Keely Byerley – Portland State University

<b>Keely Byerley</b> – Portland State University

Keely started her collegiate journey at Western Oregon University and transferred to PSU to study community health education. She especially enjoys the courses offered through the School of Public Health.

Portland State University, Class of 2020

Degree: Community Health Education

I love the work that public health officials do for communities and hope to work in aiding those who are underserved.


What do you love about PSU?

My favorite thing about Portland State University is that although I live in Portland, campus is in an entirely different atmosphere and environment that I usually am exposed to. Additionally, PSU has offered some of my favorite classes that I’ve taken that I will always appreciate.

What did you think about college before you attended?

I recently reflected on this as I worked with the high school seniors that I tutor while they went through the process of beginning college; I feel like I was provided very helpful information and resources but lacked an understanding of the college atmosphere. Classes in college are far different from that of high school but I went in prepared with the same work ethic that I had in high school. College has shown me a new sense of determination.

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

As I enter my fourth year of college this fall, as a first-generation college student I feel incredibly grateful. I have come to realize that many students’ parents are affluent enough to pay for their education. Almost equally often, my peers have accepted that taking out large amounts of loans are the only way to pay for their schooling. Having the opportunity to access grants and scholarships to subsidize my education is a major driver in what has kept me in school.

How was the experience of starting somewhere new?

I started my freshman year of college at Western Oregon University. After my transfer to Portland State, it was a huge change. Starting new at PSU was scary at first because I did not feel like I was as offered many opportunities as a transfer student to get involved with the PSU community the way the freshmen tend to be.

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

All of my favorite classes have belonged to the Public Health Education section: Contemporary Issues in Health Ethics and Women, Crime and Justice. I am currently taking an incredibly interesting course called the Philosophy of Sex and Love.

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

This last spring term, I took and (passed!) 20 credits which was by far the biggest challenge that I’ve faced while in college. I work full time and have for nearly my entire college career. Learning to manage all of my work and priorities was difficult but very rewarding.

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

I always enjoy going to the scholarship brunches and having the chance to catch up with my peers as well as the Renaissance team. I feel as though many new students have joined in the past years that I have been a scholar, and I’ve been able to meet a variety of my peer scholars. Being a Renaissance Scholar is the reason that I ever began college and am currently a rising senior. I am grateful to have spent my undergraduate studies while in contact with the Renaissance team and scholars.

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

Being a Renaissance Scholar is the reason that I ever began college and am currently a rising senior. I am grateful to have spent my undergraduate studies while in contact with the Renaissance team and scholars.

Any advice for students applying for the Renaissance Scholars program?

Since my interview with the Renaissance Scholars program nearly four years ago, I have had many interviews since then. Students who apply to this scholarship are being given the opportunity to practice their interviewing skills and be asked essay questions that will allow them to reflect further through their studies.

Anything else you’d like to share?

I spent my past junior year doing an internship for my field of study and gained some of the most helpful information, resources and support from their team. I recommend that other students work to find an internship opportunity if possible.