Spotlight Interview

Where were you born? I was born in Mesa, Arizona. My parents got divorced and my mom moved to Washington, while my dad went to Texas. My two younger sisters and I went with my dad to Texas.

Where in Texas did you go? We started in Houston, Texas.  My dad had an apartment with his girlfriend but it wasn’t big enough for all of us so he bought a house in Willis, Texas. It was about 45 minutes south of Houston.

Where did you go to school? Until 3rd grade, I went to school in Mesa, Arizona and then from 3rd grade to 7th grade in Texas. There was a change of custody and my mom got custody of us, so we moved to Washington. In 8th grade I went to Mt. Solo, for high school Mark Morris, and Running Start at LCC.

How was 8th grade? It was kind of a hard move for me. I actually met my friends thanks to Mrs. Gates at Mt. Solo, who saved me because she started this “new kids” group to help new kids acclimate to the school.

Did you like high school? Overall, not so much. I did love choir though. Mr. Mitchell was amazing and good at making students feel welcome. I wasn’t very good at being social because I have always been so focused on school.

Did you participate in any high school activities? I didn’t take much time for friends or activities. Looking back, I wish I had done more sports or activities, but it was all homework for me – all the time.

Did you get all “A’s” on your report card? Yes, I was a straight A student all the way. I did Running Start and got all A’s. When I graduated, I was in the top 5% of my class and top 10% in the state.

What year did you graduate? Mark Morris High School class of 2013.

After high school you what did you want to do? I did not know what I wanted to do. I went to WSU Pullman to finish my Associates degree and pursue my Bachelors. When I first got to Pullman, I thought I wanted to go into law.

Why did you think about being a lawyer? After being in a family with divorce, I wanted to be a divorce lawyer. I wanted to help kids because I know what it is like to go through that experience and I wanted to be the advocate for those kids.

What did you end up studying at WSU? After taking some classes, I took psychology and really enjoyed it, so I focused more on psychology.  I majored in psychology and earned a minor in human development for the kid’s aspect of it. I graduated from WSU in 2016.

What did you do after graduating college? I was actually living overseas at this point because I went to WSU Pullman my first year, but I had been dating someone since my sophomore year of high school. We continued dating after high school and he went into the military. While he was at boot camp and training I was at school, he called me and said, “I am going to Korea after this and if you want to come with me we have to get married. So, what do you think about that?”

Do you say yes? Yes. We had talked about it already and I knew that is probably what we would do. I knew how the military worked. I was like, “Wow, what a great proposal!”

What was South Korea like? It was overwhelming. I was thrown into a situation where I did not know anyone, I did not have any friends, and my husband was at work pretty much all of the time. But there were really cool aspects of it as well.

What did you like about it? Korea had all kinds of cool stuff to see and to do. One of my favorite things was all the different themed cafes. They have animal cafés where you go in and order your coffee and you can pet all dogs or cats that are running around. I even went to a raccoon café.

Did you visit Seoul? Yes, I went to Seoul Tower; it is like the Seattle Space Needle. I also went to all sorts of cool museums. They had a trick eye museum, which was all about optical illusions and an ice museum where everything was made of ice. I also went to a few festivals in Seoul and toured the DMZ.

How is Korea different from America? It is different in so many ways. Koreans are all about keeping in shape so you would go to a park and they would have work out equipment bolted into the ground — like stationary bikes. Parents would work out while the kids play. Public transportation is also very common there so I would take subways and trains everywhere. Stores were also very different; with the little space they had stores would be small and stacked high instead of large and spread out.

Did you know or speak any Korean words? I knew some words like ‘hello’ and ‘thank you.’ The language was very challenging and complex and many people spoke English.

How long did you live in South Korea? Almost three years.

From South Korea, did you move back to Longview? Yes, I got divorced and moved back home. I came back and I had no car, no job, and hardly any money – just two suitcases.

How did you end up with a job in education? The one thing I was always good at was school. There is more to school than being smart: you have to be organized to get things done, you have to be efficient, and you have to meet deadlines especially with college. My mother said, “That sounds like a school secretary to me.”

What did you think about being a school secretary? I thought it was a great idea. I applied to be a sub secretary to get the feel of it. When I applied, it was around summer time so I didn’t get too many opportunities at first except in HR. Before school started, a part-time job opened up at Robert Gray. I applied and got the job at Robert Gray for the part-time secretary.

Were you working with Misty Woodrum? Yes, I was working with Misty and she was such a good teacher. It was a lot of learning in a short amount of time.

When the head secretary role opened at Cascade were you nervous about applying? Yes, I thought, “I am not ready for a lead position yet. I am learning and there is so much to learn”. Everyone was encouraging me to apply. It was something I definitely wanted to do, and am glad I did.

Do you feel like you found your calling? It is hard to say. I am 23 and plan to continue in school at some point. I have definitely enjoyed it here, but I have a thirst for knowledge. I like to learn and I love to be proficient at what I do, but I have a lot of working years left so I am not sure.

What is the best part about being a secretary at Cascade? The people. It is definitely family here and the kids are so great. We have kids that come into the office and share their stories. We connect with kids.

What is the toughest part of your job? It is a chaotic job. There are 20 million things going on at once. The phone is ringing and parents want help and students have questions. That is the hardest part but at the same time, the rush makes the day fly.

What do you like to do outside of work? I really enjoy working out. Since 6th or 7th grade, I have been in some form of an exercise class. I do not enjoy working out by myself but I enjoy structured workout classes especially if it is some sort of dance type, Zumba or hip-hop.

What else do you like to do outside of work? Well, my boyfriend and I like to go on as many dates as possible. We actually just went and saw Aladdin, the Broadway musical. I love anything that has to do with music like music festivals, concerts and musicals. I also just had a baby boy and I absolutely love spending time with him and watching his personality form.

What would you want people that read this to know? I try hard to think about people’s backgrounds and where they come from; it helps me with students to think about that. People have a past and people are at different levels at different times, so that would probably be the biggest thing to take away from knowing me; never judge a book by its cover.