional Office of Disability Services and College of Education. Edwards recalled visiting campus for the first time and taking a photo in front of the Future Wolf sign, as well as meeting personally with the Dean of Education. 

Edwards offered this advice to her fellow Wolves: spend quality time with family and friends, take walks around your neighborhood (especially during this time of physical distancing), and utilize the resources on WOU’s campus. She specifically mentioned visiting the Career Center on campus (SLCD), where students can get information about upcoming career-focused events, as well as more information about potential career fields. 

Since graduation, Edwards has stayed connected to WOU by following WOU social media pages and attending alumni events, like Homecoming. She has also visited campus to attend a few sporting events as an alum. In the next ten years, Edwards sees herself “going back to school to earn [her] Masters degree, having a family, and having a preschool inside an elementary school.” 

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