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Graduating student spotlight: Marjorie Halstead

Study aboard experience shapes student’s trajectory

Marjorie Halstead will graduate with two degrees on June 16 – a bachelor’s degree in Nutrition and Dietetics and a bachelor’s degree in Public Health – Health Promotion and Health Behavior. Just two days after graduation, she’ll launch into George Fox University’s master of teaching program.

What led you to choose your degrees?

“I chose OSU because of its amazing nutrition program. When I was in high school, I suffered from an injury in dance. In my rehabilitation process, I had to confront some large personal problems including my morphed body image. A journey to recovery from my injury turned into a self-love journey as well. I fell in love with the power of food. I’ve been on the nutrition path ever since!”

Did you face any significant challenges while pursuing your degree?

“I have faced so many challenges during my undergrad years. I think the biggest one I faced was while living in Uganda for a study abroad program. I was working in a childhood malnutrition and maternal health clinic. In those moments abroad, I really noticed my privilege in this world. Coming back and adjusting to Western culture was hard. I even had some of my professors note, ‘What happened to my Marjorie?!’ Growing through that experience, I found my love for social justice and education. I’m excited to start grad school and help shape the classrooms of tomorrow.”

What is your proudest accomplishment while at Oregon State?

“My proudest accomplishment while at OSU came during work. I am currently a supplemental instructor for Lindsay Biga’s anatomy and physiology series. While at study tables last week I got a card from a student who has attended my tables all year. She thanked me for caring about her and her learning. I cried reading her card. I invest so much of myself in my students. To be thanked for that work and know that I made a difference in that student’s college career meant the world to me.”

What’s next for Marjorie?

“I am so excited to say that starting two days after graduation I will start the Master of Arts in Teaching degree program at George Fox University. I was just notified the other day that I will be doing my student teaching at West Linn High School.”

How has being in the College of Public Health and Human Sciences prepared you for what’s next?

“The College of Public Health and Human Sciences has blessed me with some of the most incredible faculty. I was encouraged to take a leap of faith and go Uganda by Stephanie Grutzmatcher. This has singlehandedly been my largest life-shaping experience. When I came back, Mary Cluskey and Neilann Horner helped me find ways to weave nutrition into my next life steps.

“I look at my professors not just as teachers anymore, but as colleagues and mentors. The close relationships I’ve been able to build is not common at large institutions. The nutrition program here has done an incredible job making professors available to us. I was given a small school experience at a large state school.”

What advice do you have for current students?

“I would tell students to step out and take risks. At first, I didn’t apply for a study abroad program because I thought I couldn’t afford it. I applied for scholarships like crazy and talked with my advisors. I ended up getting nationally prestigious scholarships and was given enough money through the College of Public Health and Human Sciences to completely fund my study abroad. I never thought that was possible. OSU has invested so much in me.”

Any final thoughts about your time at Oregon State?

“I would just like to say thank you to my scholarship donors. I come from a low-income family. Because of the promise the university, my college and my donors have seen in me I’m graduating debt free. I’d also like to thank my personal support systems: my parents, friends and sisters in the Kappa Delta Sorority.”