Ainsley Wilson-Graden is passionate about working one-on-one with students and her enthusiasm and empathy help her connect with and support CPHHS Ecampus human development and family sciences (HDFS) students.
Ainsley, an academic advisor in the Office of Student Success, is a graduate of the University of Iowa’s master’s program in higher education and student affairs. She is already an important part of student success at Oregon State University and most recently served as a resident director in Oregon State’s University Housing and Dining Services.
What made you decide to get into this field? Is there one specific moment that inspired your career path?
“While there was no specific moment when I realized that I wanted to be an academic advisor, there were lots of little moments over the years. I started working as a resident assistant in residence life during my undergrad at Appalachian State in North Carolina. From there, I was a graduate resident director (RD) at the University of Iowa. I ended up at Oregon State University in 2015 and was an RD for four years.
“I loved my work in residence life, but it always felt like something was missing. I wanted to be able to support students in their academic journey and to challenge students to learn and grow. Serving students as an academic advisor is what I was looking for.”
What do you love about your field? What energizes you?
“I love helping students. It energizes me when I am able to help a student access the support and resources they need to be successful. It is the whole reason they are at OSU, but it is not all of who they are. As an academic advisor, I get to support both their academic and personal journeys. And that gives me joy.”
Why did you choose to work at Oregon State/CPHHS?
“After moving from western North Carolina to Iowa, I missed the mountains. I found a similar environment in Oregon. I love the views of the mountains and that the coast is so close to Corvallis. I love the sustainability focus, the drive to serve people and the local attitude at OSU. I keep telling people that I think I am a West coast soul and I am meant to stay here.
“I was so excited and grateful to be able to stay at OSU when I transitioned to the College of Public Health and Human Sciences. I was drawn to the CPHHS because of the work they do serving Oregon communities and my specific role working with human development and family sciences Ecampus students.”
What’s the best thing about working in the Office of Student Success?
“I really enjoy my co-workers, the student staff and the beautiful Women’s Building. My favorite part so far is working with my Ecampus students. They have so much drive and energy. I am constantly impressed by them, whether they are juggling classes with a full-time job, with child or elder care, or serving others in their own communities.
“All of my students have such amazing stories. They give me energy and push me to do better to serve them and help them feel connected to the OSU community.”
What are you most proud of in your work so far?
“My proudest moment was when a co-worker and I were talking with an Ecampus student. The student was struggling with personal concerns and let us know that they felt more supported by us and the Ecampus staff and faculty than they ever had at a brick-and-mortar institution. This is so telling of the Ecampus community. So many students have felt supported by their professors or the Ecampus staff. I am proud to be joining such a supportive community and to be able to serve students similarly.”
How do you strive to affect people’s lives with your work?
“I am inspired by the college’s mission to serve Oregon communities and by the opportunity to work with Ecampus students. I strive to help students continue to access higher education and earn their diploma. This might mean helping them plan out how long it will take to graduate, helping them withdraw from a course they are struggling in or referring them to an office on campus to support a personal concern. Everything I do in my work helps students access higher education. And that is something that I can be proud of.”
What is one surprising thing about you that not many people know?
“It’s not be something I talk about at work a lot, but I love anime, sci-fi, comic cons, and all things geeky and nerdy. I have recently started attending comic cons, starting with Rose City Comic Con in Portland and Emerald City Comic Con in Seattle.
“I have always been a creative person and enjoy sewing and creating things. So, I love the intersection of geek and nerd culture, with art and creativity. My goal for Rose City Comic Con this September is to create a cosplay of Merida from Pixar’s ‘Brave.’”
What are your favorite activities outside of work?
“I love hanging out with my dog and husband, going on walks and hikes, going floating when its warm and sunny, sewing and crafting, and exploring Oregon. I also enjoy going to Portland or Eugene and exploring new shops and restaurants.
“I already have my favorite restaurants and shops in a lot of cities! My Corvallis favorite: Tried and True Coffee in south Corvallis. Their chai tea lattes are the best.”