As an active member of the army for eight years, Adrianna Guevarra gained cybersecurity and IT experience, an associate’s degree and a broad worldview. When she landed in Bend after leaving the army due to an injury, she was more than ready to pursue a bachelor’s degree in computer science. Adrianna has developed a close bond with her cohort, gained the skills and confidence she was looking for, and has been challenged to think critically. “The professors care about your education, and also prepare you for the future,” she said. As an undergraduate, she’s worked on finding software solutions to help stop human trafficking, to streamline COVID-19 reporting, and to make health care accessible for underrepresented populations. “I like helping humanity with software,” she said. After graduation, Adrianna plans to continue working as a software engineer at Les Schwab Tire Center in Bend.
Glaciers were what brought Sam to Oregon — the idea of snowboarding year-round, pushing his body and board to the next level and beyond. It was incredible — until it wasn’t. He fell into a deep depression, then a manic high. He lost touch with reality, and after putting himself in danger more than once, in 2017 he was diagnosed with bipolar disorder. “In the aftermath, I was so happy to be thinking and feeling like myself again. But I had no direction,” Sam said. While recovering, he took an anatomy and physiology class. With his own having been pushed to the brink, he fell in love with learning about the human body. “I’m going to hit the road after graduation and explore,” he said. “My experience gave me perspective and empathy, and I want to see the world and find places where those skills can be used for the greater good.”
Alastair is passionate about the outdoors, and also about helping people. In the future, he hopes to combine the two as a mental health counselor in a wilderness therapy setting. “Alastair consistently demonstrates compassion for other people,” said kinesiology instructor Tim Burnett. Alastair was the president of the OSU-Cascades cycling club and found his core group of friends through biking. That was an advantage when the pandemic hit — the club was able to go on socially distant rides — allowing for some social connection. In his degree program, he credits the kinesiology faculty members for getting him out of his shell. “It was okay to be wrong,” he said. “No question was a bad question, and as you learn — you gain confidence.”
It’s been a long journey from high school to a bachelor’s degree for Taw Foltz. He grew up on the Warm Springs reservation, the son of a single mother. An accomplished athlete at Madras High School, Taw played college basketball in Portland before an injury sidelined him. He then stopped and started his education for over a decade, but never gave it up – through full-time work, high school coaching, marriage and fatherhood. At age 40, he finished his associate’s degree; at 42, he is completing his bachelor’s degree. After graduation, Taw plans to continue to work for the Confederated Tribes of Warm Springs (Health and Human Services/Prevention), eventually pursing a master’s degree. “My goal is to show local kids that a college education is possible,” he said.
First Shayla tried what came easy to her. She had a knack for styling and coloring her own hair, so she became a hairstylist. Eight years later and she was ready for a change. So she tried something that was harder for her: computer science. “It was really hard. I was amazed when I came through with good grades,” Shayla said. She also came through with a legacy for future women computer science students, having co-founded the OSU-Cascades ACM-W Student Chapter, joined her faculty at K-12 school outreach events and led the development of the CS for Oregon website. Shayla led a team that placed first and earned a $2,000 prize in the OSU College of Business Launch Academy pitch competition with a concept for a web-based course focused on creating startup companies. “There’s a culture in computer science of having to be smart in a way that alienates people,” she said. “That’s not me. I want to bring people like me into the field.”
Originally from Tuscaloosa, Alabama, Hannah McCalpine found her place at OSU-Cascades pretty quickly. “The small campus size made it easier to make friends and connections,” she said. For her independent study project, Hannah examined the role of colorism in the African American community. “Her ability to tease out how colorism becomes internalized in the community is a strong contribution to the field of American studies and to our larger moment,” said Neil Browne, associate professor of English and program coordinator. Inspired by the impact made on her by a high school history teacher, Hannah starts in the Master of Arts in Teaching program at OSU-Cascades this summer. She plans on teaching high school language arts and social studies.
After 15 years of working in restaurants, Shane Welsh is ready to get outside. Inspired by the dynamic nature of the forest and the possibility of always learning something new, the natural resources graduate is pursuing a career with the Forest Service. “I’m looking forward to being out of the kitchen,” he said. Completing his degree was not always an easy road — Shane is a single father, worked two jobs most of the time he was enrolled at OSU-Cascades, and struggled with a few roadblocks along the way. With the help of faculty and staff, he persisted. Shane is the first in his family to earn a bachelor’s degree, and most likely not the last. “I wanted to show my son the importance of higher education,” he said.