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For two years, Cheryl Martin, ’76, got to teach in the same school where her grandmother had first inspired her to become a teacher. She spent another 25 years in North Powder, where her experience ranged from kindergartners up to high school psychology classes.
Her “range” also includes the cattle range. Martin has lived and worked on a ranch in Eastern Oregon throughout her career and now in her retirement.
She has a surprising amount in common with chemist and professor Abel Mendoza, ’72. Both serve on EOU’s Board of Trustees, and both are deeply committed to serving the region’s students.
Including Martin, over a dozen people in her family have attended EOU. Mendoza, meanwhile, was the first in his family to go to college. Since then, he’s gone on to earn a Ph.D., conduct research and teach at EOU’s chemistry department. He even saw his daughter graduate in the blue and gold.
Vice Chair of the Board this year, Mendoza sees his volunteer trusteeship as an act of giving back. He enrolled as an international student from Mexico, and found the surrounding mountains a cozy reminder of home.
“For most people, education is the key to joining the middle class, that’s why I’m committed to being involved in it,” Mendoza said. “For me, it was the door to a better way of life. I met professors from a variety of fields who made me feel welcome.”
Mendoza and Martin both joined the inaugural EOU Board of Trustees in 2015. Martin said the experience has strengthened her relationship with the campus community.
“I love EOU, my heart is there,” she said. “I love the world of education, and it has been rewarding for me to be part of EOU at a different level.”
One of the primary responsibilities of trustees is ensuring the university’s financial stability, a task that has shifted in the five years since the board was chartered.
“It’s no secret that the school has gone through difficult times as you look back at the last 15 years,” Mendoza said. “The most gratifying part of being a trustee is that we have made a huge difference.”
“I love the world of education, and it has been rewarding for me to be part of EOU at a different level.” Cheryl Martin, ’76
“I love the world of education, and it has been rewarding for me to be part of EOU at a different level.”
Being Oregon’s Rural University comes with a commitment to affordability. Martin grew up in rural Oregon and said the designation calls attention to the board’s focus on ensuring access to higher education.
“We want so badly to keep that tuition level where students can afford to come to EOU without massive debt,” Martin said. “Students need to have options and availability for their paths, whether that’s a two-year or four-year degree or beyond.”
Mendoza’s initial college experience inspired him to eventually earn a doctorate in chemistry and pursue an extensive career with Dow Chemical, where he obtained 28 U.S. patents and over 100 international patents. His 14 siblings have also benefited, and many of his nieces and nephews have followed his lead and graduated college. After retiring from Dow, Mendoza moved to Haines, Oregon and taught at EOU for a number of years before retiring again.
Martin said rural-ness and affordability go hand-in-hand with EOU’s hands-on learning and meaningful mentoring relationships.
“EOU students get to experience a lifestyle of wide-open spaces, a friendly handshake at a local business, a smile from another as they walk down a sidewalk, a short trek to the mountains for recreation, and a university that puts that all together for a great lifetime experience,” she said. “It means that every student feels the compassion and caring of our faculty, board and administration while getting a second-to-none educational experience.”
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