Pacific Gives Alumna Shot at Dreams

Every day holds something new for Veronica Russell ’03.

She might head to the beach in Seaside, Ore., to snap a photo for a social media post.

Or host a travel group for a lesson on razor clamming.

Or spend the day updating the City of Seaside Visitors Bureau blogs and websites.

Russell is a member of the destination marketing team for the Seaside, a desired career path since graduating from Pacific University.

Russell was born in Northern California, where she met her husband. Not able to attend college right out of high school, she created a family instead. She spent 10 years in banking and then decided that she wanted a career that suited her personality and would allow her to spend more time at home. She took a couple of classes at a local community college, earning her associate degree while raising her two children.

“Some of my best memories of that time are sitting around the table having intellectual conversations with [my two children ages 10 and 11] about something I learned in philosophy class, or something they learned in science class,” Russell said.

She was one of two students from her community college to be named a Governor’s Scholar, and received a scholarship to continue her education. She transferred Pacific, and started in 2001 as a nontraditional student in her 30s.

She commuted to Pacific from Seaside every day. On a good day, the drive took an hour and 20 minutes. With traffic or icy roads in the Cost Range, it was two hours.

Though it was difficult at times, Russell said her Pacific experience set her on the route to the rest of her life.

Her daughter, Raven Russell ’10, remembers doing homework at night with her mom.

“It showed my brother and I that homework wasn’t just for kids,” Raven Russell said. “It was sort of a ‘practice what you preach’ scenario; she told us that it was important to do well in school, then she showed us by doing so herself.”

At Pacific, Russell honed her writing skills and delved into her love for English, earning a degree in creative writing.

“I realized writing is a craft you work on to perfect, not something you’re necessarily born with,” Russell said. “I also didn’t realize how many opportunities there were for other kinds of writers in this world. I thought a writer was a writer — either you have that magical trick in your bag or you don’t.”

After graduation she freelanced in writing and did graphic design work, and wrote editorial pieces for her local newspaper before taking a job as managing editor for a coastal travel magazine publisher.

Six years flew by before she began her current job with the Seaside Visitors Bureau.

“I think I have the most fun writing for our social media channels,” Russell said. “There’s instant gratification in that kind of writing — instant gratification is something a writer rarely gets, so I guess that’s why I love it.”

But writing isn’t what grounds her; family is. In her free time, Russell’s favorite thing to do is hang out with her tight-knit family. Last year, she traveled to Mexico with her husband, their two children and their children’s significant others. She also volunteers, mostly through Seaside Rotary Club, with one of her daughters.

At home, when given time, she writes for fun.

She hopes the future will give way to her creative dream: writing a script for a horror movie or play.

Whatever happens next, though, Russell says she is thankful for her Pacific education.

“Pacific is where I achieved a hard-fought, lifelong dream,” she said. “It will always hold a special part of my heart.”

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