PSU students persevere

Tales of Transformation at Portland State from Portland State University on Vimeo.

PSU students are jumpstarting a new life they've imagined for themselves and their families. No matter what obstacles they may face today, they are "all in" on achieving big goals and aspirations.

"Stuttering has been laughed at for years. My message: The joke's over."

Sulema Rodriguez is living proof of what people who stutter can achieve. As a Speech and Hearing Sciences major, she learned that stuttering is not what it seems. Not a sign of lesser intelligence. Not a badge of inferiority. And most of all, not something to be laughed at. What is it then? A neurologially-based speech disorder. One that’s treatable with therapy and understanding. And that’s Sulema’s life mission – to spread the word and educate the world.

"A 7-story fall broke my back. But it won't break my will."

Jimmy Pierce landed in this wheelchair after falling seven stories. It wasn’t the life he ever imagined for himself, especially as a former electrical lineman. But rather that take his fate sitting down, he’s embraced it and used it as motivation to achieve, overcome and arrive at a new destination. Now he’s on his way to becoming a Mechanical Engineer – meanwhile overseeing the PSU machine shop, running his own small business, and still finding the time to be a devoted husband and athlete.


"I can conquer anything with PSU by my side."

Hannah Tomeo thought that money would be the biggest hurdle she faced during college. But when life threw depression in her way, PSU stepped in and helped Hannah get back on her feet. Now she’s running again, studying hard, and determined to show young Native Americans that it’s possible to earn a college degree despite the obstacles.


"Some see a punk rocker. Others a business major. She just sees Daddy."

Jeff Martinez is a PSU business major, single dad, and punk rock musician, hellbent on creating a better life for himself and his daughter.

Musician Jeff Martinez's dream is to get into event management, and in the process forge a better life for himself and his daughter.

Jeff was content playing gigs and living the punk rock life until his daughter Lily came along. Now he’s on track to achieve a trifecta: The first in his family to go to college. A career in event management. And a brighter future for himself and his daughter.


"I'm working on a major tech innovation. Gender equality."

Aleena Watson is living proof that women can excel in high tech, given the opportunity and encouragement. She is putting herself through college, double majoring in computer science and math. Her dream? Proving everyone wrong by one day becoming a successful tech leader and industry role model for women.

Aleena has heard for years that she can’t. Can’t be a computer science engineer. Can’t succeed in a field that’s 99% men. Can’t transcend her past as a foster child in Hawai’i. Her dream? To become a role model for women worldwide, giving them the encouragement and opportunities to succeed in tech.


"Contaminated rivers, we're sending you to detox."

PSU Ph.D. candidate in wastewater engineering Bashar Al-Daomi is mentoring the next generation of water quality engineers, seeking new solutions that are as innovative as they are affordable.

Bashar Al-Daomi experienced the horrific effects of toxic rivers in his native Iraq. Now he’s helping mentor the next generation of water quality engineers, driven to find innovative and affordable new solutions to world’s wastewater problems.