International Student Pursues Passion for Film at PSU

Many people live their entire lives in just one country, some just one city. But not Sebastian Suarez Hode. Originally born in Honduras, his family moved to Mozambique when he was ten years old for his father’s job. After high school, he chose Portland State University and moved 10,000 miles away from his family and friends to pursue his passion for filmmaking. 

Sebastian wanted to study somewhere that had opportunities for growth and success, but not in a city so big he couldn’t overcome the competitive atmosphere in the industry. When I asked him how he knew his future was in the film industry, he said his passion was ignited when he started practicing photography in high school. “I realized I had a talent. Lots of people complimented my work so I began to pursue it further,” explained Hode. I loved the confidence. The focus of his work transformed over time into documentary work. His interests were unlimited; he would research anything from local news to nature, to community services, and charity work.

The thing that drew him to PSU to study film was the benefit of the surrounding city of Portland. “There are lots of up and coming productions here, which is great for a film student.” As we all know, the show “Portlandia” recently brought a ton of attention to the city and built a reputation as a unique place, known for weird, quirky people, who have an obsession with brunch, organic vegan cuisine and SUVs to transport excessive camping gear. “The city is what made the decision for me to attend PSU. Portland is your classroom. It is a great background for subjects in film and photography. It’s a fun, cool city, with close proximity to cool nature like the high desert region, mountains, and beaches along the coast. I can even get on the city train and in 20 minutes I can get to the massive Forest Park.”

Not just for creative pursuits, he says the city had the added benefit and convenience of getting around on public transportation. “The city is easy to navigate and you don’t need a car.” (PSU students can ride the TriMet Streetcar for free with your PSU ID!) “PSU is in the center of downtown, so everything you need is right nearby.”
However, this transition was definitely a huge challenge and the move was intimidating. He arrived in the city not knowing a single person. He was completely on his own and had no family in the United States. For his freshman year, he lived in a dorm on campus where he was able to make friends. “Campus housing places you in dorms with people who you have classes with, so you can make friends easier. Living in a dorm was a great introduction to college because it fosters a tight-knit community.”

He told me the story of the first friends he made at PSU. While waiting in line for the first event on the first day of orientation, he just started making conversation with the other nervous students in line next to him. By the time they got to the front of the line, they were laughing and joking like old friends. “This experience is such a classic college story, but it’s representative of my whole experience at PSU. People will say ‘hi’ to you right away and communicate with you in meaningful ways. The campus is so welcoming and open-minded. The friends I made that day are still some of my closest friendships.”

I learned so much about the School of Film during our interview. Sebastian is working on a Bachelor of Science in Film, but PSU also offers a Bachelor of Arts. He says the difference is in the material you study. The B.S. focuses more on the math and science stuff, while the B.A. focuses on the humanities aspect. Who knew.

His education goal, in addition to graduating with a degree in film, is to come out of school with connections in the industry. “All the professors here at PSU are already working in the field and they help students come out of college with professional connections. All the skills I need are taught in school, but in this industry, the most valuable thing is to know others.”

In addition to classes, Sebastian works on campus in the Undergraduate Admissions office. He is an International Admissions Representative and helps prospective PSU students navigate application and immigration requirements. You can watch videos he made about why he chose PSU and an introduction to an international student at the School of Business!

We are so grateful for the global perspective that Sebastian brings to our community, not just Portland, but also the United States. He is such a driven and passionate student and this is reflected in his work. He made the brave decision to pursue a degree in another country and he enjoys spreading the word about his experience as an international student. If you are an international student and are considering PSU, contact one of our international student counselors to get started on your journey.

Upcoming Events: June 2019

Upcoming Events June 2019

The school year is coming to a close at Portland State, which means we’re celebrating all our graduating students. Across campus, PSU students are welcoming summer with inspiring film, music and theater performances throughout the start of the month. Take advantage of these events before campus winds down. For a more comprehensive list, check out the PSU events calendar.

Archeology Roadshow

Saturday, June 1 | 10:00 a.m.- 3:00 p.m. | Walk of the Heroines, by Hoffman Hall
Join the anthropology department for a celebration of the region and Oregon’s heritage. Explore the archaeology of daily life with 40 exhibits and hands-on activities organized by PSU students, faculty, alumni and dozens of community partners. This event is free and open to the public. See more information about the activities.

Global Rhythms VIII

Saturday, June 1-Sunday, June 2 | various showings | Lincoln Performance Hall
People love to sing, and they love to sing together—this has been true in every culture since the dawn of humankind. In Global Rhythms PDX, the choir is a vehicle to explore the widest possible range of sounds and styles for the human voice. Tickets are $15 for the general public and $7 for students from any school. Purchase tickets online.

New Play Festival

Saturday, June 1-Sunday, June 2 | various showings | Boiler Room Studio
This is the final week of the School of Music and Theater’s showcase of new dramatic works, which are written, performed and directed by PSU students! Tickets range from $6 to $15 and can be purchased online.

PSU Vocal Collective with Nancy King

Monday, June 3 | 7:00 p.m. | Lincoln Performance Hall
Portland’s beloved jazz singer Nancy King joins the PSU Vocal Collective for their final concert of the year. The PSU Vocal Collective is a 14-voice ensemble and rhythm section, presenting unique arrangements of jazz and other contemporary music styles. The concert will also feature selections by the Advanced Vocal Combo. Tickets are $10 for general admission, $5 for seniors and students and free for PSU students. Get tickets online.

Senior Send-off

Tuesday, June 4 | 11:30 a.m.-1:00 p.m. | Park Blocks in front of the Simon Benson House
Come celebrate the Class of 2019 with FREE PIZZA. The first 200 graduating seniors will receive a special gift from the PSU Alumni Association. There will also be a decorating station with supplies for students to decorate their grad caps for the 2019 grad cap contest. All students are welcome to attend. Learn more.

Kyogen! Dance! Drums!

Tuesday, June 4 | 7:00 p.m. | Lincoln Performance Hall
At this event, PSU students and Japanese guest actor Shingeyama Ippei will perform five short comic kyôgen plays. One of the plays is the first staging of an original play written by a PSU undergraduate. All are hilarious farces, which are full of surprises, hyperbole and physical slapstick. The PSU Taiko Ensemble joins the show for rousing, up-tempo drumming. Tickets range from $5 to $12. Learn more and purchase tickets.

Noon Concert Series

Every Thursday | 12:00-1:00 p.m. | Lincoln Recital Hall
This weekly concert series is hosted by the PSU School of Music. At these events, students, faculty and guest artists will perform various instruments and music genres. The concerts are always free and open to the public. View their performance calendar.

Chuck It for Charity

Thursday, June 6-Sunday, June 15 | 5:00 p.m. | various location on PSU campus
Each spring, students moving out of residence halls dispose of many usable items. Instead of sending them to the landfill, students have the opportunity to donate them to charity! Collection bins in select residence halls will be available for non-perishable food, clothing, home goods and other items. Donated items will be redistributed on campus via Pop-Up Swaps, through the PSU Reuse Room, and to local charities. Learn more.

School of Film Spring Showcase

Friday, June 7 | 3:30 p.m. | Lincoln Hall
This showcase features the work of students graduating from PSU’s School of Film. The event includes a portfolio show, followed by a reception, student showcase and award presentation. The student showcase features a faculty-curated selection of student work produced during the academic year. This event is free and open to the public. Learn more.

Honor Day Graduation Celebration

Friday, June 7 | 5:00-8:30 p.m. | Native American Student and Community Center
This is an annual commencement ceremony where the Native American Student and Community Center recognizes graduating PSU Native American, Alaskan Native and Pacific Islander students. Learn more.

Family Friendly Commencement

Saturday, June 8 | 1:30-5:00 p.m. | Smith Memorial Student Union
The Resource Center for Students with Children hosts this free event to celebrate the accomplishments of students who have triumphed in pursuing their degree at PSU while raising children. Children are invited to join their parents and cross the stage to receive a family diploma. In addition to the ceremony, the event will start with a family bash including a bouncy house, games, arts and crafts, refreshments and more. Learn more.

Free Food Market

Monday, June 10 | 12:00 p.m. | Park Blocks in front of Shattuck Hall
Every second Monday of the month, the Free Food Market provides fresh fruits, vegetables and other food items to PSU students and the greater community. This partnership between the Committee for Improving Student Food Security and the Oregon Food Bank is an effort to increase student access to healthy food options and to reduce food insecurity. This event is free and open to the public. Here’s how it works.

Lavender Graduation

Wednesday, June 12 | 6:00-8:00 p.m. | Smith Memorial Student Union
The Queer Resource Center hosts this event to honor the graduates of their community in an intimate setting. The ceremony includes dinner and acknowledgements of each participating graduate. This event will include a catered dinner, ceremony and reception to follow. All Gender Restrooms are available onsite. Learn more and register to attend.

Multicultural Graduation

Friday, June 14 | 6:00 p.m. | Smith Memorial Student Union
This is an annual Cultural Resource Centers ceremony that honors diversity and celebrates cultural traditions by creating a student-centered inclusive space to celebrate the graduation of multicultural students. The ceremony includes student speakers, a keynote speaker and a post-ceremony dessert mixer. Learn more.

Commencement Ceremonies

Friday, June 14-Sunday, June 16 | various times | Viking Pavilion and Moda Center
PSU students will gather together to celebrate the culmination of their hard work. Decked out in regalia, students will walk across the stage to be conferred their degrees. Graduates are encouraged to invite family and friends, but they must reserve tickets. The different colleges at PSU have dedicated ceremonies throughout the weekend at either the Viking Pavilion or Moda Center. See ceremony schedule.

Many departments and programs at Portland State hold their own events to celebrate students and their communities. See the full calendar of these graduation celebrations.

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!”