Raynie Ehret is a 2021 graduate from Olympia, Washington. She is a Business major with a concentration in Marketing/Management, plus a minor in Spanish with a certificate in Translating and Interpreting.
What has your experience been like as a student in the Honors Program?
Yes, I am a part of the Honors Program at WOU! Though, my experience is a bit different than the traditional “honors kid” story. I did not live with the rest of my cohort my freshman year, which made for some weird experiences. I quickly realized that a lot of people had this negative stigma against honors students, and I knew I wanted to break this! I love my cohort and really feel that they made my time at WOU worth it. I have many memories and fun college experiences from the program, and I wish people would see the program with a brighter lens. Not all honors students are snobby–that’s just in movies. They are usually quirky and make a lot of dad jokes!
What has been your favorite annual event at WOU?
The Holiday Tree Lighting has to be my favorite annual event from WOU! When I think about something fun I did every year it would have to be the tree lighting. It’s the sense of community with everyone from the entire town being in one place celebrating that hits me right in the feels. My mom and I actually made it a tradition that she would come down on the train and we would attend the lighting, have breakfast at Grain Station, then she would head out that afternoon. I will probably continue attending this as an alum all because of that feeling of pure joy and community.
Do you have any advice for current and prospective students?
My largest piece of advice for current and prospective students is to not take things so seriously! Go and enjoy everything WOU has to offer! I wish I would have attended more events on campus and supported all the clubs and organizations. Many students (at least from my experience) always thought that the school events were boring or lousy when they had not even opened their minds to having a good time! The best memories I have from WOU come from events! I loved it all! The roller skating neon night that happened a few years ago, the homemade Pan Dulce during Dia de los Muertos, the sexual education bachelor themed night, anything from SAB or Student Engagement! I am still ordering little kits from Student Engagement for take-home projects. I am a huge advocate for getting out of your comfort zone and meeting new people! You never know who you might link up with!
What is the biggest lesson you have learned throughout your time at WOU?
This is a good one. I think the lesson I have learned most from the beginning of my time as a student at WOU is to lower my expectations of myself, especially grades. If you don’t know me, let me catch you up… I changed my major three times: CJ and Spanish to Anthropology and Spanish to Forensic Anthropology with a minor in Spanish to Business (Management/Marketing) with a minor in Spanish (and the certificate!). Through all this, I found that I had set my expectations of being this super smart, all-knowing, straight A student, when in reality, I did not remember a single thing I learned, and I was so unhappy trying to do this “really cool” major and making major differences in our world.
After talking with a few different people around campus (shoutout to my main gal Kathy Witwer in the Business and Economics Division), I found that I love leading, planning, and helping others; why not just take the classes that I actually enjoy and have fun? I am paying for it, might as well enjoy it! Letting go of unrealistic expectations was my best decision at WOU. Who cares about having a 4.0 if you are happy and doing something you enjoy?
Who stands out from your time at WOU and why?
Off the top of my head, I can easily think of four people who immediately stand out to me: Amanda Bales, Jennifer Hansen, Gavin Keulks, and Kathy Witwer. Let me start by saying that each of these four people not only influenced me but also helped me see the true potential I have in life. I want to thank each of you for helping me in my life at points I did not even realize at the time I needed.
Amanda helped me to let loose and really be myself. She taught me all about enjoying my job because, if I didn’t, it would suck! I love all my memories from the mailroom and will forever be a part of #secivresliam!
Jenn helped me learn how to work through my emotions and was my outlet for all my wonky ideas and opinions. I will always value her as a person, as it was for her that I was able to find what I actually enjoy doing with life and to not take things so seriously all the time.
Gavin has been my rock since day one of stepping foot on campus. Everyone has that one person that just redirects you in the path of your best potential, and for me, this was Gavin. It never would fail that I would reach out at nine p.m. on a Wednesday night, freaking out about some random assignment. [I should] mention that my emails never made any type of sense, as it was usually just words thrown onto an email, suggested edits everywhere, and the anxiety I would have as I pressed send–just to find that not only did Gavin actually understand what I was saying, but that he supported me fully and knew that I was on the right track. Thank you (also, be on the lookout for some more of those emails as the end of the term approaches…)
And last but certainly not least, Mrs. Kathy Witwer. Oh, how this wonderful woman influenced me and my time at Western. I will never forget walking up to you, asking what I should do with my life (having not even met you before), and you looked me in the eyes and said, “Well… how about a Business major? I may be a little biased, but I think you would be great.” I am happy to say that you are correct… you are biased… but also right that the business degree was where I needed to be. Kathy is the sweetest human that has ever lived and has nothing but good intentions for you. Please stop by sometime and just say hello, it is worth it, I promise.
What do you love most about the major/minors you completed?
Breaking out of that stigma of a Business major in my head was one of the hardest things I did at the beginning of switching. I had always thought that being a business major was the “easy way out” (which I quickly learned was definitely not true…) and did not want to disappoint people by taking this way. After a few classes and reading about all the different fields of business, I realized that this is my calling–I love being a leader, planning things, anything logistics, and just having fun! I love that I was able to find so many friends and learn about stuff that made sense to me and my future.
I have always known that I wanted to be fluent in Spanish; most of my family is Mexican, and I wanted a deeper connection and understanding of the culture, even though none of my immediate family knew anything about Mexican culture. I started taking Spanish classes as a graduation requirement for high school and soon learned that I loved the language and culture. Here we are, seven years later, and I am fluent and will be a certified translator and interpreter. This will help me in my career and will also allow me to succeed in all different avenues of life!
What do you know now that you wish you knew your first term in college?
Your workload is not more important than your mental health! If I could tell myself this earlier in my college career, I would time travel in a heartbeat. There were too many social events I missed out on because I wanted to get 100% on all my assignments. I missed out on making friends, making myself happy, and just things in general that could have helped me more than an A in a random elective. Once I realized that I [could] still get a degree with a B, I was much happier and able to find myself.
What are your plans for after graduation?
Agh, the dreaded question for all graduating seniors–regardless of level. I was fortunate enough to meet and network through some of my business classes to gain the current position I hold at CabinetWorks Group as a recruiter and Human Resources support. This role helped me determine that HR is the field I want to be in and the one that makes me feel most confident and happy.
As for my personal life, I am currently planning my wedding (July 2022!) to my wonderful partner of nine years! We will be moving to the Albany, Oregon area in the few months after graduation and starting our life together. I am from Washington originally, so living down here for something other than school will definitely be a change, but one I have been looking forward to for a while! If you see me around, please say something! I love reconnecting with people!