Linda O'Hara: Devoted to Teaching ... and the Beavs
“My blood is orange,” Linda O’Hara says, but it’s hardly worth mentioning if you see her on the Friday before a home football game. Dressed in all orange and black, from her earrings down to her shoes — it’s obvious she is a huge Beaver fan.
Originally from Corvallis and Philomath, she also lived for a while in Newport where she graduated from high school, but came back to her roots to attend Oregon State University to earn her degree in math.
Her love of math was encouraged by her teachers all through school. In high school she was a teacher’s aide for math and considering a future as an educator. Ironically, it was her high school math teacher who introduced her to computer science and suggested she look beyond teaching high school math for her career.
“I didn’t get what he was saying at the time, and I stayed dedicated to math, but I took all the computer science classes I could. It was a natural fit because it’s all problem solving,” she says.
Her first career was working in the private sector as a systems analyst and programmer, but she eventually got the itch to do something else. She realized that she really enjoyed helping people learn so she decided to take a risk and go back to school to get her master’s degree in information systems so she could teach at the college level. After two years of hard work, continuing in her full time job while she went to school, she got her degree. For one term she taught while working her industry job to make sure it was a good fit.
“I gave my notice to the corporate world and have been teaching ever since, and have not regretted it for a second. I love it. Absolutely love it,” she says.
She started teaching at a local community college and was thrilled to get a position at Oregon State where she teaches an introductory class for non computer science majors and an upper division class on social and ethical issues in computer science. Whether in a traditional on-campus classroom or online, O’Hara says the most important thing she can do as a teacher is create an environment where the students feel welcomed, safe, and respected.
“I want everyone to feel valued, and not judged or put down. I think it's important that students feel that their opinion matters,” she says.
Linda O'Hara is an avid Beaver fan whose blood runs orange. This 2012 video featuring Jordan Poyer is confirms this.
She also enjoys good movies, and is a season ticket holder for the Oregon State football games and women’s basketball games. Supporting student athletes in her classes has led her to attend all kinds of sporting events on campus, from rugby to gymnastics. An avid softball player herself at one time she appreciates the value of sport in a student’s life.
“One thing I regret being female is not being able to play football competitively,” O’Hara says of the sport she learned from her dad on Sunday afternoons. The closest she got was playing flag football on an intramural women’s team when she lived in the dorms at OSU. “We kicked butt. It was so much fun!” she says.
Now, she is satisfied with cheering on the Beavers, and everyone around her is sure to hear her enthusiasm (and probably several rows away).