Spurring Success: Undergraduate Business Programs at Portland State

Before joining the Navy, I could have never gone to college. I didn’t have the discipline. I didn’t have the focus. I barely graduated high school. Failed math. And now my degree is quantitative economics and finance. I came here when I was 19 from northwest part of China. Being away from my family, it is hard, but I want to pursue my dream. When I was 12 years old, we lost our dad and my mom and brothers and sister had to look for a better life. The School of Business mission is to redefine business and transform lives. And what you’re really seeing now is that a lot of businesses and companies are really realizing that the success of their business really lies in having diverse talent and diverse people working in their businesses. My mom, as a single mom, had to work sometimes three to four jobs to try to keep a roof over our heads. Seeing that for me, it was an inspiration to want to attend college and I knew that if I wanted to help my family, it was understanding how money really works and how it impacts people in community. Our students are increasingly diverse and from traditionally underrepresented backgrounds. And the students who are experiencing financial hardship are in critical moments, moments where we can step in and help. After last year’s summer term something dramatic happened in my life and then I lost financial support overnight and I didn’t know what to do. I joined the Atmos program and I went in there, I asked for help. I explained my situation what happened and then they offered help me with my tuition. They create this environment that makes me feel so welcome. And then if I face difficulty, they’re there for me. Atmos is a program specifically for historically underrepresented business students of color. We’re anything from financial support to academic support to career support. What really changed my experience here at PSU was being referred to the Dean’s Future Leaders program where I met my mentor, Associate Dean Erica Wagner. When I shared with her my story and she told me that I wasn’t gonna do this alone, that right there made it more real for me and really solidified my goal, my goal of attending college and eventually law school. The financial hardship program is open to all business students when they’re facing a moment of financial need. We’ve partnered with the Resource Center for Students with Children to help pay child care expenses as well as pay for tuition, provide money for students who need money for rent. Recipients of the hardship fund program have either been retained or graduated at 88%, which is significantly higher than that of the general population. So we know that it’s working. Here at Portland State I have professors who I can meet in their office hours. We can talk about finance and economics and they’re engaged. I’m allowed to challenge ideas and that fits my personality as a natural rebel, that I like to question the status quo and be bold. Having that really leads me to want to seek out more school, and possibly pursue an MBA or a graduate degree. The Dean’s Future Leaders program, we receive mentorship from Associate Dean Erica Wagner. She connect me with professionals in the community. She also helped me get my first legal internship. My future career goal is I want to be like a product developer or buyer. Because of Professor Wong and the supply chain job fair, I got to connect with SEKO Logisitcs. Being at college with a family really just inspired me to work harder I get to essentially build a foundation, a legacy for my daughter. However high I can get is where she can start. Success for our students is transformative in the reality that it not only changes their lives, but it changes our community. Businesses are changing, society is changing, our world is looking very different. And so as we progress, as we grow, as we build, we’re going to be seeing a representation of our actual world being shown in our classrooms. [Announcer: Luis Patron Diaz] So my hope is to attend law school and eventually work in a field where I can utilize my finance education. But also somewhere in politics maybe. I believe the knowledge and skills we have gained here at Portland State University are a powerful tool that we can utilize to fight corruption, illiteracy, racism, sexism and inequality of income. The key to a better future is in our hands and we must put it to work.

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