Reyna K. Aguiar is a 2021 graduate from Lodi, California. She is majoring in Political Science.
Why did you choose WOU?
I was ready to go back to school, and I was lucky enough to have a mentor who previously worked with the WOU Public Affairs representative, and she encouraged me to speak with him about my education pathway that I was pursuing. I knew I wanted to go somewhere where I could get one-on-one attention from smaller class sizes and where I wasn’t going to be overwhelmed being in a large city. I wanted to be sure that I wasn’t just another student in a lecture hall, but that I was going to be known by my professors. After that conversation, I immediately wanted to tour the campus and check out the political science degree pathway. It seemed like a great fit, and after my first class with Dr. Camarillo and meeting with Dr. Henkels, I was convinced that I made the right choice in enrolling at WOU.
Do you have any advice for current and prospective students?
As a non-traditional student, I just want to encourage any student who may feel like this is too hard or that they are unable to reach that finish line: you can do it. It will all be worth it in the end. I decided to go back to school when I was 28 and working a full time job with the state, and now at 31, I would’ve never thought it was possible, but I did it and you can, too. Take it slow if you can and don’t put too much pressure on yourself.
What was your most visited spot on campus? Why?
The library! I am definitely a procrastinator, and being in the library helped get me into the mind set and get down to business on assignments or papers. I love libraries in general, but I especially was a fan of Hamersley. It was my main workplace, and I had a favorite computer that I always used.
What will you miss the most about WOU?
I will miss being in a classroom and having that marketplace of ideas; I will miss the debates and conversations that came from my political science courses. This is a career field where giving the chance to hear all perspectives can really benefit your ability to be effective in the job you are pursuing, and in the classroom with any of the social science division professors, my favorite being Dr. Dickinson, [was] always interesting and invigorating. This was always my favorite part of learning.
What do you love most about the major/minors you completed?
I love that my degree is going to get me back into the career that I want. I have a few years experience already working with the state legislature, and now with my degree in political science, I can expand my work field and get back to doing what I enjoyed. The best part of my major is that with my previous experience, I was able to really apply what I was being taught to real life situations, as I had already lived some of it. I think that I was able to add value to certain classes with my experience as well.
How have you adapted your learning process for COVID-19 restrictions and virtual classes?
Virtual learning was such a struggle for me. I do not thrive in an online setting, [and] it took a lot of discipline on my end to commit in giving my asynchronous courses my attention. I am disappointed that this was how my last few terms were structured, but with a global pandemic, I am just grateful that I was still able to graduate.
What do you know now that you wish you knew your first term in college?
I wish I would have realized that the professors do not want to see you fail. They are there as a resource and can be understanding [toward] reasonable situations. I was really nervous to reach out and ask for help or for more clarification because I had such a long time gap from when I was previously in school for my associates’s degree to that first term for my bachelor’s degree. I was embarrassed that I was a lot older than the average student, and that was just silly.
What are your plans for after graduation?
I am hoping to work on another campaign in 2022 and get some more campaign-related experience that will hopefully lead to a position during the next long legislative session in 2023. Ideally, I would like to be a legislative liaison for a state agency or an advocacy group. Eventually, I would like to go for my master’s in Public Policy with focus on collaborative governance, but I think that I need a small break from school for a while to add more experience to my resume.