Grad Stories

Luis Jimenez


Class of 2024: Luis Jimenez
Business Administration

After earning an associate’s degree in accounting in the mid-2000s, Luis Jimenez put his education on hold. Raising children and focusing on work became his priority. But as his kids grew older, he made a plan to complete a bachelor’s degree. Having worked at U.S. Bank for the past 14 years, Luis brought real-world experience to the classroom. As a client relations consultant, he works with customers to secure loans and mentors new tellers. In a course at OSU-Cascades, an instructor challenged him also to get involved in the community. Recently elected to the Latino Community Association board, Luis is excited to help the organization move forward. “I’ve been blessed with the opportunity to earn my degree,” he said. “Don’t give up, even if you need a pause — just keep investing in yourself.” Luis starts his OSU MBA this fall.


Class of 2024: Nikki Adams
Master of Counseling

After struggling with trauma, depression and addiction for nearly two decades, Nikki Adams reached a turning point when her father passed away. "I was not present. I was busy drinking," she said. "After he died, I realized that if I kept drinking, I would also meet my decline." Nikki drove to see her first counselor at Deschutes County Behavioral Health. "In therapy, I felt seen, heard, validated and cared for," she said. "I began to process my shame and deep grief." Something clicked. Nikki began to heal and became inspired to help others who had survived abuse. She started working as a recovery mentor at a treatment center and earned a bachelor's degree with honors in psychology. "Why stop there?" she thought, and enrolled in the OSU-Cascades Master of Counseling program. "I spent the final year of my master's program coming full circle," said Nikki. "I am now a counselor working in the same agency that first helped me, walking alongside clients seeking their own healing."

Nikki Adams
Katie Stadelman


Class of 2024: Katie Stadelman

Katie Stadelman came to OSU-Cascades with a singular goal: to be ready to apply for graduate school to become a physician assistant. That meant earning excellent grades and gaining hands-on experience in a medical setting, which she accomplished. Katie also wanted to earn a debt-free bachelor's degree. Through scholarships, grants and work-study — she did that, too. While at OSU-Cascades, Katie worked as a physical therapy aide and a TRIO peer mentor, helping students connect with resources and tutoring them in classes such as chemistry. She helped plan the first-generation professionals panel and an annual TEDx event for TRIO students in Portland. Katie plans to starts physician assistant school in the fall of 2025.


Class of 2024: Daniel "Reed" Conway and Cody Hodges
Engineering Science

Reed Conway grew up in Bend from the age of nine. After graduating from Summit High School in 2012, he enrolled in engineering at OSU in Corvallis and completed his first two years. Then, he went on an adventure. Reed moved to Spain to work as a yacht captain. Eventually, he met his English wife, and they had a son. Fatherhood changed everything, and Reed decided to return to Bend and school to complete his engineering degree. The hands-on program at OSU-Cascades allowed him to apply strategies and optimizations with individualized feedback. "OSU-Cascades is a wonderful learning environment," he said. "The small campus is an easy place to create a network of friends and professors."

When Cody Hodges transferred into the engineering science program at OSU-Cascades from the Corvallis campus, he wasn't entirely sure what he wanted to do. He quickly discovered that electrical engineering was the right fit for him. "I like the mental challenge of it," he said. "It's both abstract and concrete, and there is magic in there when you unlock a problem." After graduation, Cody plans to work full-time with DLB Associates, where he will be part of the electrical design team and work on creating databases for large tech companies. His advice to incoming students? "You are at OSU-Cascades for a limited amount of time – make it a connection-rich experience.”

Growing Seaweed in Bend

Reed and Cody took on the challenging task of building an aeroponics system for their capstone project. The system is designed to grow seaweed for an OSU researcher investigating potential uses in pharmaceuticals, in cattle feed supplements to reduce methane emissions, and as an edible crop. Over two semesters, the capstone team meticulously built the entire system, from the electric box and physical frame to the software that monitors water quality and environmental conditions, ensuring optimal growth of the seaweed. 

Students in lab