By Heather Turner
June 10, 2016
She was a star OSU women’s basketball player recently drafted to the WNBA, a member of OSU’s rocketry team and graduated at the top of her mechanical engineering class.
So how did Ruth Hamblin do it all? Excellent time management skills, a strong dedication to giving it her all, a wealth of support and a desire to be her best.
“Studying mechanical engineering while playing basketball has been one of the greatest challenges I’ve faced to date,” Ruth says. “I’d spend a lot of late evenings studying and doing my homework because there was no time during the day. It’s a grueling process, but all the hard work is worth it.”
Despite her time demands between practices, workout sessions, traveling for games and completing a rigorous degree program, Ruth had another goal in mind: She wanted to play professional basketball.
The challenge: The WNBA season starts in May, but Oregon State’s school year doesn’t end until June.
Her solution: Follow a strict academic schedule and take Oregon State Ecampus classes online to get ahead in her studies and graduate early.
“Ecampus courses let me manage my time and gave me more control.”
“I took one Ecampus course every quarter, and that Ecampus course really helped a lot to reduce the amount of time you have to be in class,” she says. “Since we’re on the road so much, that was my dedicated time to work on my Ecampus class.”
She originally discovered Ecampus through her athletic academic counselor who suggested online courses as a way to manage her time demands.
“The main reason I recommend Ecampus courses to student athletes is because of how busy their schedule is and the amount of time they spend away from campus and the classroom,” says athletic academic counselor Paul Yager, who works with the women’s basketball and football teams. “There is such a variety of courses offered online that it makes it very convenient for them to access the course material.”
Along with the encouragement of her head basketball coach, Ruth – and many of her teammates – jumped right in, taking full advantage of the online offerings.
“Ecampus courses are extremely valuable for our program. They’re vital,” says OSU Women’s Basketball Head Coach Scott Rueck. “It allows them to stay on track with their majors, allows them to accomplish their goals – on and off the court – and allows them to be the true student-athlete.”
What Ruth says she enjoys most about Ecampus is the flexibility, which allowed her to adapt her academic schedule around her athletic schedule.
“Ecampus courses let me manage my time and gave me more control,” she says. “I could watch the lecture slides when I wanted and go through them when it was convenient for me instead of having to miss class and get class notes from my classmates who were there while I was gone.”
She points out that although she was able to take the courses at her own pace, it was a challenge.
“It’s almost exactly the same as taking an in-class course, and the engagement level is almost higher in some regards because everyone has to participate,” she says.
Ruth took mainly baccalaureate courses online as well as a few prerequisites for mechanical engineering, including calculus and engineering management.
“It was definitely different learning engineering concepts online, but once I adapted to it, it came a lot more naturally,” she says.
“Just getting to apply all of the knowledge you’ve learned over the past four years and actually build something is really satisfying.”
And a natural she was. She not only excelled in her studies, but she was also a member of Oregon State’s AIAA (American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics) Rocketry Team that competed in the ESRA Student Rocketry competition for her engineering capstone project.
“We built a sounding rocket that’s about eight feet tall and goes to about 23,000 feet,” she says. “Just getting to apply all of the knowledge you’ve learned over the past four years and actually build something is really satisfying.”
“Ruth Hamblin is a rocket scientist,” coach Rueck says. “How many coaches get to say that they coached a rocket scientist? I don’t know if there’s a way to be more proud of what Ruth has accomplished.”
Ruth’s academic successes didn’t go unnoticed. She was honored by the School of Mechanical, Industrial and Manufacturing Engineering (MIME) in OSU’s College of Engineering as an “Outstanding Senior” during the MIME Pro-School Winter Awards Banquet, an annual tribute to excellence in teaching and learning.
While she’s proven herself as an elite student, many know Ruth as “The Canadian Hammer,” a title she wears proudly on the court as she represents her home country, sporting dozens of athletic – and academic – titles.
This year she was named Pac-12 Defensive Player of the Year, All-Pac-12, Academic All-American, All-Pac-12 Tournament Team, AP All-America Honorable Mention, Pac-12 Scholar Athlete of the Year and Elite 90 Award (best GPA among players at Final Four), to name a few.
“We’re all very, very proud of Ruth,” coach Rueck says. “Not only is she a great student, not only is she a great basketball player, she’s a great person, she’s a great role model to everyone. She’s a great representation of Oregon State.”
Reflecting back on her team’s accomplishments over the past four years, Ruth says her proudest moment was helping lead the OSU women’s basketball team to their first-ever trip to the NCAA Final Four.
“Going to the Final Four with my team, especially during my senior year, was such an amazing experience to reach that pinnacle moment we’ve all been working so hard for,” she says. “The support we receive from Beaver Nation is something that’s really special and makes this program what it is.”
Her athletic prowess is already being taking to the next level, as she’s played her first few games with the Dallas Wings in the WNBA.
“It’s great,” she says. “I made the final 12-person roster and have been doing well. I’m getting better every day and I love my team, so life is good. It’s physical and fast in the WNBA and everyone is so smart, too, that they read you so well, but I’m adapting.”
Ruth hopes to represent the Canadian national team this year at the Olympics in Rio de Janeiro – where she currently is an alternate for the team – or in Tokyo in 2020.
While her current focus is on basketball, she’s still shooting for the stars when it comes to her career.
“When I retire from basketball, I hope to enter the aerospace industry somehow and definitely want to be in the rocketry field,” she says. “I love space and exploration and am really fascinated by that, so I will probably go back and get my master’s degree and then hopefully work for NASA or JPL.”
However the stars will align for Ruth, she says she will always remember her home away from home: Oregon State.
“Oregon State has been so instrumental,” she says. “I wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t for them. The way that they brought me in, believed in me the whole way, it’s been so cool to be part of this family, to grow and have this place where I can be myself but still be challenged every day and grow into who I am as a person, as a student and as a basketball player.”