Staff Spotlight: Maria Wehdeking Villarreal

Colombian Graphic Designer, Artist, and Amateur Animator

The image is a headshot photo of Maria Wehdeking Villarreal.


Maria Wehdeking Villarreal, currently a senior at PSU, is studying graphic design while simultaneously producing incredible works of art as a student graphic designer for Campus Rec. Maria’s journey toward continuing education began when she completed her associate’s degree in Colombia, where she was born and raised. In her search for a program that would meet her needs, she realized that she wanted to travel abroad. While visiting her brother, who had relocated to Portland, Oregon in 2018, Maria explored some of the universities in the area. She was intrigued by a university in the heart of the city that had a very welcoming atmosphere when she visited. Lucky for us, Maria realized that Portland State was the fit she was looking for, and started taking classes in the fall of 2019.

Shortly after enrolling at Portland State, Maria joined the Campus Rec marketing team. When she found the job posting, she was extremely excited that everything on the Campus Rec website reflected a fun working environment. This inspired her to apply, and she has been an exceptional addition to the Campus Rec team ever since.

Initially, it was difficult to navigate the workplace as an international student because she did not know the rules and regulations. After over a year of working on the marketing team, Maria explains that the most important skill she has developed through her role as a graphic designer is communication. She has learned to find a balance between staying true to herself and communicating her ideas, while also adapting to the environment at Campus Rec. Maria compared it to completing a puzzle. She found a way to fit in and create content that is tailored to our community without compromising who she is. Maria’s next goal is to work on her organization skills.

When asked what her favorite part of her job is, Maria shares that she enjoys the freedom to express herself. She feels comfortable to create content that she can pour her heart into, and that reflects who she is. Maria encourages all Campus Rec employees to “show your personality and be who you are.” Her advice to other international students is not to let fear hold you back. 

“For international students I would say, don’t be afraid to try!” Maria says. “You may feel like you don’t speak the language very well or you come from a different culture and you can’t be a part of this team, but that is not true. Campus Rec is an open community that receives you with a smile on their face!” 

A big thank you to Maria for finding your fit with us at Campus Rec, and pouring your heart into the inspiring content you create. Be sure to say hello to Maria if you see her around campus. If you are interested in connecting with Maria, you can follow her on Instagram