Portland State University, Class of 2016
Business Management and Leadership & HR Management
How do you think being a first generation student affected your college experience?
There is a huge sense of pride that comes with being a first generation student. I was the first person to graduate from college in my nuclear family and the first women to graduate in my extended family. I believe this changed the path for the future of my daughters not only my ability to better provide for them but the drive they have to attend college themselves. They got to witness the dedication and hard work it required for me and now the benefits of working in a career I love.
What do/did you love about PSU?
I loved the setting of PSU in the middle of a large city but the feeling of a park with trees and a community of people. I loved the relationships I built during my time at PSU.
Were there any people along your collegiate journey that made a special impact on you? How?
There were several professors and advisers that made in impact on my collegiate journey. Receiving feedback about strengths and weakness that I wasn’t aware of myself helped me to learn to be better and guide me towards my true gifts and talents.
What was the most impactful experience during your time in college?
Honestly, the most impactful experiences during my time in college were being a Renaissance Scholar. As a non-traditional student and single mother, I didn’t have anyone at home to hold me accountable. Irving, Stephanie, and Diana taking the time to get to know me on a personal level was huge for me. It gave me a level of accountability and responsibility to succeed and know that if a problem did arise, they were there to problem solve and support me. Their investment in me has altered the course of my life, my children, and the hundreds of families I am able to support through my career path. They connected me with informational interviews within their network to help me sort through exactly what I wanted to pursue when I graduated. They afforded me the opportunity to study abroad, something I had wanted to do since I was a little girl and thought was out of the question when returning school in my 30’s as a single mother. Studying abroad was an amazing growth experience for both my children and me. Diana’s referral to the group I now work with was literally life changing. I am now a part of a team building a business in a very niche market helping families with special needs children with financial planning and love going to work every single day! It means everything to me to have been a Renaissance Scholar. It changed my life indefinitely.
What have you been doing since graduation?
I am the Managing Partner and Special Needs Planner at the Abeona Group. I have been able to combine entrepreneurial skills and my passion for helping other special needs parents navigate the complex world of supporting a child whom has needs that may extend beyond age 18. My oldest daughter, Ashlynn, whom has cerebral palsy just turned 21 and is in a transition to college and work program. My younger daughter, Lily, is a Junior in high school. She is a student athlete on honor roll and “Plans to go to college as soon as she graduates because it’s much harder to do when you are a mom.” (One of the takeaways she learned from watching me balance school, work, and parenting)
How did you adjust to life post-graduation?
I think I did pretty good. I was ready to be done with school and working full time. It was more of a transition for my children that had to adjust to me working and being away from home more.
If you have ever attended our scholarship brunches, how did those go for you?
I love the scholarship brunches! It was fun to hear other scholars talk about their journey. I truly appreciated the opportunity to connect directly to Irving and Stephanie. My favorite memory was my first brunch. We all went around the table, introduced ourselves, and Stephanie and Irving asked us all a bunch of questions. After the last person spoke, Irving asked us if we had any questions for them. No one spoke up so I finally said I have a question. Irving had mentioned he had a few successful businesses. So I asked him, “How did you make your money?” I will never forget the look on his face as he chuckled and said, no has ever asked that question then proceed to humbly explain.