The Freedom Center & First-Generation Students with Aneli

Segment #8 from Western Oregon University


Let’s hear from Aneli, a first generation college senior majoring in exercise science from Hillsboro, Oregon. Western is a place where many first generation and diverse college students feel comfortable attending because of the tailored support and services they receive, which helps them reach new heights in their academic career. Tell us more, Aneli.

– Thanks, Alex. Hi, everyone. When deciding on the right college for myself, I knew I wanted to be close enough to home to visit family often, but also feel like I was away at college. Western was the perfect location for that. I was also drawn to the smaller class sizes and the walkability of campus. I remember being told as a freshman that by joining student clubs and organizations or whatever interests me will help me make great connections with others. Being a senior, I can now attest to that, whether that was at the Rec Center, through clubs, volleyball, or my on-campus jobs, one being at the Freedom Center where I’m currently serving as one of the co-directors, I have made lasting connections I will always cherish. Being a first generation college student, working at the Freedom Center has become something I’m very passionate about, because being a fully student-led organization, I get to help other students going through the same thing I was going through a couple years ago. The Freedom Center is an incredible resource for students. It provides students an array of services, from free school supplies, peer-to-peer advising, class scheduling help, connections with other clubs through our events, to an overall safe space for students, especially those who are BIPOC and have intersectional identities. The main goal is to help students succeed and feel supported. Western has given me the opportunity to find my true interests, pursue my passions, and grow as a leader. To my fellow first generation college students, know that there are many others going through the same things as you. Don’t be afraid to ask for help and get involved. I promise it’s worth it. You will find your family here. Western is where you belong. Back to you, Alex.

– Aneli, thank you for detailing a few of the amazing resources students have access to. Western is definitely a place where students of all backgrounds can attend confidently and know that they will be supported throughout their entire college journey. Your work at the Freedom Center is an important part of preserving Western’s focus on diverse and first generation students. Thanks again.

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