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The Scholarship Difference

The average student debt load for a Portland State senior is $26,000. Every fall thousands of Portland State students apply for scholarships to help ease the burden of education related costs.

Cary Watters, a graduate student in the Masters of Urban and Regional Planning program shares the impact scholarship support on her life and future opportunities.

What drew you to the Master of Urban and Regional Planning program at Portland State?

During my time working as Policy Assistant for Portland City Commissioner Amanda Fritz, I became acquainted with several planners and policy advisors that I looked up to who identified as “MURPs.”  My appreciation deepened during this time for Portland State’s presence as a community partner.  The planning workshop component of the program particularly intrigued me as an immediate opportunity to make a meaningful contribution to our community.  I knew that I couldn’t find a better program than one that uses Portland as its urban laboratory.

What scholarship support did you receive for this coming academic year?

I have been awarded the Ernie Bonner Equity Planning Scholarship, the Mike Lindberg Scholarship from the Oregon Chapter of the American Public Works Association, a scholarship from the Sealaska Heritage Institute, a Native Professional Development grant from the Wildlife Society, and a tuition remission thanks to a graduate assistantship from PSU and the Native American Youth & Family Center.

How has that financial support impacted your education?

 It encourages me to know that others believe in my potential enough to invest in my education.  This support not only provides me with inspiration and accountability, but allows me to fully focus on my studies, rather than worrying about making ends meet or massive debt upon graduation.  I am so grateful for this opportunity to pursue my passion.

What do you hope to achieve with your degree?

A career in community building and environmental stewardship can manifest itself in many forms.  As just one example, I have always thought it would be rewarding to ultimately work in a leadership position as a public servant, such as Bureau Director for Environmental Services or Planning & Sustainability, or as a Planning Commissioner.

What would you say to someone considering making a gift to support scholarships at PSU?

Portland State University has become an internationally-competitive urban hub of knowledge, yet there is still much to overcome in order to achieve a diversified student body that represents Oregon’s increasingly diverse populace.  Please invest in underrepresented and disadvantaged students that need that extra help in order to thrive and give back to their community.