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Posts tagged ‘multicultural’

You Don’t Know What You Got . . .

Student Insurance . . . plus SHAC is available, too.

Student Insurance . . . plus SHAC is available, too.

By: Theo Burke

As I graduate, besides memories and friends, I am leaving behind the awesome Portland State student health insurance. I’ve written about this before, now I’m experiencing the difference.

Since I don’t know what job is coming down the pike or what kind of health insurance it might carry, I’ve applied for individual insurance through Cover Oregon, the state exchange that sells private health plans (with federal subsidies to help pay the premiums) under the Affordable Care Act, or “ObamaCare.” The state exchange will alternatively sign you up automatically for the state’s Medicaid program (the Oregon Health Plan) if you qualify.

In the real world, I will have to think more about the deductible. A deductible is an amount you pay each year (usually $250 – $1000 or higher) before any benefits are paid by your health insurer.

At PSU, the deductible was $0.00.

My present doctors might not be covered by a new insurance company. At PSU, the Aetna provider network was vast.

I will have to worry more about whether alternative care is covered. At PSU, naturopathic doctors are treated the same as primary care doctors, and chiropractors are covered up to twelve visits per year.

Weirdly enough, when I heard from Cover Oregon recently, they put me in the Oregon Health Plan, even though I reported enough income to disqualify me from that program. Now I will have to figure out the Medicaid ”world,” which works much differently than the private insurers’ system, or else contest my placement in that program with Cover Oregon.

Students, the PSU plan won’t throw you such curve balls. You have an awesome, generous health plan, and you should take advantage of it before you graduate. As I’ve said before, you don’t know what you’ve got, until you lose it.

Who would want to take summer classes?

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By: Mario Quintana

The majority of people wait all year for summer to arrive and perhaps even more so students.After months of class, hours of studying, and weeks of cloudy days, summer is ever so calming.For those who work and go to school, it is a relief to have less stress and responsibilities to deal with. So it may come as a surprise to many students to see other students taking summer classes. Yet, there are lots of reasons for taking summer classes.

I’m considering taking summer classes this year to graduate sooner rather than later. Fortunately I have the finances to take the classes if things work out. In doing so, I can save time and money by graduating earlier. Yet, there are uncertainties that come about by rushing things. What are my options after graduating? Am I considering grad school or will I join the workforce? Do I have a plan for both options?

In the end, I suppose I’m ready to finish my undergraduate degree and to move on. This is my  fifth year at PSU and taking another year is not appealing to me. It almost seems that my path to adulthood has been stagnated for numerous and personal reasons. While summer is a great time for the majority of people, it does not exempt them from their work and responsibilities. So would you take summer classes if you could?

Isn’t there an easy button for life?

By: Mario Quintana

The-Feel-Of-Everybody-Graduating-College-Is-Husky-RelatbleIt’s only been recently that I have given much thought on what may follow after I graduate. I find it hard to believe that four years ago I stepped onto this campus and thought it would seem forever before I found myself at commencement. I like many students, had my share of difficulties along the way, times of procrastination, and uncertainties about my major.

Every time I head over to the Diversity and Multicultural Student Services, I see new and young faces. Gone are the students I met when we were freshmen. I reminisce with my adviser on how not long ago I was one of the new, young, and few first generation students. Now, I am at a crossroads in my life.

Many questions and scenarios come to my mind. Should I, upon graduating, immediately seek a job? Or should I pursue my master’s or hope to create something for myself? It is often said that graduates should seek a job that they love to do or that has meaning to them. However, while it is a comforting idea I don’t believe it to be realistic. Yet, the idea of simply working to make money is dull itself.

But I ask myself, how many people have the privilege to work? How many others have meaning to their jobs or let alone their life? These questions may seem naive and repetitive, but it is often through contemplation that we can find ourselves. Perhaps then I should find work for the sake of working and on my free time create meaning to my life and myself.

Rain, rain, go away and come back another day

outdoor_raining-1280x800I was dreaming that I was sailing a small ship through a tremendous storm. The rain was heavy and dense, battering the ship and causing metallic thumps that scathed my ears. Then I awoke from my sleep and the sounds had not ceased. I cleared my eyes and sat up in my seat and saw a heavy downpour battering my car, where I was sleeping.

The rain had always made me feel blue. It’s common among people deprived of sunshine to feel blue and even develop a condition known as SAD, or seasonal affective disorder. It comes to no surprise to any of us that it rains for most of the year in Portland. Still, why do so many people feel blue because of the rain?

Indigenous people tend to see the rain as sacred and as a sign of life. For some reason, it seems that modern society and individuals do not see it in the same light. Perhaps our need for comfort through materialistic and superficial things have deprived us of the opportunity to reflect on ourselves in solitude.

River rafting in Estacada

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The last three weeks have been torture for me trying to get back on my feet. I am slowly moving again and creating a structure for my life. My friends, family, school advisers and work teammates are supporting me though out this tough time. Last weekend, I made no plans nor did I want to do anything.

However, a friend encouraged me to go with him on a trip. He assured me that this trip would put things into perspective and bring me back to reality. There was nothing to lose, so I took his offer. So we started packing what appeared to be camping gear and had one more thing to obtain: dry suits.

I was not aware that the Outdoor program at PSU rented out gear. Being a student, I was able to get two dry suits for $50, a bargain when they are worth up to $300 a piece. Early the next day, we were off to Estacada in gloomy and rainy weather.  We arrived to a scene of people, kayaks, rafts, dry suits, wet suits and gear along the river.

We immediately parked on the side of the road, dressed down to a T-shirt and shorts, put on our dry suits, helmet, and life vests and we were off to find his friends. Upon finding them, without hesitation we got a raft, carried down to the river, and got in to raft downstream.

My heart pumped and my senses were on full alert. All I could think of was not to fall out of the raft into the river. The water was freezing hence the dry suits we had to keep us not only warm but alive. The rapids were strong and I tried to literally bury my feet into the wedges of the raft and held on to my paddle for life.

Downstream, we hit stronger rapids, being pushed from side to side, the water pouring down on us, as we tried to maneuver through without falling out or flipping over. Everyone around me was unnerved.  I was hoping I would not fall out. After what seemed an eternity of freezing water and near heart attacks, we rafted and finished in calm and safe waters. This trip was much needed for me even if it distracted me from the world of depression that I was in and still am in.

Searching for the right haircut

For the longest time, my father cut my hair growing up. My two younger brothers and I never went to a barber shop to get the job done. And this job is complicated to say the least. Around 16 or 17, my father just didn’t have the same precision as before and my hair was just too difficult to cut. Soon after, my father simply retired, if you will, from cutting my hair and my brother’s as well. I was confident that if my father could cut my hair, anyone else with experience could do it just as well. Read more

Work has increased but support has not.

I don’t visit the Multicultural Center, Casa Latina or the Diversity and Multicultural Student Services offices as much as I used to. But in the past few weeks, I have been stopping by, and I’ve noticed an increase in the number of Latino and students of color using these resources. The number of programs and events has grown just as well. However, as I visited each place, I felt like an outsider to some degree.

When Casa Latina opened, I believed it would develop community among students. When I was part of that growing community a couple years ago, I could see small but solid steps towards the needs of the students. However, I should point out that I lived on campus at that time. I moved to Oregon City this past summer. Since then, I have been out of what is going on, who is new to the community, how are the needs of the students being addressed and ultimately why must this work continue?

Perhaps, I have distanced myself too much without even knowing. However, I have given much thought as to why I or these places feel different. It seems that these places have become over the years fast paced, overloaded with work, expectations have risen higher, and yet moral obligation and duty is still present among these departments that are undoubtedly understaffed and under supported. My feelings I believe stem from my concerns for the students.

As a student, I feel empowered when I can connect deeply and grow from a program or from an individual. What concerns me is being regarded as just a number rather than a person. It seems that when a department is understaffed, the meaning of their work shifts and becomes more quantitative than qualitative. Students cannot afford to be seen as a number. I hope that this does not unfold within these offices. They are too vital and necessary for the growth and education for students of color and their communities.

Portland State is More Than a School.

Bosc-Pear-Harvest-BinThe first university I visited during my middle school years was Portland State. I vaguely remember seeing the Smith cafeteria and the Broadway computer lab. At the time, I was curious about attending college, but by my freshman year in high school, I knew I was going to college. I had no school in mind, but I was determined to enroll with or without financial aid.

During my senior year in high school, I made a trip to Phoenix, Arizona. All of my mother’s side of the family moved there a decade ago. A cousin of mine was attending Arizona State, and she suggested that I should enroll there. I visited the enormous campus and was excited at the idea of leaving Oregon for something different. Ultimately, I chose to stay and enroll into Portland State for financial and family reasons.

I had come to the conclusion that I simply could not afford to attend Arizona State. My lack of knowledge about financial aid blurred an opportunity for me to go out of state. I had worked hard in my rigorous classes in high school and had harvested pears and cherries during the same time. However, many low-income people of color do not have access to a solid education let alone higher education.

I have been fortunate and privileged to have both. Portland State and all the institutions of higher learning are more than just a mascot, brand or colors. They are the places where we should gain knowledge, develop our skills, and empower ourselves. It has been a journey for me to mold a better life and to give back to my family and community.

Reality TV in the U.S.

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When I came to America three years ago, I was very curious about what kind of TV programs were popular in the U.S. I started watching TV with my first roommate, Jennifer, whose favorite shows were on the Reality TV channel. She really liked watching every episode of “Cops”  and obsessed over “American Idol”. She would become upset, cry, or be very happy with these shows, which reminded me of reality show reactions in Japan.

We have many reality TV shows with similar line-ups, such as “Kesatsu 24ji” (Cops 24hours), “Aidoru Bangumi” (Idol competition show), and ”Kin^niku Banzuke” (Ultimate Figher Programs). Some of my friends in Japan  also have emotional attachments to these shows, displaying a sense of empathy to the people in the shows. I was not interested in watching these programs in Japan, but in America, I like to watch Cops, The Rattlesnake Republic, and Hard Core Pawn. I feel that these are real America, and that I am learning about parts of American society that I would otherwise not know.

Finally, a Place to Call My Home and People to Call My Family.

homeI have lived on campus for three years, and in three different locations. Living in the city was a drastic change for me. I grew up in a rural area where I had no neighbors, surrounded instead by acres of orchards. While living in the city brought me new experiences, it was expensive and at times lonesome for me.

I have had a total of seven male roommates, have lived alone, and at one point, I lived with five roommates. One can just imagine how things went living in a place with five guys. We were all single, young, and a bit naive  Yet, throwing parties, going out, hanging out as a group, and goofing around just wasn’t for me. At the end of the day, I would always feel alone or being left out of something meaningful.

My mornings, evenings, and my life are now spent with my new family. I moved in with my girlfriend this past summer into her sister’s house in Oregon City. It’s a full house; there are two cats, two dogs, her husband, her sister in law, and her 2 year old son who, I like to say, is the king of the house. It’s a great welcoming and friendly environment. I often hear the little boy call out everyone’s name from across the house. I get up every weekday at 7 to get ready for my day and help my girlfriend get prepared as well. I see the cats walking back and forth, and I hear the dogs in the yard barking for attention.

At 22, I love my new home, my girlfriend, my new family, and myself. I have left behind my single, lonesome, and confused life. And I wouldn’t want it any other way.

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