A Day in the Life of An Environmental Studies Major

Nikki is a third year student at Portland State University and has been on the Orientation team for two years. Her major is Environmental Studies with a Geographic Information Systems minor.

“I decided to major in Environmental Studies because I’ve always found Earth so fascinating. I think it’s pretty special that out of all the planets in the universe, ours is the only one (that we know of) that is capable of supporting life. I knew that I wanted to study and protect the different plants, animals, and ecosystems that make our planet so special.” – Nikki

Check out her video where she takes you through her typical day at Portland State University.

Meet your Orientation Leaders!

We are working hard to ensure that your orientation is everything you imagined. The Orientation Leaders are divided into teams to plan various components of the Orientation session we’re hosting for you this summer. We want you to meet the folks who are organizing the events this summer!

You must confirm your enrollment before signing up for Orientation.

Orientation Team: Bubbly Bubbles




Team Leader

Electrical Engineering

I’m the hip master flex, the swag master party thriller. Red Eagle. I’m amazing at badminton and I love film. I love collecting playing cards, and playing cards. Board games are great, too. Nationally ranked Catan player, I’ll eat your brains. Let’s go Rip City! “Lord of the rings quote”.




Returning Orientation Leader

Marketing major, French minor

Hi everyone! I hail from Taiwan but was raised in the Portland area. My involvement on campus includes being a Resident Assistant and a member of the ultimate frisbee team! Welcome to PSU and I hope we get to meet soon~




Returning Orientation Leader

Business Administration: Marketing and Advertising Management

I’m a Portland native and am very close to my family, which made PSU the perfect choice for me. In my free time, I volunteer on two non-profit boards that focus on equitable education in secondary education. I also love to sing in the University Choir, and go sailing on the Columbia River.




Orientation Leader

Spanish Major

Tengo Corazón Latino, and I have an American mind. My knowledge is rich not only in what I have learned, but rich from my bilingualism, and the Mixtec culture that I am part of. I share with PSU my bicultural background from the vibrant, musical, spiciness that is entwined deep in my roots. Go PSU!


Orientation Leader

English, Law and Legal Studies

I came to Portland for all of the wonderful adventures to be had. On Fridays you can see me hiking, going to a concert, exploring one of the many diverse neighborhoods in Portland, or just wrapped in a blanket burrito trying to get an early start on homework for the weekend.




Returning Orientation Leader

Social Work major, Community Development minor

My name is Francisco. I enjoy going on adventures, drinking Dutch Bros of course… and much more! I am a very nice and caring person.

Meet Pablo Saldana: Musician, PSU Commencement Speaker and Graduate

At the age of 10, I didn’t know a single word of English. My family and I had just immigrated from Guadalajara, Jalisco, Mexico, and we did not own anything other than the clothes on our backs. We were living in a tiny garage. I had a dream that one day I would go to college.

Even though in high school I graduated at the top of my class, I couldn’t afford to pay for college, and I wasn’t eligible for federally funded loans or grants. I felt lost until some of my high school mentors stepped in and connected me with advisors at PSU who showed me how to apply for specific scholarship funding in higher education.

When looking at universities, cost is a priority but I also wanted to go to PSU because of the urban location. I wanted to study a performing art and it was important to me that I had access to seeing live music, to be surrounded by different cultures to gather inspiration, and PSU is one of only three schools in the west coast to offer a jazz vocal major. PSU also offers a Diversity Scholarship program for which I was selected to be a part of. I worked as an academic mentor for Housing & Residence Life for three years. In addition, I received financial and academic support from the Honors College which made it possible for me to make a college education a reality. I was also in the McNair Scholars program which gave me tools to succeed in college and beyond.

I am proud to be a Viking. Thanks to PSU, I have been given the opportunity to beat the odds and stand up at commencement and speak as a first generation, Mexican college graduate. I had great experiences as a student, such as singing at the Arlene Schnitzer Concert Hall with the PSU Man Choir, kayaking the Willamette with fellow Honors students, and relaxing at the top of the Recreation Center in between classes with a view of the Portland skyline. At PSU I felt like I could embrace my roots. Through the different cultural events that occur I felt celebrated and these moments will be missed.

The advice I would give to students applying to colleges right now is to ensure the college offers what you want to study. Find scholarships that can help you pay for school. If college is done right, I believe college and college graduation should not be seen as a destination. But rather, we should graduate feeling eager to begin making the change we want to see in the world. And for me, I cannot wait to get started.

Be Honest Showcase

On April 30, Portland State’s graphic design students displayed their work at the seventh annual Be Honest Showcase, a portfolio show, open house, alumni reunion, award ceremony, and variety show. Unlike most portfolio shows, this is not just for graduating seniors, students of all levels have the opportunity to share and discuss their work. More than 133 student students participated. Franky Martin, graphic design student worker for the Admissions Office, offered to share about his experience at Be Honest and in the graphic design program at PSU.

I’m originally from Oregon and close to finishing my last year as a graphic design student at PSU. After completing my Associate’s Degree at Chemekata Community College in Salem, OR and working in my field, I decided I wanted to gain more experience and earn a Bachelor’s Degree in graphic design at Portland State. I transferred to PSU because they were able to work with me on transferring my existing credits to make them count towards my degree so I didn’t have to pay or redo work that I had already done.

PSU has given me valuable experience and countless opportunities to work on projects for real clients, showcase my work, and connect with people in the graphic design industry. Every spring, the PSU art department partners with the advertising firm Weiden + Kennedy to host an open portfolio show for graphic design students. This year was my first year in the show and it was a great experience for me to put myself and my work out in public and talk about the different projects I have completed throughout the year. For me, selling my work and my passion for is hard.

Additionally, in one of my classes at PSU we partnered with nonprofits or school programs in the Portland area to create brand identities. This was a great experience because we had to present not only to faculty but to the actual client. These are just two of the many opportunities at PSU that have taken my learning beyond the classroom and allowed me to elevate my skill set both in working with software technicalities and professional development. I have made so many connections with really talented peers as well as people in the graphic design industry.

Franky is close to finishing his bachelor’s degree in graphic design at PSU. He is a talented artist and loves the creativity and practicality he gets to use in his chosen field. When he is not using his artistic abilities, he can be found at one of the many skate parks in Portland. His favorite food truck on campus is La Casita.

Photos from Be Honest Showcase, 2016

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Mother’s Day-Resources for Students with Children

Happy Mother’s Day! We know that parenthood can be both rewarding and challenging experience, especially when juggling multiple responsibilities and roles. At PSU, we strive to support our students with children through various programs and resources so that they can be effective parents and achieve academic success. In dedication to all of the hardworking parents who are also students, we asked Lisa Wittorff, Director of Services for Students with Children, to share the support services offered here on campus.

PSU Admissions (PA): Tell us a little bit about how the program was started.

Lisa Wittorff (LW): Student parent services initially started in 1989 through various grants given to the school. A major improvement occurred between 2010 and 2011 when the president of PSU conducted a study to see how families on campus were doing. The results showed that more services were needed, so services were expanded to build up the program allowing the university to serve the needs of more students and their families. Today, we have more resources for students than children than most campuses in the Pacific Northwest and serve a wide variety of family needs.

PA: What are some of the resources offered here on campus for students with children?

LW: We offer a wide variety of programs and resources, let’s start with here in our office. Our office is place that students can come for help if they have questions about financial aid, admissions, or outside social resources. We offer a physical space here that serves as a study lounge and play area with computers so that students can study while keeping an eye on their children. Additionally, we have a children’s clothing closet and a library of parenting books that work on a donation basis.

PA: What childcare programs do you offer?

LW: Our main program called Little Vikings. It’s a flexible childcare service that can be reserved online although we also take walk-ins when there is room. It can be used 5 hours per day for 20 hours per week. Its main purpose is to cover gaps in childcare. For example, a student could have class when other child care programs or school are not in session. There are special camps on days that PSU is in session but Portland Public Schools are not. We also offer the Jim Sells Childcare subsidy program that can pay for up to 50% of childcare costs based on financial need. We have many other resources as well, including a list of recommended child care facilities around PSU, other financing child care programs on and off campus, and a database of babysitters.

PA: Are there events for students with children?

LW: We want children and their student parents to feel that they are an important part of the PSU community so we offer multiple events throughout the year. Our main events are Winter Wonder, an annual giving event before Winter Break and a Family Friendly Commencement featuring a bounce house and a cap and gown for the little ones to match their parents. Other activities include parent social hours, happy hours, game nights, and a Dad’s breakfast.

Lisa Wittorff, LCSW is the Director of Services for Students with Children. Lisa has her Master of Social Work from California State University Sacramento. Her favorite childhood memory is of using a piece of rope and her dad’s old Army blanket to make a “tent” between 2 trees in the backyard and “camping” in it with her sister. Her mother brought out some warm gingerbread for them to share. It was a perfect summer day. Lisa loves helping students with children find the resources they need to stay in school and complete their degrees. She also loves to see the students’ children grow and change. She has a fantastic staff who make her work possible

Want to know more? Visit them onlinestop by Smith Memorial Student Union, Suite 462 or call (503)725-9878.

The Choice to Transfer to PSU Was Easy

I’m a senior studying international development studies. My home town is Mexico City, but I have lived in Aloha, OR for about 16 years. I have two brothers. I’m actually a twin! My brothers and I are first generation college students. My older brother graduated from PSU last year and my twin will be coming to PSU this fall, he’s transferring from PCC. I’m a Student Ambassador and I’m a mentor with the GANAS program. For fun, my friends and I like to cook and eat all types of food like Vietnamese, Korean, and BBQ. On the weekends we get together and cook big meals.

I have lived in many different places within the United States and internationally so I am not a stranger to making new friends and finding my place within a community.  Even still, I was nervous about transferring to a new school. There are many factors that can affect your decision to transfer colleges.

For me, I wanted to be confident in my decision to transfer and know that I was making the best choice to prepare me for my future plans. I always knew I wanted to go to school in a city where I would be surrounded by lots of activities and cultural events, so Portland was a great fit for me. During my decision making process, I met with student ambassadors on tours and orientation leaders. They had so much excitement about the programs and the school that I knew I wanted to be a part of it. The affordability factor was one of the main reasons that I transferred and PSU made the transfer process really easy.

To sweeten the deal, I was offered a scholarship through the GANAS program (Gaining Awareness and Networking for Academic Success). This program not only helped me financially, but it was also an important support system that helped me get to know people and feel like I was part of a community. In GANAS, students engage in cultural activities and connect with PSU programs that offer resources with a small cohort of other transfer students. It was a great way to meet new people, make connections on campus, and share the experience with other transfer students.

My advice to transfer students is to get involved in different programs and activities on campus if you want to make the most of your time and be successful. By getting involved, I have made friends, gotten scholarships, worked in various departments on campus, and even made connections for internships and jobs for when I graduate.

Transferring to a new environment, making new friends, and creating a whole new life can be overwhelming, but college can be some of the best years of your life and you have control over where you spend those years. If the only thing standing in your way on making the best out of your college experience is the transfer process, please speak to an admissions counselor today!

If you have questions about transferring, check out the Transfer Student website or reach out to your admissions counselor.

PSU Orientation Leaders Climb Trees to Prepare for New Student Orientation

You’ve been admitted. You’ve submitted your tuition deposit. You’ve signed up for Orientation. Next step? Attend Orientation! Every year we gear up to put together an orientation program that ensures your life at PSU will be smooth sailing. It doesn’t happen overnight either. Our orientation team spends months planning and training for your sessions and it starts by getting all of our orientation leaders and student ambassadors together to become supportive resources for you!

The first people you will meet are orientation leaders (OLs). OLs are your guides, your friends, and your human information booths. They know all the details about what it’s like to be a student at PSU, where the best food carts are located, how to navigate your PSU account, the best resources for registering for classes, and how you can get more involved on campus.

The Orientation Leaders join our Student Ambassadors for a retreat for team building and cohesiveness. This year’s retreat took place at Camp Collins. The team worked together to get through high rope courses, team challenges, and deep conversations to become stronger and to learn how to support each other and how to better serve new students for the upcoming orientation season.

If you haven’t signed up for Orientation, do so as soon as possible! You must submit your tuition deposit or exemption in order to sign up for Orientation.

Earth Day 2016: Passion for Community Engagement Helps PSU Students Gain Real Job Skills

Community development and service learning are core components of the PSU academic experience. After all, our motto is Let Knowledge Serve the City, and our students are doing just that by building community connections and earning course credit and service scholarships to do it! In honor of Earth Day, we caught up with a member of the Student Leaders for Service, Randy Black, to learn more about the program and to see what our student service leaders were up to for this national day of service.

PSU Admissions (PA): What is the Student Leaders for Service (SLS) program?

Randy Black (RB): The SLS program is a one-year opportunity that offers members assistance with partnering, serving at, and reflecting on community-based experiences at community organizations. Members work with a community partner during the year to build real life experience in issues around social change and social justice. We have a wide range of organizations throughout the community that we can choose to work with, or we can bring a partner we’d like to help into the SLS program.

PA: What are the requirements?

RB: Each student leader is required to participate in a minimum of four hours per week of community service, but most of the students here are already involved in community activities and do way beyond the required minimum. There is also a seminar on Fridays that we attend to reflect on our experiences for the week and talk about our successes and challenges. So far, it is my favorite thing that I am involved with at PSU! Student Leaders for Service members are involved in many things throughout the year. We have an overnight retreat at the beginning of the year so we can get to know other student leaders from student-led organizations throughout the PSU community, and build a network of community leaders. We plan and participate in large national service day projects and serve as coordinators for Portland State of Mind Day of Service, the Martin Luther King Jr. Day of Service, and the Earth Day of Service. We also lead the Alternative Spring Break trips each year. This year we had a group work in organizations that feed the hungry in San Francisco, and another that learned about urban farming here in Oregon. I went on the San Francisco trip, and it was a transformative experience for me.

PA: How did you become involved with the SLS program?

RB: Rachel Samuelson, the program leader, came to one of my classes last school year, and was really inspiring, so I signed up for this year. I just loved the program and the experience I could gain from it.

My community partner this term is the Portland Student Food Pantry. I learned about the pantry through a Capstone class that I took on campus food security last summer. There are a lot of issues surrounding students and food security that go unnoticed. It breaks my heart, and it is something I am really passionate about. I’ve volunteered at the Oregon Food Bank and other hunger relief organizations in the past, so this was a chance to use my passion to help fellow students.

PA: Why is this program important to you?

RB: This program not only feeds my passion for community engagement and helps me to get job experience in the field I am interested in, but it also raises the spirit of public service to the next level. For me, it serves as a connection between doing things for the community and self engagement and learning.

PA: Why did you choose to study at PSU?

RB: I always knew I wanted to study in a field that had a service learning component. I was taking classes at PCC but hadn’t really decided what it was that I wanted to do with my life. Then, I found a degree program at PSU and it was just the right fit. I remember on my visit to the campus, sitting in the Smith Memorial Hall and looking out over the park blocks and thinking what a great place to be. I can really do this!

PSU student service leaders will be involved in many projects on campus for Earth Day! Check out the schedule of activities here. Interested in becoming a student service leader for 2016-2017? Apply here. Applications are due May 4th!

Ready to Transfer to PSU? Attend a Transfer Workshop

Ready to transfer to PSU? Meet Admissions Counselors and Academic Advisers during Transfer Workshops at local community colleges.

You can:

  • Apply during the Transfer Workshop and defer your $50 PSU admission fee
  • Speak with an academic adviser. All popular majors will be represented!
  • Ask financial aid and scholarship questions
  • Learn how your credits will transfer to PSU
  • Gather information about on-campus housing options

Learn more about Transfer Events.

What You Should Really Be Asking at College Fairs

Every year, I go to at least 10 college fairs and I have been an admissions counselor for 4 years so you can bet that I’ve heard every question under the sun. I get common questions about course offerings, student body size and test score requirements, and the occasional unusual question like “what do they serve in the cafeteria?” College fairs are a great opportunity for you to connect with different colleges and universities to find the right fit for you and further your understanding of the admissions process. It is my job to talk to you about the opportunities Portland State University offers and guide you toward making the right choice for your future.

To better prepare you for your next visit to a college fair (and your next campus visit), I’ve created a list of the top questions people ask me and what you should ask instead.

1. What students ask: “What department or program is the best at your school?”

Asking this question is like asking what your favorite Missy Elliott song is, they are all good!

What you should ask: Think about your own interests and what you hope to gain by going to college and then get more specific. Ask about class size, graduation rates, notable alumni and professors, study abroad programs, and work-study options. The best program will be the one that is matched to your interests and needs, and what you might gain from it.

2. What students ask: What is your most popular major?

Choosing a major is a very important part of the student experience, maybe even the most! Just because something is popular does not mean that you will like it.

What you should ask: Ask questions about your interests and goals so we can talk about a major that would be right for you.

3. What students ask: What are the chances that I will get in?

Admissions counselors are not evaluators, we really don’t know!

What you should ask: You can start with asking how many applicants there are and what the admission rate is. It will help to find out what makes you a competitive applicant for the school you are applying to and why.

BONUS 1: Ask about student life!

Most students I meet hone in on academics and forget to ask about another important part of choosing the right college, their social life. At PSU, we offer a diverse range of organizations to get involved in and we value what students do outside of their academic life. There is so much to do in Portland and we love talking about all of the options. The community Portland State offers outside academics is equally important to your success, and your success is our primary goal.

BONUS 2: Don’t let your parents ask all the questions.

Your parents’ opinions matter in your admission decision and even though they may be helping you financially, you are making the final decision. You are the student and the one who will be living out your college experience so you need to ask the questions. Showing your independence and making responsible choices during the admissions process might even win brownie points with your parents.

Do you have questions? Meet an admissions counselor at your school.