After Theresa was laid off from her job due to budget cuts in 1999, she took the opportunity to return to Lane for her second degree and to seek a more rewarding and challenging field: teaching. She completed her Associate of Arts Transfer degree in 2001, transferred to Pacific University where she graduated Summa Cum Laude with a Bachelor of Art in Education in 2003, and then earned her Master degree in 2009.
Theresa came from a family of six children. Her father worked in a lumber mill, and her mother was a stay-at-home mom. In high school, she was not a highly motivated student, but once she enrolled at Lane, she was determined to do her best in every course because she was now paying for her own education. She is the first in her family to receive both a Bachelor’s degree and a Master’s degree. With unemployment benefits, a few loans, and her husband’s financial support, Theresa was able to focus on her education and raise her family without having to hold down a job.
While Theresa was at Lane, her favorite instructors were Sandy Jensen and Merrill Watrous. In summer 2000, Theresa took a Writing 122 class from Sandy Jensen. Sandy permitted students to rewrite their papers as many times as needed to earn an “A” which enabled Theresa to learn from her mistakes. Sandy also encouraged her students to choose subjects that they were passionate about which made writing far more enjoyable for Theresa. In fact, on her final class project, she received an A+ and “Top Student Writer Award! Best of Class.” Merrill Watrous teaches with passion and exuberance that inspired Theresa. A couple of years ago at the Oregon Writing Project, Merrill pointed out the “Golden Lines” in Theresa’s writing rather than just the convention errors. She’s always struggled with her writing ability, but Merrill had a way of empowering her.
Theresa took advantage of optional classes, such as a Scholarship class. This class helped her prepare a quality scholarship application, which resulted in the Ford Scholarship. This allowed her to continue her education at Pacific University.
Theresa’s key to success is “Jump through one hoop at a time! Sometimes looking at the big picture can seem overwhelming. Breaking goals into small, manageable chunks makes achieving goals much easier. Taking things one assignment at time leads to completing one course at a time, which eventually leads to graduation: the bigger goal!”
Theresa is now in her 7th year of teaching 5th grade at Malabon Elementary in the Bethel School District. She takes continuing education courses to improve her instruction skills. Her philosophy continues to serve her: “Always strive to do your best. Stop comparing yourself to everyone else. Everyone has strengths and weaknesses. Once you identify the areas where you would like to improve, use your strengths to develop your weaknesses. Never give up on your dreams or let obstacles get in your way.”