Student Success Stories - Western Oregon University

Student Success Stories

See videos from WOU Alums and what they are doing now.

Jenifer Pardy ’96

Master’s degree in Organizational Leadership

Brig. Gen. Jenifer Pardy explains how completing her Master’s degree in Organizational Leadership from Western Oregon University in 2022 has given her the tools and knowledge needed to move forward in her career with the Oregon National Guard.

Justin Martin ’96

Public Policy Major

Public policy and public administration major Justin Martin says Western’s flexible curriculum and internship program helped him achieve success as a lobbyist and business owner.

Michael Waller ’08

Social Science Major

High school social worker Michael Waller pursued a desire to help others and developed a passion for sociology and acting while attending Western Oregon University.

Teresa Alonso Leon ’02

Social Science Major

Former Oregon Legislator Teresa Alonso Leon explains why getting her undergraduate degree at Western is one of her proudest moments. Special thanks to Aware Food Bank, The Metropolis and The Groove La Onda coffee shop in Woodburn.

Emily Swart ’20

Interdisciplinary Studies Major

Learn how majoring in Interdisciplinary Studies at Western Oregon University led Marion Polk Food Share Donor Relations Manager Emily Swart to combine her passion for helping others with a career.

Juan Larios ’01 ’06

Education Major

Juan Larios says obtaining his undergraduate and graduate degree in elementary education from WOU elevated his entire family. Larios continues to serve the community as Superintendent of the Woodburn School District..

Ben Stange ’03

Spanish Major

WOU alum Ben Stange explains how attending Western and graduating with a degree in Spanish led him to become the fire chief for Polk County District No.1. (Special thanks to the Monmouth Independence Community Preschool.)

Jerielle Cartales ’13

Biology Major

Biology major Jerielle Cartales discovered her love for bones as an undergrad at Western Oregon and is now a forensic anthropology instructor where it all began.

Paul Evans ’92

Public Policy and Administration Major

WOU public policy major and Oregon House of Representative Paul Evans explains why attending Western was a critical decision in his life and how it helped him to become the legislator he is today.

Allyson Drury ’21

Biology Major

Biology major Allyson Drury attributes her success in applying to medical school to the faculty in WOU’s biology department, the Honors Program and her time as a student-athlete.

Nicole Niskanen ’21

Earth and Environmental Science Major

Earth and Environmental Science major Nicole Niskanen explains how WOU’s program sets up students for career success.

Dan Rayfield ’03

Geography Major

Oregon Speaker of the House of Representatives Dan Rayfield talks about how Western influenced and shaped his career.

Greg Garcia ’12 ’14

History Major

2021 history teacher of the year Greg Garcia talks about making historical connections and recommends Western for its personal touch.

Shariah Green ’20

Computer Science Major

Shariah Green talks about her career success at PSU and an upcoming position as a software engineer at Google.

Nikki Miller ’20

Communication Studies Major

WOU alum and former student-athlete Nikki Miller explains how majoring in communication studies helped her become a coach.

Chelsea Hunt ’15

English Major

WOU alum Chelsea Hunt explains how majoring in English at Western advanced her career.

Jennifer Kercher ’01

Music Major

WOU alum Jennifer Kercher explains why she followed her passion and majored in Contemporary Music at Western Oregon University.

Shelby Moody ’21 ’23

Criminal Justice Major

Shelby Moody become a reserve deputy at the Benton County Sheriff’s office.