Ralph Watkins ’08 earned an undergraduate degree in education at Pacific University to begin a second career as a teacher. Today, he is principal of the K-12 school in the Inupiak village of Shismaref, Alaska. He tells Pacific magazine how Pacific University helped shape his journey.
What brought you to Pacific University?
“Most of my education took place at the University of Wyoming. My family relocated to Beaverton, and I had originally enrolled at the University of Portland, because they offered me more transfer credits for my stuff coming in. I honestly didn’t even know Pacific existed. … Someone mentioned Pacific to me … I drove down, saw the campus and met with an academic advisor. They were able to match what was happening over at UP, and they were a little less expensive. … I ceased my classes at UP and … enrolled at Pacific University, and I could not have been happier.”
What did you gain from the experience?
“It was, in my opinion, the best place for my academic philosophy and my learning style and, you know, kind of a laid-back, hippy kind of school. … In our education program, there was a lot of talk and discussion. It really helped you to kind of reflect and evaluate who you were going to be as a teacher. They didn’t tell you, ‘This is what a good teacher is,’ or ‘This is what a good teacher does.’ It was more like, ‘Of all these different things that make up good teachers, which are you going to take and shape into the kind of teacher you are going to be?’”