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Wilondja Mashimango

Portland State University, Class of 2022

Criminology and Criminal Justice

Why did you choose your major?

I am majoring in Criminology and Criminal Justice to somehow become a civil lawyer in the future. One of the biggest reasons why I was led to become a Civil Lawyer is to address the lack of equality throughout the world. Equality is an important concept that is a worldwide concern, but it is not seriously discussed enough worldwide. As human beings, everyone should have an equal opportunity to make their most of lives, freedom to choose a way of making a living, and to live a peaceful and happiness life with harmony and dignity.

I have learned even though many countries, including America, have made huge progress toward more social equality; there still remain a lot of social inequalities concerning people with particular characteristics including: race, religion, gender, and disabilities. I believe that by educating the world’s youth of today (tomorrow’s future) about the similarities among all human beings, the importance of taking time to get to know and understand the differences among all human beings, and then recognizing the worth and dignity of all human beings, there will be an increase in more serious conversations concerning “EQUALITY.”

What did you think about college before you attended?

I was panicked. There is no way I could think of myself being a college student. Every time I drive pass PSU, I never see myself belonging to such a place. Also, in term of language wise, I was so far from seeing myself experiencing such life and I have to admit that it was not easy at first but then I kind found myself pulling through as the time proceeded with strong support from such programs and organizations here at PSU.

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

As I mentioned, it was not easy since no one that I know in my family ever went to college. So, I did not have someone to look up to or to sort gets me prepare for such a journey. I was fortunate enough to be a recipient of one of the scholarship called the Diversity Scholarship Program, and was given a whole week head start before class began back in fall of 2018. So, now I am like the leader in my house, but that is where another program lays at. My parents never went to school and now that I am busy; they somehow think that I am exaggerating. I understand that because it is not easy for them to understand how things move here, especially with the fact that they never went to college.

What do you love about Portland State?

I like that I am exploring many new opportunities and that I now feel a little more comfortable with school yet not comfortable enough since I still have a lot to finish. I like the university itself. I have many programs within the university that I can go to, for that where I somehow can feel that sense of belonging when I am here on campus. Living on the campus is another thing that I like because it got me more connected to the university and kind learn and know more about it.

How was the experience of starting somewhere new?

It is always true that when you start something new, it is not always fun. It comes with a lot of things to sacrifice. I struggled a lot around here when I started. I did get that one week training but still was not enough to meet all the needs that came up along as the days went by. This was especially true in terms of getting to classes and places where I was required to be, like at the financial office, etc. The map was there but yet not enough to well recognize and as the results, I was coming late to classes and falling behind. Furthermore, I came up to realizing that the language here and the language that I was getting used to in high school were different. The current one was more advanced in both, reading and speaking. So, in my lecture classes that was kind of the issue but I learned to get used to it and did seek a lots of help from my professors and was slowly finding my way through as the time proceeded


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

I have taken one class that I have found it to be so interesting and I think it is partly because it lays much toward what I want to do in the future. It is also my Freshman Inquiry class so that was pretty interesting. It is called Migration and Belonging class and is a university studies’ class. I am truly enjoying it and sad that we are reaching to the end. It has been an amazing year.

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

As I mentioned before that I had a one week head start and that kind introduced me to the life of being a college student. This program gave me the insights that kind describe what a college student would be like, and I found that to be super helpful for me as a first generation here at PSU.

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

In addition to attending the Beat the Odds ceremony back in the mid 2018 at the Oregon Zoo, a meeting which I was blessed enough to meet Stephanie Fowler and Irving Levin the Renaissance scholarship provider for the very first time, I have also attended a number of the Renaissance Scholarship Brunches. It was amazing to always have to spend the time with the scholarship providers and actually talk to them and express in person on how the fund is making a huge impact and is super helpful as well as fellow recipients. Some of the recipients were familiar while others were new to me as I got the chance to make new connections and add new people into my life. Not to forget the food; it was always so delicious and fun having to eat around amazing people. 

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

For me, as a first generation student, it kind made sense, especially with the fact that it is called the Renaissance. Renaissance means to be reborn, to start something new, so as an equivalent to myself start something new and huge in my life through the help of a scholarship program called Renaissance, it felt so untrue and amazing. I am so appreciative of this scholarship program. I want to say thank you once again for making this scholarship available for people like myself. I can’t see myself where I am today without the help from this scholarship.


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

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