“My grandma told me, ‘Education is the ladder,’” said Raven Waldron, a graduate student at Oregon State University’s College of Pharmacy. “That stuck with me, that she always wanted me to go to college.”
In the spring of 2018, Raven earned her bachelor’s in BioResource Research, with a focus on toxicology, and that fall began OSU’s doctoral program in pharmacy. “I was doing environmental research, on environmental toxins, and I was missing that human connection,” said Raven. “I was starting to look into other options where I could use that chemistry knowledge but have more interactions with people.”
To support her studies, BCF awarded Raven the Helen J. and Harold Gilman Smith Scholarship, an endowed scholarship that supports five Native American students at OSU each year. Students may reapply annually, allowing them the chance to receive financial support throughout their education.
“Something that’s been nice about the scholarships and not having to work all the time to pay tuition is I’ve been able to take on additional training opportunities that many students can’t afford to add to their plate,” said Raven, who also stays involved in numerous student organizations. “I took a ten-week course in facilitating dialogue about bias, and that’s been instrumental in helping me feel like I can be the one who teaches healthcare providers the skills they need to start interrupting these biases, to start intervening in situations where we can better serve our patients, and better serve each other as colleagues.”
Raven’s professional goals include addressing the discord between Western medicine and traditional indigenous knowledge, building trust between healthcare providers and Native communities, and bridging the gap between sciences and the humanities.
“Too often, we see science and STEM as the opposite of social sciences, ethnic studies, and activism,” said Raven. “But these seemingly opposing forces are intricately intertwined, and integrating them with one another is crucial to making our world a better place.”
Raven will bring her knowledge and experience to rural and underserved communities after her graduation in 2022.
To learn more about establishing an endowed scholarship at the Benton Community Foundation, contact our team at 541-753-1603.