Rami Shehadeh '22

Rami Shehadeh is interested in helping people lead healthier lives. The kinesiology major has always had a passion for anatomy, physiology and understanding human movement. He is a student researcher in the biomechanics FORCE Lab and a Layman Fellowship recipient who presented his research at the 2022 OSU-Cascades undergraduate research symposium. His project examined how different styles of running shoes impact a runner's biomechanics, including a focus on ankle range of motion in different shoe styles. In great motion himself, Rami worked full-time to support his studies. OSU-Cascades was the right fit for Rami – the supportive kinesiology faculty and a hands-on environment gave him the kind of experience he greatly values. "The faculty saw my potential and pushed me out of my comfort zone – showing me new ways of solving problems," he said. Rami is applying to physician assistant graduate programs and plans to embark on a career in orthopedic medicine.

Raquel Diaz '22
Human Development and Family Sciences

As far back as elementary school, Raquel Diaz remembers wanting to help younger students. Helping people has always been her calling. Born and raised in Madras, Raquel began her career in human services as a pre-school teacher while earning an associate's degree at Central Oregon Community College. She transferred to OSU-Cascades to complete a degree in human development and family sciences, and for the past four years has also worked full-time at MountainStar Family Relief Nursery in Madras. As a family interventionist, she helps families under high levels of stress find resources like childcare, counseling and basic supplies. Her classes informed the work she was doing, and Raquel brought real-world insight back to the college classroom. "I learned so much about my field, myself and how to implement that knowledge in my work," she said. She recently earned a scholarship to Portland State University where she’ll pursue a graduate certificate in infant/toddler mental health, and then embark on a master’s degree in education. Raquel will attend PSU online allowing her to still serve the Madras community.

Dan Pedersen '22
Business Administration

After 27 years as a professional brewer, Dan Pedersen was ready for a career change. "I told my wife I was too old to go back to school," he said. "But as a lifelong educator, she disagreed." Dan had more credits than he thought from his earlier college days, so he enrolled at Central Oregon Community College and eventually transferred to OSU-Cascades. He chose OSU-Cascades because he wanted an in-person college experience – although COVID-19 had a different plan. There was a silver lining to remote learning – Dan was able to spend more time with his two teenage sons. All three would take their classes remotely before jumping on mountain bikes for a break. "One of the best parts about going back to college was my sons getting to see me do it," said Dan. Previously not that interested in college, his oldest son has been accepted to OSU where he will soon transfer, and his younger son is taking high school honors classes. After graduation, Dan will work for a Certified Public Accountant in Bend while completing an accounting certificate at Eastern Oregon University. "I should be a CPA by the time I’m 60," he laughed. With no plans to truly retire – he’ll have plenty of time for that career, too.

Bob Weed '22
Liberal Studies

After enrolling at Oregon State University 67 years ago, Bob Weed is completing a bachelor's degree at the age of 85. He started in Corvallis in 1955, but after two years decided to transfer to a school in California to become a licensed radio broadcast engineer. He spent the next 35 years working in the radio industry – on-air as the morning man in Lebanon, building a broadcasting studio from the ground up in Albany, and ultimately becoming a senior vice president at the Radio Advertising Bureau in New York City. "When I walked down Park Avenue and saw my name in the lobby of our building, I thought 'not bad for a kid from Myrtle Point, Oregon'," he said. After he retired, he and his wife spent 11 years traveling around the United States in an RV before settling in Bend. Bob always wanted to complete his OSU degree, so one day he stopped by OSU-Cascades when it was on the COCC campus and spoke with then-Vice President Becky Johnson. She encouraged him to go for it. When the new campus opened, Bob made his decision to return. His credits from the 1950s still applied and by fall 2019, he was back in the classroom – navigating online tools like Zoom and other instructional programs as COVID-19 hit. "From the professors to the staff to the overall campus – the support at OSU-Cascades is what stands out to me," he said. On a life-long learning expedition, Bob graduates this Sunday with a Bachelor of Science in Liberal Studies.

Rachel Richards '22
Energy Systems Engineering

When Rachel Richards' grandfather lost his leg to diabetes, he was still strong and wanted to continue adventuring outdoors and tinkering in his shop. The kind of wheelchair he really needed wasn't covered by Medicare, however, and he regularly drained the battery of his standard wheelchair circling his paved courtyard. "I saw him decline dramatically as soon as he realized he would be limited in what he could do," said Rachel. "He lost the will to live." Rachel is determined to make life better for future grandpas. She enrolled in the energy systems engineering program and for her Honors College thesis, explored ways to design and manufacture an all-terrain wheelchair that will cost less than the current Medicare copay for a standard wheelchair. She minimized costs with a sustainable, simpler design that is easier to manufacture than currently available all-terrain wheelchairs. Rachel's business plan keeps overhead costs down through a remote workplace, and partnerships with social nonprofits to bypass the insurance system. After graduation she plans to gain hours toward her professional engineer's license, and eventually patent and prototype her all-terrain wheelchair design. Her grandfather would be proud.