After Rebecca Brooksher was recognized at Klamath Community College’s commencement Friday evening for earning a bachelor’s degree at Oregon State University, she and members of her family drove to Corvallis for her graduation at OSU’s Reser Stadium that takes place today.
The 28-year-old mother of two will be the first to earn a bachelor’s degree from OSU through a partnership with KCC. The OSU Dean of the College of Agricultural Science Dan Arp was scheduled to acknowledge her at KCC’s commencement as the first student to graduate through the partnership.
“I didn’t really think that I could get a bachelor’s without going to OIT,” she said. “The fact that I’ve been able to go to Oregon State has been pretty amazing.”
The pilot program, in its first official year on campus, has allowed her and her husband, Cory, to raise their young children in the Klamath Basin while she finishes her education. The program also allowed her to take the first two years of agriculture credits at KCC before continuing the rest online through OSU.
“I felt like I’ve been going to KCC for four years,” she added of the dual-program. “It’s kind of been a nice experience to not have to leave to go to another university. That was the main incentive. There was just no way I could have went up to Corvallis.”
Brooksher moved to Klamath Falls in 2006 from the Chico, Calif., area and decided to come back to school in 2010. Natural Resources Systems Chairman and KCC program advisor Keith Duren encouraged her to study agriculture at KCC due to her background in 4-H and FFA. She graduates from OSU with a Bachelor’s of Science degree in agricultural sciences from OSU — the first in her family to earn a bachelor’s degree.
She is one of seven students in the pilot program, including: Brian Davis, Vanessa Jansen-Swan, Dominique Kirkpatrick, Dan Mansfield, Jacob McCarty and Janice Schooler. The program kicked off in fall 2013.
Graduate juggles family, school
With much of her course work online, Brooksher has been able to take classes that allow her to juggle life with 2- and 7-year-old girls.
Duren described Brooksher as a “model student.”
“She’s done an excellent job balancing all those things,” Duren said. “She’s the bee’s knees.”
For Duren, watching Brooksher as the first to graduate through the partnership will be a dream come true.
“I think Rebecca’s helped prove it’s very doable,” Duren said of the dual-degree program. “A four-year degree can open a lot of doors for you.”
Brooksher will have completed 180 credits for her OSU degree — 120 comparable credits she obtained at KCC and 60 online from OSU. Her degree will look like any other student’s diploma at OSU, but without the cost of leaving home, according to Keely Moxley, her mentor from Klamath Basin Research and Extension Center. Moxley plans to accompany Brooksher to her OSU graduation today.
“It can save them $50,000 by not having to relocate,” Moxley said of the program. “It’s definitely an (economically) hopeful option.
“The vast majority of our students — There’s a reason they’re stuck in Klamath,” she added, referencing those with families and/or who work full-time.
“I’m really proud of her for sticking to it,” Moxley said. “I’ve only known her for a year, but she’s done a lot.”
Brooksher’s goal is to teach agricultural science at the high school level, but with a young family, she couldn’t leave the Klamath Basin to do it before the dual program.
With minimal direction after high school, Brooksher said, it was in the program through KCC and OSU that inspired her to find her passion. She also became involved on campus as the president of Klamath Collegiate, the FFA club at KCC.
Program has bright future
Brooksher said she would encourage anyone interested in the dual-program to apply.
“It’s something that’s totally a possibility,” she said. “Once Keith told me about the program, it just seemed like it was all possible after that.”
Duren expects six to seven people to apply for the program in the fall, as well as its continued success.
”It’s going to be a thing that offers people an opportunity that wasn’t readily available before,” Duren said. “It’s going to be a big deal.”
Moxley agrees, and said she feels “giddy” about the possibilities.
“I think now we’ll probably start recruiting students more heavily,” said Moxley. “That’ll be important for the future. It would be great for the program to grow.”
To learn more about the program, contact Moxley at 541-883-7131 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.