Though Jessica Andrade grew up in the deserts of Southern California, this master's student in Fisheries Science at OSU developed an abiding passion for the ocean. “When I was growing up, my parents would often take me to the beach. I'm a first-generation college student, and my parents fostered in me a love for learning and an appreciation for nature. I'm grateful for them—it was never 'if' I was going to college, but 'when.'” For Jessica, getting a graduate degree was a logical next step after completing her undergraduate degree in Marine Science at the University of San Diego.

 “All my life, I loved going to school. I remember I would want to go to school when I couldn't, even on weekends, so I would make my parents play school with me instead.” As a promising first generation college student, Jessica was a participant in the prestigious Ronald E. McNair Post-Baccalaureate Achievement Program, and knew that she would continue on to graduate school. “The McNair Scholarship was a huge blessing,” she says, “the idea of applying to graduate programs was intimidating, but the McNair workshops helped me prepare and complete my applications.”

 Jessica was introduced to OSU through an invitation from the Graduate School to attend a recruitment event in spring 2013. “If OSU hadn't sought me out, I never would have applied.  Every experience I've had with OSU faculty and staff has been great—when I was here for the recruitment event, I was able to bond with Graduate School and department representatives, and it just seemed like everything was pointing toward OSU.  Everyone was unbelievably supportive and welcoming.”  The Graduate School awarded Jessica a graduate fellowship for her first year, and the Department of Fisheries and Wildlife committed to a Graduate Assistantship for Jessica in her second year of the master’s program.  “Without the support I've received, there's no way I would have been able to afford graduate school. And I may not come from a privileged background, but I learned about hard work and dedication. The help and support provided by OSU has helped me put what I've learned to use."

Learn more about OSU’s McNair Incentive Program and the Ronald E. McNair Post-Baccalaureate Achievement Program.