Connections that Last a Lifetime

Timmy was born and raised in the small town of Philomath, Oregon. By small town he means that his entire high school student body could fit into the Columbia 150 lecture hall. As his first day approached, Timmy grew nervous. He didn’t know too many people who would be coming with him to University of Oregon and the large class sizes typical of lower-division courses seemed intimidating. In the summer before moving to Eugene, Timmy signed up for the Hip-Hop & Politics of Race FIG. It was the first thing that jumped out at him from the vast list of FIG options. Timmy knew he wanted to be in the business school eventually, but hip-hop had always been a passion of his so he did what we all hope to be brave enough to do - he followed his heart.

The first day of school arrived and Timmy felt at ease as he walked into his 200-person lecture hall. He had already met students in his FIG a few days before at FIG Friday and saw familiar faces as he found a seat. As cheesy as it sounds, the FIG changed Timmy. He explained, “While I took the FIG mostly for the hip-hop aspect, the Intro to Ethnic Studies class was the most impactful part of the FIG for me. I felt that it changed my perspective as a student and person for the better.” Timmy is a great example of how FIGs can be used to complement a primary field of study. He will be graduating in June 2017 with a major in Finance and a minor in music. Timmy credits pursuing his passion for music to his FIG experience. He is certain that he would not have even considered a music minor if he hadn’t been exposed to it early in his college career.

After fall ended Timmy remained close to the other students in his FIG as well as his FIG Assistant, Brandon Parry. There was one friendship that developed that Timmy did not expect: he became close to his FIG Professor Loren Kajikawa. Timmy knew that he liked Professor Kajikawa’s teaching style. His integration of live demos and engaging class discussion questions gelled well with Timmy's learning style. He felt so captivated with the course material that despite his nerves, he spoke up in his 200-person lecture hall. Timmy believes that his ability to feel comfortable raising his hand in that large lecture was the result of the weekly small class environment that his FIG provided. After the term ended, Professor Kajikawa worked with Timmy on a research project about hip hop’s response to the criminal justice system.

Timmy and Professor Kajikawa remain close to this day and can be found playing basketball together, alongside Timmy’s FIG Assistant, Brandon. Timmy stressed that one of the things he is most grateful for is the friendships he has fostered with faculty members through this program. He has gained close friendships with his other FIG Faculty members as well - Prof. Larry Wayte and Prof. Andre Sirois. He especially enjoys arguing with Andre about basketball during the playoffs.

Being in a FIG was a highlight of Timmy’s first year at the University of Oregon. He enjoyed it so much that he became a FIG Assistant himself. He felt that the experience made him a more outgoing person and helped him to develop his leadership skills. Being a FIG Assistant allowed him to feel comfortable in all sorts of social environments but what he values most is the lessons he learned in how to be a good teacher. He strongly believes that no matter what you do in life, you will find yourself in the position of being a teacher at some point and he appreciates that the FIG Program gave him the opportunity to explore that skill early.

Timmy is leaving the program feeling confident that it is in capable hands. One of the people who will be continuing with the FIG Program is Alex Bellizzi, a student Timmy worked with in his first year as a FIG Assistant for Social Progress, Social Change. Timmy recalls Alex being the first student to email a response to his fall welcome letter. He knew from that first email that Alex was going to be a great student. He was right, Alex took the theme of the FIG and applied it to his studies and his life. After fall term, Timmy recommended Alex to be a FIG Assistant and they grew to be friends. He has enjoyed watching Alex grow into the student leader he is today and is happy to have been able to play a small part in his college journey. Alex is headed into his senior year and is the current FIG Assistant for Social Progress, Social Change. Timmy believes this program is successful because of students like Alex who go above and beyond to welcome students to their new community and because of the administrative leadership who work quietly behind the scenes to create a genuinely cool experience for incoming students. If he could keep this job forever, he would.