Western Oregon University announces Congresswoman Andrea Salinas as commencement speaker

Pictured: Congresswoman Andrea Salinas.

MONMOUTH, Ore.Western Oregon University announces its 2024 commencement on Saturday, June 15 at 10 a.m. on the MacArthur Field. Over 1,237 students are eligible to walk across the stage and graduate, completing a significant milestone in their lives. Nearly 50 percent of Western students are first-generation, meaning they are the first in their families to graduate with a four-year degree.

A first-generation student herself, Western is proud to announce its commencement speaker, Congresswoman Andrea Salinas. Salinas, the daughter of a Mexican immigrant, is one of the first Latinas to represent Oregon in Congress. After putting herself through college, Salinas pursued public service as a congressional aide and policy advisor, as well as an advocate for labor unions, environmental groups, and reproductive rights organizations. In 2017, she was appointed to the Oregon House of Representatives and served through the end of her term in 2022. In the Oregon House of Representatives, she served as House Majority Whip and was the Chair of the House Health Care Committee.

In Congress, Salinas is proud to serve on the House Agriculture and House Science, Space, and Technology Committees, where she crafts policies that will help level the playing field for Oregon farmers and rural communities and create more good-paying, union jobs. As Co-Chair of the bipartisan Mental Health Caucus, she has prioritized making mental health care and addiction treatment more accessible and affordable.

“We are honored to welcome Congresswoman Salinas as the keynote speaker for this year’s commencement ceremony,” remarked President Jesse Peters. “As both a first-generation American and a first-generation college student herself, she understands the transformative power of education. Her remarks will undoubtedly inspire our graduates, highlighting the possibilities that lie ahead for them. Western Oregon University is the only four-year public university serving her district. We value her advocacy for higher education and the support she has extended to our university.”

“As a first-generation college student myself, I am so grateful for the opportunity to speak at this year’s commencement ceremony,” said Rep. Salinas. “Growing up, my parents taught me the importance of hard work, perseverance, and community—the very same values that Western instills in each and every one of its students. I know these graduates have the skills they need to succeed, and I look forward to congratulating the Class of 2024 as they take the next big step into the future.”


About Western Oregon University

Western Oregon University, established in Monmouth in 1856, proudly stands as Oregon’s oldest public university. Hosting around 4,000 students, Western embodies a mid-sized, NCAA Division II institution, with approximately 80% of its students hailing from within the state. Notably, its diverse student body comprises individuals from underrepresented backgrounds, veterans, and non-traditional learners. Western stands as the preferred campus in Oregon for those pursuing an enriching education within a nurturing, student-focused environment, characterized by faculty-led instruction.  Together we succeed.

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