Meet Nam Le

PSU student Nam Le standing with bike

Nam Le is a PSU student working toward his bachelor’s in business, with a concentration in marketing. Nam is originally from Saigon, Vietnam. He came to Portland State as a freshman student. Here’s his story:

“I first found out about PSU by signing up for a campus tour with my high school. At first, I didn’t know anything about PSU, and I wasn’t considering applying here. But then I learned about PSU’s history and amazing programs. I was attracted to the business program because I learned about how PSU alumni Carolyn Davidson invented the Nike swoosh. I finally made the decision to go into PSU’s business program because it’s the best in Oregon. As a first-generation college student, and someone who is new to American culture, it was important for me to choose a college that has everything a student like me needs, including affordable tuition and a great location in downtown Portland.

I’ve already learned a lot. My favorite classes have been Professional Selling and Business Communication. I learned how to write professional emails and communicate effectively within a team.

I got a lot of support from my professors. Dean Erica Wagner was not as strict and hard on us students as I expected. She was actually really caring and became like a second mother. Professor Daniel Wong was also a mentor to me. He’s a great role model for first-generation college students.

I love all the food places around campus. Phat Cart has the best orange chicken bento, and there are lots of Thai places with delicious Pad Thai. I decompress by getting food from the food carts and reading in the rooftop terraces around the Urban Center. When I want to study, I go to the International Lounge, which is part of the International Student Services.

I lived in campus housing for my first three years so I could be close to the unique community on PSU’s campus. Living on campus helped me grow my connections and adapt to American culture. It also gave me easy access to unlimited on-campus events.

Through all the challenges, I’ve been developing into the person I strove to become. My plan after graduation is to work in the sales and marketing field in Portland. I have one piece of advice for students applying for college: College is an investment. Invest in yourself.”

See if PSU’s business program is right for you.

Meet Sebastian Suarez Hode

Sebastian Suarez Hode

Sebastian is a junior in PSU’s School of Film. He came to PSU as an IB international student from Mozambique. Here’s what he has to say about his journey to becoming a student at PSU:

“Choosing where to go to college can be extremely daunting. For us international students, having to do it from thousands of miles away can make the entire process much more stressful. When my time came to apply to colleges, I considered all options: big city or small town, large university or small college. When I found Portland State University online, it seemed like that perfect balance of what I wanted for my college experience. Situated in the middle of downtown Portland and surrounded by luscious forests, PSU offers the best of both worlds.

When considering Portland State, whatever questions I had about the campus, city or academics were answered quickly. PSU admissions staff and the Film department were always available to answer my questions in a personalized manner. Unlike the other universities I was considering, my correspondence with PSU actually gave me a good idea of what my college experience was going to be like. Even before I was admitted, I felt valued at Portland State.

Today, I am almost halfway done with my undergraduate degree. I feel settled into a diverse community of international and domestic students alike. My classes at PSU have felt like progress towards a career in the film industry. I am learning useful skills for film production and theoretical writing, as well as developing a strong personal style, which I’m conveying through my portfolio of film and video work.

Living in Portland is a breeze! Portlanders on and off campus are welcoming to everyone, and they always share a smile. Leaving the hustle and bustle of the city is as easy as a 10 minute train ride, where I can unwind in vast urban parks. Food carts and restaurants, with all types of cuisines, are situated all over the city.There is never a shortage of things to do in Portland!”

National College Decision Day: What You Need to Know

National College Decision Day is coming up on May 1. Students all around the country will be making that big decision about where they will attend college! Choosing where you’ll go can be an overwhelming experience, so we gathered some tools and resources to help you make the decision that’s right for you.


Confirm Your Enrollment

Have you already decided on PSU? Then all that’s left to do is confirm your enrollment!

Once you’ve made your decision, share your choice on social media before all the others! Tag Portland State! #Go2PSU

But if you’re still trying to decide, keep reading for more tools that can help you make your decision.

College Cost Comparison Tool

See how the cost of attending college compares at three different schools. You can even add scholarships or financial aid info to see how your options compare.

When you go to select your schools, check the box that says “I have a financial aid offer from this school,” and enter the information from your Financial Aid Award—see our blog about how to read yours.

Make sure to enter your own cost estimates, because depending on where you’ll live and your lifestyle, your costs will vary. Your cost comparison will look something like this:

Got more questions about the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA)? Check out our blog post!

PSU Cost of Attendance Estimator

Want to see a breakdown of how much PSU will cost? This tool helps you to estimate your annual costs, including PSU tuition, books and supplies, housing, meals and more.

College Scorecard

Find the right college for your desired program and budget with this resource from the Department of Education. You can filter colleges based on location, student body size, public of private status, mission and more. Learn about everything from student salary predictions after graduation to how to fill out a FAFSA.

Home Room: Department of Education Blog

The Home Room blog, another Department of Education resource, posts useful information about schools, programs, financial aid and everything else relating to the college process.

Not sure how you’ll make that big decision about where you’ll go to college? Check out their post on choosing a college.


National College Decision Day should be a moment filled with joy. We want to make the choosing process as transparent as possible. You should go to a college that meets your needs and reach your goals.

Thinking about PSU, but not sure how you’ll pay? Read our blog about all the funding options available.

Happy Choosing!

Six Ways to Spend Time Between Classes on Campus

Lab just got out and you have a few hours before your next class. You sit for a minute, check Instagram, think about going home— but no, you think there has to be something fun to do on campus. Well, wonder no longer!

Here are six of the best ways to spend time on campus:


1. The Viking Game Room

Need to kill some time? A place to unwind? How about a game of pool or bowling? (Yes, we have a bowling alley, and yes, it’s awesome.)

Located in the basement of the Smith Memorial Student Union, the Viking Game Room is open everyday of the week and offers a great place for students to relax and have fun.

2. Campus Rec

Wanna work up a sweat? Campus Rec has you covered with everything from a gym full of modern workout equipment to multiple climbing walls and even a full-size swimming pool.

Access to Campus Rec is included in your student fees and the multi-story facility is located conviently in the heart of campus.

Feeling competitive? Try PSU’s many rec clubs or intramural sports! With activities ranging from rugby to dodgeball to tango dancing there is sure to be something for everyone.

3. 5th Avenue Cinema

Ok, so maybe you’re still sore from going to Campus Rec the day before and want to take it easy. No problem. Did you know that right on PSU’s campus there is a student-run movie theater that’s free for students?

The 5th Avenue Cinema is Oregon’s only student-run cinema and presents international and domestic cinema year-round. If you weren’t sold already, just know that there is FREE POPCORN at every showing.

Check the screening schedule and other special events.

4. Portland Farmer’s Market

On campus on a saturday? Want to try some of the best food you’ve ever had? Well, you’re in luck because the Portland Farmer’s Market sets up shop right on PSU’s Park Blocks. Get ready to taste some of the most delicious produce you’ll ever eat.

Over 140 vendors come every saturday to sell their wares and every market includes chef demonstrations, kids’ cooking classes, live music and a lineup of food education events. It is not to be missed.

Plus, there’s plenty of free samples, if that’s what you’re into. (And let’s be real, who isn’t.)

5. Live at Lunch Concert Series

Portland is a town that revels in its unique music scene, so it would be remiss if PSU didn’t invite some of that amazing music to perform on campus. Every Tuesday and Thursday from 12-1pm, Live at Lunch presents live music on the PSU Park Blocks (inside SMSU if it’s raining).

With a new artist and musical style at every performance, Live at Lunch brings amazing free concerts to campus that everyone can enjoy.

Check out the lineup for this Spring on the PSU Professional Sound Facebook page.

6. Snag a Quick Bite

20+ food carts, local restaurants and more variety than you can shake a stick at, the truly unique food on campus represent the vibrancy that is Portland’s culinary culture.

Whether it’s Bowery Bagels in the Student Union, Coco Donuts at the Karl Miller Center or pad thai at the food carts across from the Engineering Building, campus has anything you could want to scratch that edible itch.


Now you have no excuse to be bored on campus.

And if you’re still bored, get an on-campus job!

5 Reasons You Should get an On-Campus Job

With classes, homework and extracurriculars, it might seem like college is too busy to have a part-time job. However, most jobs on campus are built to work alongside your school schedule, and can be an amazing opportunity to build your resume, gain professional references, and of course, make a little extra money for coffee, donuts and pizza. You know, essentials.

Here’s our top five reasons you should consider getting an on-campus job:


1. A school-friendly schedule

Campus employers understand that you are a student first and an employee second. This means that they are flexible, making sure that you aren’t working during classes or on especially busy weeks like midterms or finals.

2. Opportunity for relevant experience

There are lots of opportunities for students to work on-campus in organizations that reflect their interests. Criminal Justice major? Campus Public Safety is hiring. Health Studies? The Rec Center is almost entirely staffed by students. Qualified students can even become tutors, helping their fellow students in disciplines ranging from math to music.

3. Build a competitive resume

Having a part-time job during your undergrad is a great way to boost your resume and make your job search easier after graduation, especially if you worked with a department that shared your interests.

4. Gain professional references

Both your co-workers and supervisors can be great references for internships and careers after graduation. On-campus employers want to see you succeed, and are happy to help you realize your passions in any way they can.

5. Make good money

And, of course, having a part-time job means making extra money which you can put towards school…or, alternatively, more fun things. A relaxing trip to the coast perhaps? Maybe seats at Blazers game?


If you’re ready to see what part-time (and it will always be part-time, students are limited to 20 hours per week for on-campus jobs) opportunities are available on campus, visit Advising and Career Services, where a team of trained experts can help you land that perfect position!

Remember that an on-campus job is not the same as a Work Study Award. For more information on Work Study, visit the Office of Financial Aid.

“The grass was literally greener”

“I wanted something completely different, to embrace change rather than run from it.”

Jasmin Landa, a senior Business and Management Leadership major from Reno, Nevada, saw in Portland State something exotic.

“It was just so different than anything I had ever experienced. The people are nice, the perspectives more diverse, and, I mean, the grass was literally greener. I can’t see myself living anywhere else anymore.”

Jasmin hit the ground running, spending almost her entire freshman year exploring campus and getting involved.

“I spent so little time in my dorm room. I wanted to see everything, to really get close to the community here. I spent a lot of time at Campus Rec and at the Smith Student Union just talking to people and finding out everything campus had to offer.”

She found quite a lot. Jasmin seems to have a part of almost every aspect of campus life. She plays club-level volleyball for PSU, works for both Portland State University Communications and PSU’s Center Student Health and Counseling (SHAC), is a member of the Alpha Chi Omega sorority, and sits on the student-run Organization Budget Council, which helps facilitate student clubs and events.   

Jasmin is also the recipient of a Diversity Scholarship and other financial aid. “I knew that my mom couldn’t support me, and that I would be on my own as far as paying for college.” Nearly 70% of PSU students are using some sort of financial aid.

“At first I was hesitant to apply for a Diversity Scholarship, but eventually I decided that I needed to own my story, to be true to myself and my experiences. I’m very self-motivated in that way.”

That motivation has allowed her to expand her learning outside of the classroom. Her work with SHAC has helped her gain skills that can extend far beyond graduation.

“I do a lot of work with the food security initiatives on campus, things like Harvest Share and the Food Pantry, two amazing resources for students who may not have good access to healthy, fresh food.”

“I also help advocate for SHAC, and how it’s not just a wellness center. We have specialists, everyone from dentists to doctors to therapists. Our goal is healthy students, however that is achieved.”

As someone who wants to one day start her own business, the interpersonal and organizational skills she has gained from all of her campus activities are preparing her for life after graduation.

“I am making really good connections through all of the things I’m involved with, and people are able to turn me on to a lot of amazing potential opportunities, especially since I want to stay in Portland.”

Jasmin’s advice to students coming to campus for the first time this Fall?

“I think it’s all about exploring campus. Go into every building, read every flyer, talk to everyone you meet. There are so many things to get involved in that I promise you will find something to be passionate about as long as you get out and discover it.”

Learn more about SHAC!

Learn more about Diversity Scholarships!

Jasmin Landa

Journeys and Destinations

The circuitous route is sometimes the most enlightening.

“There were times when I had a lot of doubt, times when I thought I’d never get to the point where I could graduate. Looking back now everything looks so different.”

Franky Martin, a senior Graphic Design major from Salem, Oregon, will finally, after eleven years bouncing from college to college, job to job, walk the commencement stage and be rewarded with his Bachelor’s degree.

“Getting my bachelors was always at the back of my mind. It was always the goal,” but the route to that goal wasn’t always so clear.

Franky initially started at a private college in Oregon, but left after finding that it didn’t mesh well with his own personality. “It was small, rural, expensive— it just wasn’t for me. There wasn’t a lot of opportunity.”

Opportunity is something Franky finds at PSU in spades. “The engagement here, with PSU, with the city, is so amazing. The creative community is big and really receptive to student involvement.”

Portland’s urban environment was something that was always alluring to Franky. After leaving his first college, Franky started taking classes at Chemeketa Community College in his hometown of Salem, but all the while he was there the opportunities in Portland beckoned.

“At Chemeketa, all of my graphic design professors kept saying that the place to study in Oregon was PSU.” Before Franky transferred, he was able to speak with graphic design faculty at PSU, who helped him in the transition.

“Everyone here— the professors, faculty, even my peers— are so invested in my success. They really do care about my growth not only as a student but also as a person. Everyone seemed excited to help and get to know me.”

Franky’s professors have been able to put him in touch with graphic design professionals all over Portland who are helping him gain the skills and connections he needs to land a job after graduation.

“I helped with the design for Design Week in Portland this year, and there is no way I would have gotten that opportunity without my professors looking out for me.”

The professors in Franky’s program also bring in industry professionals nearly every week, and students have the opportunity to speak candidly with them about what is important to their growth and success in the industry.

“Looking at where I am now it’s hard to believe I ever thought I couldn’t get here. It’s kind of surreal.”

As surreal as it may seem, Franky’s success in the program (he was part of the winning Adobe Creative Jam this year, an event where PSU Graphic Design students have a limited time to create a unique piece of graphic art) is indicative of how easily PSU students are able to gain the skills the need to land a job post graduation.

“Oh yeah, I feel more than prepared. I’ve grown not just in my technical skill but as a person too. I’ve gained so much confidence, more than I’d ever thought I could have.”

Franky’s advice to new students?

“Really get to know the faculty in your department. They’re advocates for you, allies, and the people who can help you in good times and bad.”

Franky attributes a lot of his success to the mentorship of his professors. However, it is his own hard work that will shine brightest as he gets his diploma. When he does eventually leave campus to make his mark on the world, he isn’t seeing it as a door closing.

“It’s less of a journey ending for me as a whole new path opening up.”

Learn more about PSU graduates and student success!

See where alums are working now!

Franky Martin

A Place for Adventure

While PSU is definitely an urban campus, that does not mean that we vikings aren’t all about getting into nature. Wanna go to the coast? Sure, it’s just 90 minutes away. The mountains? Go hiking around Mt. Hood or in the Columbia Gorge. Feeling aquatic? Paddle out onto the nearby Willamette or Columbia Rivers.

“I love the access PSU has to wild spaces. It was one of the big reasons I wanted to come here,” says Jacob McCoola, a second-year graduate student in the Leadership and Sustainability Education program.

“Portland was the perfect fit for me. I had always wanted to live in a big city, and not only did Portland seems like a very cool place to live, culturally, but it had such unique closeness to the outdoors.”

Jacob, who spent two years as a naturalist in Colorado and has an intense fondness for outdoor education, is able to complement his degree program (the only one of its kind in Oregon) by working with PSU’s Outdoor Program.

The Outdoor Program, which is in its 50th year, is a resource center aimed at getting students into the outdoors by offering day hikes, weekend camping trips, rock climbing excursions, and much more, all of which are led by students.  

“It feels like half of my education has come from working with the Outdoor Program.” Jacob wants to continue using the skills he is gaining through the Program into life after college as an outdoor and sustainability educator.

“It’s the oldest university outdoor program in the country.” Jacob is not only an Outdoor Program Trip Leader, guiding students through explorations of the outdoors, but also the Program’s Outreach Coordinator.

“Being a trip leader is an amazing experience, and really helps students, myself included, gain leadership and management skills.” Any student, regardless of major can become a trip leader by completing the Outdoor Program’s Wilderness Leadership Development program (WiLD). “We get trip leaders from all over the university. We’ve had environmental science majors, linguistics majors, music majors. Anyone with a passion for the outdoors can do it.”

This inclusivity doesn’t only extend to the staff at the Outdoor Program.

The Program isn’t just for students who have experience in the outdoors, but for students seeking to learn new skills, broaden their knowledge of being outside and get to know their fellow students.

“We strive to make our trips and events accessible for all students, regardless of ability.” The Program often collaborates with the Disability Resource Center on campus to find ways to include all types of students in Outdoor Program trips.

“We recently had an awesome paddle boarding event out on the coast that we designed so that it would be inclusive for students with disabilities. It was great and everyone had an amazing time.”  

Jacob’s advice for students who want to make use of the Outdoor Program is simple.

“Come on a trip, any trip! I can’t think of a better way to meet people and form a real sense of camaraderie. Plus, it’s an adventure, and who doesn’t want that?”

Check out the Outdoor Program trip schedule!

Learn how to become a Trip Leader!

PSU is a Place for Community

The comfort that comes from a welcoming and accessible campus can make all the difference. If certain campus resources are offered, like those that help students graduate, it can make the task of choosing a college much easier.

Such was the case for Grace Piper, a senior Women, Gender, and Sexuality Studies major from Hillsboro, OR.

Portland State was a really easy decision for me.” Grace had grown up around Portland and knew about the resources and opportunities PSU offers, but there was one thing in particular that helped them decide.

“What ultimately drove me to PSU was that it was listed in the top 25 most LGBT friendly college campuses when I was applying back in 2012/2013. This year I think we actually moved into the top 10, which is really cool and important!”

Once on campus, Grace found the Queer Resource Center, a support resource for students along the sexuality and gender spectra. “The QRC was on my radar early on.” QRC events helped Grace get acclimated to campus life and surrounded them with a community that understood where they were coming from.

“At first, I felt pretty shy and nervous. I remember coming into the QRC, looking around and quickly leaving. Eventually, though, I felt comfortable hanging out more and coming to events. I have made my best friends through the QRC.”

Now Grace helps to support the QRC by acting as their Marketing Coordinator. “I first got involved after helping plan Pride Month freshman year and have been working here since.” Grace also helps plan QRC events on campus that bring students who are feeling marginalized into a safe, welcoming environment.

“I helped plan the Queer Students of Color Conference this year. Pride Month, too, which happens throughout the month of May and leads us into the city’s celebration of Pride.” The Queer Students of Color Conference (QSOCC) especially represents the broad outreach that the QRC takes on, reaching out to student populations that may feel excluded or without representation.

All students, regardless of sexual or gender identity, can utilize the services of the QRC, which gets over 3,000 visits a year.

Grace’s university outreach doesn’t just extend to the QRC, they are also a University Studies Peer Mentor, leading the Health, Happiness, and Human Rights Freshman Inquiry course.

“It has been a really cool opportunity for me. I want to go into education and advocacy work, so this position has given me a lot of experience in teaching and curriculum development.”

All of these experiences are helping Grace gain the skills they need for life after graduation. “If I can, I want to work somewhere focusing on queer and trans and/or communities of color, which pairs really well with my campus experiences.”

Grace’s advice to new students?

“Seek community. Being marginalized makes completing your degree harder, so exploring the resources available to you is really important for support and making friends. Put yourself out there to find where you feel comfortable.”

Learn more about the QRC and find more LGBTQ resources on campus.

Support to Help Stand Out

At first, Devyn Yan Radke, a sophomore English major from Portland, Oregon and graduate of Parkrose High School, was unsure about whether or not she wanted to attend college.

“I was worried that I would get lost in the crowd and that I wouldn’t be able to meet people and make friends.”

Looking back now, those anxieties seem so far away. Devyn is a Student Ambassador for the University, helping promote PSU to prospective students and acting as a resource for new students. Next year Devyn is also going to be a Peer Mentor for the Freshman Inquiry courses within the University Studies program, helping ease the transition to college for a new generation of first-generation students.

So what changed?

“I realized how much of a community PSU really is. Everybody is there to help with anything you need. It was all so open.”

Part of what helped Devyn acclimate to life on campus was the plentiful resources available to students. “What really helped were things like the Writing Center and Learning Center. I use both and they really help me do well in class.”

Devyn gets a lot of support from her department as well. “Everyone in the English department was so easy to talk to and all my professors have been really open and encouraging.” Her favorite professor?

“Sarah Ensor for sure.” A past recipient of the College of Liberal Arts Outstanding Teaching Award, Ensor teaches literature in the English department. “Not only is she a great teacher but I feel like I can always ask for for help in and out of class.”

Devyn is also a scholarship recipient in the EMPOWER program, a community for first-generation, Asian and Pacific Islander students coming to college for the first time. “The support groups here on campus really highlight how excited people are about getting kids through college and into careers where they can make meaningful impacts in their community.” Devyn will be providing that same kind of support as she is going to be a Mentor in the program, an opportunity she found out about through the Department of Multicultural Student Services.

Where Devyn is now, it’s hard to believe that she was ever apprehensive about going to college. “I have always considered myself an introvert, so programs like Student Ambassadors and being a Peer Mentor has brought out my leadership and communication skills.”

Her advice to students who are experiencing anxiety about going to college?

“Come in with an open mind and really try to get involved. Everyone is super friendly and wants you to join the community here.”

Sign up for a Campus Tour and discover the community on campus.