LA GRANDE, Ore. – Higher education is a long, expensive endeavor, and scholarships can make all the difference when it comes to student success. For three Eastern Oregon University students, the Mercer Family Foundation is rewarding their efforts.
EOU Math majors Noah Chaney (left), Hailey Hochhalter (center), and Savannah Shorts (right) have each received a $7,500 yearly scholarship from the Mercer Family Foundation in recognition of their academic achievements.
“The Mercer Family does a whole bunch of stuff under the umbrella of the Mercer Family Foundation, but they have some interest in mathematics and physics in particular. They want to encourage mathematical studies in the state of Oregon at the collegiate level,” Professor of Math Amy Yielding said.
The first EOU student to receive the scholarship was Shelby Greb for the 2019-20 academic year. The 2022-23 academic year will be the first instance of more than one EOU student receiving the scholarship.
“All three of these individuals are already amazing students to begin with. Noah is president of both the math and the computer science club, and he is one of the gaming club officers. Savannah Shorts is the president of the trapshooting club and Hailey was involved with Student Advocates for Gender Equity during the Arts Festival book sale,” Yielding said.
All three students have received prior math and STEM scholarships and plan to pursue related careers. Noah is an ASTEO scholar planning to study game design at Full Sail University after graduation. Both Savannah and Hailey are MESA Scholars with goals of teaching high school mathematics.
“I have always strived for the highest I can possibly go academically in every setting, and I feel extremely relieved I got this scholarship because every now and again I get these feelings of self-doubt. Scholarships like the Mercer Family scholarship really help to snap me back into reality and continue moving forward to achieve my goals,” Chaney said.
Though the students do have goals in mind, the Mercer Family Scholarship only requires recipients to be devoted to, and show prowess in, mathematics as a discipline without a predetermined career plan.
“They need to show evidence that they are really dedicated to the discipline. The Mercer Foundation really wants to make sure they are not giving the scholarship away to people who are not going to work in mathematics . These three students plan on participating in my undergraduate research group this summer and most tutor in the math lab.”
Overall, there is hope that the scholarship will not only help the recipients finish out their academic work at EOU, but alleviate their post education financial burden as they start their careers.
“These kinds of scholarships are awesome, especially when they don’t heavily consider the students’ parents’ finances. It was nice that this is not tied to finances but just the love of math. I am hoping this will allow our students to graduate, get that awesome job that they can always get with a math degree and not have debt,” Yielding said.