Zachary Taylor didn't wait for classes to begin before diving into his University of Oregon experience. The summer before his freshman year, Zach could be found at the UO DuckCall Center, talking with donors and raising funds for academics. He reflects, "I hadn't taken a class yet and I was talking to alumni and donors-but I think they liked that."
This Cottage Grove, Oregon native came to the UO as a Pathway Oregon student, a program that ensures academically-qualified, lower-income Oregonians will have their tuition and fees paid with a combination of federal, state, and private funds. Now, closing in on the end of his junior year, Zachary is pursuing a degree in Planning, Public Policy and Management, with a minor in Economics and a certificate in writing, speaking and critical reasoning. He's quick to point out that although Pathway Oregon allowed him to come to the UO, the program is much more than just financial resources.
"It's also the advising," he says, "They help direct finding your major and encourage you to take advantage of the opportunities at UO, so that you can have the full college experience. I think sometimes students don't always take advantage of the opportunities here. They think maybe it's not for them, or it's too competitive. But they shouldn't, they should go for it. Pathway Oregon has helped me do that."
For example, Pathway advisors encouraged Zach to apply for the McNair Scholars Program. He was recently awarded the scholarship and will participate in the program this summer, learning to prepare for doctoral studies through involvement in research and other scholarly activities. He'll do a research project and present his work. "It might even get published," he says with a smile. Either way, he'll have a step-up when he attends graduate school in a little over a year. He's currently considering the east coast, where he has family.
With a very full class schedule, Zachary took a break from working early in his time at the UO to concentrate on his studies. When he decided to return to work, he knew he wanted to come back to the DuckCall Center.
"Of course it's a job that pays more than minimum wage," he says, "But it's more than that. Talking with donors on behalf of the UO is an art form and I'm gaining valuable skills I can use in my future"
When asked about the importance of supporting the UO, he doesn't hesitate. "It's the best investment you can make," he explains. "You're investing in an entire generation. When I'm talking with people on the phone, that's what I tell them when they express hesitation to give. You give to the economics department [for example], you're supporting the people that will go out in the future and make a difference in our economy."
As this quiet young man looks to ahead to graduate school and career opportunities, he knows his time as a Pathway student at UO and student caller have been pivotal. "It's about positive reinforcement and helping find your strength," he says, adding, "stepping out of your shell and experiencing new things."
And isn't that what college is supposed to be all about?