Tell us a little bit about yourself (name, where you’re from, what brought you to the U.S.)
My name is Paulo Mendes and I'm from Brazil. Originally my biggest dream was to become a soccer player, but in Brazil in order to do that you have to quit school and my family did not want me to quit. I chose to come to the U.S. because I would have a chance of getting a high level education as well as play the sport I love and on top of that learn about a new culture, learn a new language and become more independent.
Why did you choose EvCC?
Location was one of the reasons. I could only commute to EvCC or another community college up north, but after visiting Everett's campus I had no doubt. The atmosphere at Everett is just different. All the interactions I had on my first day with both students and staff were just special. At Everett people will care for you and respect you despite where you come from, how old are you, what you identify as, what religion you follow or not follow and I wanted to be part of this.
What are you studying at EvCC?
I just received my AA on Pre-Physical Therapy at the end of the last Winter quarter.
What have been the biggest challenges you’ve faced as an International student?
My first science classes. I took both biology and chemistry in my first quarters at EvCC and when it came to exams it was very hard for me to succeed on the paragraph (essay) answers kind of tests. I've always been good at multiple choice, but if I had to explain a very technical term in a different language with the time ticking I would struggle.
How have you overcome these challenges? Who has helped you?
I always forced myself to speak in English since my first day in the U.S. A lot of international students meet people from their country and decide to speak their native language. When I came here, despite speaking decent Spanish and meeting a few Portuguese speakers, I've always spoken in English. Everyday I would learn a few words and a couple of expressions. I asked a lot of questions. I wanted to improve my English as much as possible. By the end of my time at EvCC I was helping other international students in their Biology/Chemistry classes.
How have you been involved on campus?
Yes, a lot. I started at EvCC at the end of 2013 and immediately joined the EvCC Men's soccer team, where I had great moments and made great friends. Last fall I played my last year as a captain and today I am a volunteer Assistant Coach. In the fall of 2015 I started a job in Student LIFE and that changed my life. I became the Associate Student Body Vice President of Administration. I was responsible for a few duties such as hiring new student Senators, taking notes during Senate meetings and other administration duties inside Student Government. Jennifer Rhodes, the Associate Dean of Student LIFE, as well as Brittany Padgett, Advisor of Student LIFE, were extremely important for me that year. I was the only member of the executive council that was not on the Senate before. They believed in me and trained me well. I loved that job because of the people I met, the interactions I had and how I was finally feeling a part of what I initially wanted to be. I would show the new students how welcoming and diverse we are at EvCC.
After I great year in 2015-16, I took two new jobs in 2016-17. I became the Trojan Nation Coordinator and a Resident Assistant at the brand new Mountain View Hall (Student Housing). As the Trojan Nation coordinator my goal was to promote the sports and increase the athletic spirit across campus and at the games. In my first month I created a newsletter in which students and staff could sign up to receive updates on all the sports as well as receive some Trojan Nation gear (only students). Before my first month ended, over 100 people signed up to receive the emails. It has always been a pleasure to me to see people all over campus wearing Trojan Nation gear. In the Winter of 2017, my last quarter at EvCC, I decided to go all out. I was at every basketball home game selling gear for parents and giving for free to students that would sign. By the last game of the regular season, we had the biggest crowd I've seen since 2013 at a basketball game and everyone was properly geared up with Trojan Nation shirts and beanies. Despite being very happy about this, my biggest accomplishment as the Trojan Nation Coordinator was winning the 1st Northwest Athletic Conference Mascot Challenge. The competition was on social media and was playoffs style. Every week we would go against other schools, but the problem was most schools had more followers. In the final we defeated Portland CC despite having 10x less followers. Winning $1,000 in athletic scholarships was a great feeling. I had a very good team with me and we did amazing. I would especially thank Richele Blair, Student LIFE Advisor for being my mentor during this time and helping me a lot.
Lastly, but definitely not least, I was also a Resident Assistant in the brand new student housing. It was an experience of a lifetime. I love helping students and I feel like as a RA I impacted a lot of lives, especially of international students. I knew exactly how tough it is to come to the U.S. and I was there for them. One special moment for me was organizing an educational event for our students. I was able to invite the Triangle Alliance Club from EvCC to give a lecture to educate students on the LGBTQIA+ community. Sammie Estremera, President of the club at that moment, did a phenomenal job and the students took a lot from it. I would like to thank Lea Wasson for being the best Housing Director, friend and mentor anybody could ever ask for. I also would like to thank Christine Vazquez and Lindsay Hudson, Student LIFE advisors for all the help and always being there for me.
Share your Occupational Physical Therapy (OPT) experience with us.
I just got a job at Bothell Physical Therapy and am very excited to start. The same special feeling I had coming in to EvCC I had going there and I hope to have just as great of an experience.
What do you plan to do next? (Job, transfer, etc.)
I am currently studying Muscle Activation Techniques (MAT) in Denver - CO, and I should be done with the Specialist Program in February. Flying there once a month is not ideal, but definitely worth it.
Who has helped you succeed at EvCC?
I would say all Student LIFE advisors; Jennifer Rhodes, Brittany Padgett, Richele Blair, Lea Wasson, Christine Vazquez and Lindsay Hudson, as well as my coworkers during my time at ASB Executive Council; Meagan King, Azrael Howell, Austin Johnson and Kellen Syth. I would add a couple teachers there were special to me as well. History teacher Jason Ripper (I actually took three of his classes) and the intellectual conversations we had were actually more valuable to me than any lecture. Social Ethics in Sports with Mike VanQuickenborne (I took two of his classes) was my favorite class ever.
Describe the best experience you had at EvCC?
Winning the mascot competition was great. I had a lot of great moments on the soccer team too, but the best experience was my time in Student LIFE. From the time I got my first job there to the day I moved out of student housing I just had so many great moments full of great people that I can't pick one.
What advice do you have for new students, particularly those coming from other countries?
Embrace your culture while being aware of where you are. What I mean is do not forget where you come from, because this is what makes you special and other people will connect with you because of these special things about you. However, you are in the U.S. to pursue an education and you have to focus on learning the language and the culture in the U.S. to have a higher chance of succeeding in school and future jobs. Sometimes in the U.S. you will feel discriminated against. This is unfortunate and discouraging but remember that for every person hating you for who you are, there will be 1,000 loving you for who you are. So don't give up and take this opportunity because it will change your life for better.