Counselor Sue Orris helps students accomplish their goals
Asked what she enjoys most about her work as an RCC counselor, Sue Orris responds without missing a beat, "The students!”
“I love meeting and teaching people of all ages and from all walks of life,” said Orris. “I love seeing folks progress in their learning and accomplish their goals, be it to pass a math, computer or writing class or to leave RCC with a certificate or degree.”
Orris, who has served as head of the Counseling Department, says it’s also a rewarding to help new students navigate college systems and find answers to their questions.
Orris was supportive and served as a role model, according to Sabrina Miller, a former student who worked as a Student Services assistant in the RCC Counseling Department.
“I felt like if I ever needed advice, she’d always make time for me and her door was always open,” Miller said. “Sue Orris valued my time and made me feel important.”
Before joining RCC in 1990, Orris taught at-risk youth at the Josephine County Alternative Center and worked at community agencies Stepping Stone and Options.
An Oregon professional licensed counselor, she holds a M. Ed. in community mental health counseling from Northeastern University and a bachelor’s in psychology from Simmons College.
Orris also has worked as a river guide in Oregon, Arizona, and California, and Nepal. She and her husband own a local rafting company, Ferron’s Fun Trips. Along with RCC President Peter Angstadt, also a former guide, Orris teaches an RCC rafting class each spring. She plans to retire in June 2012.
Sabrina Miller counsels “at risk” students
Now a successful student at Southern Oregon University, Sabrina Miller is passing along the support and encouragement that she received as a young girl.
Miller, who was a College Dreams participant since sixth grade, spends 12 hours a week with students at South Middle School in Grants Pass, cheering them on to pursue their educational goals. She loves school and working for College Dreams.
“My message is ‘Never give up! Your dreams are within reach,’” Miller declared. A nonprofit organization, College Dreams promotes academic excellence and college preparation for young students, especially those who face life challenges. “It helps students bridge that gap between potential and success,” Miller explained. “College Dreams taught me to believe in myself.” Because her family moved some 23 times, Miller was at risk of not completing high school.
“There were a lot of difficult things happening,” she said. “I had kind of a tough childhood, but I’ve moved on and life is really good.”
Indeed, Miller has carried on with style, focus, and courage. By the time she graduated from Illinois Valley High School in 2008, she had earned 16 Early College credits and approximately $17,000 in scholarships from College Dreams, the RCC Foundation and others, which allowed her to attend Rogue her first two years debt free.
Cost was a major consideration in selecting RCC, she recalled, but she also had a lot of friends going to Rogue.
“And I liked the fact RCC has smaller class sizes because I’m from a small town and wasn’t ready to jump into huge university classes,” she explained. “RCC was definitely a good choice.” Miller, who has become the first in her family to succeed in college, says she was always determined to attend college.
“Education is the ticket that gives you the opportunity to improve your life,” she said. “These days education is the only way to get a leg up.”
While attending RCC, Miller worked as a Student Services Assistant for the Counseling Department. Sue Orris, head of the department, served as her role model.
“I felt like if I ever needed advice she’d always make time for me, and her door was always open,” Miller said. “Sue Orris valued my time and made me feel important.”
Thanks to her RCC experiences, Miller says she was well prepared for SOU and is set to graduate in 2012 with a bachelor’s degree in human communication. Besides working for College Dreams, she’s also a freelance wedding and portrait photographer and works at the Grants Pass YMCA.
“I’m not sure where I will land,” Miller said, “but my heart has always been to give to people. So many people gave to me, and I want to give back.”
Have a story idea for the website? Please E-mail Rand Hill