Joann Zhang

Joann Zhang: Our Stories, Our Communities, UO Diversity

Joann Zhang

I graduated from UO at 2012 with a Bachelor’s of Science in Education. I recently finished my Masters of Education in College Student Services Administration. 

Sometimes home feels like I-5. Having lived in some of the larger areas of Oregon (Salem, Eugene, Portland, and Corvallis) and building a community in each of them, I feel like home is up and down that highway. I spend a lot of time traveling on it in order to spend time in the places I call home.


My community at UO are my peers, colleagues, supervisors and most importantly the students I work with. The individuals I interact with on a daily basis aka the individuals who I laugh, create, struggle and learn with are my community. As a former student, a community can sometimes be difficult to find, especially at a large institution like the University of Oregon. It’s my job to help students find their community.


As a professional staff, the numerous of opportunities to go beyond your job description, to do more for the community, and to gain development (whether professionally or not) has been impactful. In my position, I can be creative and support students in different ways. As a former student, the opportunities I have experienced include the numerous student leadership opportunities (as an undergrad, I remember running to the director of my department with an idea and without hesitation, she said: “yes, go, and do it.” The opportunities to get involved if you want to (New Student Fall Retreat) and or the opportunities to challenge yourself and do something out of your comfort level (LeaderShape) has all been great opportunities for students…if they come across them. The challenge is…getting students to come across these opportunities. UO is large and getting students connected to opportunities or to a community is a challenge. Getting support from the larger institution and to have them see the struggles we see has been a challenge. And making sure our community can thrive in an environment that seems to care more about numbers than our stories has been a struggle.