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June 3, 2020 LA GRANDE, Ore. – Eastern Oregon University’s 2020 President’s Scholar completed her degree in December and is already taking her next step toward a career in helping others.
EOU President Tom Insko selected graduating senior Mariah Meyerholz as this year’s President’s Scholar after reviewing essay submissions from a range of students.
Meyerholz plans to pursue a Master of Social Work degree in integrated health, mental health and substance abuse at the University of Michigan, starting this fall.
“Over my time at EOU, it became more clear that social work was where I should go,” Meyerholz said. “I always wanted to be in the medical field, but not deal with bodily fluid. Social work is an essential part of healthcare now and it’s growing. I want to be the person who helps guide people through the healthcare system and connect them with resources or support.”
A graduate of Grant Union High School in John Day, Meyerholz enrolled at EOU with an undecided major. After meeting with an advisor and taking her first sociology class, she knew it would take her to where she belonged.
Almost five years later, Meyerholz has earned a Bachelor of Science in Anthropology/Sociology and a minor in Health Studies from EOU. Along the way, she learned to step outside of her comfort zone.
“I grew up in an area that’s even more rural than La Grande,” Meyerholz said. “When I came and visited, it felt like I wasn’t just another person in the crowd. I felt like I could make an impact here. … As soon as professors knew I was willing to be involved and put my best forward, they were ready to connect me with opportunities.”
During her time on campus, she facilitated health promotion programs for EOU students, at-risk youth and La Grande School District employees. She also helped establish a new location for EOU’s Get Outside-After School Activity Program (GO-ASAP) within the Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Indian Reservation (CTUIR).
“GO-ASAP got special funding to expand to the CTUIR, so it became more STEM-focused and about career development, as well as outdoor activities with the La Grande group. I was helping create the program to suit the community’s needs,” Meyerholz said. “I learned how important it is to make sure the people you’re working with have a voice. You can’t just assume that the same program will benefit different sets of people in different environments.”
One of her most notable achievements is volunteering for the Union County Friday Backpack Program, which aims to address food insecurity among elementary school children. Other accomplishments include being a consecutive dean’s list recipient, a co-recipient of the 2019 Outstanding Student of Sociology award, and a keynote speaker at EOU’s 2019 Spring Symposium.
“It’s a really strange time to be a college graduate, and it’s difficult to go through years of school and not have that moment to celebrate together,” Meyerholz said. “Enduring all of these challenges and using that fear to better yourself—that’s essentially what everybody’s done.”
Meyerholz was born in Bend and raised in Canyon City, Oregon where she lived for 18 years with her parents and two sisters. She has worked for the Oregon Department of Forestry for five years on a Helitack crew out of John Day. She enjoys spending time with family, outdoor recreation, and volunteering for community projects that aim to improve quality of life and achieve health equity for all.
As the President’s Scholar, Meyerholz will speak during EOU’s virtual conferral ceremony. The ceremony will be streamed live on Facebook at 10 a.m. on Saturday, June 13.
She said she’s looking forward to the opportunity to address her class.
“This is a unique graduating class,” Meyerholz said. “It makes students really relentless and committed to their education. Our society is going to be different after this, and we’ll have to continue adapting in our careers.
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