Public Health sophomore Greg Heinonen will be recognized with the prestigious Waldo-Cummings Outstanding Student Award at the 2017 Oregon State University Student Awards Recognition Dinner on May 25.
“There are countless ways in which Greg stands out from his peers,” says Assistant Professor Megan MacDonald. “Greg is so driven, and I can’t wait to see how his career unfolds.”
“Just to have been named a finalist for this award was really validating for me,” Greg says. “Having my extracurricular involvement and academic success recognized motives me to continue to work hard for those who may need extra support, specifically children with disabilities.”
For Greg, the recognition comes from doing what he always does – striving to help others. Since the moment he arrived at OSU, he’s been involved with two extracurricular activities that focus on children with disabilities.
Greg says that he appreciates the opportunities the college and university provide for students to be involved in hands-on learning opportunities.
“I think these activities are imperative to undergraduate education, and I’ve made it a goal to take advantage of all the opportunities to be involved while I am at Oregon State,” he says.
He started volunteering with the Individualized Movement and Physical Activity Program for Children Today (IMPACT) during the first term of his first year at OSU. He’s now in his sixth term working with the program and is still involved with the same two participants.
“I’ve been able to see how much they’ve grown and matured,” he says. “IMPACT is by far one of the most amazing programs on campus and is something I would recommend everyone do, regardless of the career they hope to pursue.”
Greg also became involved with the Undergraduate Research Awards Program (URAP) during his first year, and he’s continued since. Through URAP, he worked on two research projects that helped him gain a better understanding of the health of children with developmental disabilities.
In addition, he received funding from the college, which allowed him to travel to California in April to present research results from his most recent project at the 2017 Stanford Research Conference. And although he’s only in his second year, Greg is expected to finish his undergraduate thesis, something most students complete during their senior year.
Greg is currently involved with the Benton County Public Health Planning and Advisory Committee. He says being a member of this committee has opened his eyes to opportunities to promote and regulate public health through a governmental lens.
A bright future
As if school wasn’t enough to keep him busy, Greg also works as a certified nursing assistant (CNA) at Good Samaritan Regional Medical Center. He received his CNA certification during his junior year in high school and worked in skilled nursing facilities during his senior year in high school and this past summer.
“I was lucky enough to receive a position at Good Samaritan working in the float pool, where I have the opportunity to care for patients in the emergency department, intensive care unit, progressive care unit and other specialty areas,” he says. “I have learned so much about various conditions and treatments, the health care system and medical professions, and how to interaction with patients and families in challenging situations.”
Up next is an internship this summer at Oregon Health & Science University’s School of Occupational Health Sciences. Greg’s career goal is to become a pediatrician and work with children with developmental disabilities. Before pursuing medical school, he’d like to take some time off to explore international public health opportunities and gain experience working abroad.