Most students know Andrés Oswill ’15 as the president of Willamette’s student government.
But there is much more to Oswill than this position.
“Andrés is responsible and determined,” long-time friend Ivette Flores ’15 says. “He is passionate, intelligent, charismatic and he accomplishes everything he sets his mind to.”
From his work as a politics major and women and gender studies minor, to his extracurricular involvement, those who know him best say Oswill has left a significant impact on the Willamette campus and beyond.
“Anyone would be lucky to have him by their side, as I am lucky to have him in my life,” Flores says.
Working for Students
As president of the Associated Students of Willamette University (ASWU), Oswill is responsible for overseeing his fellow executive officers, coordinating ASWU’s external programs, nominating students to serve on campus-wide committees, and serving as the primary representative to administrative bodies.
“This could be a full-time job, but I’m also supposed to be a student,” Oswill laughs. “There is an infinite amount of things that could be done in a year.”
In fact, Oswill says the most challenging part of the position is recognizing that there is only so much one person can do.
“To be honest, I am completely in love with this position. I could see myself working for years and not running out of projects that I think are important and would love to be involved in.”
One of the best parts of his job is interacting with administrators who don’t work with students on an everyday basis, Oswill says.
“This is something a lot of students don’t get to experience,” he says. “They are really receptive, smart and good at what they do, and it’s cool to be a student who gets the time to interact with them.”
ASWU Vice President Colleen Smyth ’15 says Oswill is a thoughtful leader who is willing to go the extra mile to help others.
“Andrés is very approachable and willing to engage with students,” she says. “Students should know he cares about their concerns and he wants to work on the issues they most care about — like his work on expanding Thanksgiving break.”
Over the years, Oswill was able to impact various aspects of the university, from campus offerings to his fraternity, Phi Delta Theta. Though his projects and interests vary, each opportunity has provided him a chance to learn and lead.
“For me, being a leader simply means being willing to do the work required to get things done, and being mindful of the priorities and perspectives of the people you are representing,” he says. “A leader always has to consider what is best on a holistic level, and keep an eye out for the greater good of the group.”
Having served as president of Queer Student Union (QSU) for two years, Oswill was able to work on many projects — including advocating for sex-neutral bathrooms on campus. These bathrooms were incorporated in the remodeling of Doney, and Oswill is optimistic more will be added across campus in years to come.
“For me, working to make sex-neutral bathrooms a reality was one of the most important educational experiences I had at Willamette,” he says.
Politics professor Sammy Basu, who serves as Oswill’s academic advisor, says Oswill has developed into a strong leader — something that will serve him well in the future.
“I dare say that Andrés could venture down and flourish in all sorts of public and private domains, but especially those involving complex tasks and challenges, disparate groups and interests, and high ethical stakes,” he says.
No matter what avenue he pursues, Oswill says he’s committed to making a difference.
“One of my favorite quotes is from the founder of Phi Delta Theta, Robert Morrison, ‘To do what ought to be done, but would not have been done unless I did it, I thought to be my duty.’
“I want to be able to look at the opportunities I've had and say that I did more good in them than others would have done with those positions,” he says.
Career wise, Oswill is most interested in working in public transportation or city government. He’s also interested in pursuing fellowships for graduate programs.
“I’m completely certain I will not have my career figured out by the end of the school year. But it’s not about having a path, it’s about knowing what the next step is,” he says.
In the meantime, Oswill says he’s trying to take advantage of the opportunities and friendships he has now.
“The thing I'll definitely miss most after Willamette is being surrounded by amazing people my age,” he says. “I think there a lot of things that are really special about college, but the people are definitely at the top of the list for me.”
• Article by Natalie Pate ’15, politics and French and Francophone studies major