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Luis Cervantes Oropeza

Portland State University, Class of 2022

Computer Science

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

Being a first-generation student has definitely affected my college experience in many ways. This was due that everything was new to me I didn’t know what to expect I was just going based on what my High School teachers had told me and following their guide. Something as simple as registering for my first college classes was a journey since I had to clue on how to register for my classes and what classes to take at the time was a struggle for myself.

As well being a first-generation student, you don’t really have anyone to tell you on the do and don’t do in college so I really more on my professors and on my counselor to guide me to achieve my ultimate goal which is to graduate college. Something that I feel that affected me being a first generation was on having someone to guide me on things such as how to take notes on college and how to study in college. This was due that for me the teaching styles from High School and college was very different since in college we do more figuring things out on ourselves while in high school they guide us all the way.

What did you think about college before you attended?

Before attending college, it seemed like something impossible and very stressful. This is due to the fact that as a High School student I was told about college like something impossible and something only smart people were capable of finishing. Especially being a first-generation college student, I didn’t know what to expect and I was just going based on what my High School teachers told me. After finishing my first year in college I realized that it’s not as difficult and impossible as they made it seem rather it was more about working hard and prioritizing my time to study and do homework.

What do you love about Portland State?

What I specifically love about Portland state is the fact that there are so many resources for computer science. Especially since the Computer Science department has its own tutors that we can go to for free whenever we have an error in our code or we just want another person view on our program we can just go there and get the help or the advice that we need. This is really great especially for me since sometimes I might have an error in my code that I can’t figure out and being able to go to the tutors is very much useful since they help me figure out what my error is and teach me debugging skills and show me on how to use debuggers. This resource especially for me a computer science major is what I love about Portland State University. As well another resource that I love that Portland state provides is the Diversity and Multicultural Student Services since being a first generation and a Latino that’s a place where I see people like myself that go through the same obstacles as me and a place where I always feel safe and supported by the people around me. As well they provide resources as computers, calculators and printers which are all great resources.

How was the experience of starting somewhere new?

The experience of starting somewhere new I feel is always terrifying especially since I didn’t know anyone going in or how to navigate the school or where to go for help. When I first started, I felt out of place since it felt that everyone already knew what they were doing while I had no clue where any of the building were located. As well the culture was very different for me since in my High School the majority of the students were Latinos so for me coming to University like Portland State was very much different and the environment wasn’t the same as such when I was in high School. For that reason I felt out of place since for most of my classes I was the only Latino in my class and for me that was very odd however despite that I knew that I belonged there and Portland State made me feel that I did.


What is your favorite class you’ve taken?

My favorite class in Portland State has been my Computer Science classes this is due that every day we learn new and amazing things. Computer Science is my most difficult class however it’s my most favorite since it challenges me the most and makes me use my skills that I have such as coding and problem solving in order to solve the problem, we are given. As well I love a challenge which makes me love this class so much since every programming assignment that we are given challenges me more and more and when my program doesn’t work and I get it to work it’s the best feeling in the world and I love that feeling and that’s why that class is amazing to me in the sense that its difficult but not impossible.

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

Being chosen as a Renaissance Scholar means so much it gives me the opportunity to receive a higher education level and accomplish my dream to graduate from college. As well coming from a low-income family without Renaissance I wouldn’t be able to attend school and pursue a higher education since I wouldn’t have economic support to attend school anymore. Besides the economic support that Renaissance gives me they as well give me the joy and opportunity to continue to learn what I love so much which is Computer Science. Since from a young age I have always wanted to go to college and study Computer Science and Renaissance has made my dream into a reality which is why for me Renaissance represents an opportunity that was given to me.

Anything else you’d like to share?

Being a DACA student and coming from a low-income family as well being a first-generation student college seemed like a long shot and a difficult task but not impossible. The largest barrier being financial support and being a Renaissance Scholar gave me the huge opportunity to attend college and that wouldn’t have been possible without Renaissance. As well to achieve my goal to receive a bachelor’s in computer science and for that I’m extremely grateful and happy to be part of the Renaissance Scholars since it wouldn’t have been possible with our Renaissance.

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

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