Q&A with Amber Hoefer

Q&A with Amber Hoefer

Meet Amber Hoefer, the new Director of Student Leadership, Involvement and Community Engagement (SLICE). Hoefer started serving students during her undergraduate studies at the University of West Florida (UWF) where she received a Bachelor of Arts in Communication Arts with a minor in Business Management. She later moved on to graduate studies at Oregon State University (OSU) where she earned a Master of Education in College Student Services Administration. Among the multiple clubs Hoefer participated in, she also served as an orientation leader, orientation student coordinator and admissions ambassador at UWF, and as a graduate teaching assistant at OSU in the College of Engineering where she helped women and minoritized students in science, technology, engineering and math.

Q: What interested you in employment at CWU?

A: There were quite a few things that interested me in pursuing a career at CWU including the student population, campus size, location and opportunity for growth. My partner and I moved to Ellensburg from Charlotte, North Carolina in fall 2019 just prior to the start of the pandemic. Ever since I stepped foot on Central’s campus, I have been flooded with memories from my undergraduate years. Central’s campus size and student population is comparable to my undergraduate institution, so joining the Wildcat community felt like I was coming home. Ever since I started working at CWU, I have felt welcomed into the community and I love working with incredible students!

Q: When did you decide you wanted to professionally serve students?

A: It’s been a few years since I’ve thought about this, so I appreciate the question! During my undergraduate career, I was the epitome of an involved student, which established the foundation of my career in higher education. One experience that comes to mind involves a camp that served new students called Argo Camp (our mascot was the Argonauts). Argo Camp was in its formative years when I was an undergraduate student at UWF, but it was designed to be a student-led volunteer board facilitating an experience for new students transitioning into the institution. In Argo Camp, I started as a student staff member on the “crew” which meant I was behind the scenes helping the Camp Counselors bring the sessions to life. I started learning how I could positively contribute to a student’s college experience while operating behind the scenes. I built meaningful connections and loved being a student leader who could ease worries of incoming students while helping them get connected to campus.  I remember starting classes that fall and seeing the students who had attended the camp in classes, events, and around campus. I loved seeing them dive into their college career and remember feeling so grateful that I was able to be part of their journey. I started learning the value of connection, service to others, and personal growth through my experiences in Argo Camp. From there, I dove deep into various types of campus involvement which allowed me to help students navigate their transition to college and learn more about who they are as well as how they wanted to shape their college career, which led me to apply to graduate school.

Q: What did you want to be growing up?

A: Fun fact – growing up I always wanted to be an AC-130 pilot in the armed forces. If you have ever seen the Blue Angels perform, there’s a large plane that is part of the fleet called Fat Albert which is an AC-130. Fat Albert helped carry spare parts and materials for airshows, and was a key part to the success of the Blue Angels. My dad was an F-18 pilot in the Navy and I always gravitated toward serving in a similar capacity. I was in Air Force ROTC for a year and a half during my undergraduate experience and was ready to dive into a career in the military, but after an injury, I wasn’t able to continue in ROTC. This actually led to my current career as it created space for me to jump into another area of campus involvement and explore another career path.

Q: When reading your employment announcement, I noticed you said you like to hike. What are your favorite hikes in Washington? In the US?

A: I do like to hike and love spending time outdoors. A few of my favorite hikes in Washington are coastal hikes on Whidbey Island, EVERY hike in Mount Rainier National Park, and Colchuck Lake outside of Leavenworth (although I was in over my head with the elevation gain). I used to live in Colorado and enjoyed hiking in the Rocky Mountains – most notable was summiting five different 14,000 ft. mountains. My favorite “east coast” hike is Crabtree Falls in the Blue Ridge Mountains where my partner and I got engaged.

Q: Any life advice you’d like to impart on students?

A: Life advice can be hard since each person/student is navigating the world using their own lens, which is based on their background, social identities and personal experiences. My life advice would be to learn more about the lens you see the world through by exploring your personal values, experiences that shape you (or have shaped you), honoring each of your identities and putting your voice to who you are. The “who are you” question often is challenging as many of us define ourselves or measure our worth by “what we do” or “who other people say I am.” My advice is to dive deeper into your lens and figure out who you are – for you! Grapple with your values, beliefs, truths, and be curious about the world. It doesn’t mean you need to change your perspectives but create space to honor your truth while challenging assumptions have made as you’ve formed your lens. There might be a new perspective or approach that you never knew existed – so I encourage you to always be curious.