Meet Rebecca Schaffeld

I grew up in Hermiston, a small town in eastern Oregon. I received my Bachelor of Arts from Oregon State University in 2011. I majored in Sociology and minored in Spanish and Women Studies. I am a recent graduate of the College Student Services and Administration Master in Education program at Oregon State University. During my time in graduate school I had the opportunity to be a graduate assistant for the Career Development Center and participate in many other programs and functional areas such as academic support and orientation. My area of specialization was Transitioning Students and I am now seeking a career in student affairs, where I can utilize my skills in developing students and passion for empowerment.

Professional Journey:

Growing up in eastern Oregon, my family consisted of farmers, bus drivers, mechanics, custodians, processing plant workers, and sometimes they did odd jobs to make a buck. The world of physical work has never been a strength or interest to me. As a kid, I was the kind of child who lived the world of imagination and books. Luckily, I had two older sisters who paved the way for me to be among the first generation of college students in my family. My sisters showed me what a college education could do for me and inspired me to get good grades so that I could get scholarships for college. With encouragement and tutoring I became a good student with the goal of someday going to college.

College was everything I had hoped it would be and I flourished in the world of academics. I fell in love with Sociology and all things social justice and equality. During my time in college I also became involved in a volunteer internship program through the University of Northern Iowa, called Camp Adventure Child and Youth Services. The program recruits students from all over the country to provide day camp programming and swim lessons for children of military families around the world. I had the opportunity to go to Yokosuka, Japan; Naples, Italy; and Pearl Harbor, Hawaii. My experiences were amazing and I grew a lot. However, I realized that working with kids was not what I really wanted to do. However, I was very involved in the training program as a student. I enjoyed mentoring new students, teaching them how to program activities for kids, and most of all, providing them with leadership skills and a sense of community on college campuses.

However, when I first graduated with my B.A. I felt very lost. I had no idea what I wanted to do as a career and I had this unrealistic expectation that a job would just fall into my lap. So I took a position as the training coordinator for Oregon Camp Adventure. It was part time, so I worked at Starbucks part-time as well. At the time I felt like a complete failure for not knowing what I wanted or how to be an “adult”. I felt as if I was wasting my degree. However, I loved what I was doing for Camp Adventure and had this realization that I wanted to do the work full-time. I started going to see career counselors at my Alma Matter and eventually learned about the field of Student Affairs and how similar it is to what I was doing for Camp Adventure. My career counselor told me about the College Student Services and Administration program at OSU, which she graduated from, and coincidentally the person who was last in my role for Camp Adventure graduated from as well. I decided to apply for the graduate program; the first person in my family to do so. My career counselor helped me through the whole process, because I had no idea where to start. It seemed as if the stars were aligning and I finally began to feel like I had a goal to work towards.

The first year I applied, I didn’t get in. I was put on the waitlist and felt so close, and yet still didn’t quite make it. I was crushed at first, but eventually decided to just wait one more year and apply one more time. The second time around, I was so nervous that I cried through the first half of my interview (a trait for which I became fondly infamous for in my graduate cohort). But somehow, I got in. My first couple of terms of graduate school were also full of tears. Grad school is hard, there is no doubt about it. The fact that I didn’t get in the first time, combined with a few bad grades started to make me feel as if I didn’t belong. But I eventually overcame the hardest parts and learned to believe in myself. I have grown so much in the past two years of graduate school both as a person and as a professional.

Now, I am embarking on a new journey. I am once again out of college and looking for my place in this world. But this time, I know what I want and I am better equipped to find it. I sometimes still worry that I am not confident enough to get what I have worked for, but I will continue to try to remedy that fact. Looking back on it, I now know that working at Starbucks part-time was not the end of the world or a waste. I needed that time to reflect on myself and figure out what I wanted. It also taught me that life is messy and doesn’t always go as predicted. It is possible that the next leg of my journey may take a while. I might not get my dream job right away. But I am confident that I will find a place and a purpose, it just might not be what I expected.

Advice:

  • Don’t be afraid to ask for help. Everyone needs guidance sometimes. I would not be where I am now without the help of career counselors, teachers, mentors, and my friends and family.
  • Accept that sometimes life doesn’t live up to your expectations. You may not get the perfect job or feel like you are doing what you “should be” doing. When this is the case, take the time to learn something new about yourself and the world instead of focusing on what is wrong with it.
  • Persevere. As you can see from my journey, there were many times when I felt inadequate and wanted to give up. But for whatever reason, I continued to push myself for as long as I could withstand. This resilience eventually led me through the hardest parts and gave me a more positive outlook. If you begin to doubt yourself, ask yourself the question “why not me?”

Contact Information:

Rebecca Schaffeld
e-mail: rjschaffeld@gmail.com
twitter: @beccajos

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