LAD Scholarship Series
Natasha Perez Parra is our second featured LAD Scholar, a first-year SOU beach volleyball athlete who is studying Emerging Media and Digital Arts.
Natasha was born in Everett, Washington, as a twin to her sister Natalie, and while the family embraced living in coastal Washington, their Hispanic heritage drew them back to Veracruz, Mexico when Natasha was six. They lived there until she was 16 when they moved back to Portland where she graduated from Westview High School. Growing up with a house just streets away from the beach in Mexico, Natasha’s early years were marked by embracing her new home and extended family. However, the transition from Mexico to Portland as a teenager posed linguistic challenges as she navigated the blending of English and Spanish.
Despite the initial difficulties of communicating, joining the volleyball team in high school became an important moment for Natasha by giving her a supportive environment where teammates helped her and her sister navigate the complexities of a new language and culture. Since then, it’s been a major part of her life through high school varsity and club volleyball. She’s played as a libero in indoor volleyball and now, as a defense athlete in beach volleyball. SOU’s strong athletic program was one of the reasons why she chose SOU.
Choosing SOU: Where Academics and Athletics Converge
Natasha’s accomplishments have extended beyond the court, earning honors mentions, community service recognition, and a role as a Teaching Assistant in high school math. She says, “I’m proud of the community service I participated in while maintaining a high GPA in high school. I also accomplished an honorable mention in volleyball team votes during the challenging first year of varsity, which was a significant achievement. I exceeded my playing expectations and earned honors in STEM physics as well.”
Natasha’s transition from high school to college was seamless. Her decision to join the Raider family was inspired by SOU’s commitment to inclusivity and support for all students. Athletics also played a significant role in this decision, with Natasha becoming a part of the beach volleyball team. Natasha says,
“I chose SOU because it’s a community that supports all students. The array of programs SOU offers, coupled with a genuine commitment to assisting students in times of need, resonated with me. Joining the beach volleyball team added a layer of camaraderie, making SOU feel like a second home. The hopefulness in SOU’s commitment to helping students secure jobs in their final years also sealed the deal for me.”
Dreams of Digital & The LAD Scholarship Support
While Natasha was drawn to SOU’s dedication to supporting students in their academic and athletic pursuits, she was also drawn to the Emerging Media and Digital Arts program, which offers a creative platform for Natasha’s interests.
Natasha says, “I hope to learn more about the realm of creative digital design, with a focus on graphic design or perhaps venturing into the marketing world of product design and branding. My dream is to contribute my skills to businesses like Nike, crafting innovative narratives through design. I recognize the importance of continuing to hone my abilities through SOU coursework.”
For Natasha, the LAD scholarship is more than financial assistance—it has been a crucial support as she navigated through the maze of college life. The LAD Scholar program offers mentorship, guidance, and a sense of belonging, integral components of her SOU experience.
“SOU is already shaping up to be everything I hoped for. The community exudes warmth. The support system here is amazing—if I ever need help, there’s always someone I can turn to. In my classes, the solidarity extends to the teachers, whom I admire and anticipate learning a lot from. Dorm life, contrary to my initial expectations of isolation, has been great. Having roommates who are also teammates adds an extra layer of fun. I’m excited for the upcoming volleyball season.”
Academic Diversity & Enhancement for Future Career Opportunities
So far, as part of Natasha’s academic journey, she’s embraced a diverse range of courses, including business courses. She’s interested in enriching her understanding of business and developing a new skill set she can apply to her creative design. She’s also interested in enhancing her writing proficiency, recognizing the importance and value it adds to effective communication.
Natasha is also curious to extend her learning into the realm of video production, with a desire to master the art of crafting compelling short videos. She perceives these disciplines as interconnected pieces of the digital media landscape, and she is eager to broaden her expertise beyond graphic design, recognizing the strength that lies in this holistic approach to learning.
Natasha says about the scholarship support,
“The impact of the LAD scholarship on my life and college journey has been profound. It goes beyond financial assistance—it signifies a supportive community that stands by me during this critical transition to college life. It’s reassuring to have a support system to navigate internship opportunities or secure a job.”
Natasha’s SOU journey is unfolding as a blend of academic diversity, athletic capabilities, and creative aspirations—a testament to the transformative power of strategic choices and the impact of scholarship support.
The LAD Scholar program presents a comprehensive package for student development beyond financial support and scholarships. In addition to direct scholarship aid, the program includes a comprehensive set of wrap-around services to cultivate leadership skills, develop experiential learning opportunities in the form of paid internships, and fostering a sense of belonging through a cohort model. LAD Scholars also will benefit from mentorship within the university as well as with leaders within the LAD community.