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Getting to know Joan Oakes

Oregon State Ecampus student services specialist

Joan Oakes, Ecampus student services specialist, sits against the back of a short cushioned chair in the OSU Valley Library. She smiles and wears a black and gray striped shirt.

Joan Oakes is the voice many students hear on the other line when they call the Ecampus offices, and for nearly a decade she has worked tirelessly to help students navigate the path toward graduation.

By Tyler Hansen
April 4, 2016

Joan Oakes serves as liaison between Oregon State Ecampus students and the departments around campus. Her day-to-day work involves answering students’ questions via phone or email regarding programs, admission, registration, petitions, proctoring and more. In nearly 10 years with Ecampus, she has worked in a number of roles, but there has been one constant – she is dedicated to helping distance learners solve problems and achieve success. When she’s not working with students, Joan is riding her horse or cheering for the New York Yankees.


St. Paul, Oregon – “Home of one of the biggest Fourth of July rodeos.”

How long have you worked at Oregon State?

9 years, 5 months

Why did you choose to work for OSU Ecampus?

“There were lot of factors that led me to OSU. I worked for 30-plus years for a major insurance company, and they were relocating to Washington and I was not. I moved to Monroe, Oregon, and commuted to Salem for a few months before the insurance office closed. Then I started the process of looking for a new job, saw a job opening at OSU Extended Campus for a Testing Coordinator, and I’ve happily been here ever since.”

What do you like most about your position as a student services specialist?

“Wow, there are a lot of things I like about my job. Normally when we hear from students, it’s because there is a problem. I like being able to help students resolve issues. That can range from them not being able to register for a class, understanding an outstanding account balance or needing assistance with a petition. Unfortunately, sometimes it’s not the answer students want to hear, but there is a process in place and they all need to be treated the same.”

What do you wish others knew about your job?

“My job is not just one email or phone call. Depending on the nature of the concern, it could be multiple emails or phone calls to explain a procedure, investigating what’s going on in a class, or just simply being there to listen to the students.”

Why did you decide to get into this field?

“To tell you the truth, I’m not one to sit around. So when I was looking for a job, I looked at OSU. Even though I had not worked in the education field, I brought with me a skill set that has served me well, and I love a challenge.”

“I really care for and want to help students. I’ve created working relationships across the university, and this has put me in a position to be able to assist students.”

What’s your greatest accomplishment working for Ecampus?

“This isn’t an easy question to answer, as I’m not one to pat myself on the back. I really care for and want to help students. I’ve created working relationships across the university, and this has put me in a position to be able to assist students. It has also worked in the reverse, where departments are referring students – and sometimes faculty – to me.”

What’s the best piece of advice you can give to Ecampus students?

“If you’re having troubles or have questions do not hesitate to call Student Services — the sooner the better.”

Tell us something surprising thing about you that people don’t know.

“I’m a HUGE sports fans, and I met the Queen of England.”

What are your favorite activities outside of work?

Number one: Riding my horse.
Number two: Working outside.
Number three: Relaxing by crocheting or knitting – if I can sit still long enough.