Why I Chose WOU: Jessica Garibay Ochoa

Werner University Center exterior with blue skies in background

We spoke with Jessica Garibay Ochoa ’24, from Salem, Oregon, about why she chose WOU. She’s currently a Pre-Nursing student, but is considering majoring in Community Health and minoring in Psychology. Garibay Ochoa shared her journey to WOU, and how her first year has been so far.


WOU Student Jessica Garibay Ochoa smiles in a black Western Oregon University tee shirt.
Jessica Garibay Ochoa

What was your college selection process like? Were you considering colleges other than WOU?
During my college selection process, I had no idea which college I wanted to attend. I am a first-generation student and I did not know what qualities or things to look for in a college. However, with the help of my AVID teachers and other mentors I was able to get the support I needed in selecting and making a choice on what school to attend.

I decided to apply to many of the big and small public and private colleges that they offer in Oregon, but based on the career path I wanted. I wanted a school that offered pre-nursing or pre-med programs, and majors that were related to the medical field. WOU was one of my top three colleges because of the class size, campus life and how close it was to home. Close to the end of my senior year in high school, I was choosing between OSU and WOU, but what helped me make my final decision was that I was able to get the David S. Brody Scholarship at WOU, which is a full ride scholarship that covers my four years at WOU.


Did you attend any college fairs or campus visits prior to attending WOU?
I was able to attend both college fairs and campus visits at WOU prior to attending WOU. My high school offered a college visit field trip and I was able to get a tour around the campus and get more information on what WOU had to offer to students. I was also able to come with my parents to a Spanish career event at WOU, which was really helpful because it is difficult to explain and show my parents how the college process is like since I am a first-generation student. By attending this event my parents were able to get a clearer understanding of how the college process would look like and how they would be able to help me. I did attend many college fairs as a member of the Boy’s and Girl’s Club T3: Training Teens for Tomorrow program. Where they would offer college fairs in their building and WOU would attend and I would ask them a little more about the pre-nursing program, which was my interest.


What stood out to you about WOU? 
Something that stood out to me about WOU is that, I wanted to attend a school that had many opportunities for students to get involved and participate in where you could meet other students and develop leadership skills throughout the experience and that is what WOU is. WOU is a place where students from different backgrounds can come together and create a safe environment for other students that would want to come to WOU. WOU students have inspired me to join and get involved with leadership opportunities and is the reason that I applied for a leadership position, so that I can inspire and welcome new students to WOU the way that upperclassmen have done for me, even under the circumstances that we are in.

I currently am a pre-nursing major and it is one of the reasons that WOU stood out to me because WOU has one of the best pre-nursing programs in which you could be taking a OHSU course without leaving campus. The pre-nursing program is a really competitive program, but professors and advisers help and support you throughout the two years before submitting your application to OHSU. This is something that I fell in love with because it helps you know that you are not alone throughout your application process.


Did any friends or family members attend WOU? If so, did that influence your decision?
I did have a family member attend WOU, which was my oldest cousin who graduated spring of 2020 with a teaching degree. This did not influence my decision in wanting to attend WOU, but I would ask her some questions about the programs and degrees that they offered. As well as, how she felt about the WOU campus life and the courses she was taking.


How would you describe your time at WOU, so far?
I am living on campus and so far it has been difficult to make friends at WOU, due to the restrictions of COVID. However, I am slowly getting a little more involved with WOU clubs and organizations, which has helped me meet new people. Some clubs and organizations that I have been involved with on campus are Multicultural Student Union, Discover Leadership, HPAC: Heritage Planning Activities Committee, RSB: Residential Conduct Board, and the Pre-nursing club. I also volunteer at the Food Pantry on campus every Monday from 12-3 p.m. By volunteering and attending club meetings it has helped me feel a little more involved and protective in a sense like I was in high school. At first it was difficult to transition from in person classes to virtual learning, but by staying involved with the WOU community and school events it has helped me feel less stressed out about school.

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