Commencement Student Speaker 2016: Renee Ulrich
March 27, 2016
Originally from Arizona, Renee has called the Pacific Northwest home for the past 16 years. She has been involved in volunteer work and service for much of her life, spending summers working with persons with severe intellectual disabilities and later volunteering with the aging and elderly in a nursing home’s activities department. As a counselor, she has worked mostly in the public, non-profit sector in Portland, spending many years working with homeless and addicted populations who often also have mental health symptoms or chronic medical conditions.
In 2008 she earned her first degree—an A.A.S. in Alcohol and Drug Counseling from Portland Community College—and became a Certified Alcohol and Drug Counselor. This would be the first in a long string of academic accomplishments; Renee went on to receive a B.A. in Human and Behavioral Studies from George Fox in 2012, and in 2013 was accepted into the Professional Mental Health and Addictions M.A. program at the Lewis & Clark Graduate School of Education and Counseling.
“It seemed natural to continue my education and obtain a Masters degree. I chose Lewis & Clark for its emphasis on social change and justice as well as having the Professional Mental Health AND Addictions track,” she explains. “I wholeheartedly believe that integration of care is where the health and mental health professions are heading and I wanted to be as prepared as possible to be a part of integrated teams.”
Renee is a mother of three (eight if you count their dogs), and although she doesn’t get a lot of time to herself, enjoys reading, playing the piano, writing music, going to concerts, writing, trying to learn how to paint using you tube videos, video games, good food, and going on various trips with friends and family. She is looking forward to enjoying some down-time post graduation, and then continuing the career that she says chose her—serving those who just need a little extra care.