Courtney Glenn: Transfer Student
Courtney Glenn grew up in Grays Harbor. Even though she was always active in her extracurriculars, Courtney hadn’t given much thought to college growing up. It wasn’t until high school graduation grew close that it started to weigh on her mind, and she started to look around and found GHC.
Many of Courtney’s acquaintances in the community worked for GHC or went there themselves, and they themselves spoke for the quality of education that she would receive. GHC was also cheaper than a big university, and it was right there in her hometown. The same quality of education, with no debt? Courtney felt it was the right choice for her. “I am about to graduate with almost 100 credits,” she says, “and I have no student loans.”
When she entered GHC, Courtney was planning to graduate with her AA and then move into the workforce, possibly to become an esthetician. But then, out of the blue she found her passion in an elective class she took to fulfill a credit requirement. “In my first psychology class, with Brenda Rolfe-Maloney, I was like, this is it,” she said. “That was something that I did not expect. I loved to learn about this (psychology). If I hadn’t found what I loved to do, I’d be getting my AA and moving on, but that changed everything.”
Courtney went to Brenda’s office after her first general psychology elective. “I think I’m going to study psychology,” she said, and Brenda immediately took Courtney on, registering as her advisor, and has helped guide her toward her new goals. Courtney became incredibly passionate about mental health, and that passion for the well-being of people has bled into nearly everything that she does. She won a seat on the Associated Students of Grays Harbor College (the ASGHC, the campus student government) as the Executive Officer of Community Relations, and became the coordinator for the Harbor Landing Food Pantry on campus. She has also worked with Blood Works Northwest, Beyond Survival, and NAMI, connected the GHC Gender and Sexuality Alliance with local resources, and organized GHC’s first annual Mental Health Fair.
Courtney uses her position as Miss Grays Harbor to promote conversations on mental health in the community through education. She wants schools to begin talking to their students about mental health and mental illness while they are still young — while they are in elementary school, in fact— so that it becomes normalized and carries less stigma. “It’s the same thing as teaching children to eat well and exercise,” she says. “We should teach children how to watch for signs of a peer who is depressed or has been abused. The Miss Grays Harbor program has given me the opportunity to speak out. I have a crown and sash, but that’s really not what’s important here. What’s important is that I’m passionate about mental health and I’m passionate about psychology. The Grays Harbor community has a really high poverty rate and mental illness and addiction rate, and so mental health is vital here.”
Courtney is about to graduate now, and when she reflects back on her last few years at GHC, she remembers a time when Richard Arquette, the director of Student Life, stepped up to help her, too. “The role of the Harbor Landing food pantry coordinator was something completely new for me, and I got to the point where I was shutting down and pulling back from some of my commitments. I went to Richard’s office and had a long talk with him, and he really listened to what I had to say. He understood what I was saying, and without being explicit and telling other members of student life that I was struggling, he facilitated a group conversation that we all need to help each other fulfill their duties. You can show that people are needing support without actually saying what’s going on. He really helped me.”
Courtney wants people to understand that by coming to GHC, “you’re not sacrificing a good education by getting a cheaper education. You are going to be getting such good care from the faculty and staff members, and you’re going to be really grateful that you’re not spending $20,000 a year on it.” She feels that at GHC you’re getting a great education at a lower price, at a place that feels like home, and will become home. You’re in a place where the instructors, janitors, and chefs know your name. In a place that is very community-oriented. That place is Grays Harbor College.
In ten years, after she is done with her graduate studies, Courtney would like to be working in a mental health hospital doing internships and professional development before opening her own practice. Possibly in Grays Harbor, the place where she came from.