Chasing a dream

Extra scholarship money from Oregon Community Credit Union puts UO student on homestretch

Photo by Rick Rappaport

Mai Vu, who plans to become an emergency room physician, says the increase in her OCCU scholarship
means she won’t have to seek a second job and can continue volunteering in the Sacred Heart Medical Center Emergency Department.

For Mai Vu, a first generation college student majoring in biology, an $800 increase in her Oregon Community Credit Union scholarship means she won’t have to take a second job just to make ends meet as she enters the homestretch for medical school.

“I can continue my volunteer work,” said Vu. Her packed days include working in the office of the UO psychology department, volunteering at Sacred Heart Medical Center, directing cultural projects for the Vietnamese Student Union, and helping children adopted as babies from Vietnam learn their native language.

When Vu was nine, her parents traded comfortable lives as factory owners in Vietnam for manual labor jobs in Portland “because they wanted me to be educated in the United States.” She leaped over language and cultural hurdles to become Benson High School’s valedictorian. Along the way, she discovered her passion: she wants to help save lives.

Vu hopes to attend Oregon Health & Sciences University for medical school.

She is among twenty-five students who will see their scholarships jump from $4,000 to $4,800 this fall because of the credit union’s recent gift extending the program for another four years.

“We want to come closer to covering the full cost of tuition, which continues to increase each year,” said Laura Illig, a spokeswoman for the credit union.

The gift, which totals $546,000, also provides $66,000 to create Oregon Community Credit Union Research Fellowships.

“Increasing scholarship awards is a top priority of the university’s Transforming Lives campaign,” said UO President Dave Frohnmayer. “We are delighted that our longstanding partner Oregon Community Credit Union is taking a leadership role by making such a substantial increase in the amount of their scholarship awards and helping fund faculty research.”

Fifty recipients of Oregon Community Credit Union scholarships have graduated since the first awards were given seven years ago.

The scholarships are available to prospective and current UO students. The chief requirement is being a graduate of high schools in Benton, Clackamas, Columbia, Lane, Linn, Marion, Multnomah, Polk, Washington, or Yamhill counties.