When a student takes action into their own hands, it deserves to be recognized, and that is exactly what the Debra Olsen Public Service Scholarship did for Linfield senior Katharine Holm.
As an environment studies major, Holm decided to apply for the scholarship after receiving a campus-wide email.
“This scholarship is for really talented students, giving them a chance at intellectually-advancing summers. I wanted to help them grow as people and professionals,” said Debra Olsen, founder of the scholarship and past competitive scholarship adviser at Linfield.
Olsen slowly contributed money until she could get a scholarship of her own endowed.
“This was my gift to Linfield after the many wonderful years I spent here,” Olsen said.
This particular scholarship was created for students whose majors don’t have many internship opportunities.
The scholarship gives students from different majors, like French and history, the chance to prepare for life after college.
Liberal arts majors now have a chance to be equally prepared for competitive career fields thanks to opportunities like the Debra Olsen Public Service Scholarship.
After completing an application and interviewing with Olsen, Holm was selected for the chance to have a career-enriching summer that she was able to define for herself.
Holm decided to use the scholarship to work with a nonprofit that deals with reducing pesticide usage in her hometown.
“I did projects dealing with environmental policy and community organizing,” Holm said.
“I was able to work on a large county project, meeting with county, decision makers and ensuring that the least toxic pest management was being used throughout the county.
“This was a big project because the decisions they made on how to deal with pests impacts everyone in the county and all things in the ecosystem as well,” Holm said.
“We wanted to make sure the county wasn’t doing unnecessary damage.”
In addition to this, Holm tried to create awareness on the harmful side effects of pesticides by doing community outreach and petitions at different venues.
She also contacted large organizations to help get more political support for the cause.
“Winning this scholarship was a huge validation that what I was doing was important and that it needed to be done,” Holm said.
“My hope is that others will be able to use the scholarship for a rewarding experience, as I did.”