Grad Profile: Cheyan Swan

Student in a red graduation robe crouching down and smiling in front of WOU sign

Cheyan Swan is a 2021 graduate from Las Vegas, Nevada. They are a Writing major with a minor in Sociology. 


What has your experience been like as a student in the Honors Program? 

I’ve spent four years in the Honors Program. Although it’s admittedly a lot of work, this program has offered me so much extra support and motivation. The small and discussion-intensive freshman classes are great, as they allow students to connect with their classmates and adjust to college academics. Additionally, Gavin, our honors advisor/director, is an amazing resource who is always excited to help with just about any problem. I was reluctant to even join the program when I received an invitation prior to my first term, but damn, I’m happy I signed and sent in that acceptance form.


What has been your most memorable class? 

Any Sociology class with Dr. Braa has been a wildly educational experience. It’s amazing to learn from someone so passionate and invested in their field of study. He taught me so much about economics, politics, and activism.


Who stands out from your time at WOU and why?

Lars Söderlund, hands-down. I started taking his Writing classes sophomore year, and I took any opportunity to learn from him since. He became my honors thesis advisor during junior year, and asking him to mentor me for that project was one of the best decisions I’ve made in college. He is so genuinely invested in students’ success and wellbeing. He is empathetic, humorous, and skilled, and I recommend anyone who requires Writing credits to take classes with him. He can make even the blandest curriculum interesting and worthwhile. 


Student in a red graduation robe sitting on a curb and smilingWhat is your favorite building on campus?  

I love APSC. It is undeniably the strangest building on campus, as it was originally used as a library. The floors are arranged in such a confusing manner, and it took me two years to figure out where the actual first floor was. It’s a classroom–a single classroom. APSC was basically my home base, as it’s home to the Honors Program, including the honors classroom and lab. I also enjoyed lounging on the scattered couches in that common space on the second floor.


What has been your biggest achievement in college?

Writing and finishing my honors thesis. I chose to write a novel for my thesis, and I created it over the course of five months after quite a bit of procrastination. I’m very satisfied with the result, though, especially knowing how much thought and heart I poured into it.


What will you miss the most about WOU? 

I’ll miss WOU’s feeling of home. I jumped between different states, houses, and high schools before starting college, so WOU’s campus was finally an area of stability. I know the best hangout spots, the nicest bathrooms, and the best route to get to any building. Leaving WOU feels like starting over once again.


How have you adapted your learning process for COVID-19 restrictions and virtual classes?

I’m lucky that I already possessed a background in online education before the pandemic. Three of my high school years were spent in online schools. The most important aspect to gaining success in online education is time management and understanding your motivations. I created a firm schedule for myself throughout the week and enforced it through “rewards.” For example, Tuesdays were for my COM class, and I couldn’t eat lunch until I was at least halfway through the week’s workload for that course.


What do you know now that you wish you knew your first term in college?

I wish I had known how important it is to take advantage of every opportunity you’re given. It took me over a year to start submitting to the Northwest Passage. I didn’t start exploring the library or other study spots until my third term on campus. For so long, I avoided anything and everything that scared me. 

College is a time for exploration, and WOU is honestly the safest place to do it. There are so many supportive and affirming communities/clubs, and you can find plenty of extracurriculars that suit your interests. Take a chance on your future. Submit to local publications, go on those trips with friends, try out that club, attend that school event, and apply yourself. Trust me, you’ll regret holding back once your time here is up.


What are your plans for after graduation? 

I don’t have any solid plans; anyone who knows me understands my tendency to “wing it.” I do know that I’ll be pursuing writing, beginning with querying literary agents about my thesis novel. I’m proud of how much I’ve grown in my writing in the past four years, and my background in Sociology only fuels my determination to speak on critical human rights topics through fiction. So, my plan is to keep trekking and to remain in Oregon for a long while.

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