Meet the average student

Because she is the sixth of ten children, Portland State graduate student Joy Rowley grew up with a typical middle-child complex, likening her experience to the “Marsha, Marsha, Marsha!” problems that often afflicted Jan Brady.


Rowley, a 28-year-old blonde young woman, is originally from Idaho and is statistically the most common type of student to be found at PSU, according to the spring 2005 statistics provided by the Office of Institutional Research and Planning.


These statistics show that women outnumber men at Portland State, Caucasian is the largest ethnic group by over 10,000 individuals (of those who chose to respond to the question) and the average age of the participants is 28.5 years old. All of these statistics are a part of Joy Rowley.


But Rowley, however, is not merely those statistics.


Rowley is currently enrolled in the graduate program for social work at Portland State. She plans to work with children through school programs or with children and families in the early childhood education or mental health.


“Even though I’m not positive where I’ll try to work, I’m pretty sure it will be with women and children,” she said.


Rowley’s scholastic history began at Post Falls High School in the town of the same name where she lived with her mother, stepfather and two of her siblings. Rowley moved to Moscow, Idaho, after graduation to go to school at the University of Idaho. She graduated in 1999 with a bachelor of science in both psychology and child and family relation studies.


After graduation, Rowley moved to Portland to work with Early Head Start as a child and family development specialist, where she worked as a substitute teacher as well as for Kerr’s Early Intervention Program (KEIP). She interned at KEIP during her first year of graduate school at PSU.


As she begins her second year in the social work graduate program, she is paying for school and living costs herself, with no family support.


“It can be pretty tough,” Rowley said, and added, “especially with how much it costs to go to school for social work.”


Even though she has loans to pay off like many students, she is more concerned about doing what she cares about.


“The joke in the social work program is how much more it costs to get a MSW rather than an MBA in business when you can possibly make a six-digit salary with the MBA rather than a lower-paying social work job,” Rowley said. She feels strongly about the lack of importance placed on the necessity of social workers in general.


Rowley likes the PSU campus to an extent, noting how different it is from most college campuses being surrounded by a bustling city with people rushing everywhere. The city is what she likes the most about the campus. She enjoys hiking, biking and the general diversity and culture of Portland in comparison to the small-town living of Idaho.


“I’m glad I had the experience of University of Idaho,” Rowley said in recollection. “It’s just a different feel here.”


Upon receiving her master’s degree, Rowley will search both the Portland and Washington job markets to pursue her career in social work. Her hope to continue work with young children and women seems to be a definite possibility, with her strong work background. As an asset to that experience, soon she will also be participating in an internship at Planned Parenthood.


Staying optimistic about her future at PSU and as a social worker, Rowley said, “There are pros and cons to everything. I’ve experienced a lot of what my clients have.”


Even as the average student, in a relatively abnormal school, Joy Rowley’s ability, determination and pleasure for what she does, definitely proves that she is more than merely average.