'My top accomplishment is being able to give back'
Majors: Psychology, Communications
Minors: Diversity in Higher Education, Political Science
Plans after Graduation:Woodbury is hoping to work with first-generation students in higher education, as well as help students of color in high school and middle school get accepted into colleges. She has also applied to Teach for America and the Peace Corps, and hopes to teach in Cambodia.
More on first-generation students
Why did you decide to go to college?
My mom has told me to go to school and work hard to get an easy job. My Mom grew up in Cambodia, and became a survivor of the civil war during the 1980s. My mom never got the opportunity to go to school. She’s the strongest woman I know. I can see how education can impact an individual’s life. The reason why I go to school is my family. My family comes first and they are my motivation.
Where did you go for support? Academically? Socially?
Academically, I always took school seriously. Socially, that was where I needed support. I was lucky enough to find the Ethnic Student Center as a freshman and found a support group. If I hadn’t found the ESC I most likely would have stopped going to college. When I first came to college, I tried to conform to the culture at Western, but with others at the ESC I did not have to conform and I could be myself. I learned a lot about myself, and received help from the Student Outreach Services.
What was your biggest challenge in the first two years?
Trying to fit in was one of the hardest things. Locating resources was also an initial problem, and asking for resources. I am so conditioned to doing things on my own and not asking for help. The ESC, SOS and the AS have helped me.
What have your parents done throughout your time at college? Helped?
I have come to the realization that my parents can’t help me academically. They have helped me socially by being there, and I am really connected with my family. Having that support system is really important to me.
What is your proudest achievement?
I am definitely proud of where I am at right now, and working as a Program Support coordinator for the ESC events. I help the 16 clubs in the ESC with their events and club meetings. This position means a lot to me, not only because the ESC is what got me involved and that is where I found my community, but I am able to give that back and reach out to the freshmen. My top accomplishment is being able to give back.
Since I was a freshman, I have conducted my own research within the Psychology Department. I never thought I would be doing research on prejudice and stereotypes. Learning about the psychological background on stereotypes helps me talk to other students dealing with stereotypes.
What tips would you give to a college freshman?
Don’t be afraid to reach out, and look for your resources. The college is full of resources: peers, teachers and departments are here to help you. You have to take that step forward and make it work out. The ESC is a great place to find a community, and provides opportunities to cultivate leadership skills.
Interview by Brianna Kuplent, WWU Office of Communications and Marketing Intern