KU Senior Katherine Rodriguez Earns OSU Presidential Scholarship

Klamath Union High School senior Katherine Rodriguez had no idea about the surprise which was coming her way this past Tuesday morning while she was in her third period class.

The plan had been set. Klamath Union College and Career Coordinator Karla Andrade and KU Counselors Rebecca Pierce and Jennifer Spicher knew about the news awaiting Rodriguez.

Craig Brauner, Admissions Advisor & Campus Visit Coordinator at Oregon State University Cascades, has a custom of visiting schools throughout Oregon, with the catch of surprising students to let them know they won its Presidential Scholarship.

The scholarship is nothing to look over – it is the school’s most prestigious scholarship for Oregon students, having them earn $10,000 per year for up to four years. OSU-Cascades had 3,000 students qualify this year and 127 students were awarded.

The surprise was close to not taking place as Rodriguez was supposed to be out of town for a math competition the day Brauner was intending on coming to Klamath Falls from Bend. The day was made possible as she was in one of her classes with science teacher, Heather Shaffer.

Rodriguez was startled when she saw Brauner, her parents, KU Principal, Tony Swan, and Assistant Principal, Jacque Brandow, enter her classroom with a box of Beaver goodies.

This specific scholarship did not occur last year due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Rodriguez, who is President of the National Honors Society at KU, is determined in her last year of high school. But has a lot of pondering ahead of her as she has several universities to select from.

Along with the OSU Presidential Scholarship, she has earned scholarships from University of Puget Sound, University of Oregon, Whitman College and the Sunflower Initiative.

For the University of Puget Sound, she earned a $30,000 scholarship and has earned $4,500 in scholarship funds from University of Oregon. For Whitman, she earned nearly $30,000 in scholarship funds as well. Rodriguez recently applied for a $500 scholarship through Destination Imagination.

Rodriguez is not in the unknown of how much a university may cost her as a school, such as Puget Sound, might cost over $80,000.

Realizing that, she has had her hands tied with applying for many national scholarships. Rodriguez has thought about paying for her education since last year, she said.

During only their senior year, students are able to apply for school-based scholarships while they apply for acceptance at a university. The door opens more once a student is a senior hoping to earn local scholarships.

“Getting a national scholarship, the chances are as if you are trying to win the lottery,” Rodriguez said. “Some scholarships, once you apply to the school, will automatically have you considered based off GPA.”

Rodriguez even earned two other scholarships through OSU, one through the university’s College of Science and another through natural sciences. The Presidential Scholarship, if she chooses to accept, will override the other two scholarships, however.

Rodriguez was able to receive the Presidential Scholarship through OSU ScholarDollars, an online university application system, which then allows aspiring university students to be considered for over 2,500 OSU scholarship opportunities.

A bright future

Rodriguez is not stuck on what she will study but is keen on studying environmental science and earn a medical degree or be in a master’s program, along with being involved in public health or public policy.

What brought an ear to ear smile to her face was the response she received after earning the Presidential Scholarship.

“Random people in the hallways knew. I was just surprised by how many people knew more than anything,” Rodriguez said. “My third-grade teacher, Mrs. Malone, who is now in Japan, messaged me on Messenger. My neighbor, who keeps hay in our barn, found out and one of my Grandmother’s old friends found out through Facebook.”

Rodriguez has been a Klamath Falls City Schools student since her first day of kindergarten at Pelican Elementary School. All three of her teachers while at Pelican, including Malone, Stephanie Dahm and Maureen Lundy, congratulated her. The three teachers were able to be her only teachers at Pelican when there was a split-class system.

Rodriguez desire to continue studying after high school has glimmered from her parents.

Her mother is head of residency at Cascades East Family Medicine Center and her father works at Oregon Tech as a civil engineer. He also works for the City of Klamath Falls as a civil engineer and once taught math at Klamath Community College.

Both Rodriguez parents also went to Stanford University.

“They like making sure we are motivated to keep working in school,” Rodriguez said. “This scholarship makes it more of a decision as opposed to one option. At the same time, it is still tons and tons of money; it does not make it free. When people hear $10,000, they think that covers everything and it just does not quite do that. I have more of a choice than I think most people do.”