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David Lemo

Portland State University, Class of 2021

Criminology and Criminal Justice

Why did you choose your major?

I choose CCJ because of how the system is broken. I had seen and had friends get locked up for things they didn’t do or just little charges. I want to be able to help people, that’s why I chose this major.

What did you think about college before you attended?

When I first attended college I was nervous in high school especially my senior year I did pretty bad grades-wise. I lost myself and didn’t really know what I wanted to do. Rafferty saw something in me in high school I didn’t see myself and then I was able to let go and get back to myself.  I then went to PCC and had a mentor Kelly Love and also talked to my high school teacher at Jefferson Rafferty that told me stories about himself while he was in high school. It changed my life now I’m about to graduate college if it wasn’t for those small conversations I don’t know where I would be. Now I would like to say I’m more ready for college than ever and my view has changed. I’ve made college friends with goals and I don’t feel alone anymore. I’ve been exposed to so many good things in college I know what path to major to do.

How do you think being a first generation student has affected your college experience?

It feels amazing because I’ve met others that are just like me and what I've learned is everyone has their own story and there are many ways to tell it. While being at PSU I was able to tell my story and meet other people with similar stories. It affected my experience well because I thought I was alone.

What do you love about PSU?

I still love the food carts and areas like PAC or the MCC.

How was the experience of starting somewhere new?

It’s a step ahead being by yourself on this journey and I learned that it’s okay to fail. It’s okay to be alone because that’s how people build themselves when they are in their own bubble. I was a shy person even now I am still shy but I have to learn it’s just who I am.


What is your favorite subject or class you’ve taken?

My favorite course has to be any CCJ class because I’m learning more and more about how the system is broken.


What has been the most impactful experience during your time in college?

Honestly, it’s the professor and friends for me each day I’m learning about myself by being around people that will challenge me because I like debates.

If you have ever attended our scholarship brunches, how did those go for you?

I’ve been to a couple now and I really do enjoy it. No other scholarship I know brings all the scholars and just gets to know them. Also helps them with connections for their careers or even after done with school they want you around which means a lot to me.

What does it mean to you to have been chosen as a Renaissance Scholar?

It means a lot because years from now I can go back to the website and see my face and name there. I am leaving a legacy behind for if I ever have children plus I can inspire the next generation of people that know me. Knowing where I came from anyone can make it.

Any advice for students applying for the Renaissance Scholars program?

Yes just be yourself everyone has their whole story in your own book. It’s your job to let people know what you;e been through, good or bad. Make to laugh be happy smile some bruises you had are there because yous survived don’t give up.

Anything else you’d like to share?

I like anime and food.

“A person grows up when he’s able to overcome hardships. Protection is important, but there are some things that a person must learn on his own.” – Jiraiya

Are you a Renaissance Scholar? Current scholars and alumni can share their stories here. 

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