Gabriela Acevedo-Solis is a graduating student, who will be receiving a degree in Middle/High School Social Science Education student with a minor in Spanish. She is from Independence, and has been involved in numerous extracurriculars during her time at WOU, including the Multicultural Student Union, Student Engagement, and multiple volunteer organizations.
How has being involved in the Diversity Scholars Program shaped your experience at WOU?
Being involved in the Diversity Scholars Program has enabled me to have a voice and opened leadership opportunities for me while also providing academic and financial support. Not only has it advised me academically, financially, and socially, but it has provided me the opportunity to celebrate and embrace my cultural heritage with my WOU community.
What has your experience been like as a first-generation student?
I identify as a first generation college student and navigating higher education has been both a challenge and yet very rewarding. Some of the barriers that I often encountered as a first generation student includes racial underrepresentation, low academic self esteem, and difficulty adjusting to college. Although I sometimes felt like I didn’t belong, I surrounded myself around communities from similar backgrounds as me which supported me and helped me navigate those barriers. Thankfully, WOU provided me with opportunities like resources and programs (SEP, UB, BTS, MSSP) that contributed a great support during my time at WOU. I am thankful to have navigated higher education and feel fortunate to be a support for my siblings in the future.
Why did you choose WOU?
I chose WOU because it was close to home, affordable, and because of my experience in Upward Bound TRIO. I spent my high school years attending Summer Academy at WOU and wanted to continue being a part of the TRIO program that supported first generation students.
What has been your favorite annual event at WOU?
My favorite event at WOU has always been Multicultural Student Unions’ Annual Native American Pow Wow. It was an honor to be a part of the team that puts together this event and seeing the Native American community and surrounding communities coming together to honor and preserve the heritage of American Indians. I loved getting to see the beautiful regalia, drumming, dancing, and delicious food while socializing and getting to meet new people at this event.
What has some of your extracurriculars been?
My involvements has included Executive Board member for Multicultural Student Union (three years), MCR Mentor, Upward Bound Tutor, Student Enrichment Program Peer Advisor (two years), SEP Student Employee, Student Engagement Student Employee, Food Pantry Volunteer, WOU Community Garden Volunteer, CELC Student Volunteer, Journey to WOU volunteer, Solar Eclipse Volunteer, Intramural soccer participant, Office of Disability Notetaker, Migrant Summer school teacher (four years), Sister of Kappa Delta Chi Sorority, Inc., Teacher Candidate at Waldo Middle School, Instructional Assistant, K-5 Chess Coach, MC for several annual events, Student Mentor for CSD13J, and having served on other various committees. These involvements have impacted my time at WOU in many ways. I was able to connect and build relationships with new people, build upon my leadership and communication skills, and most importantly created meaningful memories that I will cherish forever.
What is the biggest lesson you have learned throughout your time at WOU?
To be yourself, be unafraid, and to be unapologetic. I learned the value of my voice, education and how important it is to put myself first and my goals. I saw how much I grew as a student and leader by being myself and sticking by my goals.
What was your most visited spot on campus?
My most visited spot on campus was the Student Enrichment Program department. I found myself here most of my time because I had built great relationships with other students and the advisors in the program. They also provided a safe space for me in which I could do my homework, relax, socialize and more.
What has been your biggest achievement, success or accomplishment in college?
My biggest accomplishment was stepping out of my comfort zone and studying abroad in Rosario, Argentina. It was my first time flying out of the country and a very enriching experience. I studied CJ and SOC classes at the National University of Rosario—Law School where I also involved myself in international service learning by working in correctional institutions in Rosario.
What do you know now that you wish you knew your first term in college?
I wish that I knew that asking for help is okay. As a first-generation student, there are many things that come up and we don’t often know how to navigate. I think it’s important to set yourself up well by creating a foundation and seeking resources and programs that will provide this support.
What are your plans for after graduation?
I have accepted a full-time Social Studies teaching position at Waldo Middle School for Salem/Keizer School District, I will also begin my Masters of Science in Education this summer at Western Oregon University.