From Small Town to
National Science Foundation

Focus and determination, supported by excellent faculty and staff, has enabled Cameron to set and reach lofty goals.

Growing up I had no educational resources or role models. The expense of college made the pursuit an uncommon option in my hometown. In high school, I had come to understand the relationship between not receiving a college education and the poverty cycle in the United States. My counselor told me about the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) and I decided money was not going to hold me back.

As a first-generation college student, Mexican/Latina-American, and with a low-socioeconomic status, I wanted to be an example for others. I applied for an opening as a resident assistant in student housing. I knew my representation in housing would change the lives of others and myself. I am now a third year RA for the LGBTQIA+ community. Additionally, this position helps me afford the cost of living on campus.

My first year, I worked three jobs and attended school full-time. My family did not have the resources to assist me. My academics were always my top priority so I applied to the Honors College for my sophomore year. I knew my educational opportunities would expand, but I could also receive a scholarship thanks to donor support. The scholarship I received when I was accepted lifted an incredible burden off my shoulders.

My first year, I worked three jobs and attended school full-time. My family did not have the resources to assist me. The scholarships I received lifted an incredible burden off my shoulders. Now I will be the first in my family to earn a college degree.

Incredible Opportunites

During my third year, I applied to the SOU McNair Post-Baccalaureate Achievement Program. Participating in the McNair program connected me to outstanding faculty and unique opportunities to develop my research skills. My advisor also encouraged me to apply to summer internships. Between three prestigious offers, I chose the summer internship at the National Science Foundation (NSF). I worked in the Department of Social, Behavioral, and Economic Sciences in Washington, D.C. as a summer psychology scholar assisting Dr. Brian Bornstein, the NSF program officer of law and social sciences. My focus was to investigate relative funding rates of Doctoral Dissertation Research Improvement Grants (DDRIG) applicants over time. My primary research factor was gender, so I compared men versus women. I also compared career trajectories for successful and unsuccessful DDRIG applicants. I presented the results of my summer research project to an audience of NSF staff and program officers. I am confident this experience will be invaluable as I continue my research in the social sciences.

Ready to Soar

My overall experience at SOU has been very enriching. This town and university allow people to be themselves. I think we have a great advantage. Prestigious academic programs around the nation notice stellar students from smaller schools. Before I joined my McNair cohort, I did not consider graduate school because of the overwhelming cost, but now, I am one of just three post-baccalaureate students selected for the fall cohort in Oklahoma State University’s Counseling Psychology Ph.D. Program. I proposed to do research in sexual violence with its intersections in trans women of color. This five-year program has offered me a full-tuition waiver, medical health insurance, a graduate assistantship, and a stipend. After I earn my doctoral degree, I will practice psychology.

Scholarships at SOU have allowed me to go to college. Without them, I do not know how I would even go to school because my parents do not have the financial means to help me. I am so grateful for the opportunities these scholarships have brought me. Because of this academic and financial support, I will graduate this spring (2019) summa cum laude (3.97 GPA) with my bachelor’s degree in psychology and a minor in gender, sexuality, and women’s studies.

Your gift today, can help Raiders soar.