PathwayOregon paves way to college for Oregonians

University of Oregon senior Myesha Abdulrahman is the first member of her family to attend college, and she’s on track to become the first to earn a college degree in the spring of 2012.<--break->

<--break->“It’s a lot of pressure,” she said, “but I’m doing it so I guess I can live up to the expectations.”

Abdulrahman is one of 416 students who enrolled at the UO four years ago through PathwayOregon, and she credits her success to the program that helps low-income Oregonians to attend the UO.

The program covers the difference between other sources of financial aid and the total cost of tuition and fees for 12 terms within a five-year period. To qualify, students must be Oregonians and be eligible for the federal Pell Grant program.

More than 1,400 students have enrolled at the UO through PathwayOregon in the past four years. Abdulrahman is among the nearly 40 percent of PathwayOregon students who self-identify as first-generation college students.

Abdulraham gets most of her financial assistance from the Diversity Excellence Scholarship program. But PathwayOregon paved the way for her to attend the UO. A graduate of Portland’s Jefferson High School, Abdulraham still remembers the day when she was accepted into the program.

“To have those resources financially was emotional for both me and my mother because we didn’t know who things were going to be paid for,” she said. “Having Pathway make that promise to have my tuition and fees paid for was just tremendous.

“It made us both very emotional,” she said. “We even cried.”

Once she got the UO, PathwayOregon staff members, notably Carla Bowers, have been a steady source of advice and guidance throughout her career, Abdulrahman said.

Bowers provides help with tutoring assistance, letters of recommendation, graduate school applications — “anything and everything,” Abdulrahman said. “We are very close. We have a good connection.”

PathwayOregon students now in their senior year have an average GPA of 3.0, and will graduate from more than 55 majors.

Abdulrahman is majoring in psychology with a minor in special education. She wants to attend graduate school to study either human resources management or marriage and family therapy.

“I want to be a human resource manager,” she said. “Attending graduate school will help me. I have to be a leader. I want a leadership position.”