Q & A with Amanda Stanley

Q: Tell us a little about the journey that led you to your current role in higher education.  

A: Well, it was a little unplanned, really. While finishing my Bachelor’s degree at Oregon State University I was trying to get back into the workforce after the recession, and at the time I was literally throwing my resume at anyone who would look at it. I ended up getting an interview at Linn-Benton Community College for an entry level admissions clerk, and I got the job. Eager to meet others across the campus and get involved and make a difference, I started getting involved in committees and councils and from there was offered leadership opportunities such as the CSSA Leadership Institute, and then attending the Oregon Institute for Leadership Development through the American Association of Women in Community Colleges. Attending both of those institutes led me to pursue my Master’s Degree in Psychology and Education which I graduated with in 2017. My original intention was to obtain my Master’s to seek out a position as a Dean, but so far it has led me down a different path, and I was invited to take a position helping students navigate barriers that may prevent them from staying in school and graduating. I work with students daily to connect them to resources such as housing, food, healthcare, transportation, childcare, work, Immigration help, and many other things. I am not sure where my journey goes from here, but this is where I am supposed to be.

Q: What’s the most amazing part of your job?

A: The most amazing part of this job so far has been the ability to build a network across the campus, and within our community to begin to strengthen our resources to help support our students. Many people are familiar with the saying “It takes a village” and I can say from experience this year that it really does. I am not just one person supporting students in this work, but one of many and we have come together and built this amazing foundation and we are doing things we haven’t really done before. We are also getting to know our resources in the community better, and creating relationships that are helping us support one another. We are building our village here, and it is an amazing feeling.

Q: What’s the most challenging part of your job?

A: To be really honest here, I would say it is a combination of not having enough money to help students, and not being able to help everyone every time. Most of the time those two things are connected, and it really does come down to money and lack of resources that people desperately need. The most challenging is accepting that I can’t help everyone every time, and not taking work home with me. It has been a struggle some days to hear my student’s stories and not want to lift their troubles off their shoulders and carry it for them. I am learning that a big part of this job is self-care and being able to do what I need to take care of myself along the way. It’s amazing but challenging work.

Q: What self-care strategies do you use?

A: The main one for me: breathing exercises. I found yoga a year or so ago, and it helped me not only physically, but emotionally as well. It helped me so much I decided to get trained to be a certified Yoga Instructor, so I could help others find the same peace, calm, and strength that I did. I cannot tell you how many times just taking the time to sit still and breathe in deep and breathe out slowly has helped me. I do yoga several days a week. I get out into the woods and walk it out and breathe in the fresh woodsy air. I talk it out by finding someone to talk to and get it all out of my mind, sometimes a therapist, counselor, colleague or friend. Mental Health days are important too. Sometimes you need a day off from the office to drive to the beach or stay home with no one else there and binge watch your favorite show or go get a massage, or whatever you need for you. And live music- seriously, going to a concert and feeling the music move through your body - is mood changing and uplifting.

Q: What’s your favorite “Oregon” activity?

A: My favorite Oregon activity is getting out into the Oregon wilderness, and taking off for the day. Rain or shine (mostly rain, I mean, it’s Oregon), grabbing a hiking buddy, strapping our boots and packs on, and getting up in the trees and experiencing all the beauty in this state is one of my favorite things to do. If I have more time, I love road tripping Oregon, and seeing the ghost towns and hot springs, and all the quirky wonderful things that make Oregon awesome.

 Q: Who inspires you and why?  

A: I am deeply inspired by the life and legacy led by Ruth Bader Ginsburg. I have always thought she is so legendary, strong, and courageous. She has fought against adversity as a woman in countless ways. Her marriage was one of equals which at the time was not the norm. She is always at the forefront of the women’s movement; she speaks up and uses her voice and powerful words to the movements that will effect social change. She is steadfast and she doesn’t give up and is courageously indomitable.  I look to her for inspiration often. She is deeply imbedded in my family, and my kids know exactly who she is. She reminds me that I too have a voice, that I can and should use it, that my husband and I are equals, and more than anything, to never stop trying. The world needs bore RBG’s for sure.

 

Amanda Stanley is the Single Stop Program Coordinator/Resource Navigator at Linn-Benton Community College. She can be reached via email at stanlea@linnbenton.edu

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