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Minds Move Mountains


hen Amaury Sarmiento visited the University of Oregon campus as a high school junior, he liked what he saw. The scenery, the campus, and the local culture appealed to him. Ultimately, Amaury’s decision to come to the UO was based on the university’s commitment to small classes and personalized education. The median class size is 23 students, and the student-to-teacher ratio is 18:1. Plus, Freshman Interest Groups are themed courses that connect students with faculty and peers who share common interests.

Amaury was also pleased to receive a Diversity Building Scholarship, which rewards students who enhance the educational experience of all students.

The UO’s more than 100 academic programs — many of them ranked among the best in the world — offer choices. Upon entering college, Amaury intended to pursue a business degree, but during his freshman year, he was introduced to the College of Education. The interest it piqued in him led him to change his major to family and human services. He is pursuing a second major in Spanish.

Amaury emphasizes his professors’ commitment to helping students become strong leaders. “They provide a lot of support for their students, and they’re great at networking people. All the classes I’ve taken have shaped who I am.”

Amaury keeps himself busy as a peer adviser at the College of Education, an associate member of the Black Student Union, a volunteer for a program that encourages children to read, and a member of the Delta Upsilon fraternity. He takes advantage of various student services on campus, including the Office of Student Life and the Office of Multicultural Affairs (OMA). “The OMA is useful because they provide advising away from the major department,” he explains, “as well as sending out weekly emails with information on volunteer opportunities, scholarships, and internships.”

One of the highest priorities for the UO is to meet the educational needs of all students by increasing and nurturing the ethnic and cultural diversity of the student body. This goal is based on the belief that we thrive when we’re pushed to see the world differently.

“I’m seeing that there are two kinds of diversity at the UO,” says Amaury. “There’s the ethnic diversity, but there’s also the diversity of personalities and perspectives on this campus. I’m learning a lot in my classes from people with different ideas.”

Like Amaury, Sophomore Diana Aguilar was attracted to the UO’s academic programs, location, and community. “It wasn’t too big and it wasn’t too small,” she explains. “People here just seem very down-to-earth; that’s important.”

Diana, a political science major pursuing a minor in communication studies, received a Presidential Scholarship from the UO’s prestigious Honors College. She is a Multicultural Recruiter for the UO’s Ambassador program and an executive with the Asian Pacific-American Student Union (APASU). She is also involved with Kultura Pilipinas, the Philippine student union.

Ethnic student unions and organizations on campus include the Movimiento Estudiantil Chicanos de Aztlan (MEChA), Black Women of Achievement (BWA), and the Native American Student Union (NASU). With more than 250 student organizations, the UO offers venues of activity and community for people of diverse interests and backgrounds.

Diana advises new students “to put your foot in the door to a lot of the student unions and activities.” Doing so, she says, will allow you to meet new people and to feel more connected to the University.

Amaury tells prospective students, “Don’t limit yourself to your comfort zone. Try to step out of it. This campus will definitely open up your eyes.”

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