School of Language, Culture, and Society graduate student Lonni Ivey on her way to earn a second master’s in the College Student Services Administration program

Lonni Ivey

Lonni Ivey

By Emily Willis, CLA Student Writer - May 10, 2024

Lonni Ivey, ‘21, M.A. ‘23, first became infatuated with religious studies and philosophy after she started taking classes at Chemeketa Community College in Salem. Enrolling in college for the first time in her 40s and as a single mother, she longed for learning and was determined, despite every challenge she faced, to earn a degree and become the best she could be.

It was in 2017, just before starting at Chemeketa, when Ivey was diagnosed with a brain tumor. At the time she was couch-hopping and living in a women’s shelter with her son. After numerous surgeries and a three month stay at Oregon Health & Science University Hospital in Portland, she was released on a Thursday and immediately started school on Monday. Ivey started taking philosophy and religious studies classes and loved the discussion aspect, ultimately deciding to double major in both after transferring to OSU two years later.

“I’m convinced school saved my life,” said Ivey. “Jumping back into the classroom while still recovering definitely helped strengthen the connections in my brain, though it’s been difficult with health issues and raising a family, but I love school and learning.”

Ivey graduated with her bachelors and was awarded the Thurgood Marshall Graduate Fellowship to enter a history masters program, which she finished in June 2023.

Ivey’s masters thesis titled, “More Than a Footnote: Erasure, Exclusion, and the Remarkable Presence of the Black Logging Community of Maxville, Oregon, 1923-33,” was a a deep dive not only into Oregon logging’s culture, but also Ivey’s history. Ivey grew up in a family of loggers in Dallas, Oregon, however Maxville is a historical logging town situated near the Idaho, Oregon, and Washington borders.

“During my first year of grad school,” Ivey explained. “I remember taking a religious studies course, taught by my graduate advisor Dr. Amy Koehlinger, and she mentioned a tiny, segregated black logging community in Eastern Oregon. I just kept thinking, ‘Why don’t I know about this whole community of black loggers?’”

Ivey conducted a two-year dive to find out why Maxville has been largely excluded from Oregon’s timber history, primarily, she found, due to black exclusion laws and Oregon’s racist history. Oregon’s constitution included laws excluding Black people from the state, however the Bowman-Hicks Lumber Company recruited loggers and their families from the Deep South, creating an entirely segregated community, including Oregon’s first segregated school.

“As scholars, we should always be lifting up the voices of people of color,” said Ivey. “The community of Maxville was just a piece of Oregon history that hadn’t been told yet. There are so many people who aren’t seen who need to be seen.”

After her masters, Ivey still felt like she had more to learn.

After speaking with her mentor, Associate Dean Nicole von Germeten, Ivey applied for a second masters in College Student Services Administration, ultimately hoping to go into a career of student advocacy and social justice with an Ed.M.

“As a non-traditional and disabled student,” explained Ivey. “What I’m doing is pursuing that love of helping other people.”

Ivey’s advice for students is that it’s never too late to learn and use their newfound knowledge to do great things.

“Don’t give up, you always have to believe in yourself, and you have to keep going even when it’s hard. Find your support system from the people around you and never be ashamed to ask for help or resources.”


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