From groundskeeper to Ford Scholar, Jesse Ulibarri’s college experience has been one of tremendous growth – and he’s not stopping anytime soon.
A homeschooled student raised in Silverton, Jesse felt well-prepared academically and developed a deep interest in math and science. Despite his love of learning, the idea of attending a large public college was intimating and Jesse wasn’t sure he was ready.
It took two years working at water system company and as a landscaper to realize he didn’t want to be a laborer or serviceman all his life.
“I like working with my hands but I was bored. I wanted to put my math and science skills to work,” Jesse recalls. “I heard Chemeketa’s Engineering program would give me a good head start at a degree and career in the field.”
Jesse credits Chemeketa for not only surpassing his expectations but for providing experiences that prepared him for the next chapter of his educational journey – transferring to Oregon State University’s College of Engineering with a Ford Family Scholarship.
Jesse is one of 120 students selected to be a Ford Family Scholar, an honor that will pay for 90% of the cost to attend OSU. “I was really excited to hear I was a recipient. It’s quite a bit of stress release. I won’t have to work as much which means I’ll have more time to dedicate to school,” says Jesse.
He firmly believes his scholarship writing class and his job as a Chemeketa tutor set him apart from the thousands of other applicants. “Tutoring for over two years helped show the Ford Family Foundation that I enjoy working with people and that my values line up with theirs.”
Jesse will enjoy the camaraderie of other Chemeketa engineering students who’ll transfer alongside him this fall, a group he’s grown to consider his extended family. He plans to continue tutoring math, science and engineering privately, believing that the best way to learn something is to teach it.
When asked what he’d tell someone in his former position, who felt stuck or unsure of their next steps, Jesse offers encouraging words. “Aim high,” he urges, “Pick something you’re decently good at, come up with a plan. If it’s too much it’s not the end of the world. You just have to start.”