To finally graduate…

When I started at Portland State in the fall of 2004, there wasn’t a PSU logo to see all over campus.

When I started at Portland State in the fall of 2004, there wasn’t a PSU logo to see all over campus. There wasn’t a Broadway Housing Building, let alone a sushi restaurant, video game shop or Chipotlé on campus. My class of freshmen figured Lincoln Hall, Shattuck Hall and Science Building 2 would always be open.

 When I started at Portland State, I felt a peculiar magic that most freshmen feel: I knew I was in college and that it was new, that it felt wonderfully different from high school. Granted, I had no idea that I’d be here for six years, working full-time jobs and learning more about myself each term than I did in four years of high school.

When I started at Portland State, I had friends I spoke with that had started at Oregon State and University of Oregon. We compared our experiences, and we grew ever-different as we matured through the years. They told me they enjoyed driving to Portland for the weekend to spend time on the PSU campus, because there was so much variety in the dining choices, in the live entertainment, in the city that was just a walk away from the South Park Blocks.

When I started at Portland State, I wasn’t much of a fan of sports organizations beyond the Portland Trail Blazers. After just a few months, I loved being a Vikings fan. I took a certain affinity to the sports programs, and the last six years have certainly showed a range of possibility come true: The men’s basketball team went to the Big Dance twice, the women’s golf team had a record-breaking season and track stars qualified for national meets.

Along the way of my six-year education at PSU, I learned a lot more about life than I’d have ever thought possible.

It’s scary to step out into the real world now, but I feel ready. Portland State made me ready, and some of the best opportunities exist as internships and as avenues to real jobs that only a PSU graduate could know. The faculty here comprises instructors that know what it means to work in the real world, and they make sure their students know just what to expect in a way that blends academia and practicality in the best way possible.

The professors here from each discipline—from the business school to the English faculty to the engineering school—provide a sense of education that goes beyond the textbooks. They take what they know and help students find a thread that runs from each assignment into the post-graduation world. And it’s not so scary on the other side of college, because the faculty here has such an emphasis on reality.

That’s nothing I’ve heard friends who attended other undergraduate programs talk about. We, as PSU students, didn’t come here expecting it—certainly, I had no idea just how much I was going to grow over my six years at PSU—but when we found the end of our education it was so enjoyable, so unique and so practical. It felt wonderful.

When I knew the end of my time at PSU was coming up, I knew that I had to look back on my time here before I’d know just how meaningful it was. Sports and being a Vanguard journalist was a big part of it, though a bigger part was always the diversity of our student body and the curricula I enjoyed (though I didn’t realize it was so unique until I talked to upcoming graduates of other schools).

When I knew the end of my time at PSU was coming up, I felt so grateful to know that this experience makes me more of a human being than I could have realized I’d be when I first enrolled six years ago. There have been a lot of memories made, a lot of songs played that will always make me think of finals week, of laughter with friends, of my favorite professors.

When I knew the end of my time at PSU was coming up, I felt ready for it. Sure, the four-year idea applies to most college students across the country, and I took six years, but it was worth living through.

I saw the new PSU logo get splashed across campus. I watched the Portland Streetcar get built and run across campus. I lived through the hassle of walking across campus when the TriMet MAX Green Line was being built and enjoy riding it now. I saw the old PCAT building turn into the ASRC (Portland Center for Advanced Technology and Academic and Student Recreation Center, respectively).

I have seen some amazing faculty come in and others retire, always feeling smarter because the best professors at PSU have spent time in that real world we graduates are about to enter.

Through it all, I have no regrets in my choice to attend PSU. I am a Viking; I am ready for the real world; I am grateful for everything I’ve learned in six years.