Western Washington University Alumni Association

Lauren Oke

Major - Elementary Education- Language, Literacy, and Cultural Studies
Hometown - Everett, WA

“Having less student loans to worry about will give me more time and energy to devote to my future students and being the best teacher I can be.”

When I started college in the fall of 2014,  I wasn't really sure where I would fit in best, but I knew I wanted to be involved in my community in one way or another. After just the first two hall council meetings, I could tell that I wanted to be a leader in hall council, as I could tell that's where a lot of community-building happened. I ran for VP of Higginson and, much to my surprise, was elected! I had very little prior leadership experience before this, so I learned a great amount last year about what a leader was, what it meant to be a leader, and what kind of leader I wanted to be.

This year, I came back wanting to be involved again, but in an even bigger way that the prior year. With a whole year of hall council executive board experience under my belt, I was elected to the executive board again and quickly became the go-to person to ask any questions. My favorite part about this last year wasn't, however, that I knew what I was doing; it was that I got to help other people figure out what they were doing and why they were doing it. I was able to help incoming freshmen learn what it means to be a peer leader, and I loved that.

This next year, I get the incredible opportunity to be a resident advisor in Nash, and I could not be more thankful or excited. It's going to be the most amazing chance to be a peer leader in my community, and help teach new students how to be leaders. I'm so excited to finally be able to give 100% to building my community. The past two years, I've had to juggle a job and being involved in hall council, as well as classes, so I'm thrilled that I won't have to work a different job next year, and that my job next year is to build community.

That being said, RAs don't make very much money other than room and board, and I still need to pay tuition. Since working another job at the same time is nearly impossible for someone in upper division courses, I'm very glad for any money that can go toward tuition, as that's just one less loan to worry about.

Receiving this scholarship was such a burden off my shoulders. It means that I won't have to work a second job, and that I'll only have to take out a little bit of money in student loans, all the while getting to help give students in Nash the best residence hall experience ever.

Growing up, my mom always taught me that people come before anything else. People are more important than school, grades, being popular, work, cleaning and almost everything else. This is the philosophy that guides me to this day.

I had a professor last year who helped me realize how unique this compassiona is and why we need more dedicated and caring leaders with this perspective. There was a paper that I didn't turn in on time, and my professor asked me why it was late, since I generally turn all my homework in very much on time. I told her about how the two days before, my roommate had been trying to choose her classes and how I had spent a lot of time helping her, and then how a dear friend of mine had begged me to edit her paper for her, and I had spent multiple hours helping her. My professor thought I was crazy at first, but after thinking about it, decided that I still deserved full credit because she appreciated that I had put the feelings of my friends at a higher priority level than the paper for her class.
When I'm not studying, you can usually find me somewhere near children. Spending time with kids is absolutely my favorite thing to do—babysitting, summer camp counseling, teaching, etc. I'm also very involved in Campus Christian Fellowship (CCF), and try to go to as many CCF events as possible. I also meet with my small group once a week and eat dinner with them often.

Other than that, I love to bake, do crafts, scrapbook, volunteer, attempt DIYs, snow ski, explore new places, geocache and read books about child development.

 

Western Washington University Alumni Association logo

Western Washington University
Alumni Association

516 High Street, MS 9199
Bellingham, WA 98225
360.650.3353 | alumni.wwu.edu
WWU is an equal opportunity institution.