Noemi Guzman ’19: Learning in community

Opportunity funds help Oles access high-impact learning experiences and resources on the Hill. The Raitt Family Opportunity Fund, established by Regent John Raitt P ’12 and his family, especially helps first-generation students like Noemi Guzman ’19 from Chicago to succeed at St. Olaf.

Student Noemi Guzman '19

Noemi Guzman ’19 felt like she belonged at St. Olaf as soon as she stepped foot on campus.

“What drew me to St. Olaf was how I felt when I got here. It felt like I could learn and grow here,” says Guzman.

What Guzman wasn’t expecting was the sense of belonging that she’s felt from her involvement in student organizations — student-initiated and student-run organizations and clubs that include not only diversity celebration programs and academic, religious, athletic, and multicultural groups, but also dozens of special interest groups. The groups are always evolving.

“The most surprising thing about St. Olaf is the variety of different clubs and organizations that the school has to offer,” she says. “There are clubs that fit the needs of everyone.”

“I’ve gotten to know a lot of people from different races, religions, and sexualities, which has led me to become more open-minded in the things that I experience.”

Guzman has contributed to several of the more than 250 student organizations at St. Olaf, including Presente, Vietnamese Organization: Inspiring Cultural Engagement, and Hmong Culture Outreach. Recently Guzman served as co-coordinator of the Latinx Festival, “a festival that was created by Latinx Oles to represent the variety of different Latin American cultures on campus,” she says.

Not only has Guzman found her place on campus through these organizations, but she’s also learned about other St. Olaf students with backgrounds distinct from her own.

“I’ve gotten to know a lot of people from different races, religions, and sexualities, which has led me to become more open-minded in the things that I experience,” says Guzman.

This open-mindedness makes Guzman even more excited about the opportunity to study abroad. “Along with my involvement in clubs on campus, I plan on studying in either London or Ecuador next year,” she says.

For Guzman, who is majoring in English and sociology/anthropology, with a race and ethnic studies concentration, the growth that she’s experienced during her time on the Hill wouldn’t have been possible without the financial aid package that she received.

“If it wasn’t for the financial aid that St. Olaf gave me, I would not be here,” she says. “For me, when it came to deciding where I would attend school, financial aid was the deciding factor.”

After graduating from St. Olaf, Guzman plans to pursue a master’s degree in English or Chicano studies.