Scholarships. The importance of this financial support for students cannot be overstated. Large and small, the monetary support for students pursuing their academic goals and life dreams motivate, inspire and offer relief from the pressure of paying for college.
In this story from the 2018 Human Sciences magazine, human development and family science student Ben Watson shares how scholarships are making a difference for him.
During the spring of his senior year of high school, Ben Watson had made his college choice. The Oklahoma City native was eager to leave home and experience new things at another Big 12 university. But a campus tour of Oklahoma State University over spring break changed everything.
As the group toured the Stillwater campus, countless people said hello to the tour guide. When the tour ended, Watson asked how the guide knew all of the people greeting him.
“You hear people talk a lot about the Cowboy Family, but on that tour, I experienced it. Everyone was so friendly,” Watson said. “(The tour guide) told me he didn’t know all of them; they were just friendly and wanted the students touring to feel welcome, like this was a place they could belong.”
Watson felt liked he belonged at OSU. He changed his college plans and never looked back.
Now, he is a junior majoring in human development and family science with an option in child and family services. Watson has found his place at OSU and in the College of Human Sciences.
“After doing too many things during my freshman year, I decided to find three things I really care about and commit myself fully to them,” he said.
Watson joined the President’s Leadership Council as a freshman and is currently a facilitator, mentoring younger students in the program. He also serves as the vice president of operations for Cowboython, the largest on-campus philanthropic organization at OSU. Culminating with a 12-hour dance marathon, Cowboython generates awareness and financial support for the Oklahoma City Children’s Miracle Network Hospital Foundation and offers participants the opportunity to interact with children and families served by the hospital.
In addition, Watson serves as a College of Human Sciences Link Leader. He is one of eight students, representing various majors in the college, who meet with prospective students and their parents to share his experiences and educate students about programs in Human Sciences and across the OSU campus.
“It was awesome to meet with new freshmen this summer during New Student Orientation,” he said. “The College of Human Sciences makes it so personal (for prospective students), and I’m glad I’m able to aid in that.”
Jamie Bellah, Watson’s academic adviser, said Watson thrives in leadership roles because of his ability to connect with people.
“He is warm, friendly, and engaging, and the new freshmen were drawn to him. They felt extremely comfortable visiting with him and asking him questions,” Bellah said.
For 2018-19, Watson received two scholarships from the College of Human Sciences — the Beulah Mae Kinney Alumni Scholarship and the David and Shirley Jenkins Endowed Scholarship.
The financial support has lessened his workload and allowed him to commit more time to his passions.
“Receiving these scholarships from the College of Human Science has provided a cushion so that I can work fewer hours and dive into university activities,” Watson said. “I have been able to invest more time in Cowboython, and the opportunity to really make a difference is an incredible feeling.”
Bellah can see the impact scholarships make for Watson and other Human Sciences students.
“(Scholarships have allowed Ben) to focus more fully on his studies and be involved in activities he is passionate about. We have students that wouldn’t stay in school if it weren’t for the scholarships they receive,” Bellah said.
Watson enjoys connecting with people and serving as a face of OSU for prospective students.
“I love making people feel like they have a place,” he said.
Today, Watson is the one giving campus tours, and he ends every tour the same way.
“I tell students that wherever they decide to go to school, they should get involved. Academics are important, but getting involved helps you find your place and makes your college experience.”