Amber Gray is a 2021 graduate from the Oregon coast who is completing a degree in Psychology major with a minor in Health.
Where did you transfer from and what has the experience been like?
I am a transfer student that came over to WOU from Chemeketa Community College in 2019. While at Chemeketa, I developed a great support team, so I was nervous to leave that environment; however, WOU has been wonderful, especially Dr. Ibaraki. My WOU experience has been wonderful, and I’ve had the incredible opportunity to connect with a variety of amazing professors. Specifically Dr. Ibaraki, Dr. McCarthy, Professor Murfin, and Professor Sellers were all incredibly helpful, supportive, and informative; however, Dr. Ibaraki is the real MVP and went above and beyond to support my success, and meeting her has been the best experience I’ve had at WOU.
What has your experience been like as a first-generation student?
I am a first-generation student, not only for my immediate family but also in my extended family. Since being a first-gen is all I know, I’m not sure how to compare it to other situations, but I have to say that not having any family involvement or support has made me grateful for the individuals in my life that have encouraged and believed in me. Being unfamiliar with anything college related, I encountered a sharp learning curve and initially had a hard time acclimating, and still find myself feeling lost and overwhelmed at times. However, I wouldn’t change this experience for anything else in the world because it has led me to some incredible individuals, bolstered my self-efficacy, and reinforced how resilient I am.
Why did you choose WOU?
I had heard wonderful things about WOU from multiple people around Chemeketa, but it was my TRiO program that sealed the deal. As a TRiO student, I had to take CCG courses, one of which was transferring to a four-year university. During that class, we had to complete four mandatory campus tours, and it was after the campus tour that I knew I had to attend WOU.
What have some of your extracurriculars been? How did those impact your time on campus?
Since attending WOU, I have been able to experience being a research assistant, psychology peer advisor, teacher’s assistant, at-risk peer mentor, and transfer community leader. These roles had the biggest impact on my application to graduate school, but also afforded me the opportunity to meet a variety of wonderful people. Most important to my time on campus is that these positions taught me to never again accept unpaid employment, because of the detrimental impact it has on my emotional and financial health. However, I’m very grateful to have learned this valuable lesson prior to attending graduate school where the outcome would have been more costly.
What is the biggest lesson you have learned throughout your time at WOU?
Build and lean on a support network, because no matter how capable, strong, or proficient you may be, some things can’t be done alone. Leaning on others and accepting help isn’t a sign of weakness or a lack of ability, instead it shows how wise, mature, and strong you are. Despite what anyone says, you need people in your life that are rooting in your corner. Plus, you can’t write your own graduate school reference letters.
Who stands out from your time at WOU?
Dr. Ibaraki, without hesitation, stands out to me as an instrumental person from my time at WOU. Not only is she a joy as a person, she’s a thoughtful, conscientious, and motivating instructor. I really respect how she commands a room, not only because she is very kind, patient, and approachable, but because without needing to say a word you get the sense that she is someone you want fighting for you, not against you. Overall, she’s a great example of a female leader.
What was your most visited spot on campus?
The WOU fields were my most visited spots. This is primarily because my pup could run around and have unrestricted fun, which filled me with oodles of joy to watch (especially during stressful times).
What has been your biggest achievement in college?
Considering I’m a first-gen, transfer, non-traditional student with a disability that has maintained a WOU GPA of 4.0 and didn’t receive any help or support from my family is quite the accomplishment. Also, I’m pretty proud of the fact that I’ve maintained academic honor roll, been involved with the community, and worked, but will still have earned three associate degrees and my bachelor’s degree all in three years.
What are your plans for after graduation?
I will be attending the OSU Cascades’ Mental Health Counseling Graduate program starting this summer.