Navigating PSU as a Student of Color

At one point, I was a freshman, eager to go to my first university class, but not knowing what to expect. Inexperienced and with no siblings who had gone through the college life before, I was all on my own. Class registration, time management, budgeting, making friends, housing, food, finding a job, and numerous more things were all put on my plate at once. This happens to be true for many Portland State students who are of color and even more so when the University is regarded as a commuter school.

However, I was fortunate enough to have met Perla Pinedo during my first Viking week. She is the coordinator of Latino/a Student Services. At the time I knew no one, and was glad to see someone with the same heritage. Not only did she help me understand how the university functioned, but she also did the same for my parents and provided them a sign of relief and assurance. Through Perla, I was introduced to the department of Diversity and Multicultural Services which located in the Smith building 425

They provide general advising, transition programs, college success courses and the diversity scholarship that help students build the skills needed to succeed and graduate from PSU. Students, especially of color, should go to the DMSS Office and seek general advising and other opportunities.

A Trip to the SHAC Center

Admitting at PSU SHAC

After my investigation a few weeks ago on tuition fees, I decided to step inside the Student Health and Counseling Center ( to see what I am helping to fund.  My experience in hospital waiting areas has always been somewhat chaotic with crying children and packed rows of uncomfortable chairs, but The PSU clinic was surprisingly quiet and calm. There were no loud children and only three people waiting for a doctor. 

The young woman behind the check-in desk welcomed me (she preferred that I not use her name) and kindly answered my numerous questions about what kind of services a student can receive at the Health Center.  Most of the services seemed a given, such as primary and emergency health care, birth control, etc., but I was surprised to hear there is no co-payment at the PSU Health Center (although services off-campus at participating clinics require a $20 co-pay). 

Last year the big health buzz around campus was the H1N1 virus, but by September the hype had definitely died down.  The attendant told me that while there is the occasional craziness that comes from being a downtown student clinic, most students needed doctors this year for the common cold virus and subsequent sinus infections.  The Center provided flu shots for only $4 this winter, and she seemed excited to inform me that coverage includes Gardesil (HPV vaccination) for women’s cervical cancer prevention. 

I am fortunate enough to have never been in need of health services since starting school at PSU, but I must say that I was quite impressed with what is available at little to no initial charge.  My biggest disappointment over my visit was that nothing crazy or exciting happened while I was visiting. My darker side silently wished I had time to go hang out at the clinic on a full moon and watch the happenings.  What kind of experience have you had at the SHAC?