Jose Andres Hernandes-Galvin (who goes by Andres), is an Interdisciplinary Studies Major with a concentration in Social Studies, Humanities, and Education, as well as a minor in Chicano/Latinx studies.
When first considering colleges to attend, “I originally had to choose between WOU and PSU. I got a scholarship to come to WOU, but was skeptical since I never visited and was set to come to WOU,” Andres explained. “It wasn’t until my SOAR that changed my mind. Everyone was so friendly! My PLUS Team member was so kind. The MSSP office and SEP office helped me. The PLUS Team skit cleared some anxiety. But most importantly, I got free food from Valsetz and it was delicious. Shout out to Kathy at the sandwich area. She still remembers my order.”
Andres said he wasn’t active in extracurriculars while in high school, simply because he wasn’t interested in what his school had to offer, nor the communities involved. Even after joining WOU, it took awhile for him to branch out.
“Then, I joined Discover Leadership where I got to learn more about myself. I applied for PLUS Team and got in. The problem was that a specific student said the only reason I got in was because I’m brown and bilingual. Now, I have/had very low self esteem about myself so I didn’t really want to join thing if it was of that reason, but OPT told me the truth. I am a leader, regardless if I see it or not. My mentality changed because I realized that many students like me are worried to join things because of how others see them. I didn’t want that on others. I wanted others, like myself, to believe in themselves. So I joined Unidos, MSU, MCR and running club. Later, my reasoning for staying involved was because I saw that many places could benefit from having someone with a diverse background. Whether that’s creating bilingual opportunities or offering a safer, inclusive space for all. That motivated me to join my fraternity, FSC, Ambassadors, and SAB. I just want to make WOU a better place for all. I want others like me to sign up for organizations and see their potential.”
As he mentioned, Andres is now involved in a multitude of campus communities, which means he oversees quite a few duties.
“As Fraternity and Sorority Council President, I (alongside my FSC adviser), overlook the two fraternities and sororities on campus. Overall, I need to make sure every organization follows WOU’s rules and regulations. […] My job is also to make sure each organization is united with one another. We’re a small community and if we’re united, we can achieve more together. Every now and then I also make sure the school knows about Greek life and how different we are from popular culture.
“SAB is something I just recently joined so I am learning as I go! I have four office hours a week at the SAB office. I hold the SAB live chair. My duties are dealing with contracts from performers and others who come to WOU. Right now, because my position doesn’t have much, I help other SAB members with their events. We have the holiday tree lighting festival coming up! As well as other holiday events. I’m going to help in any way I can.
“The Ambassador position has so many factors. Mainly, I have one weekly tour that I must give at the same time for the term. Alongside that, I must give seven VIP tours. VIP tours are special scheduled tours from K-12 schools, organizations, or potential candidates for departments. Alongside that, we have special events throughout the school year (Preview Day, Your Day At WOU, Creative Arts Day, etc.). My position is just as a retirement Ambassador, but I like to joke around that my position is a Bilingual Ambassador. It sounds cooler, plus I focus a lot on working with families who are bilingual or only speak Spanish.”
This past fall, Andres worked with PLUS Team, as well.
“I had a lot of duties as a PLUS Team Coordinator. One of those duties were recruiting, interviewing, and selecting the team for the year. As a co-coordinator, I was part of the Orientation Planning Team (OPT for short), which has Megan Habermann, John Wilkins, Chris Jones, Patrick Moser, and my co-coordinator Ellen Moore. Together, we led the plus team. We made sure the team was knowledgeable on WOU. I helped lead ice breakers, manage the returning plus team members and make sure their committees are going well, and making sure the team was united. During SOAR and NSW, I had the regular duties of a PLUS Team member, but I also had to make sure to check on every member and their task, as well as deal with any small problems that occurred.”
When prompted about his favorite memories from PLUS Team this year, he replied, “It’s tied between two memories. One is the retreat. I absolutely love the retreat because of all the connections and stories we make. Doing activities, eating together, staying up playing games until the early morning. The other is NSW, specifically the small things that happen. I can’t really explain it or describe it, but there is a weird magic that unites the team. […] We’re all there for each other. We all care for each other.”
Given Andres’ variety of extracurriculars and social involvements, along with his course work, the question as to how he handles it all had to be voiced.
“I ask myself this a lot. Google Calendar. I know that’s a common answer, but I tend to forget a lot unless I have it written down. I carry a notebook with me where I write notes with high priority. Then I organize my calendar. I started to schedule everything. Hangout with friends, lunch, even a daily crying session from 9 P.M. to 10 P.M. I’m more organized knowing what I need to do for the day. As for all my duties, I prioritize what’s closer date-wise than what’s not. I also found asking for help from others has been great. My fraternity brothers and others are there for me when I need it. I was always scared to ask for help, but now I understand that it is okay to not be okay. Practice self care.”
When asked how his immersion in campus activities and the WOU community has impacted his life, Adres said, “I don’t know how to describe it. I feel…recognized? Acknowledged? I honestly feel like WOU is a home to me. With everything that I’ve joined, it’s incredible when people recognize me and ask how I’m doing or even say my name. I feel like myself, and WOU, has grown. I feel like a part of me is now at WOU and a part of WOU is in me. I grew to accept my sexual orientation and status. I arrived at WOU prior to the presidential election, but I always felt safe at WOU. I feel like everywhere I go, someone recognized me for something good I’ve done. Maybe I gave them a tour or were the reason they chose WOU. “
“This college experience has been amazing. I didn’t think I would enroll in college. Especially being a first generation college student. Even [with] all the bad things that happened in my life, I know I wouldn’t be here at this moment without those experiences. I wouldn’t have gone to WOU or joined many organizations. WOU has taught me one major thing about myself: I just want to help others and make the world a better place. I know without WOU, I wouldn’t have done that. I am who I am now because of WOU and everyone who’s played a part.
“I wouldn’t be who I am without everyone that helped me. When I arrived at WOU, I just wanted to go to class and go home. But so many people have played a huge part in my life that, I know for a fact, without them I wouldn’t be here. Megan Habermann, John Wilkins, Marshall Guthrie, Gabe Hernandez, Emmanuel Macias, Affie Eyo, Anna Hernandez-Hunter, David Compton, Rob Findtner, Kelsey Elam, Kelly Welch. All current and previous members of PLUS Team, Ambassadors, Omega Delta Phi Fraternity. Kappa Delta Chi Sorority, MCR. It’s because them I’m here.”
When asked about any suggestions he may have for students who are looking to get involved in campus groups and activities, he had some great advice to share.
“Find something that interests you where you could gain something from the group/activity and they could benefit from having you. Get out of your comfort zone. It’s how I joined a fraternity, and now they’re my closest family. Be yourself. It’s how I joined PLUS Team and returned. Grab a friend and join anything. You always have the chance to leave, but you don’t always get a chance to join. College is where you learn more about yourself. Just find something. Netflix will always be there when you return.”