Patrice Fuller ’16 grew up in Oregon. Her school and community have always been mostly white, so Pacific University didn’t come as a huge surprise.
For Ashlee Rivers ’14, though, the Pacific Northwest was something of a shock.
She grew up in Los Angeles and chose Pacific on the strength of its pre-med reputation and the financial aid package she was offered. She came to Forest Grove as a freshman without visiting in advance.
“I got here and I was, like, ‘Whoa, what’s happening?’”
Pacific University is home to about 25 undergraduate students who identify as African-American, and that includes an influx of about 15 freshmen in 2013-2014.
Though the university has a history of a strong black population in the 1960s and an active Black Student Union into the 1970s, both Fuller and Rivers have struggled to re-start the club in the past several years.
This year, though, they have found success, supported by Yashica Island, director of the Pacific Leadership Academy and adviser for the club, as well as a core of about eight student members in the newly reinvigorated BSU.