Emily Trigg, this year’s Outstanding Graduate Student Award recipient from Waldport, Ore., enjoyed her undergraduate at Western Oregon University so much that she stayed for a master’s degree. She loves the size of the WOU campus as well as its beauty. Trigg transferred from Corban College to the education program at WOU. She didn’t do a formal visit on campus, but rather just dropped by one day and found people to be very friendly. Trigg knew WOU would work well for her.
“I want to teach. My heart wants to be a part of a community and know that I’m a contributing member of that community, making it a better place. Teaching seems like a way to make a big impact for people,” she said. Trigg added that she cares about youth and after having a somewhat rough childhood, she has a soft spot in her heart for struggling students. “I get that, I really do.”
In addition to education, she was also interested in math and it was suggested to her to get her bachelor’s in mathematics instead of education. This would make her more well-rounded and provide more career options in case she had difficulty getting a position as a teacher. Trigg stayed on to get her master’s in education. She found that both mathematics and education were challenging in their own ways.
Teaching has been more challenging than she had anticipated, which she learned through volunteering and student teaching. “It’s a hard job,” she said, adding that there is always a need for professional development. Even if this wasn’t required, it would be necessary because things are always changing, there’s new research, children are different, and people are finding better practices. This aspect to education is a benefit for her, “I won’t have to feel intellectually stagnant.”
Trigg has worked hard to avoid feeling intellectually stagnant. Throughout her time on campus, she has been very involved in a variety of activities from Upward Bound to Math Club. Some of her best memories were playing intramural softball through the Math Club. She also loved tutoring. Through Upward Bound she developed a mathematics curriculum with mini-lessons designed to teach students of varying ability levels. She also mentored students at Central High School, McKay High School and Dallas High School.
Mona K-Hinds, the educational advisor for Upward Bound at WOU, said, “Emily has been able to tutor math, but is one of those rare people who can switch to almost any subject, tutoring our high school students. She is professional, yet she builds relationships with the students. She gets to know each student individually. She figures out what each student needs to become a better learner.”
Teachers she’s had throughout her life, including her mother, have inspired Trigg’s career path and teaching style. When asked her advice for people considering graduate school, she said to “be passionate about it. Don’t waste your time and money if you’re not. Volunteer in the classroom and get to know the education system to make sure you really like it. There’s too many teachers out there who don’t have a passion for teaching. Make sure you have that burning desire.”
The burning desire to teach and be involved is something that Dr. Cheryl Beaver, associate professor of mathematics, noticed in Trigg throughout her time on campus. “As a student, Emily is a quick learner, well-liked by her peers and friendly to all. She was always a pleasure to have in class and always ready to give an answer, ask a question or help a classmate. She has always been quick to volunteer to help organize activities, tutor students, grade papers and help out where needed.”