Karen Silva is a 2021 graduate from Rigby, Idaho. She is a Biology major with a Pre-Professional focus.
How has being a Dreamer impacted your journey to and within college?
Being a Dreamer at times made it challenging to go through college, being a first-gen student and trying to figure a couple things out on my own. Luckily, advisors, professors, mentors, and school clubs like Unidos really helped me on my journey. I met a lot of friends that also had DACA, and we helped each other with our doubts that we had.
What has the experience been like as a transfer student?
I was a transfer student because of high school college credits here in Rigby. I had also taken some college courses at Eastern Idaho Technical College (EITC), now [called] College of Eastern Idaho (CEI), to initially start a technical degree but decided I wanted to pursue a bachelor’s instead. It was very different, but the new experiences at WOU were fulfilling. The class load was much harder as well, and [I] had to adjust my study habits and have more organization.
What has your experience been like as a first-generation student?
I am a first-gen student, and it was hard trying to even apply for college, finding scholarships, navigating college in general, etc. No one in my family has obviously ever been through this process, but I was excited to learn these new experiences to teach the future generations in my family.
Why did you choose WOU?
I chose WOU because WOU was a partner college from theDream.us scholarship, and it was an option not too far from home. I came to visit the university to check it out and fell in love with it and decided I wanted to make the move from Idaho to Oregon. Everyone from the students to the staff were all very welcoming and made me feel like the move was right for me.
What has been your most memorable class?
The most memorable class has been Human Genetics with Dr. Latham Scott. She is an amazing professor and made learning so fun!
What has been your favorite annual event at WOU?
I would say the tree lighting was the most memorable because it was right before winter break, and it was like a little family gathering of going together with my roommates. I felt very happy and connected to see other students and members of the community attend. It was also amazing to see the little floats in the parades and the work put into them.
What have some of your extracurriculars been? How did those impact your time on campus?
I was secretary for UNIDOS, so I was often at each meeting and gathering. I loved this position. It really helped me grow as a person, so the time put in was really worth it, especially if I made a positive impact on students. I was an ambassador for one year and a term, and that job taught me leadership skills and also had me connected to campus events focusing on incoming freshmen. I tried going for some internships, but I felt like with how busy my schedule was, I did miss out on a couple applications.
Do you have any advice for current and prospective students?
Focus on staying organized; if you need a couple hours to do that once a week, make time for it. It is so worth it and will save you so much headache. This would include planning out your week, keeping track of exam dates and all events you are involved in. Also, ask for help whenever, from the professor during office hours or going to the tutoring center. Everyone is here to help you succeed, and [you should] take advantage of those opportunities!
What was your most visited spot on campus?
The library 100%; that place saved me so much when I had to study and focus hardcore for all my exams, and I also had several study group sessions there. It is where you want to be most of the time, because at home or in your dorm, there are many other distractions, and an assignment that could have taken you 30 minutes in the library just took you five hours at home.
What is the biggest lesson you have learned throughout your time at WOU?
My biggest lesson I have learned is to take care of myself no matter how busy I am, and I learned to prioritize my time and energy [for] stuff that actually matters.