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SOU-2-You event today

The five member Southern Oregon University delegation that arrived last week Friday and returns to Oregon tonight, talking to local students and parents about what SOU offers in academic and ROTC programs.  [l-r back row] Lt. Col. Travis Lee; Sgt. First Class Joe Watson; ROTC Cadet Alyssa Moutsatson. [l-r front row] SOU director of admissions Kelly Moutsatson; SOU admissions counselor Erin Doering. [photo: FS]
Application fee is waived; out-of state tuition is reduced

Southern Oregon University (SOU) is reducing the out-of-state tuition for students from American Samoa, for the Ashland, Oregon based university, where a student has “a sense of belonging, a sense of community,” according to SOU’s Director of Admissions, Kelly Moutsatson.

The university, which also has a Reserve Officers’ Training Corps (ROTC) program in partnership with the Oregon Army National Guard, is hosting today, from 3p.m to 6p.m at Sadie’s by the Sea hotel, an event where perspective students and their parents can learn more about SOU and ask questions.

Moutsatson arrived last week Friday along with SOU Admissions Counselor Erin Doering, SOU sophomore and ROTC cadet Alyssa Moutsatson, Oregon National Guard Lt. Col. Travis Lee and Oregon National Guard Sgt. First Class Joe Watson for a one-week visit on island sharing with local students what SOU offers in educational and ROTC programs.

In a joint Samoa News/ KSBS-FM interview, Moutsatson, the director of admissions, said SOU which is located at a “fantastic area” — the southern most part of Oregon — is a “great campus” that offers about 36 different majors and over 100 different programs.

“One of the nice things about being a small university of about 6,100 students is that our students have many opportunities. They have unique relationships with their professors,” she explained, and the delegation wants to share with perspective students from American Samoa these opportunities.

SOU is “a place that’s built around family feeling, a place of connection. There’s a family type of feeling at SOU, a sense of belonging, a sense of community. We want to make sure that students feel connected, those are all (our) priorities as a university,” Moutsatson said adding that Ashland, is a small community of about 25,000 as far as permanent residents.

The first step to getting into SOU, is to submit an application, which is also available online [] where the student and/ or parents will be able to get more details. Additionally, SOU is “waiving” the application fee, she said.

Before the delegation departs tonight, they’re hosting the SOU-2-You event, this afternoon at Sadie’s by the Sea, for individuals interested in attending the university.

“And we can talk a little bit more on whether or not this is a good fit [for a student] and how to take those next steps,” she said, such as transcripts, and test scores from SAT, which “I know is a scary topic for many.”

“But I want to encourage students, not to get too hung up on that. We’re really looking at the totality of what a student has and their potential. And sometimes, test scores don’t always reflect that and we’re aware of that. So we’re willing to work with that,” the admissions director said.

She also revealed a reduction in tuition for student from the territory, saying that “we really fought for all of American Samoa regardless of whether the students are born and raised here, or from Samoa or Fiji or New Zealand — they’ll all be able to come in at the reduced tuition and that’s lower than our average out-of-state tuition.”

“So I’m very blessed to have a [SOU] President, whose been able to get behind this initiative and we’re here to share that,” she pointed out.

Doering, the admissions counselor, spoke further on the admission process. “We have what’s call, holistic view,” she said, adding that for admission, SOU requires the official high school transcript, and the SAT or ACT “but we are very understanding that it is a harder test. Your GPA and test score don’t always define the student, don’t show their full capability.”

“So we look at the full picture. We like to know a little bit more about a student. So if they want to get a letter of recommendation, write a personal essay — anything like that, so that we can get to know the student a little bit better,” she explained.

Regarding scholarships, SOU has the “Southern Online Scholarship Application (SOSA)” [] with access to over 80 scholarships. There are also scholarships for international students.

“What I tell students is find a campus that you will feel comfortable in, [and for] the next four years, it will be your home,” Doeing said.

Watson added that SOU also has a ROTC program, which has been in place several years, and the university is “very supportive of the ROTC and ROTC students.”

“And that’s one of the reasons we’re in partnership with SOU and they allow us to come down here … and provide another path for [students] to go to that school,” he said.

“Along with the reduced tuition, we’re going to provide a way to pay for that tuition 100%,” he said. “We’ll provide you [the student] with a free place to stay while you’re on campus, and you focus on your schooling.”

“I think we’re more welcoming to students. SOU is laying out the red carpet for students [from] here and we’re helping them through. It’s unusual for a school to be ...this generous. We’re happy to be a part of [SOU],” he said, and confirmed that cadets coming from high schools under the JROTC program can attend and continue with this military program under the SOU’s ROTC program.

Watson is charged with growing the ROTC program, finding perspective students, while Lee is responsible for oversight. Both men are active duty with the Army National Guard.

Lee confirmed that there are about 4 Polynesian students enrolled with the ROTC program, including Cadet Commander, Jeffery Chun, who was born in Samoa and graduated from a Hawai’i high school.

“He is very good kid, great leader,” he said of Chun, adding that another Polynesian student, and this one is from American Samoa is Simone Sanitoa, a Freshman and “I understand that she is doing very, very well.” (Samoa News notes that Simone’s sister, Savannah also attends SOU; they are the children of Deanna Fuimaono and Larry Sanitoa.)

ROTC program at SOU is “an environment that’s inviting, taking on a family feel to it. Cadets live together at the barracks. It’s kind of a family club-almost atmosphere,” he said.

“What I’ve been telling parents and students in the last 15 years, service is great,” he said. “As a leader, I desire a more rounded educated solider, whether or not the student becomes an officer is irrelevant to me because I want — just like every employer — a more higher educated employee.”

He said the ROTC provides the military experience and discipline, while SOU provides the education.

ROTC cadet Alyssa Moutsatson said SOU’s ROTC program is “kind of a family atmosphere. Its really a unique and amazing experience.” And she joined the program to help further her planned civilian career in law enforcement, which is what’s she is also studying.

While training is “tedious,” she said, it’s also rewarding, because “training comes with discipline” and helps with her academics. “Military taught me time management and also to further myself and show me, what I’m capable of.”