Meet the Class of 2018


Gina Garcia

Pronouns: she/her/hers
Undergraduate Institution: Sonoma State University 
Hometown: Petaluma, CA
GTA Position: Academic Success Center 

Why OSU CSSA?: I chose CSSA for several reasons. I really admired the program’s focus on social justice and flexibility of the curriculum. I also really appreciated the GTA interview process and the support I received from faculty to find a GTA position. Most importantly, CSSA was the best fit for me financially. Overall, I felt very welcomed by the faculty and fell in love with the campus when I visited.



Melissa Lee

Pronouns: she/her/hers
Undergraduate Institution: Appalachian State University
Hometown: Marcellus, NY
GTA Position: Center for Civic Engagement

Why OSU CSSA?: I was drawn to the CSSA program at OSU because of the focus on social justice and chose to attend because of the people I interacted with throughout my application and interview process. I appreciated the equitable application process and felt that the values of the program aligned with my own. After being offered a GTA position with the Center for Civic Engagement I knew that this was the place I had to be. I love how hands on I get to be with my assistantship and applying what we learn in class into my GTA position. Plus, Oregon is beautiful and so much fun to explore!


Cheyenne Marie Star Standing-Elk

Pronouns: she/her/hers
Undergraduate Institution: Western Oregon University
Hometown: Gresham, OR
Part-time student

Why OSU CSSA?: There are a few reasons why I picked the CSSA program. The first was that I wanted to stay in Oregon so that I was still close to my friends and family. The other reason was because I had been looking at this program for a few years after I found out that student affairs was an actual career path that people took. Coincidentally, a lot of the staff at my undergraduate institution were in the CSSA program and spoke very highly of it. Since then, this program has always been my number one choice and I was lucky enough to get accepted into the program.



Katherine Leibel

Pronouns: she/her/hers
Undergraduate institution: University of British Columbia (Vancouver, British Columbia)
Hometown: White Rock, British Columbia
GTA Position: University Exploratory Studies Program

Why OSU CSSA?Many reasons! I felt that the coursework in the CSSA program would give me a strong theoretical foundation that would help me find success as a scholar-practitioner, and would be flexible enough that I could build a degree program of courses, internships, and experiences that are meaningful to me. OSU also offers substantial funding through their assistantship component, which is not only helping me pay for graduate school, but is giving me hands-on experience in the field that will be important for job-hunting upon graduation. The location itself can't be beat. Having grown up on the West Coast, I can't imagine living anywhere else, and hope to work at a university in a state/province along the West Coast after I finish the program. Finally, as an international student, I knew that I wanted to pursue graduate work in the United States, and after looking at programs all over the country, OSU and CSSA seemed to be the very best fit for me and my personal/professional goals, and I can happily say that I made the very best choice!

Sylvia Hall

Pronouns: she/her/hers
Undergraduate institution: University of Nebraska-Lincoln
Hometown: Bellevue, NE
GTA Position: Student Conduct and Community Standards

Why OSU CSSA?: I chose OSU because I wanted to experience a new part of the country and discover the unique needs of its students. I was impressed with the attention paid to diversity on campus, as well as CSSA’s commitment to social justice. I made my final decision based on the strong, welcoming feeling I got during program and GTA interviews with faculty, staff, and current students. I am happy to say that, so far, my reasons for choosing CSSA and OSU are well-founded and that I love my new home here.



Sarah Garcia

Pronouns: she/her/hers

Undergraduate Institution: University of California, Santa Barbara
Hometown: Camarillo, California
GTA Position: College of Liberal Arts Student Services

Why OSU CSSA?: As a single parent of a 4-year-old, I had an enormous checklist of qualities the program and university needed to have. My checklist for the program: (1) assistantships with a tuition waver and stipend (2) day classes (so I wouldn’t have to spend double on childcare & be away from my daughter all week) (3) social justice focus (4) cohort model (5) scholar-practitioner focus (taking what I’ve learned in the classroom and applying it to my work in my assistantship and internship), and for the University: (1)affordable childcare on campus (2) family housing and/or affordable off-campus living (3) commitment to diversity, inclusion and equity. I wanted to set myself up for success, and I am happy to say that CSSA and OSU have exceeded my expectations.


Erin Wahler

Pronouns: she/her/hers
Undergraduate Institution: Miami University
Hometown: Cincinnati, Ohio
GTA Position: Integrative Biology Department

Why OSU CSSA?: I chose Oregon State and the CSSA program because of the diversity and flexibility of the program curriculum. I found that I have the opportunity to explore all kinds of interests in the field of student affairs both inside and outside the classroom - and gain experience and program credit at the same time. Additionally, the strong financial package provided by my graduate assistantship was a big factor in my decision to attend Oregon State! 



Phillip J. Rakowski

Pronouns: he/him/his
Undergraduate institution: Linn-Benton Community College and Oregon State University
Hometown: Woodburn, Oregon
GTA Position:
Why OSU CSSA?: I chose Oregon State University for a few reasons, but most importantly I was asked to be a part of the on-campus Collegiate Recovery Community. I am 7 years into recovery from alcoholism and substance abuse.




Sherry Yang

Pronouns: she/her/hers
Undergraduate institution: Northeast Agricultural University
Hometown: Harbin, China

Why OSU CSSA?: I liked how Oregon State University was a large comprehensive university located in a tranquil and beautiful town. Corvallis is full of opportunities to hike, camp, and explore nature. Prior to arriving at OSU, I taught Chinese as a foreign language, and I want to continue in the education field.  I am looking forward to learning more about student affairs. The CSSA program is a perfect choice for me to achieve my career goals and reach my dream.



Brittney Chesher

Pronouns: she/her/hers
Undergraduate Institution: John Brown University (Siloam Springs, AR)
Hometown: Omaha, Nebraska
GTA Position: Prestigious Scholarships

Why Oregon State University CSSA:  I chose to pursue the CSSA program because of the social justice focus, the cohort model, a variety of experiences that could be meaningful and unique in developing my own areas of interests (assistantships, internships, and projects), as well as the financial support through an assistantship. I wanted to get the most out of my experience as a graduate student and really appreciated the flexibility to have a area of specialization and to create a portfolio rather than a thesis. I have also really appreciate the support I have received from the faculty, my cohort, my assistantship supervisor, and my program advisor. Ultimately, the CSSA program at OSU is everything I wanted and more. 


Carmen Wilson

Pronouns: they/them/their
Undergraduate institution: Armstrong State University, Savannah, Georgia
Hometown: Savannah, Georgia
Graduate Assistantship: Human Services Resource Center (HSRC)

Why OSU CSSA? I had a friend go from Georgia to Oregon State University for a different graduate program. She loved OSU and encouraged me to apply. Unfortunately, she moved back to the East Coast right before I came here. In a general sense, I like (well-planned) adventures. I had never been to the West Coast, with no family or friends here either. The CSSA program fit my needs the most: A unique GTA position, generous compensation package, and rave reviews across the country. It was the perfect opportunity.


Rylan Good

Pronouns: he/him/his
Undergraduate institution: Shippensburg University
Hometown: Shippensburg, Pennsylvania
Graduate Assistantship: Honors College 

Why OSU CSSA? I spent the past 6 years working in undergraduate admissions for a small, liberal arts college in Pennsylvania. Knowing that I wanted to develop a deeper understanding of college students, I started a nationwide student affairs programs search.  At the end of my search, I was down between two schools offering me admission and an assistantship.  I chose OSU.  For me, CSSA offered me a sense of flexibility that I didn't find in many other programs. I felt that I had a greater opportunity to mold the curriculum to what I was interested in through internships, areas of specialization, and my capstone project.  Also, my graduate assistantship with the Honors College offered me an opportunity to serve as the live-in professional for its Living Learning Community, allowing me to immerse myself in practice. 


Eliza Allison

Pronouns:  she/her/hers
Undergraduate Institution:  University of Montana
Hometown:  Helena, MT
GTA Position:  College of Pharmacy Student Services Office

Why OSU CSSA?:  I had been out of school for a few years and I knew that if I was going to go back to school I wanted to go to a place where I could fully immerse myself in the campus culture.  It was also important to me that I was able to find an assistantship because I was coming from a full-time job and I wanted to ensure that I was able to continue being a practitioner while also being a student.   I was drawn to programs that offered a cohort model because I knew I would be relocating to a place where I didn't know anyone and I wanted to have a support system.  I have been so pleased with the support I have found at OSU.  My cohort members, the CSSA faculty, and my colleagues in the College of Pharmacy have really helped provide a positive and unique experience for me that I don't think I could have gotten anywhere else.


Wu Xie

Pronouns:  she/her/hers
Undergraduate Institution:  Nanjing Tech University
Hometown:  Hefei, Anhui, China
GTA Position:  College Student Services Administration E-Campus

Why OSU CSSA?: Before becoming a CSSA student at OSU, my academic area and career of 8 years had been electrical engineering. I received my first master's degree from Nanjing Tech University and second master's degree from the University of Nottingham in the United Kingdom. After graduation, I worked as an electrical engineer in a top architectural research and design institute in China. Later, I decided to leave my job and come to the U.S. with my husband who was pursuing his Ph.D in engineering at OSU. When I applied to the CSSA program, I began to realize my real career path was education because, since my childhood, I have admired educators so much. I really appreciate that our CSSA program emphasizes social justice. This program has a long history and has nurtured so many excellent student affairs professional alumni in higher education. 


Sarah Fuller

Pronouns: she/her/hers
Undergraduate Institution: Willamette University (Salem, OR)
Hometown: Walla Walla, WA
GTA Position: Leadership Development | Student Leadership & Involvement 

Why Oregon State University CSSA: I chose CSSA based on recommendation, program structure, and location. I knew I wanted to create a professional life on the West Coast, so it made sense to choose a program that would allow me to network with folks who could potentially become my colleagues. I really appreciate the fact that the program offers a variety of full assistantships, providing students with hands-on learning experiences and opportunities to apply some of the things we learn in our classes. The most compelling reason I chose the program was the recommendations given by friends, mentors, and colleagues. People love CSSA and OSU, and it was that dedication and admiration for the program that ultimately brought me here. 


Gabby Garcia

Pronouns:  she/her/hers
Undergraduate Institution:  Oregon State University
Hometown:  Newberg, Oregon
GTA Position:  Office of Student Conduct and Community Standards

Why OSU CSSA?: Oregon is my home, the emphasis on social justice, the cohort-style of the program, and the opportunity to have an assistantship. 





Elijah Stucki

Pronouns: he/him/his/they/them/theirs
Undergraduate Institution: Weber State University
Hometown: Saint George, Utah
GTA Position:  Women’s Center

Why OSU CSSA?: I was drawn to the CSSA program at OSU because of the focus on social justice and the opportunity to move to a state that seemed more accepting of Queer folk. My mentor at the Women’s Center in my undergraduate career worked at the Women’s Center at OSU and was a grad student here. I was drawn to the school because of how inspired I was by them, and I thought if I could be half the social justice advocate they are I’d be on my way to being the kind of social justice activist I wanted to be. I also learned about the women, gender, and sexuality studies (WGSS) program here and was excited to be able to learn from some amazing professors. I also appreciated that CSSA moved from the education program to liberal arts to be closer to WGSS and ethnic studies. I wanted a program that was close to and based on principles of feminist thought.