Heather Bolstad (‘06), an Honors College graduate in the Biochemistry and Biophysics program at Oregon State University, applied for the Goldwater at the prompting of her advisor during her sophomore year. She recalls being a part of the “Goldwater Girls,” a group of four women all from the same degree program who received Goldwater Scholarships within two years of each other in 2004 and 2006.

Heather explains that receiving the Goldwater scholarship changed her life. The Goldwater scholarship allowed Heather greater time for scientific research and leadership opportunities, her true passions, and allowed her to reflect on her ultimate career goals and a trajectory for achieving them. Heather was proud to be selected and believes that applying for any scholarship or opportunity during college is a transformative learning experience.

Her advice to current students is to pursue as many opportunities as possible. Whether scholarships, internships, lab time, or leadership, college is an exciting time full of possibilities. She encourages students to use these types of experiences to explore their interests and discover their passions. “It helps you think about your goals and how you are going to get there,” Heather explained. “I applied for everything because I didn’t want to regret not trying,” she adds.

Today Dr. Heather Bolstad is a Toxicologist with expertise in pesticide risk assessment. After receiving her degree from OSU, she went on to UC Davis to earn a PhD in Pharmacology and Toxicology and now has what she calls her “dream job” working for the California Environmental Protection Agency. She still visits with influential professors and mentors from OSU who were monumental in helping her seek out opportunities like the Goldwater.

Oregon State University – Goldwater Vignettes
By Brittney Chesher