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Getting to know: Rena Thayer

Dean's Office, Movement Studies in Disability Program administrative assistant

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CPHHS Dean’s Office and Movement Studies in Disability Administrative Assistant Rena Thayer came to Oregon State in 1997. She previously worked as an office manager at Security First Advisors Inc., administrative support at First American Title, as a home day care worker and in accounts payable for the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife. She earned an associates’ degree in Legal Secretarial at the Oregon Institute of Technology.


What does your job as administrative assistant entail?

Besides answering the college’s main phone line and assisting Dean’s Office walk-in students, I am the administrative assistant for the Movement Studies in Disability Program, which focuses on adapted physical activity. Our program runs three community-based programs including IMPACT, a physical fitness program for kids ages 1 to 21 with special needs; IMPACT for Life, a program for young adults that helps transition participants to exercising in fitness facilities in the community; and the Multiple Sclerosis Exercise Program.

We are so successful because we are able to recruit OSU student volunteers – 90 each term for IMPACT – who work one-on-one with our participants.”

Why did you choose to work at Oregon State in the CPHHS/What made you decide to get into this field?

Rena-Thayer-Synergies-2“I applied at OSU because I had worked for the state before with the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife and wanted to work for the state again. I initially started out part-time, and here I am, 18 years later. I had no idea I would be able to work in the beautiful Women’s Building and have wonderful faculty and colleagues to work with.”

What do you enjoy most about your job?

“The things that parents tell me about their child’s experience in IMPACT touch my heart. The program means a lot to them. For many, not only do their child’s physical skills improve, but so does their confidence and ability to make friends.”

What is the best advice you ever received, and who gave it?

“I like the scripture ‘…by small and simple things are great things come to pass…’ This reminds me of the children in IMPACT. Each one of them has their own strengths to share – love, compassion and a love of life – and they can teach us many things.”

What advice would you like to give to students and young alums?

“Be flexible – life often times will take you down a different path than you had planned. It may seem horrible at first, but it also may mean new doors and opportunities will open up to you that you’d never thought of and that are very meaningful and gratifying to you.”Rena-Thayer-Synergies

What is one surprising thing about you that not many people know?

“I used to ride 4-wheelers at the dunes and climb mountains, jump hills and ride rail trails. It was a family thing, and our kids had 4-wheelers also. I loved it.”

What are your favorite activities outside of work?

“Camping – I grew up camping every 4th of July with my grandparents and first cousins in undeveloped camp sites. There is something magic about waking up first thing in the morning surrounded by the beauty and smell of pine trees, hearing the creek running, feeling a warm morning fire and having family members and friends to visit with just a few feet away. I love that it doesn’t matter if you look like a mess without your hair done, no make-up on and grubby clothes. All that matters is laughter and enjoyment of each other’s company without the distractions of the world.

Also, I love spending time with my kids, grandkids and friends. My granddaughter, Sofia, who has a wonderful imagination, used to say, ‘Have a nice day and watch out for tigers!’”