A Bittersweet Goodbye

When I picture the UO all I think of is home: home to my friends, my family, my school, my job, my opportunities, and the past four years of my life. Graduating from this great institution is definitely a bittersweet moment.

With parents and family that graduated from UO, uncles that played football for the Ducks, and an obsession with college football brainwashed into me from an early age, Saturdays at Autzen Stadium were a home-away-from-home. Everyone in high school knew me as “the Duck fan.” And my older brother, Ryan ’11, was also a senior upon my arrival, giving me a little slice of home and comfort.

Unlike most of my peers, I knew what I wanted to major and minor in coming into school, and what my aspirations were post-degree. I began my freshman year in the fall of 2010 as a pre-journalism major and business minor in the hopes of one day becoming a news- or sportscaster.

Thrust into the busy life of college, I fell more and more in love with the atmosphere of Eugene. Walking from the comfort of my dorm room in Carson Hall down 13th Avenue at first seemed terrifying. With bustles of students, staff, and bikers shooting past me at what seemed like incredible speed, I wasn’t sure I could keep up.

Also, considering my first class was at 8:00 a.m. on a Monday morning, I could hardly keep my eyes open and began drowning myself in caffeine… a habit I haven’t quite kicked yet. It was fitting that my first class was a journalism prerequisite, J201. In PLC 180, a 200-person lecture hall, I felt a bit overwhelmed. But by the end of the quick 50-minute lecture, I was enthusiastic about school.

As most students experience, that enthusiasm has wavered since then but it has only driven me further. Fall term of my sophomore year, I was a full-fledged journalism student and had been accepted into the School of Journalism and Communication. I was ready to dive into classes. From Gateway, the replacement of “Infohell” testing newcomers into the SOJC, to reporting classes, to my capstone class “Oregon News” this spring, it all seemed to whiz by.

But besides the opportunities and experiences that my classes provided me with, I knew I wanted a job—to make some money and help pay for expenses, but also to gain valuable work experience before entering the real world. Interested in staying in Eugene the summer of 2012 after my sophomore year concluded, I began the job search. Little did I know what was waiting for me on the far-east side of campus across from the infamous Jaqua Center for Student Athletes and next to the newly built Matthew Knight Arena: The Ford Alumni Center.

My father, Tom ’79, being the businessman that he is, has endless connections across the state. He happened to attend an event in the Portland area where he ran into Tim Clevenger, the executive director of the alumni association at the time, and told him that I was a current student at the UO looking for a job. Lucky for me, Tim informed my dad that the UOAA was looking to hire an office assistant for the summer—information my dad quickly relayed back to me.

After applying and interviewing for the job, I found out two weeks before school ended that I landed the full-time summer gig. I was ecstatic, as well as a little terrified when I realized I knew nothing about the alumni association or being a front-desk assistant. But luckily, due to the amazing staff at the UOAA, including my fellow student worker Jane Fortner, who showed me the ropes and became my partner in crime, I learned quickly and my oblivion diminished. With a summer of working full-time under my belt, I was asked to continue working with the UOAA into the school year. With only two student workers at the time, Jane and I, the UOAA was looking to hire three more student workers in specified roles. After meeting with Anthony McAdoo, senior associate executive director, he informed me of four student positions, including a writer and copy editor communications position. Needless to say, I jumped at the opportunity, being the journalism student that I am, and began my new position in the fall of 2012.

For the last two school years, and again full-time in the summer of 2013, I have been writing for this newsletter, meeting amazing alumni, students, and community members. In total, I have written 98 stories for the alumni news, bulking up my portfolio and gaining valuable journalistic experience. Besides writing, I was a copy editor, social media representative, event support, and overall liaison for alumni and the university. I am now a proud lifetime member of the UOAA, and I know that wherever I may go, I will always find a Duck community waiting for me. PDX Ducks, I’m coming for you as I just started my new position with the Portland Timbers! The UOAA has been extremely influential in my growth as a student, employee, Duck and now alumna, and I will forever be grateful.

I will miss my numerous journalism courses in Allen Hall, my business minor classes in Lillis, the beautiful walks from my apartment to the Ford Alumni Center, the student section in Autzen Stadium and Matthew Knight Arena, my lifelong friends I made here, the delicious cuisine in Eugene, and so much more. But I know that whenever I come back, I’ll be welcomed with open arms and I can proudly say “Once a Duck, Always a Duck.” 

Special thanks to the entire staff at the UOAA for keeping me around for the past two years, being amazing mentors and friends, and being the best support system I could ask for. I will greatly miss the UOAA office and everyone in it and I can’t imagine my undergraduate experience without you all.

(Editor’s note: thanks for putting up with us for the past two years and for being a fantastic student worker—we look forward to seeing you at PDX Ducks events! Both Chelsea and Jane—who recently accepted a position at the California State University, Monterey Bay Alumni Association—received Student Employee of the Year awards from the University of Oregon this year, and we’re all incredibly proud of both of them.)