Grad Profile: Lily Collinsworth

Lily Collinsworth is a 2021 graduate from Keizer, Oregon. She is an English major.


What has the experience been like as a transfer student?

I transferred from Chemeketa Community College after I earned my AAOT. While it was tough to transition to a university-level workload, I was pleasantly surprised to find that the level of support remained the same; I had had wonderful experiences with advisors, tutors, and professors at Chemeketa, and Western was no different. My professors and advisor have almost always been prompt, communicative, and willing to help me understand the concepts that I struggled with. 


Are you an honors student? What has your experience been like? 

My experience as an honors student has been a decidedly mixed bag. While I’m coming away with, you know, the honors, I also have to admit that I may have placed a disproportionate amount of value on my grades. At the end of the day, I am still getting my degree regardless of what my exact GPA is, and the mental turmoil that I’ve put myself through for the last year and a half may not have been worth the little phrase “Summa Cum Laude.” I am, however, more than satisfied with my achievement. 


Student stands in outside doorway, red door closed behind her. She's stretching her arms out and up. The day seems sunny.
Lily Collinsworth

What have some of your extracurriculars been? How did those impact your time on campus?

I had the pleasure of working for Campus Public Safety for a term; I also got to intern for Dr. Troyer as a research assistant. These two positions are entirely different, so they allowed me to expand my repertoire of job experience. Granted, briefly-held entry-level positions don’t look very impressive on a resume, but they did give me experiences and foster ideas in me that have impacted my worldview and that will, I hope, make me a more valuable asset in the workplace. 


What has been the highlight of your time at WOU? 

Since nearly my entire time at WOU has been relegated to remote learning, I have had little to no opportunity to meet and interact with classmates in person. Once things went entirely online, I figured that I wouldn’t get the chance to make any friends–which would have been a pretty sad reality seeing as I’d only just transferred to WOU. However, thanks to group projects, extreme confusion over assignments, and a desperate need to commiserate, I was able to connect with several people in my cohort. We shared late-night texts of horror and elation, ranting phone calls, Spotify playlists, and Zoom study sessions. I haven’t had much time physically “at WOU,” but the experiences that I’ve shared with my classmates have definitely been the highlight of my time here.


Who stands out from your time at WOU and why?

Dr. Robert Troyer helped spark my interest in linguistics with his involved delivery of an asynchronous LING 310 course; he kept fanning that flame with a term’s worth of in-depth yet understandable lectures for LING 312 which culminated in one of the more fun and interesting final projects that I’ve had the pleasure of writing. However, Dr. Troyer really came through as a mentor during Fall Term of 2020. The end of that term saw me struggling monumentally to do things as simple as get out of bed, and he helped bridge the gap between what I could and could not do as I worked to complete coursework for LING 410. He places high yet achievable expectations on his students while also making an effort to understand their struggles and abilities. He is a genuinely caring person who helps his students succeed–and he definitely did that for me. 


What has been your biggest achievement, success or accomplishment in college?

I was not even entirely sure that I wanted to pursue a degree after I’d completed my AAOT. I intended to take a gap year to figure that out, and my brother Joe encouraged me not to, warning me that it would be hard to go back. Knowing how I felt about education at the time (and how, to some extent, I still feel about it), he was absolutely right. Foundationally, then, he is the reason that I’m going to be walking across that stage on June 12. It may seem reductive, but I’d definitely say that my biggest achievement at Western has been managing to graduate–despite frequent disenchantment with my degree track and with higher education in general, despite social isolation and intellectual frustration. The word “despite” tends to trend toward the pessimistic, though, so let me draw attention to those who helped this degree become a reality: my loving parents, my wonderful brother and sister-in-law, my supportive friends, my devoted advisor, and my incredible professors. Thank you all. 


How have you adapted your learning process for COVID-19 restrictions and virtual classes?

I’ve found that, when it comes to remote learning, I need to meet myself where I am, rather than expecting perfect motivation and self-discipline from the get-go. In other words, I’ve stopped writing to-do lists that tacitly forecast a day’s worth of perfect work ethic. Instead, I cater to my current learning needs (ever-changing as they are) by going to a coffee shop for a change of scenery, video-calling a classmate for some real-time accountability, or writing down an essay outline by hand when typing it into the Word document seems like too much of a commitment. It took me three years at Chemeketa and a year and a half at Western to realize this, but having realistic expectations for myself is far more achievable, satisfying, and sanity-saving than perfectionism.


Did you have any funny mishaps or moments of confusion when you first started at WOU?

The first time that I registered for classes back in 2019, I was told that I was missing multiple prerequisites (even though I was not). I sent a flurry of semi-panicked emails, afraid that the classes I wanted would fill up before I could get the problems resolved. Eventually, I was told that all I needed to do was come to the department head’s office and sign a form–but there was just one problem with that. See, I was in Indonesia. For the uninitiated, that means that I was some 8,000 miles away from Monmouth, unable to just waltz into the office and sign a paper. Thankfully, Dr. Söderlund was able to figure out a remote option. 


What do you know now that you wish you knew your first term in college?

I wish I’d known not to default to a five-paragraph essay built on a three-prong thesis. No one told me that in community college–no one let me know that the format for standardized test essays was not acceptable in higher education. I felt incredibly stupid when, the day after I’d turned in a five-paragraph essay for one class, a professor in another class warned us not to make that mistake. Of course, I never again had an essay assignment as small as five paragraphs anyway. 

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