"We are UWTacoma" storytelling

August 1, 2019

Unexpected Opportunities

Margaret and I recently had the opportunity to interview Rebecca Dickson, a UW Tacoma Alumni who recently graduated with her degree in Politics, Philosophy, and Economics. Throughout her interview, Dickson spoke often about the unexpected opportunities she received during her two years attending UW Tacoma.


When asked about her decision to attend UW Tacoma, Dickson admitted that it was more of a financial decision and she, along with her advisors from the Pierce College Running Start Program, were concerned that there wouldn’t be enough opportunities to help her reach her career goals. “A lot of people were hesitant about me coming to this school; my advisors were concerned about my coming here to a local public university. Would I be able to get enough opportunities to get and reach my goals?” After two years at UW Tacoma, Dickson now admits that her initial doubts were wrong, and she was in fact given countless opportunities for future success.


“When I came here, I realized that there were so many hidden opportunities that you can access. You’d be surprised what you can get done within 2-4 years. Whether you’re a transfer student who spent a few years at university and you’re coming here for the first time, or you’re a returning student, or if you’re starting here as a freshman, there are so many different opportunities that you can have, that you would never expect that you could have. If you are interested in anything, be it academic or non-academic interests, you have the opportunity to explore and study that in a deep way on this campus, not just in the classroom, but also outside the classroom. UW Tacoma really does provide that for their students. I’ve never been told no.  I’ve always had someone say ‘Well how can we do that?’ People have always helped me with that, which is very rare. ”


There are four opportunities that stand out to Dickson during her time here. The first is the opportunity she had to explore different majors by enrolling in a wide variety of classes. She mentioned the learning community she found when she was given the opportunity to take 400-level business classes. “Students are willing to welcome you with open arms and teach you what they know. They will sit with you before class and teach you basic economic principles or they’ll talk to you about how they do presentations.” Dickson understands how important these interdisciplinary interactions are to the overall success of every student in every field, and UW Tacoma is well-known for making room for those kinds of connections and interactions.


She also told us about an opportunity she had through the Global Honors Program and the Institute for Global Engagement. The program offers a $1,000 scholarship for a study abroad opportunity, which is something Dickson didn’t think would be available to her until her career was well-established. After looking through the current opportunities, she came across the “Doing More With Less – Healthcare in Remote Southern Bolivia” program. While technically a capstone course for Biomedical Science majors, Dickson was allowed the opportunity to attend with the permission of the program advisor and formal acceptance into the program.


With the support and assistance of the Global Honors Program, she was also given the opportunity to complete a year-long interdisciplinary research project on climate change and environmental decision-making. What really stood out about this opportunity was the vital leadership role assigned to the students: the students were the principal investigators who designed the project and worked with various individuals under the guidance of an advisor. Traditionally, these roles are reversed and students will work as interns under the guidance of a lead principal investigator. Aside from the unique opportunity to lead an undergraduate research project, Dickson was given the chance to interact with individuals cross-culturally and across majors, which is going to be incredibly useful in her future career.


Dickson also shared with us her experience getting invited to attend the Corporate Social Responsibility Case Competition through the School of Business.


“We were able to explore real-world issues in an academic environment. One thing that

we did through that is explore the issue of housing insecurity and how it’s affected,  and how corporations, specifically companies, can work towards ending housing insecurity or improving that. We also had the opportunity to explore issues surrounding big data and data security. As a person who wants to work in Civil Service and in Public Policy, that’s something I’m very concerned about.”
In just two short years at UW Tacoma, Rebecca Dickson was given some truly life-changing and career-altering opportunities. While she didn’t come to UW Tacoma believing that these types of opportunities would be available to her, she graduated with some truly incredible experiences that will help her greatly in her career going forward.


~Rachel Howe