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Karen Peralta

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Class Year: 2018
Hometown: Houston, Texas
Major: Psychology
Extracurriculars: Gente Latina Unida (GLU), Leading to Engage All Pioneers (LEAP) Coordinator
Overseas study: Australia psychology internship summer program

What three words would you use to describe L&C?

Resourceful, optimistic, complex

What has been your favorite class so far (title and professor)? How did it expand your knowledge?

Visiting Instructor Claire Robison’s Religion/Culture Hindu India has been my favorite class so far. It gave me background context to a culture that I didn’t know much about and how it’s transformed over time. Learning about this allowed me to think critically on how morality, faith, and practices are viewed through different lenses depending on one’s background while reinforcing how Western societies incorrectly criticize and objectify cultures that do not follow the same ideals.

What made you want to come to Lewis & Clark?

When I visited during Pioneer Weekend, the Admissions office and the rest of the L&C staff made me feel extremely welcomed. I felt that it was the perfect place to start fresh in a new environment that would challenge me in every way possible.

Where do you find community at Lewis & Clark?

I find community within the Department of Inclusion and Multicultural Engagement (IME) and in the mail room. Former IME Director Nathan Baptist was my first impression of L&C. He did such a great job of rebooting the department and building a community for the underrepresented students at L&C, something I know Angela Buck will continue this upcoming year as interim director. Besides the great people I’ve met through LEAP and IME’s events, the mail room staff and students have become like a small family to me. Most likely due to the communal and open nature of the work we do, the mail room has become a place where I feel at home surrounded by people who care about me.

What’s your favorite spot on campus?

My favorite spot is Václev Havel’s Place because it’s nice and peaceful. Hardly anyone goes there!

Have you had the opportunity to do research with a professor? What did you learn from that experience?

I was part of Associate Professor Jennifer LaBounty’s child development lab. I learned how to articulate some of the material I’ve learned in my psychology courses as well as discuss them with others to come to an agreement. It was also an eye-opening experience in seeing how much work goes into performing your own research.

What’s your favorite thing about living in Portland?

I love exploring places! I feel like there’s always a new place that will surprise me. I can have the best of both worlds— the city life as well as the nature aspect which is truly beautiful. Portland is in a great location!

What’s your best Lewis & Clark memory so far?

The first IME College Outdoors Trip. It was the first time when the environment felt like home to me. I attribute that to the small activities we did as a group and the level of vulnerability people were willing to bring to the table.

How do you manage stress?

I have what I like to call “Karen Days” in which I take a day all to myself to recharge and do whatever I like without worrying about the stressors. This could be just having a day in my PJs with food and Netflix, a day of hiking and exercise, a day to explore the city, or a night of dancing with friends.

Do you have a job on campus? If so, how do you fit work into your schedule?

I’ve had a number of jobs during my time at L&C, both as an overnight host during my first year to working as a Student Life intern in the Career Center. This past semester was the most difficult as I was working in the mailroom, the Career Center, and also doing yardwork off campus to save money, all while stressing over my summer internships and finals. I was able to fit it all in by prioritizing and extreme planning via Google Calendar and some honest reflection on what my priorities were and what my body could handle.

What advice do you have for prospective students?

Really think about your priorities and whether or not L&C will be able to match them. I truly encourage students to challenge themselves if they are on the fence between schools. I was able to gain a whole new perspective by going out-of-state to a school that had a completely different environment than what I was accustomed to back home.

How has Lewis & Clark changed you?

It’s given me the opportunities and resources I needed to gain a new perspective in life and truly become independent. Although I was homesick during my first year, I was able to see how L&C was a step in the right direction of growing up, which made me become more motivated to encourage others to take advantage of the opportunities available.

Why did you want to study overseas?

I wanted to study overseas to experience a new environment and gain a different cultural perspective. More specifically, I wanted to see how well I could adapt to a new country, witness something new, and notice the differences and similarities between two different cultures and how they affect my personality, my way of thinking, and my interactions. I had never left the country before studying abroad, so having the opportunity to fulfill one of my life goals while continuing my education was a dream come true.

What did your overseas program mean to you and your L&C experience?

Studying abroad was a way of continuing both my educational and personal growth. My time overseas was one filled with great learning experiences, wonderful friendships, and unforgettable memories. The program in Australia gave me insight into my career goals as a psychology major and taught me a lot about Australian history that isn’t as well known. I like to believe that my transition to L&C from Houston, Texas, prepared me for my time abroad—I was able to feel confident in meeting new people, navigating around the city, taking difficult classes, and working in a unique organization. I am now able to say I received the most out of my time at L&C by having taken advantage of all the opportunities available and living up to the “explorer” nature of L&C students.

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