Meet Sharon Chinn

Sharon Chinn is the director of Educational Career, Licensing, and Accreditation Services and the Commencement Coordinator at the Graduate School of Education and Counseling, Lewis & Clark College. With 25-years in the field, Sharon brings to her work decades of experience networking, advocating, and supporting students, faculty, and staff as they grow in their professions. Sharon completed her undergraduate work in comparative sociology at the University of Puget Sound, including a year spent at Coleg y Drindod (Trinity College) in Carmarthen, Wales, studying Welsh language, history, and society. She went on to complete a master’s degree in counseling psychology with a focus on adult development and career counseling at Lewis & Clark College. The highlight of her graduate years included one-year spent as a faculty intern with Clackamas Community College’s “Displaced Homemaker” program under the mentorship of its founder, Anne Pardington. (The program is now called the “Life and Career Options Program.”) Outside of the office, Sharon serves as a celebrant, a family forester, and takes delight in daily walkies with her rescued Australian Cattle Dog/red heeler, Ms. Daisy. Sharon is passionate about living fully within her vocational and avocational callings, striving for balance in life through humor, life-long learning, and laugher…lots of laughter.

Professional Journey

Growing up as the daughter of a teacher (father) and occupational therapist/hospital administrator (mother) and the grand-daughter of teachers, a forester, and a public servant, my path into service-work was laid out for me from a young age. My family clearly lived out the goals of serving others and of developing a strong work ethic. In my growing up years, this translated into working outside of the home from a very young age—selling Pronto Pups at the Kiwanis’ snack shack to raise money for their programs, hauling and stacking firewood on the family’s small woodland properties throughout each summer, and, as a teenager, balancing a standing summer job at a local nursing home washing dishes with weeks spent as a camp counselor on the Oregon Coast.

Throughout my young adulthood, the balance I strove to achieve was between school and work; active participation in track-and-field, crew (rowing), choir/band, and involvement with my faith community provided busy days but a balance happily struck.

As I contemplated graduate school and my future path, I realized that I was at a crossroads, unsure of the path to pursue. Pulled in multiple directions, it was actually a negative experience in working with a career counselor that instantly crystalized my career planning—“I can do better than this; my goal is to become a career counselor so that I can serve and uplift people as they navigate their professional goals and their lives.”

So, here I am decades after beginning my professional training as a career counselor. What have I learned in all these years? What am I still learning?

Networking—It’s cliché, I know, to talk about the importance of networking; however, I can clearly state that networking was what helped me enter the profession and has been a key to helping me be successful in my ability to serve others.

Mentoring—Related to networking, in my early years in the field, I became a member of what became the American Association for Employment in Education (AAEE) and its regional affiliate, NWAEE. Hands-down, the connections that I made in those early meetings and conferences were invaluable to me, as a career counselor focused on working with PK-12 educators and as a budding young professional. Through those early connections, I have since added organizational and agency memberships and participation to my professional experiences, as well as the opportunity to present at conferences and to provide mentoring to others.

Teaching and Learning—I am passionate about teaching and learning for myself and for those I serve and support. Although an introvert at heart, I truly enjoy the opportunity to teach others in a variety of venues and on a wealth of topics. Learning comes in all forms and I try to remain open to the opportunities as they present themselves in both my professional and personal lives.

Joy, Humor, and Balance—It turns out that life gets both easier and more challenging with age. My glass isn’t really half-empty nor half-full; rather, I seek to be ever-grateful for the refreshing water contained within! As I try to balance my vocational and avocational work and pursuits, I must also balance the challenges of life with fibromyalgia and chronic fatigue. Humor serves me well on a daily basis; noting the joy in each day, even in the littlest things, brings a smile to my face and allows me the grace to serve myself and care for my own needs so that I can best serve others.

Advice and Wisdom

I have learned in my life, so far, that each person I encounter holds a unique wisdom, each person has a story to share that has the ability to impact my life in some way. I would encourage each of you to take the time to look at the people who pass you by, to take the time to greet them with a genuine interest in their answer to “How’s your day going?” 

Both personally and professionally, as I age, I am finding that loss is becoming a part of everyday existence, the saddest being the loss of friends, family, and colleagues. Embrace the life that you have been gifted; embrace the lives and people with whom you are interconnected. Live life in balance and with joy knowing that your work, your chance encounters, and your kindness expressed all have the ability to impact people in positive, life-changing ways.

Connect with Me

I look forward to hearing from you and can be reached at

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Higher education in the state of Oregon provides a dynamic environment where women, non-binary, and trans people can impact change. Whether in the community college, 4-year institution, public, or private, we want you to be a part of shaping the future of higher education by empowering and affirming your leadership abilities.