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.

Quarter Life Crisis

If you would have told me my freshman year that I would cut more than a foot of hair off my head, learn how to longboard, and  major in communication and film, I would have thought you were crazier than the guy who walks his pet pig around campus on a leash.  (Though I hear that dude is pretty awesome, don’t get me wrong.) Continue reading

The Man and His Jack Russell Terriers

Every morning I emerge from the fourth floor of Stephen Epler, groggy from almost sleeping through my alarm, hungry and hopelessly awaiting dozens of collegial topics to hit me in the face. I take the stairs to the lobby and join the school of fish I call Portland State.

Through rain or shine, I stomp my way past ‘The Meetro’ only to pass a short span of open green grass. Dozens of college kids alike take this path down to the Park Blocks, and it wasn’t till recently that I noticed that almost every morning a friendly man walks his two jack russel terriers around this small grassy area. Every day I see one terrier, ripe with energy, chasing a bright green tennis ball across the little field. The second terrier, calm and polite, patiently wags his tail next to his owner. The little brown spots on each of their faces reveal two incredibly handsome dogs with two different personalities.

Day after day, the college hustle and bustle passes the man and his dogs, only to walk away a bit cheerier than what they were originally.

One day I decided to finally talk to this man and thank him for bringing his lovely dogs to the park. They never cease to leave a smile on my face, and I didn’t realize until recently how much it brightened my mornings.


After talking with him, I finally learned one of the true purposes to his consistent early dog walking. It is not only his love for his animals (though we both agreed that animals are a special gift given to humans), but to strike a smile on people’s faces in the morning. He sees the anxious, stressed, and worried college kids each day and brings his playful dogs to the park to change their mood. Who would have guessed that this man purposely walks his dogs near campus, simply to make a stranger’s morning?

Simple acts of kindness truly make my day, and I deeply appreciate how PSU has made it possible to meet people like this.

Portland’s Hopeful vs. Hopeless Musicians

I wish I was one of those lucky individuals who woke up one morning to say, “Hello world! I’m going to be a doctor. This is who I am, and this is what I want to do!” Unfortunately, I woke up from a dream of wearing purple bell bottoms playing an electric guitar that caught on fire: a female Jimi Hendrix. Of course this was probably due to the sounding of my last name, but guitar has become my love ever since I had that dream when I turned 11 years old. Why did I have to fall in love with one of the hardest passions to follow?

Let me start off by saying, I have immeasurable respect for music majors and teachers here at PSU. They are ultimately following their passions, and (from the ones I personally know) they are all ridiculously talented. Often I find myself envious, because I consider myself a hopeful musician as well. I play 12-string guitar, sing, write and record my own music, head to open mic-nights, and perform in venues around Portland when I have free time.  But what can you do when you feel you cannot make a living off these passions?

I’ve gone through the process of contemplating majoring and minoring in music, but I’ve learned that it is not the path that I’m meant for. I feel that music majors are most applicable to teaching or performing, but I am (unfortunately) terrible at teaching and do not see the point in majoring in music when I can perform as I please at the level I am already at.

That is why I am glad that I have found a healthy balance for myself. I’m going to school to pursue a degree in business advertising and graphic design, where I feel confident I’ll find a job in, and I have my passions there to enlighten me on the side. I will keep music close to the beat of my heart during this entire journey, and that keeps me a hopeful musician and person in general.

Does anyone else feel the pressure of balancing work, school and passions? I’d love to hear about it in the comment section below.

The Beginning of Sophomore Year

“Wow Haley! Haven’t seen you all summer. How’s it going?”

I had taken the long way home back to my dorm, holding a large stack of community posters to decorate my halls, when I ran into an old friend from my first year in the dorms. We held a quick/friendly conversation in the middle of the street.

“I’m doing just fine what about you?”

He and his girlfriend had just gotten back from a concert, all bubbly and tired from the show.

“So what’s new with you? Where are you living this year?” he asked.

“Oh, I became an RA. I live in Stephen Epler now.”

That’s when the conversation changed. The street suddenly became silent. I felt a tiny shiver from his spontaneous speechlessness. With TV-series-like drama, he uttered the words, “Oh, an RA? …We’re enemies now.” And simply walked off into the night. No goodbyes were given. His girlfriend gave me a heinous stare before whipping her head around to join him.

It never hit me till walking home that Wednesday night. This is now my life. My name is Haley Heynderickx, and I decided to become a Resident Assistant (RA). I live on campus and try to build community in our residence halls. I introduce students to other students, listen to their problems, and try to make a difference in their lives. I am a good person. I go to school full time, record and play music around Portland, make time for my friends and, to top this off, work.

How am I supposed to feel like a normal student, though, when I have this “RA Sticker” permanently stapled to my forehead? Every day I make an effort to prove to the world that RA’s have feelings and emotions like normal human beings. Our jobs are not to “go and get you in trouble” when the opportunity arises. Our jobs are to keep the peace! We do not seek for drama. We just fix it when it arises.

Please on-campus readers, if you have any space in that Portland-loving heart of yours, take this desperate plea to respect us RA’s. We put time into those posters, don’t rip them down. We make time to get to know you, not annoy you. RA’s are friends, not fiends.