Josie Johnson: A Major Explorer

Josie Johnson

Name: Josie Johnson
Hometown: Pilot Rock, Oregon
Majors: Family and Human Services

How did you go about choosing a major? When choosing a major, what helped me the most was talking to my academic advisor Leilani Sabzalian in the Center for Multicultural Academic Excellence. Initially, I thought that being a wildlife biologist sounded like a good career because I like being outdoors and around animals and nature. By speaking with her across several casual visits, I decided that this was more of a hobby of mine than a life passion, so when she asked me what I enjoy doing most with my time I came up with an answer immediately—helping people. She then told me about the Family and Human Services major and what it was about. It is a perfect fit for me personally. Not only is there a huge variety of career choices associated with this major, every one of them includes helping others in some way. Another very important aspect in picking this major was the fact that I wanted a career where I could be active and make a real difference in the lives of others. I cannot think of a better way to use a degree than to be a part of a positive change in society.

How did you feel about being undecided about your major when you started at the UO? Coming to UO undecided made me uneasy. I was intimidated when speaking to older students who knew exactly what they wanted to do and felt behind because I didn’t yet know what I wanted to do with the rest of my life. But after speaking with numerous faculty and students, I began to feel a lot more comfortable knowing how many people change their majors and that many other students were also undeclared.

What has been your greatest achievement at the UO, so far? My greatest achievement at the UO so far has been simply sticking with it. Coming from a small, rural town and a low-income family, it has sometimes been difficult to stay down here and power through the hard times. Transitioning into such a new and different environment, so far away from home, and with a lack of financial resources has been a challenge. But I am proud to say that I am a UO sophomore now and am extremely confident that I will graduate with my bachelor’s degree in 2017. I look forward to having many other accomplishments along the way, such as my newspaper article in the Confederated Umatilla Journal about applying to college that was published back home and a radio interview that I partook in with my boss from the Opportunities Outreach Program about an event we are coordinating for the Umatilla Tribe.

What are you hoping to do with your major, both while you work toward graduation and after? With my major, I am hoping to gain a lot of hands-on experience working with families in poverty, troubled youth, and people suffering from addiction, so that someday I can create my own organization in my hometown that will help families deal with these types of issues.

What advice would you give incoming freshmen or transfer students about deciding on a major or minor? The advice that I would give to incoming students would be to not rush. Take your time and use your first two years to explore as many fields as you can, you might be surprised how much your perspective can change in such a small amount of time. I would also suggest that you ask yourself what you enjoy doing the most and what you feel could be your passion and then work with advisors and others to identify potential careers that could incorporate these things that are meaningful to you. That way you will have a sense of true joy and fulfillment while also supporting yourself financially.

Photo by Wendy Gregory.