Hello world! My name is Antonia Rojas. I am a graduate student at Western Oregon University. I come from a small town in eastern Oregon, where growing and eating watermelon is a huge deal.
I recently received my B.S. in criminal justice in June 2012, which is one of the greatest accomplishments of my life, especially as a first-generation student. I decided to stick around Monmouth for a few reasons. First, I knew that WOU offered a great graduate program in criminal justice. Second, I did not want to start all over in another place, because I have my close friends here, as well as my brother and boyfriend. And to be honest, I love it here! Lastly, this university has made me feel welcome, and it has provided a great learning environment, where professors really do care about one’s education and success.
Besides investing time in my studies, you can find me indulging in reading, watching Supernatural, playing intramural soccer, and just hanging out. I also have two jobs on campus, one of them as part of the Phonathon team, and the other being this one, a student blogger.
As part of this blogger team, I hope to be able to offer my personal experience as a first-generation student, as well as a student in general, because it is safe to say that I have had my fair share of balancing studying, writing essays, staying up late, and having time for myself.
I am excited to see what this year has to offer, and I am even more excited to bring all of you on this journey with me!
P.S. I am gonna add a few questions/answers regarding WOU so you can all get a better sense of my “student” side. Enjoy!
Year at WOU
1st year graduate student
Why did you choose WOU?
I will be honest; I had no idea where I wanted to start my college career. For that reason, I began at a community college only 20 minutes from my hometown. Then, when it was time to transfer, I noticed that WOU had a great criminal justice program, which was what I wanted to pursue. The cost of the school was not as expensive as other schools, the size of Monmouth was similar to my hometown, and the student/professor ratio was great.
What kinds of things are you involved in on campus?
I am only a “third” year student (I took online classes from home during my first year at WOU), so I have not had the opportunity to take part in many activities. However, last year I played intramural soccer, which was fun. This year, I am taking online classes, and I am working here (as a student blogger), and I am part of the phonathon team. I plan on playing intramural soccer this year, as well as being more active on campus with this student blogger position.
What do you love most about WOU?
Honestly, I must say that I love the small classroom size. When I was in high school and community college, each class had no more than 30-40 students, so when I realized that WOU was the same way, it made learning and interaction with both the students and professor that much easier. I am one of those people that like to be able to interact with professors and students, and the small classroom size made that possible.
What do you love most about Monmouth?
I always hear people complaining that Monmouth is “boring” but I love it here! My hometown only has one stoplight, supermarket, bank, high school and elementary. That sums it up, and although Monmouth is not that small, it is small enough that it makes it feel “homey”.
What is the best class you’ve taken on campus? Why?
Although last year was my first “official” year on campus, I was able to take several classes that I enjoyed. During fall term, I took two of the best classes of my college career. I know that we can only choose one, but I believe that these two classes are tied for first. First, there was Social Constructions of Race with Professor Weitzel, and then there was Chican@/Latin@ Studies with Professor Dolan. In the first course, we discussed the concept of race and its development over the years.
This course engaged the students, and we had frequent discussions about the readings, our beliefs and personal experiences. This class is not for the faint of heart however, because people express their opinions and beliefs about topics such as affirmative action, racism, and the existence/non-existence of a “superior” race. The Chican@/Latin@ course was a revelation. Being born of Mexican parents, this subject really hit home, and it gave me insight on what Chican@/Latin@ people endure while living in the states, or when they make their move here. Overall, if any of these topics interest you, I suggest that you take these courses, but remember that you must keep an open mind, although it may be hard at times.
What is your favorite spot on campus?
My favorite spot on campus would have to be the library. The library is a place that offers peace and quiet when my apartment does not allow for that. While there, I have the ability to read, study, or even write papers without having to worry about interruptions. That is why the third floor is such a great place!
By Antonia Rojas