"I want to empower others with the resources and knowledge I gain so we may improve our collective quality of life; and I want to influence and build agricultural infrastructure that will ensure the long-term health of our planet."
- Sugar T.
Iwas sitting in a coffee shop with a friend who had just asked me about my decision to finally attend college. In my response, I attempted to recount information I had absorbed from a book I was reading about sustainable agriculture. You know when you read something, and you understand it in the moment, but when you try to relay that information later, it comes out a little bit right but also a little bit nonsense? That happened here.
I reached the end of my sketchy paraphrasing, feeling so impassioned with what I knew and frustrated with what I didn't and riled up over my ineptitude, that my words turned into a howl. I took a deep breath. I told her I couldn’t wait to go to school, because there were so many things I needed to learn.
This is why I am applying for your scholarship. I am a non-traditional/adult student who spent the first part of her life pursuing a dream to become an Olympic speedskater. Now, I am channeling all my energy and discipline into pursuing my first undergraduate degree.
I have spent the past year floating. I retired from the sport of speedskating after twenty years of dedication, processed what that meant to me, got a job with an active travel company, spent eleven months romping around the world while living out of a backpack, and said yes to all the things I couldn’t say yes to when I was training for skating. I felt overwhelmingly excited and empowered about my life, but ultimately, directionless. I crave purpose. I want to be working toward something tangible that I can be proud of. The Olympic/Paralympic movement and everything it stands for is something I was truly honored to dedicate my life to. Competing on that level gave me the chance to represent so much more than myself for a brief moment in time. I learned what true discipline and resilience mean on a stage that exists to recognize humans from every corner of the world coming together and celebrating our collective will. I felt the highs of hard work and sacrifice paying off along with the lows of falling short of achieving my dreams. In the end, it was worth everything I gave it.
Since retiring from competitive sport, I have given myself the space to learn what my goals are now that my primary identity is no longer “Olympic Athlete.” I’ve come to realize that everything I know about myself - how I want to spend my time and the things I am passionate about - are connected. I want to fully understand plants and grow food; I want to cook for and feed people to bring them joy and nutrition; I want to build communities around strong, ethical, and sustainable food systems; I want to empower others with the resources and knowledge I gain so we may improve our collective quality of life; and I want to influence and build agricultural infrastructure that will ensure the long-term health of our planet.
"I know I can be a force for good in this world. I also know, big dreams take time. Experience has taught me that if I am willing to work hard for something I believe in, I will succeed."
- Sugar T.
My decision to attend school came about after watching two parks rangers from Hawaii Volcano National Park talk about flora and fauna for three hours as part of a certification for my job. In researching my options, I discovered I could attend Oregon State University and combine all of my interests and passions into a course of study that would allow me to successfully pursue every one of my lofty goals. I clearly see my love for surrounding myself with plants in their botany degree. I see my self-taught hobby of baking naturally leavened breads in their fermentation course. I see my curiosity on dirt’s ability to combat climate change in their soil science department. I see my beliefs on the environment reflected in their sustainability double degree option. I see myself at this university.
I have been accepted to Oregon State University (OSU), but in deciding how to best manage my finances, I recently made the decision to attend Portland Community College (PCC) for two years before transferring to OSU. I will be able to take all the necessary general education courses and even some degree-specific electives at PCC for a much lower tuition cost, and then have those credits transfer and count towards my required OSU baccalaureate core. As soon as I made this decision, I knew it was the right one for me.
There are holes in my knowledge and experience that will be necessary to fill if I want to affect a greater good within the food systems of this country. I want to go to school to fill these holes. I need to build a foundation of personal experience that will help categorize and instill all the new knowledge I intend to gain.
I know I can be a force for good in this world. I also know, big dreams take time. Experience has taught me that if I am willing to work hard for something I believe in, I will succeed.
But it’s been over ten years since I was last in a classroom, so first I need to take a biology course.
- Sugar T.