A Day in the On-Campus Life

Shayna has been at PSU for over two years, studying social science with a focus on women’s studies. She is currently living on campus.

“The perks of living on campus are that you are so close to everything; your friends, your classes, your professors, amazing restaurants, concerts, etc. Being in the city opens so many doors and that’s why I love living on campus.” – Shayna

Watch her video below where she takes you into her typical day at Portland State University.

A Day in the Life of a PSU Latina

Naela has been at PSU for 2 years, working on a business administration major with a minor in communications.

“I chose my major because growing up with uncertainty led me to choose a major that could allow me many options and opportunities. Being a PSU Latina, in my opinion, brings another amazing culture in to the diversity at PSU. I’m working to create community within my Latina peers and to encourage them to succeed in professional fields, along with many other cultures as diverse and invested in enforcing social justice and social changes in our unique communities.”  – Naela

Watch her video below, where she takes you into her typical day at Portland State University.

A Day in the Life of a Civil Engineering Major

Alvin is a first year student at Portland State University and is majoring in Civil Engineering.

“My favorite thing about PSU is the food carts. I like Thai Pasta #2 near the Engineering Building, Mississippi Delta and the Asian Grill cart in the park blocks; they are outstanding!” – Alvin

In this video he’ll take you through his typical day at PSU!


Pacific Islanders Club Lu’au Promotes Traditions of Each Island

Every year in May, the Pacific Islanders Clubs holds their main annual event, the Lu’au for all Portland State students and community members to enjoy. It is a festive night that honors the eight Pacific Islands and includes music, food, merchandise, a photo booth, and even a ceremonial Kava Circle. We spoke with Xylia Lydgate, PSU student and coordinator of the Lu’au, to get caught up on the happenings of the event.

This year was my first year as a coordinator for the position and I think it went really well. We got lots of great feedback from the community and over 900 people were in attendance. Lu’au means gathering or celebration and is the biggest event the Pacific Islanders club hosts throughout the year. It is our big chance to have fun and share our culture with the community.

This event is important because most people do not know the different cultures of the eight islands and just associate the stereotypes of grass skirts and hula dances with the pacific islands without knowing much more. With this event, we are trying to break those stereotypes and promote the different aspects of each individual island through dances, food, or traditions. My favorite part of event is the different traditional dances. We start rehearsing in January and work really hard to tell the audience the story and meaning behind the different performances so that can engage in learning in a fun way.

On a more personal level, it helps to have events and cultural groups on campus such as the Pacific Islander club that help people from all over the world who come to Portland State feel more at home. Transitioning to a new place and being so far away from home and family can be difficult.  Sharing a piece of my cultural traditions with others makes me feel welcome and visible on campus.

I chose to come to PSU blind-date-style. I was so intrigued by the city and wanted a college experience in an urban setting so I just went for it, applied, was accepted, and came here on a whim. It turned out to be a perfect match. My advice to anyone going through the process of choosing the right school is to visit with the Admissions Office to see what PSU has to offer, and find out if PSU aligns with what you want in a college, both academically and socially. Being involved in student activities helps smooth the transition process and helped me with first impressions that has led to me having the time of my life.

Advice from a PSU Grad

My time here at PSU has become an incredibly inspiring journey. I have taken the school’s motto, “Let Knowledge Serve the City” and made it my own. Walking on campus one day, I distinctly remember seeing the motto emblazoned on the sky bridge and thinking how incredibly lucky I am. How lucky I am to find myself at such an inclusive and supportive community and to attend a college that has connected me with employers and prepared me for my career.

When I started this journey three years ago, I was a non-traditional international student and English was not my first language. To save the money necessary to come to the U.S. and study for nine months, I had worked multiple jobs for five years. A feeling of pure panic welled up after about six months of being here and I wondered how in the world I was going to come up with enough money to stay at PSU and graduate with a degree.

Luckily, through this difficult time, a community of faculty, mentors and friends supported me and helped me find my way. Over time, I got to know PSU by serving as the coordinator of the International Women’s Group and mentoring freshman students as part of the University Studies program. This community has been incredibly supportive and I’ve found friends for life. I’ve also really enjoyed taking advantage of the incredible opportunities that have been offered to me. Through mentorship programs to networking events, PSU has prepared me to be an incredible professional. I graduated on Sunday with a job offer and an offer to start in PSU’s prestigious Master of Science of Financial Analysis program in the Fall.

My advice for students is to take advantage of all the opportunities that come your way. College is a great time to network and conduct informational interviews with employees from companies you are interested in working for. Personally, I’ve had great opportunities at PSU to grow and learn outside the classroom. One of my most memorable experiences is speaking at the 2015 Simon Benson Awards Dinner and to thank all of the kind people who support scholarships and students like me. It was my first time speaking in front of such a large crowd, more than 1200 people were there! I was honored to be able to thank scholarship donors in person.

No other university works so hard to connect students with each other, staff, faculty, and employers as PSU does. I have found a family and a future here. I think this applies to many other graduates as well. When you graduate you will be able to look around at all the incredible people you’re surrounded by right now, think of how many friendships you’ll create, the love you will find and or the career you will start, all here at PSU.

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 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.