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Engaging with campus as an online learner

HDFS student’s first trip to campus lands her GridIron Chef Contest prize

Ecampus student Carol Abrogoua, right, poses with Moore Family Center director Emily Ho at the CPHHS GridIron Chef Contest.

Ecampus student Carol Abrogoua, right, poses with Moore Family Center director Emily Ho at the CPHHS GridIron Chef Contest. Photo courtesy the College of Public Health and Human Sciences.

By Heather Turner
Dec. 15, 2015

Pregnant with her third child and recently relocated to rural Tillamook, Oregon, Carol Abrogoua was left with limited options. She could get a job and pay for child care or find a way to further her education and eliminate the worry of child care costs.

Carol chose the latter, and in fall 2014, she enrolled with Oregon State Ecampus to earn a bachelor’s degree online in human development and family sciences (HDFS). Offered by the College of Public Health and Human Sciences (CPHHS), the program will allow her to turn a passion for helping others into a fulfilling career.

Having lived portions of her life when she relied on social services, Carol hopes to give those who are less fortunate the tools they need to be successful in life, just as others have done for her.

Carol works on a geology assignment while her children experiment with the rocks in the lab kit.

Carol Abrogoua works on a geology class assignment while her children experiment with the rocks in the lab kit.

“I have very much appreciated the work that agencies such as Head Start, the Department of Human Services and elementary schools go through to help people who fit into disadvantaged demographics,” she says.

“To be able to work with low-income children in the Head Start Program is an opportunity to change their futures by giving them the boost they need to understand that school is going to be fun for them, and to help their families realize the impact they can make on their child’s academic success.”

Carol can pursue that passion thanks to the flexibility of learning online with Ecampus, which allows her to “attend” class at night, when she’s most available.

“If the kids are sick and have to stay home, it’s no big deal because I can log in later and take care of my studies,” she says.

Although she feels a solid connection to Oregon State’s Corvallis campus through interactions with on-campus students in her online classes, Carol had never physically been to campus until recently, after she learned she was a top-five winner in her college’s GridIron Chef Contest in November.

“I was so proud,” she says. “I wanted to participate in a school event, and this contest made it easy because I was able to enter online.”

“I wanted to participate in a school event, and this contest made it easy because I was able to enter online.”

She learned of the healthy tailgating recipe contest – hosted by the CPHHS Moore Family Center for Whole Grain Foods, Nutrition and Preventive Health – through emails she regularly receives from the college.

“I cook every night and try to keep things healthy without causing my kids to go on hunger strikes, so I have a few fun, wholesome recipes in my repertoire,” she says.

Carol, her father – who is an avid fan of the rival Oregon Ducks – and her two eldest children made the trek to campus to attend the GridIron Chef Contest and Beaver Bowl Fun Run. Her pesto minestrone recipe was one of five prepared by University Housing and Dining Services to be tasted and voted on by event participants and tailgaters alike.

Carol’s recipe was a hit among the crowd, earning her the title of the “People’s Choice” winner.

“I knew this would be one of the only opportunities to have an actual reason to go to campus, and I wanted to bring my kids along to see what a college campus looks like and to show them where I ‘go’ to school,” she says. “They came away from the experience wanting to attend Oregon State University so they could see Benny Beaver again and participate in mini marathons.”

In addition to winning a prize and enjoying free, healthy food, Carol says the highlight of the day was the opportunity to put faces to names and talk with like-minded individuals.

“It was awesome to be able to see the Women’s Building where other students in the same field attend classes,” she says. “I felt like I was a part of a community – I spoke with other students, parents, alumni and family members about why we were there and how much fun we were having. It was a blast.”