Emily Day’s résumé is all over the map — literally. She’s gone from framing houses in Idaho to waitressing in New Zealand to volunteer whale watching in Spain. But she didn’t truly find herself, or her self-confidence, until returning home to the Willamette Valley, and to Oregon State to study natural resources in the College of Forestry.
“Oregon State has given me a lot of confidence in myself,” she says. “It’s helped me realize that I can do anything, and I didn’t really know that about myself before.”
Day grew up in Albany and took a few classes at Linn-Benton Community College before realizing she didn’t really know what she wanted to do next.
“I was spending all this money on school with no direction,” she explains.
So, she decided to travel, first to California and Idaho and then across the globe.
While in New Zealand on a one-year working holiday visa, Day met her husband, and the two moved to Spain together. Throughout their travels, and no matter where she was, Day constantly sought out natural places.
“I always wanted to go hiking and see the beauty of the outdoors,” Day says, “And I think that’s what really pushed me toward natural resources: my love for the environment and my desire to protect it.”
After about three years in Spain, homesickness began to set in, and Day decided it was time to return to Oregon and go back to school.
“My older sister went to Oregon State, and really good things have happened for her,” Day says. “It was important to me to stay close to my family, and after being abroad for several years, I realized how great Corvallis is.”
Day obtained a ReStart scholarship from the Ford Family Foundation, a need-based program for adults age 25 or older to begin or return to full-time, post-secondary education.
“Getting that scholarship inspired me to be the best I could be and made me realize I wanted to reach my fullest potential.” Day says. “It’s really helped me be ambitious in my college career.”
Day applied for and was admitted to the University Honors College where she completed a thesis about the endangered Willamette Daisy. The purpose of the thesis project was to determine if the differences in soil properties at two separate sites could impact the growth and recovery of the endangered plant. Her research also found certain soil properties and higher soil pH were conducive for growth.
Day has been active beyond the classroom as a member of the Ambassadors for Agriculture, Forestry and Natural Resources, the Mortar Board Senior Honor Society and the Women Returning to Higher Education (WORTHE) program.
Day also worked for College of Forestry Professor Jeff Hatten, in his forest soil lab. He says Day is one of the most thoughtful and well-prepared students he’s ever worked with.
“She is one of the most positive people I know,” Hatten says. “She is humble, realizes her gifts, knows when to ask for help and when to thank someone for help.”
After Commencement, Day will be working with the Army Corps of Engineers at its Fern Ridge site near Eugene. There, she will be mapping population boundaries, developing plant lists for the project’s natural areas and surveying rare plants, including her beloved Willamette Daisy.
But Day hasn’t ruled out the possibility of attending graduate school or buying and managing a farm with her husband, and she’s confident she will continue to explore natural places all over the world.
“The College of Forestry at Oregon State has opened a lot of doors and presented me with great opportunities,” She says. “I’ve done so much more than I ever thought I would.”