"We are UWTacoma" storytelling

November 10, 2019

Finding Hope at UWTacoma

We recently had the opportunity to interview Ella Lucente, a senior studying Politics, Philosophy, and Economics with a minor in Gender and Sexuality Studies. When she’s not in classes, Ella is the Editor-in-Chief of the The Ledger, Editor-in-Chief of UW Odyssey the Online Platform, President of the ACLU UWT Chapter, and interns with the Crystal Judson Family Justice Center. While it may seem like Lucente is the poster-story for success in college, she has overcome a lot in order to get to where she is today, and none of it would have been possible without the help and guidance of her mentor, Dr. Caroline West. 

When Lucente first transferred to UWT she was studying Arts, Media, and Culture. After taking Dr. West’s course on Family Violence as an elective, Lucente quickly realized that this major was not something she was truly passionate about. Lucente decided to meet with Dr. West to discuss her fears about her major and the impact it would have on her future career; when she realized that Lucente’s true passions were for the legal system, law, and advocacy, Dr. West encouraged her to work towards becoming an advocate for those who need legal assistance – she also strongly encouraged Lucente to enroll in her trilogy of classes (Family Violence, Sexual Violence, and Sexual Deviance). 

Shortly after this conversation, Lucente changed her major to Politics, Philosophy, and Economics. Believing that law school would quickly be in her future, Lucente made great efforts towards becoming more involved on campus so that she could present a strong resume and application. Knowing that her current position as an opinion-columnist for The Ledger would pave the path towards becoming the next Editor-in-Chief, she decided to pursue her passion for writing by joining Odyssey as a Content Creator; she also joined the Pre-Law Society where she was quickly elected Secretary, and she applied for a position on the Student Activities Fee Committee (SAFC) along with several internship opportunities. 

Things were going incredibly well for Lucente until she was faced with several health problems that greatly impacted her ability to work and take classes. While her professors and her advisor at The Ledger were more than willing to work with her, she had to resign her position as Secretary for the Pre-Law Society. After several weeks of recovery Lucente was able to resume her responsibilities but discovered that not only was she not able to return to her position as Secretary, but she was also denied the SAFC position and her internship. She described that say as heartbreaking and devastating, but also humbling because it helped her realize that she was not invincible and that she would need to work harder to achieve her goals. 

With the help, guidance, and encouragement of Dr. West, Lucente was able to turn the “no’s” into “yes’s” and find hope and success in the face of rejection. From there she found the courage to become the Editor-in-Chief of the Odyssey and The Ledger, she applied for an internship with the Crystal Judson Family Justice Center with a recommendation from Dr. West, and she created her own club to combat civil rights issues on campus (ACLU UWT Chapter). Lucente truly believes that Dr. West had played a crucial role in her success at UW and is grateful for her guidance and encouragement: 

“Dr. West helped me find hope. When I lost everything, I found resources here. I found Dr. West, who helped me get those resources. I was trying to find an internship; I got a lot of fails, and then she gave me the one that’s really helped the most. So, I think without her I don’t think I’d be where I am not. She gave me the courage to really step up and own myself, because I was super insecure: I didn’t want to apply anywhere, I didn’t want to do Editor-in-Chief of The Ledger, I was scared. I was scared to do Editor-in-Chief of Odyssey- it’s intimidating. And she pushed me to keep going.She’s probably one of my biggest support on campus. She’s incredible. She changed my life for the better.” 

Reflecting on her experiences at UWT over the past year, Lucente made the comment that “not every story is ‘oohh you get a lot of success’ – you know, you get a lot of trials and errors” which is something that many of us know to be true through our own experiences. UWT is brimming with professors like Dr. West, who are willing to help us find the resources we need to be successful, even when are facing trials and rejection. 

When we asked Lucente to describe UW Tacoma in a single word, she replied “Hopeful. There is no other word to describe it.This is the place where I found everything. I found hope here, this was my hope. And I love UWT. A lot.”