Scholarships are what make Pacific University possible for many students. Meet a single mom earning her bachelor’s degree in math and the granddaughter of a immigrant farmworker family getting a doctorate in pharmacy.Jenni Luckett | Editor
Eva Forrester ’14 didn’t know how she was going to pay for her final year at Pacific University.
Forrester, a 37-year-old student who transferred from Portland Community College, received an academic scholarship to study mathematics and finance at Pacific.
That went a long way — in fact, it’s what brought her to Pacific.
But it hasn’t solved her long-term challenge: affording housing, food, clothes and the like for herself and two young sons while attending school full time.
The family lives on the cheap. They stay in the Boxer Apartments, just blocks from the Forest Grove Campus. The boys, 8 and 5, go to school nearby and come to Pacific to hang out after class while their mom studies. Forrester is up front with them about the reality of finances, and the family motto is all about teamwork: Everyone pitches in to do chores and help out.
Still, Forrester has been on the brink of dropping out more than once.
“It’s a 100 percent uphill battle,” she said.
Recently, though, she got a piece of good news. She has been awarded the Eva C. Krebs “Make A Difference” Boxer Spirit Award, in honor of the late Pacific University vice president who was so committed to helping students through those rough patches that get in the way of education.
“I was really super shocked to find out I won the award,” Forrester said. “It gave me the boost I needed. It came right on time.”
Scholarships are an increasingly important part of the financial aid package, especially as school loans become a greater burden for students and recent graduates. At Pacific University, donors make education possible for the most in-need students by endowing scholarships, like Krebs’ Boxer Spirit Award. Corporations and foundations also support students with scholarship funds.
Alyssa Tuttle PharmD ’15 received scholarships funded by Albertsons and by Walgreens to help her attend Pacific University.
Tuttle grew up knowing a little something about hard work. Her mother was one of nine children in a family of immigrant farmworkers. She managed to go on to Dartmouth Medical School and become a pediatrician.
“She was the one who taught me to work hard,” Tuttle said.
Tuttle started working at 16, taking a customer service job at Target. When that wasn’t challenging enough for her, she went to work at Victoria’s Secret, where she started in sales and eventually worked up to co-manager. She simultaneously studied full time at the University of California, Fresno, to earn her bachelor’s degree.
Then, she got laid off — and she had to start thinking about what she really wanted to pursue for a career.
Her mother suggested pharmacy, and Tuttle spent four months earning her pharmacy tech license (while still in school full time) and got work at a compounding pharmacy while she finished school. Then, she started looking for graduate programs to become a pharmacist herself.
Pacific, she said, was in a beautiful location and offered an attractive three-year route to a doctorate. Plus, she got not one, but two scholarships to attend.
“Every little bit helps. Anything I can do to decrease the loan amount is beneficial,” she said.