Four students pose outside the Lonnie B. Harris Black Cultural Center

Winter 2019 — First-year students at Oregon State University are repeatedly reminded to become involved on campus and develop a supportive community to navigate their academic and professional careers. Honors bioengineering student Trenton Joiner has taken these recommendations to heart. Serving as the vice president for the National Pan-Hellenic Council, leadership liaison at the Lonnie B. Harris Black Cultural Center and Phi Beta Sigma Fraternity chapter president, Joiner understands the positive implications of community, personal growth and diversity.

Trenton Joiner

Trenton Joiner

Joiner, however, did not always value these subjects to the extent he does today and attributes his new-found social consciousness to his time at OSU. “Being at Oregon State has taught me to learn about how other people think,” he says. “I try to understand others first before judging them.”

Engaged in academic programs, Greek life, cultural resource centers and even intramural basketball, he does not shy away from social connections and is involved in over 12 programs and organizations on campus. Through the simple act of walking around campus and interacting with his fellow peers, Joiner often feels that “Oregon State in its entirety” is his community.

His primary motivation for such impressive campus engagement: diversity and representation. He actively participates in organizations for historically underrepresented students, including the National Society for Black Engineers, Louis Stokes Alliance For Minorities Participation (LSAMP), Educational Opportunities Program (EOP), Black Student Union and National Society for Black Engineers.

As many students know, college is often a time for personal growth and self-exploration. Trenton has experienced this kind of individual improvement, first hand. “I have gained a clearer perspective on who I am while being at OSU,” he says. “I’ve been able to understand my flaws, my strengths, my tendencies and what is truly important to me.”

Joiner has developed his character, gained a new perspective on diversity and found an inclusive community where he can continue to grow at OSU. Most importantly, Trenton has acquired a sense of similarity among his fellow peers. “I’ve learned that other people are the same as me, we’re all trying to learn to maneuver in the world, and many of us are striving to be a better person than we were yesterday,” he says.