Meet the Panelists

Re-enter and Rebound: Experiences of Justice Impacted Students at PSU

Friday, May 7
4:00 - 5:00pm

Join the Transfer and Returning Student Resource Center (TRSRC), The Justice Impacted Student Group, and PSU’s Higher Education in Prison Program for a special panel featuring justice-impacted undergraduate and graduate students at Portland State University. In this event, formerly incarcerated students share their experiences pursuing education, and talk about the barriers they face, the support resources and systems they found helpful, and what they found lacking. Together we will explore areas of opportunity for institutional support and growth within the justice impacted community at PSU.

Julie Conner, Facilitator

Julie Conner headshot

Julie Conner is a Criminology & Criminal Justice major at PSU with a focus on victim advocating and policy changing within the justice system and a member of the JISG at PSU. “My passion is humanizing those who deal with mental health, drug addiction, and homelessness, and decriminalizing victims.” Fun fact about Julie: She has an amazing three-and-a-half-year-old son and loves doing puzzles and spending time in nature.

Morgan Godvin

Morgan Godvin Headshot

Morgan Godvin is a senior in the OHSU-PSU School of Public Health. As a formerly incarcerated student, she is a constant advocate for other justice-impacted students. She has worked with Senators Wyden and Merkley to increase access to higher education for people with felony convictions on the Federal level and speaks and writes regularly about her experiences and her advocacy.

Robert Northam

Robert Northam Headshot

Robert Northman was born in Portland where he grew up in poverty in inner-Northeast Portland during the 1980s and 1990s. His parents succumbed to drug and alcohol addictions while he was still a young child and he subsequently joined a gang and became involved in criminal activity as a preadolescent. He wound up in foster homes, group homes, juvenile prison, and eventually adult jails, state and federal prisons. He is now a student at PSU where he is working toward his BS in Social Science, with a Civic Leadership minor.

Jenna Williams, Facilitator

Jenna Williams headshot

Jenna is in her first year of the Postsecondary Adult and Continuing Education (PACE) graduate program at PSU. She is also a first-generation transfer student and is a part of the Justice Impacted Student Group (JISG). “I am passionate to mentor students and others while at PSU and am excited to be a part of helping formerly incarcerated students.  I am looking forward to continuing mentoring students and finding my niche in the TRSRC this year.  I am also going after my Ph.D. degree and further assist in mentoring students and working with underrepresented people.” Fun fact about Jenna: She is an avid fitness enthusiast and currently working on getting her personal trainer certificate.

Josefina Ramierz

Josefina Ramierz Headshot

Josefina recently graduated from PSU with a degree in Criminology and Criminal Justice. “As a justice-impacted college graduate, I want to reach out and help others who have been through similar circumstances.”

Shawn Sorensen

Shawn Sorenson headshot

My name is Shawn Sorensen, I am a 37 year old justice impacted scholar nearing 4 years of continuous sobriety.  I am currently living in Ashland, though I am originally California in the Central Valley and have also spent a significant amount of time in both Washington and Oregon.  I graduated Summa Cum Laude from Southern Oregon University in the Spring of 2020. I am now pursuing my first year of the MSW program here at PSU.  I am currently working as a drug and alcohol counselor at an Opioid Treatment Program in Medford, OR.

Coffee & Conversations: Hear from Graduating Transfer and Returning Students! 

Tuesday, April 6
9:00 - 10:00am

Join the TRSRC for two back-to-back student panels, featuring PSU transfer and returning students and peer connection navigators from the Peer Connection Network (PCN)! At each student panel, three superstar transfer and returning students will share their experiences, resources, and advice in navigating higher education. 

Lizzie Jones

Lizzie Jones headshot

Lizzie (she/her) is a Finance major in School of Business Honors program and a transfer from Portland Community College (PCC). Lizzie will also be graduating this spring! Lizzie applies to be a Peer Connection Navigator because it is a great way to connect with people; she's interested in being a pathway to support services since it feels totally overwhelming to join PSU and reach out for help or services if you don't have connections. Lizzie has worked for the Resource Center for Students with Children (RCSC) and Jim Sells Childcare Subsidy. For fun, she practices bouldering and sport climbing, plays the violin and piano, tries to find time to read and paint, and has recently been skateboarding with her dog. 

Lizzie's advice to new transfer students; try to take time to sign up for events and join groups, if possible! Utilize the resources that are out there. It's easy to just go to class and not take part in anything else, but it's truly worthwhile to get out there a little more. I started working in a resource center right away and it helped me transition to life at PSU! 


Michelle Harris

Meet Michelle (she/her), a graduate student in the Conflict Resolution Program at Portland State University (PSU)! Michelle is also a former transfer from Portland Community College (PCC) and a returning student! Michelle is currently a Leadership fellow, works with the Sustainability Center, and used to work in the Office of Financial Aid! Wow! Michelle became a Peer Connection Navigator because she wanted to help end the confusion of school and its resources for students. She loves discovering new things on the PSU campus and in the community. Michelle enjoys baking, sewing, hiking, reading, and research in her spare time! Her favorite spots on campus are the PSU Library, food/coffee, Queer Resource Center (QRC), Science Building, Parks Blocks, Student Health & Counseling (SHAC). 

Jess Lam

Jess Lam headshot

Jess had the experience of returning back to school to finish her undergraduate degree through many hardships and not reaching the academic success minimum. By choosing to be a Peer Connection Navigator, Jess hopes to be able to help other students to avoid having to take a break from their education, or to help them get back on their feet at PSU, to make their college journey a lot easier and enjoyable. Jess has been an Admissions Representative with the Undergraduate Admissions Office, has held leadership positions with Student Activities Leadership Program (SALP), and served as the Programming Assistant at the Native American Student and Community Center (NASCC) Cultural Resource Center (CRC). When Jess is not studying or working, she likes watching movies, especially horror! She also loves food and boba so she would try out new places that recently opened. Traveling and participating in extreme activities, playing games with friends, and lastly, volunteering and being involved in her community is something she also tries to do.




Coffee & Conversations: Hear from Graduating Transfer and Returning Students! 

Tuesday, April 6
10:00 - 11:00am

Join the TRSRC for two back-to-back student panels, featuring PSU transfer and returning students and peer connection navigators from the Peer Connection Network (PCN)! At each student panel, three superstar transfer and returning students will share their experiences, resources, and advice in navigating higher education. 

Evan Batson

Evan Batson, seated cross-legged on platform bed they built

Evan (he/they) is a Chemistry and Spanish Pre-Education Major at PSU who transferred to PSU from Portland Community College! On top of his time with the TRSRC, Evan works as a tutor in the World Languages and Literature Department and volunteers with the Queer Resource Center (QRC), hosting an affinity group called First Year Queers (for students that recently transferred or who needed to take some time away from college).  When Evan isn't in classes, they like baking, learning about dialectal differences in languages, crocheting, and knitting, solving puzzles, and playing board games. Evan plays Animal Crossing daily, and enjoys making anything with their hands.

April Spaccarelli

April Spaccarelli headshot

Meet April, a Social Science major who is both a transfer and returning student at Portland State University (PSU)! April, who transferred from PCC and other institutions. April wanted to be a Peer Conection Navigator because she had been taking classes as a non-degree student at PSU, on and off, over the years. She returned last year, pursuing a degree, after a major loss & change to life. She felt the position of a peer connection navigator would be a good way for me to contribute and help others who may find themselves at PSU due to similar situations.

In her spare time, April likes to garden and hang out in her yard when the weather is nice. “During the winters I usually downhill ski but have been learning to cross country ski this year! Dinners with family and friends and travel are things I always look forward to.”

Rhiannon Millar-Griffin

Rhiannon on skis on top of the mountain!

Rhiannon (she/her) is a Public Health Studies: Community Health Promotion major who transferred to PSU from Beloit College in Wisconsin! Rihannon became a Peer Connection Navigator because she had a less than smooth transition to PSU, and wanted to build a community for others so that instead of seeking that network of support and resources after they need it, it can be more readily available before that point. In her spare time, and since the pandemic, Rhiannon has been enjoying playing the game, ‘Among us,’ in order to socialize with friends, particularly the ones who are far away. “It’s a fun way to do an activity with friends instead of just sitting on video or voice chat! I’ve also been doing watercolors over FaceTime, and enjoy reading in my free time.”

Rhiannon loves to sit in any green space on campus. The library is a favorite of hers, on the third or fourth floor, watching a vortex of cherry blossoms swirl. She also accesses the Disability Resource Center (DRC) and advising services most often.