Former RCC Student Paves New Path after Graduation

Desirae Buracker has lived in Grants Pass for the past 11 years and is a first-generation college student. She started her higher education journey at Rogue Community College in the fall of 2017.

“I’m a late-in-life college student, but energetic and young at heart,” she said with a chuckle.

During her time at RCC, Desirae explored different general education classes and eventually settled on psychology as her major. She also spent a lot of time working in the college’s outdoor programs, which was one of her favorite experiences.

While at RCC, Desirae took advantage of everything the college had to offer, including access to the library, computer labs and much more. As a low-income student, it made all the difference for her to be able to print out assignments and schoolwork on campus.

“I utilized the tutoring center every day,” she said, “and having that available was a huge help.”

Desirae graduated from RCC when the pandemic started. Unfortunately, this meant she did not get to experience a typical graduation ceremony with friends and family.

After applying to Southern Oregon University and Oregon State University, she chose SOU to pursue her educational goals. She finished her final term in June, graduated with a bachelor of science in psychology, and will take a year off to finalize her graduate program applications.

“I felt nervous and excited when I graduated from SOU,” she said, “because it was the first time I ever walked across a stage for a college commencement ceremony.”

After graduation, Desirae had several options to consider before taking her next steps. She would like to work as a marriage and family counselor, or possibly pursue social work.

“I want to help people and work in counseling, too,” she said. “Once I determine where I’m accepted for my graduate program, I’ll figure out what I want to do.”

Desirae also enjoys researching, so she may dabble in that before becoming a counselor, or maybe even work as an adjunct professor someday.

Whatever lies ahead on her career path, Desirae wants prospective students to know they could pursue higher education, get a degree and change their lives.

“I got grants and scholarships for college. Before attending RCC, I didn’t know what financial aid was out there,” she said. “That’s why I’m passionate about people attending community college. It can be hard or scary, but everyone can do it if they want.”

Having attended both community college and a university, Desirae has immense gratitude for RCC and her time there.

She enjoyed the beauty of the Redwood Campus, and the diverse community and programs. RCC was the first step in her college career, and one she’ll never forget.

“I love RCC so much, especially the campus and staff,” she said. “If it weren’t for the people at RCC, I wouldn’t have attended college or graduated from a university.”

— Rebecca Scott