One of the defining aspects of the Oregon State University experience is community: OSU Beavers stick together. The OSU Honors College, in particular, exemplifies this through its commitment to fostering an atmosphere of collaboration and relationship-building among peers, staff and faculty. And it is precisely this atmosphere that each year attracts students of all backgrounds, from Oregon and beyond — including honors student Gabe Jones.
“I wanted to explore my passion for chemistry, but apply it to restoring nature.”
Gabe, a second-year student from Hillsboro, Oregon, chose Oregon State for the strong sense of community, in addition to its exceptional oceanography program and its proximity to his hometown, and he made the decision to join the Honors College in his first year, in order to explore expanded opportunities to connect with his peers and OSU faculty. He declared his major in oceanography and added a minor in ecological engineering shortly thereafter. “I wanted to explore my passion for chemistry, but apply it to restoring nature,” he says. “It’s great because it’s hands-on and interactive. I get to go outside and focus on conducting research and collecting data.”
Honors College Ambassador
Like many of his peers, Gabe finds the Honors College community one of its best features. In spring 2021 he became an Honors College ambassador and now conducts presentations and tours of the Honors College facilities, providing advice and answering questions from students and their families. “This program is extremely interactive; I get to help new students and teach them about the Honors College,” he says.
“It’s important to make college feel like a second home.”
Hui o Hawai’i
A strong focus on teamwork and collaboration is important to Gabe, and this extends beyond academics. “I’m not from Hawai’i, but I am Hawaiian, and that led me to become part of Hui O Hawai’i,” he says. Hui O Hawai’i is a program designed to help students from Hawaii transition during their first year at OSU. “It’s important to make college feel like a second home,” he says.
Gabe has also been able to contribute to building community as a residential advisor in the munk-skukum Indigenous Living-Learning Community. Located on the first floor of Poling Hall, this living-learning community is dedicated to supporting Indigenous, Native American and Pacific Islander students throughout their time at OSU. Only in their second year, their mission is to connect students who have “a shared interest in centering Indigenous people to cultural events on campus and to resources to help support students while they are at Oregon State University.” As an RA, Gabe provides advice on navigating the college experience and makes sure students find advisors and receive any help they might need.
Honors College Experience
Gabe was initially drawn to the Honors College for its wealth of opportunities and experiences, and since enrolling, he has specifically enjoyed taking chemical engineering with Dr. Skip Rochefort. He has also found an advisor for his thesis through honors community connections: a friend connected him with Dr. Francis Chan, the instructor of a course they were taking on ocean acidification. This academic year, Gabe has started research with Dr. Chan on geoengineering techniques to test concrete, with the goal of improving coral growth in acidic waters.
“I could not have had a better first few terms without my friends and the energy and excitement they bring to college,” he says. This sense of community has been key to Gabe’s success at OSU. “I feel wanted here,” he explains. Whether he is working as an ambassador, planning events as an RA or working on his thesis, he says that it is always a team effort, and there are always people in his corner. For Gabe, connection and community have laid the foundation for his accomplishments — a lesson he’s eager to pass on to new and prospective OSU students, along with a piece of advice informed by his own OSU journey: “Get out there – talk to people.”
By: Adriana Fischer, Media and Communications Representative