A McNair Scholar goes West

Cierra LaBelle recently traveled to Oregon to visit Oregon State University. As a McNair Scholar, Cierra was eligible for assistance with this travel, allowing her an opportunity to visit the campus of a graduate school and meet with faculty and graduate school staff to learn about her program of interest. Read about her experience here:

LaBelle OSU

A Trip “Out West”

The quaint little city of Corvallis, Oregon is home to Oregon State University. While near the edge of town, a corner of campus is nestled into a part of downtown Corvallis. This street full of coffee shops, bars, and local restaurants greatly reminded me of our own Third Street. The town of Corvallis is home to about 50,000 people, without the student population, which adds another 25,000 people to the area. But you would never guess that there are that many people in the town. Driving through the streets, the town wasn’t any busier than streets here in Marquette, and there were no “city sounds” that come with bigger towns. Corvallis is nicely located about 2 hours south of Portland, and an hour or so from the Pacific coast.

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It was great to leave the barren snow tundra that was Marquette in April for the green of Oregon. I flew into Portland and had a two hour drive to get used to the green, and the wet. It rained on and off for the drive from Portland to Corvallis, but was surprisingly nice for the rest of the trip. I was expecting rain most of my time there, and apparently so were the people in the Graduate School Office; an umbrella was included in the bag of information given to the potential students.

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Compared to Northern, OSU is huge. There are two, yes two, quads; one associated with the student union, the other sitting in front of the library. The other buildings sit squeezed into the surrounding blocks, giving way to the sports complexes. While campus is large, when walking on campus, it feels small, almost compact. This feeling is most likely due to the small spaces between the buildings. Unlike Northern’s large walkways, there are sidewalk sized spaces between the buildings. The buildings themselves are beautiful. Most are part of the original campus and show it. The buildings proudly display their original purpose, like the Women’s Building above, or Waldo Hall, which can be seen in the below photo, and is called the Hogwarts building by students.

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I went to campus to visit the Zoology Department, now the Integrative Biology Department. The department is housed in Cordley Hall. Professor’s offices mingle with labs full of equipment. I was able to get a tour of the department by one of the Ph.D. candidates. She’s working on a large scale environmental project, while others in the department are working on projects that focus on a smaller scale. That scale is what defines this type of program. It draws people with many different interests, giving way to diverse groups of colleagues. The Ph.D. program sounds like it is a great program. Candidates are guaranteed a Teaching Assistant position for 5 years, and it is usually continued for the 6th year. Graduation for most students is after that 6th year.

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