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Alum beats poverty, wins national student award

Price’s resolve as an Ecampus student nets UPCEA’s highest honor

CORVALLIS, Ore. – Homeless and malnourished as a child, Sarah Price set her sights on the one thing she knew would reverse her fortune: an education.

Ecampus grad Sarah Price shares her story and how she overcame a predetermined path to poverty.

Pregnancy and more poverty awaited her as a teenager, but Price never abandoned hope, enrolling at Oregon State University in 2005 before earning her degree online through OSU Ecampus last June.

Nine months later, Price is still reaping the rewards of her perseverance and academic success. On Tuesday she was named the nation’s Outstanding Continuing Education Student by the University Professional and Continuing Education Association (UPCEA), which serves more than 350 institutions in North America.

“I definitely wasn’t expecting them to pick me, so it was a big surprise,” said Price, 27. “It was unexpected, but it was also motivational because it reminded me of what I’ve accomplished and that there are people who recognize me for what I’ve overcome.”

Price’s childhood was beset by extreme poverty and food insecurity, but she always saw a college education as her ticket to a better future. She graduated from West Albany (Ore.) High School in 2003, one year ahead of schedule while she was five months pregnant and living on her own at age 17.

She then struggled as a campus-based Oregon State student before finding her way to Ecampus, where her grades soared. Once saddled with a 1.43 GPA, Price graduated with a cumulative 3.14 and posted a 3.55 in her final two years.

Her determination impressed the OSU community – so much so that she was one of five students who were selected to meet Michelle Obama when the first lady gave OSU’s commencement address last spring.

“Sarah’s story is an inspirational reminder of the obstacles many of our adult learners face on their way to earning their degrees,” said Ecampus executive director Lisa L. Templeton. “Getting to know Sarah has been a very meaningful experience, and it reinforces why we’re here and why we do what we do.”

Price’s unlikely tale of success resonates close to home, too. One of her younger sisters, Dayna, is raising a 1-year-old boy as she tries to finish high school in Corvallis. She watched Price accept her diploma at OSU last June, and that source of inspiration has helped Dayna stay on track to graduate on schedule.

“I don’t think my story will affect a lot of people,” Price said, “but even if one person, one teen mom reads about it and feels inspired, then it’s made a difference. All you need is one example that it can be done. That’s what got me here today.”

Price lives in San Diego with her husband, Andrew, who is a Marine, and their three children. She will travel to Boston in April to receive the award at UPCEA’s annual national conference.


Read more about Sarah Price’s inspiring life story.