Monday, November 27, 2017

Member Spotlight:| Melissa Eskue Ousley

Tell us a little about yourself and the ways you’re active with Indivisible North Coast Oregon (INCO).
As an academic advisor at Clatsop Community College (CCC), I really enjoyed teaching a leadership class. We talked about “leaders as informed citizens,” accompanied by a class project that involved researching and then writing about a current issue that students felt was important and then following up by sending postcards to their members of Congress.

I began my counseling career in the field of mental health but soon realized that education is key to helping people transform their lives. So inspired, I earned a Ph.D. in Higher Education and have worked in the field ever since. I particularly like working at a community college with a more diverse student population, especially students from low-income households or who are the first in their family to attend college.

In my free time, I volunteer in the community and write novels. I’m on the Seaside Public Library Foundation (SPLF) Board, and am looking forward to its’ upcoming fundraiser on March 31. It’s being put on in conjunction with Libraries ROCC, which helps promote literacy by giving every child in Clatsop County a library card. At this event, “Little Free Libraries” that have been built by community members, will be auctioned off.

What prompted you to get involved?

I joined INCO because, like other members, I‘m concerned about the current administration’s attacks on education, the environment, health care, civil rights, voting rights, immigration and more. I’m particularly troubled by its impact on my students. Some, like DACA students, are worried about their future; others, like transgender students, are concerned about hate crimes. I’m proud that CCC has assumed a leadership role in welcoming ALL students and is working to ensure a safe learning environment.

What’s a highlight of your involvement so far?
A highlight has been the comradery that comes with taking action and resisting. I’m very encouraged that so many in our community have stood up and taken part in events like the Women’s’ March, local rallies, and the fight to protect health care.

Seeing others’ courage has bolstered my own. I’m excited to see people get actively involved, which, in turn, inspires me to step up my own efforts. I’d never considered running for public office before, but am now seeking training to do so. I feel strongly that I can’t expect others to step up if I’m not willing to as well.

What’s your vision for a better future?
My vision for a better future is an engaged and informed community of voters who elect officials who truly represent their communities, investing in education, health care, and other public services, and who lead us in combating climate change, protecting the environment and pursing renewable energy sources. I’d also like to see our country become more welcoming to those identifying as LGBTQ.

What’s one book, quote, or action that you recommend to everyone who’ll listen?
For anyone interested in learning more about transgender issues, I recommend Trans* in College, written by one of my colleagues, Z. Nicolazzo. I see it as a personal challenge to become more knowledgeable about this issue to better help my students.