Although Linda Cathey describes her classes in the College of Education as "powerful" and "engaging," these words might just as easily describe the energetic student herself. As a 2007 recipient of the Osher Reentry Scholarship and a 2008 recipient of the Daniels Family Scholarship, the Ella Travis Edmunson and Mercy Travis Davis Memorial Scholarship and a Diversity Building Scholarship, Linda is no stranger to both the rigors of academics and of finding funding.
After spending 15 years as a massage therapist, Linda knew it was time for a change. She acknowledges that for her, it was better to attend college after gaining some life experience, "There is room for school in everyone's life...it just isn't the same for everybody." And even though, Linda relocated to Eugene in part because it is a college town, she admits that when she transferred to the university she didn't know much about the College of Education, least of all that it was ranked nationally.
She acknowledges, "I didn't come looking for UO, it found me."
But it didn't take Linda long to understand why the College of Education is so special. "I have an enormous amount of respect and admiration for Family and Human Services faculty and staff," she says. Whether it is the combination of research with experiential learning or the dignity with which the instructors treat their students and the communities they serve, Linda thinks that the faculty and staff "have a caliber of commitment" that is truly unique.
However, it is the community-based internships that have really brought Linda's education to life. Most recently, she's worked at Adams Elementary in southwest Eugene, a place where she plans to continue interning until graduation. She's even developing a senior project that would form support groups to help 4th and 5th graders learn social skills and form healthy relationships.
Linda is especially excited about her senior year because it is entirely paid for by scholarships and grants. "If I didn't have scholarships, school would be a hundred times more stressful. To have money not be an issue, isn't something I imagined," she says.
Thanks to this comprehensive funding, Linda can focus on her senior project and on graduate school applications. She hopes to enroll in a master's program in Couples and Family Therapy next fall and has already taken a graduate level class as preparation. Linda's recent work experiences are but a first step in what she plans as a lifetime of service to the Eugene community.
Still, Linda recognizes how demanding the search for funding can be. She ruefully remembers spending her entire Christmas vacation in 2007 writing essays and completing applications for over 35 scholarships. Because she understands the difference a scholarship can make in someone's life, Linda hopes to help others one day herself. "I am a huge advocate of people becoming proactive in funding education" she says enthusiastically. In fact, Linda has already made plans to start saving and wants to leave a legacy by providing future students with scholarships. "I would love to be a philanthropist in my old age," she grins, "especially with everything I've been given."
UPDATE: Linda is happy to report that she graduated Summa Cum Laude from the College of Education in June 2009. She's been accepted into the Family and Human Services Master's program with a Graduate Teaching Fellowship where she will work supervising undergraduate students. Congratulations Linda!