Why did you come to Willamette—and why major in English with a concentration in creative writing?

I decided to come to Willamette for a few different reasons. To start with, I was extremely intrigued by the 3-2 MBA program. After coming for a Bearcat day, I fell in love with the atmosphere—the campus is beautiful!—and I also enjoyed the thought of a small campus and therefore small classes. Before I got to college, I knew that I wanted to do something I loved, and as much as sociology and biology interested me, English wasn’t even a question, especially after I realized I could do it with a focus in creative writing. I haven’t stopped writing and working on new things since I got here. It’s exactly what I wanted.

Please tell me about the internships you’ve gotten and what you’ve learned from them!

Starting January of 2016, I was taken on as a College Advisory Board member for the Ian Somerhalder Foundation, and in the following months I helped with online campaigns focused on sustainable living, especially for college students in dorms. I edited articles that focused on climate and environmental issues and really learned about alternative energy and resources. Thanks to that position, I was introduced to Our Climate’s Put a Price On It campaign working towards a carbon tax. I joined as a field representative, worked on a local level, and rang in 2017 with a fellowship for the organization. So far, I’ve learned about the importance of having a voice and making yourself heard, especially in policy making.

I see you all over campus—supervising at the Bistro, serving on the Multicultural Affairs Committee, and working as a Family Weekend coordinator. But you’ve also explored a lot off campus in Salem, right? What have you found here in town?

For one thing, there is quite a bit more to do than I expected. My friends and I have found this wonderful crepe shop that we find ourselves going to at least two Saturdays a month. There are great thrift and vintage stores that we have been going to since our first year, and we still find new and quirky things when we go. The Elsinore theater plays old movies every once and a while, and I got to see my favorite movie, Casablanca. But by far, my favorite thing to do in town is simply waking up on a Saturday morning, walking a few blocks away from campus, taking in the parks or lack of big city feel, and going to one of the coffee shops.

What piece of advice would you give a prospective WU student and a prospective English major?

Be ready for some curve balls. I came in with some expectations and guesses of what it would be like, and it’s been a completely different experience than I could have ever imagined. It’s not all good or bad but a mix. For the most part, and after some trial and error, I’ve found my “groove,” and most people I know will say the same thing. It may take a while, but Willamette can be home to just about anyone. Same thing goes with the major. For me, it hasn’t exactly gotten easier—just worth the effort. It doesn’t show up at first, but when you compare work from the first semester of your first year to work a year later, there is definitely something to show for the hours put in.

So what’s the future got in store? Where do you want to be five years from now?

Next year, I plan to apply to the MBA Not-for-Profit Management program, so that in about two years I’ll graduate with both BA and MBA degrees. From there, I’d like to be involved with a non-profit organization working towards alternative energy at the national or global levels. Or, in more of an ideal dream situation, I’d be a travel writer focused on Latin America, taking in the cultures and life styles, and maybe starting my own non-profit.

Asalia Arauz
Willamette University


900 State Street
Salem Oregon 97301 U.S.A.

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