Name: Phillip J. Rakowski
Undergraduate institution: Linn Benton Community College and Oregon State University
Hometown: Woodburn, Oregon
Why OSU CSSA?: I chose Oregon State University for a few reasons, but most importantly, because I was asked to be a part of the on-campus Collegiate Recovery Community. I am 7 years into recovery from alcoholism and substance abuse.
I arrived at Oregon State with a history of campus leadership at LBCC and immediately became engaged in campus life at the university. I was a founding member of the Collegiate Recovery Community at OSU and a member of the Mental Health Initiative advisory board. I have served as assistant project coordinator for the Men of Color Initiative within OSU's Office of Diversity and Cultural Engagement. The primary goal of this initiative, which focuses on a student population that is typically at risk and that struggles to construct meaningful connections within our university, is to provide mentoring and support to men of color to enhance retention, engagement and success. As a former addict who spent a good portion of my adult life in the corrections system, I understand the value of rehabilitation and the power of restorative programs.
I never thought I would be a part of any type of an institution besides the Department of Corrections until someone took to time to reach out to me and explain how I was a felon, not a failure. Hearing this, I became inspired to start a new life in academia, and ultimately became entrenched in a pro-social institution, instead of one that specializes in behavior management. Being in student affairs is a way for me to learn how to properly articulate my experiences and strengths, and I hope to assist others from similar backgrounds on their way to post-secondary education.