Healthy Economy Healthy People

Air Beneath Their Wings

Five undergraduates — five dreams.

Donor Support
Donor support is critical to the success of these OSU students. From left, Laura Marquez-Loza, Stephen Summers, Hiromi Omatsu, Blake Kelley, Nikki Marshall. (Photos: Jim Folts)

Five undergraduates — five dreams.

Blake Kelley sees a bright future for nuclear power and is learning all he can about reactor designs.

For Hiromi Omatsu, the future is in technology that enables elderly people to stay in their own homes.

Writing is Stephen Summers’ love. He publishes poetry and fiction in OSU’s student literary magazine Prism and hopes to make a living as an author.

After studying the molecular machinery in living cells, Laura Marquez–Loza wants to go to medical school.

And Nikki Marshall’s research with seeds has inspired her to work in environmental restoration and organic farming.

The common thread? Private scholarship support has enabled each to stay in school and pursue his or her goals.

Carmen Steggell, professor in the Department of Design and Human Environment, knows how much that support matters. The recipient of OSU’s Faculty Teaching Excellence Award has seen high–achieving students drop out of school for lack of money. And she has seen students stretch financially to participate in research that opens career doors.

At OSU, students receive about $12 million in private support annually through scholarships, fellowships and other funds managed by the OSU Foundation. Nevertheless, says Steggell, rising expectations (bring a laptop to class; buy software and the latest textbooks) and tuition rates strain student budgets. The trend is national. According to a recent U.S. Department of Education report, “… financial barriers will keep nearly two million low– and middle–income college qualified high school graduates from attending college.” (A Test of Leadership,

Steggell sees the local impact. “You can’t be frugal in the ways that you used to be frugal” she says. “And many of the students I work with are juggling work schedules around their class schedules. For most, it’s going to school money.”

The foundation has set a $100 million goal for endowed and current use scholarship funds in the Campaign for OSU. Here, in their own words, students describe their research and how scholarships have helped them.

Hiromi Omatsu

Hiromi Omatsu
Year and discipline: Senior, Design and Human Environment
Hometown: Kawagoe City, Saitama, Japan
Scholarship: The University Research Awards Program in the College of Health and Human Sciences helped to pay my tuition. Without it, I would have had to work at other jobs. (Note: Hiromi also received a LIFE Scholarship, supported by OSU’s healthy aging research initiative.)
Inspiration: My parents, who allowed me to decide my own future, and my two brothers and my sister (flute repairer, computer systems engineer and embroidery expert), who created their own careers.
Career goal: To conduct research on or to design housing systems that enable elderly people to enjoy life in their own homes.
Academic focus: The technology that people use to monitor health, alert them to medications, detect movement and provide security.

Laura Marquez–Loza

Laura Marquez–Loza
Year and discipline: Senior, Wood Science and Engineering
Hometown: Mexico City, Mexico
Scholarship: The Richardson Scholarship allowed me to go to school. If it had not been for that I would have been unable to pay for college.
Inspiration: My parents, because they have overcome many obstacles together and achieved so much. My grandma has also been an inspiration because she was very independent and ran a successful business to help support her seven children.
Career goal: To apply to medical school and pursue a career in health-related research.
Academic focus: In a plant virology lab, I learned laboratory techniques (how to extract RNA). Last summer, I learned to analyze wood from transgenic poplars, performing macerations and working with imaging techniques to measure fiber lengths.

Blake Kelley

Blake Kelley
Year and discipline: Senior, Nuclear Engineering
Hometown: Grants Pass, Oregon
Scholarship: This year I’ve received 11 scholarships ranging from $500 to $2,500. The Alan H. Robinson Scholarship cemented my financial security, enabling me to focus on schoolwork and research. This also gives me time to prepare for graduate school and a summer internship.
Inspiration: People who teach math and science: my adviser, Todd Palmer; my high school physics and chemistry teacher, Ron Rollins; and my high school calculus teacher, Martin Connelly.
Career goal: Doing research on spent fuel storage, reactor design or radiation detection. I would like to live in an era when the public embraces nuclear power as a clean, longterm energy source.
Academic focus: Using new methods to simulate the response of radiation detectors.

Stephen Summers

Stephen Summers
Year and discipline: Senior, English and Philosophy
Hometown: Canby, Oregon
Scholarship: The Ronald P. Lovell Presidential Scholarship brought me to Oregon State. Without the funding, I wouldn’t have been able to come here and dedicate myself to my studies.
Inspiration: Writers inspire me, because they manage to take some memory from their own lives and transmit it across time and space into something that touches me. My parents inspire me in their wholehearted dedication to my brothers and me. Also, Jesus Christ.
Career goal: To teach literature at the university level. Eventually, I hope to support myself writing crime novels and making public appearances.
Academic focus: I write poetry for myself and fiction for others. I publish contemporary poetry and short fiction in Prism (OSU’s student literary magazine).

Nikki Marshall

Nikki Marshall
Year and discipline: Senior, Bioresource Research
Hometown: Portland, Oregon
Scholarship: The Jaworski Scholarship has opened up opportunities or me in sustainable, organic farming and ecosystem restoration. Financially, it has enabled me to pay for childcare for my daughter. (Note: Marshall has also received the E.R. Jackman Scholarship, support from the Oregon Seed Trade Association and an award from the American Seed Trade Association with Future Seed Executives.)
Inspiration: My daughter Trinity is 8 years old. She is always asking questions and giving me hope.
Career goal: To own a farm and to restore lands harmed by invasive species or toxic chemicals.
Academic focus: I have been learning how to control seeds through heat treatments and consumption by beetles. Seeds of invasive species and other weeds pose problems for agriculture and environmental restoration.

By Nick Houtman

Nick Houtman is director of research communications at OSU and edits Terra, a world of research and creativity at Oregon State University. He has experience in weekly and daily print journalism and university science writing. A native Californian, he lived in Wisconsin and Maine before arriving in Corvallis in 2005.