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A student examines a fossil in a laboratory setting

IB students receive COS scholarships

By Debbie Farris

Andrea Villalpando examines a mammoth tooth. Students in Rebecca Terry's paleobiology class at Oregon State University had the rare opportunity to work with mammoth bones and other fragments found at a dig near Reser Stadium.

Biology sophomore Andrea Villalpando had made up her mind not to return to Oregon State after her freshman year ended. Then she found out she had won the $4,000 Rose Hills scholarship last summer.

“The scholarship helped me to return to OSU and continue my studies,” says Villalpando. “I struggled with tuition costs in my first year and luckily my parents were able to pay that. I wouldn’t have any way to come back if I didn’t have the scholarship. The money helped to defray tuition costs.”

Undergraduate students in the College of Science with a current mailing address in Southern California are eligible to apply for the competitive Rose Hills scholarship. Villalpando, whose parents are originally from Mexico, grew up in the largely Hispanic town of Pico Rivera in southeastern Los Angeles county.

The Rose Hills Scholarship was just one of 223 scholarships awarded by the College of Science to 200-plus undergraduates for the 2014-15 school year. The College awarded more than $475,000 in scholarships to science students. In addition, roughly one-third of the 1,019 incoming students in the College of Science received university scholarships totaling more than $1 million this year.

The merit and need-based (which also have meritorious stipulations) scholarships were a mix of university-level, provost, diversity, college and departmental awards and covered all undergraduate science programs in the College.

“I am very grateful to the University and to our generous scholarship donors for believing in the value of a science education and for investing in our students so they can realize their dreams,” said College of Science Dean Sastry G. Pantula. “We are deeply committed to supporting the success ofall of our students and to preparing the next generation of leaders in science.”

Zoology students, Julia Bingham, McKinley Smith and Sarah Spangler, were each awarded the $8,200 Alex Riazance scholarship. For some students such as Claire Ostertag-Hill, Navid Ziaie and Rafid Chowdhury the scholarships capped high-achieving academic careers at OSU.

Ostertag-Hill, one of two students who won the $7,200 Fred & Mary Brauti Pre-Medical scholarship, is no stranger to awards at OSU. She was also awarded the $3,900 Merrill Family Foundation Scholarship, annually awarded to biology and geosciences students who demonstrate high scholarship and interest in community service.

A triple major in Biology, International Studies (in Biology) and Psychology, Ostertag-Hill has found time in her highly demanding academic schedule to pursue a wide range of volunteer work as well as an internship at a hospital in rural India. In addition to winning College of Science scholarships every year, Ostertag-Hill also enjoys the 4-year University Presidential scholarship that covers over half her tuition.

Ostertag-Hill, whose parents moved to the United States from Germany nine years ago, was recently called for an interview with the highly selective Oregon Health and Science University medical school.

“To qualify for medical school you have to have so many rich experiences to talk about, plus great grades,” says Ostertag-Hill. “I think with the College of Science scholarships, I was able to really focus and do all those things, both academically and in the area of extracurricular activities, that make for a well-rounded applicant. The scholarships have meant everything to me.“

Microbiology senior and Lake Oswego native, Ziaie was awarded the prestigious $4,000 Dean’s Scholarship for 2014-2015. Ziaie has won multiple grants and awards in the College and in his department for his research on mycobacterium infection and its transmission.

Ziaie points out that his scholarships have helped him pursue ambitious research goals in the College of Science.

“My scholarships have offset the cost of taking extra credits. They can be expensive as each course credit costs nearly $300. This term and the next, I am taking 19 credits and a lot of them are research credits that will help me focus heavily on lab research,” says Ziaie.

Physics and mathematics junior Chowdhury exemplifies OSU’s commitment to attract, retain and mentor exemplary diversity students. He was awarded a total of $25,000 through the Nicodemus prize, the Science Scholars award and University-level international programs scholarships.

An international student from Bangladesh, Chowdhury maintains both a stellar record of academic excellence and a highly active profile as a student teacher and leader on campus; he is a TA for undergraduate physics courses and an academic mentor, tutor and coach for new students at various academic success coaching programs on campus.

“Because of the scholarships, there is always an incentive to work harder, to always keep on improving and, hopefully, stay at where I am in terms of academic excellence. At the same time, it pushes me to do other stuff on campus, because that, too, is part of the college experience,” says Chowdhury.

Chowdhury credits various mentors in the College and at OSU for his long list of scholarships. “There is an enormous amount of help available from advisors in the College of Science and in OSU in general in getting those scholarships. I have even had my application proofread at the writing center which was very useful,” says Chowdhury.

With application deadlines approaching in February, the College of Science is gearing up for next year’s awards and scholarships.

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