Howl from the Heart: Nichole Hernandez

Aerial view of campus with Campbell Hall in the center

Nichole H. '21, major biology, howl from the heart

Giving Day 2021 is just around the corner (March 2!), and we’re hoping you’ll join us in supporting WOU students’ success. During 2020, each of us has adapted, adjusted and created new realities for ourselves; Western Oregon University was no different. As we plan for the future, we look to the Wolves family to help us get there.

To highlight where we have been this past year and learn about why you should give, we want you to meet a couple of students and an employee. Nichole Hernandez ’21 is a biology major.


What did it mean to you to receive a scholarship?

It meant a lot to me to have received the Why I Love WOU Scholarship. What made this scholarship so unique was that it allowed me to use my creative skills to direct and produce my own video entry. How cool is that? I still remember the day of the ceremony. It’s one of the best memories I have, and I’ll always cherish it. This scholarship helped cover some of my tuition expenses the following year, and I am very grateful for everyone who made this happen. I value education immensely, and I cannot express the great relief I felt knowing I didn’t have to sacrifice hours out of my study schedule to work so that I can fund my expenses. It makes me feel proud to think that out of all the participants, I was one of the lucky winners, and I am motivated to finish my last year at WOU strong. From the bottom of my heart, I thank everyone who has made the WOU Foundation possible. Thank you for your generosity and for supporting my dreams.


How will attending and receiving your degree from WOU impact your life?

I feel a deep sense of gratitude towards WOU for being my undergrad school because of all the great opportunities it has brought me, not to mention all the amazing people I have met along the way. I specifically chose WOU because of its smaller campus size, and I knew that I would be able to obtain more one-on-one time with professors, which I consider to be very valuable. After touring the school, I felt I had a connection with the community here. Having attended WOU is one of the best decisions I’ve made, and I have so many great memories from my experience here. As a first-generation college student, I am proud to say that I will be receiving my first bachelor’s degree from WOU.


How have you persevered through the pandemic?

The pandemic has brought many challenges as I continue my academic journey of achieving my goals and graduating this spring 2021. However, I believe there is a bright light in every challenging situation we face and there is always something to learn from these experiences. Now that everything is remote, I realize how much time in a day I have, and I’ve been able to take advantage of that to develop a healthier lifestyle. I have more time to plan a workout routine and practice self-care. I hadn’t realized how important that is to one’s mental health, and I have really felt the difference in my well-being, so I thank the pandemic for allowing me to learn this important lesson. While I do miss taking traditional in-person classes, the WOU community has been very supportive, and my classmates have engineered a way to stay in touch through a growing online community where we can all keep each other motivated and help one another. I’ve met new classmates through there and have even scheduled Zoom study groups with them. It’s amazing how supportive everyone has been during this pandemic, and although remote learning hasn’t always been easy especially for a biology major, I am blessed with instructors who have made the transition as smooth as possible. It’s the people in the WOU community who have made it possible to get through this pandemic. If it weren’t for them and the fact that I have more time on my schedule, then I don’t know where I’d be. I owe it to them, and I am thankful for everyone’s kindness.


Why should someone give money to WOU?

At Western Oregon University, the future belongs to those who believe in their dreams. WOU offers a smaller class size and therefore a more personalized, quality education. Students here have many great leadership and research opportunities. From my first term and onwards, I have always felt part of the community, and I love that I can continue taking classes with the same group of peers that I started with. It makes me feel that I belong, and it’s much easier to make connections and network. This is what I value as part of WOU’s small campus size. Students here are given many resources to aid in their success and to thrive in our ever-changing society. Funding a university like WOU would continue to ensure the future of many generations of students who, like myself,  have big goals and dreams to better the communities we belong to and ultimately make a positive impact in the world. Thank you to everyone who has donated to the WOU Foundation. Your generosity has created many opportunities and fulfilled many students’ dreams of a quality education.


What is something fun about you?

A couple fun facts about me are that I am a very creative person. I love getting crafty whenever I have free time and doing DIYs. I also enjoy cooking new recipes and trying new restaurants. My current ambition is to perfect my sushi-making technique.

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