Kendall Conroy is a senior undergraduate student with a double major in renewable materials and sustainability. After recently returning from Brazil where she presented on gender diversity in the forest sector, we met with her to ask a few questions about her experience at Oregon State University and the College of Forestry.
- Why did you choose to attend Oregon State University?
I have family that attended Oregon State and I knew the campus was beautiful. I was interested in the environment, but I had not decided on a major and I knew there were a lot of possible options. It was good to know I could start at Oregon State and choose a degree program later in my academic career.
- Why did you choose the Renewable Materials degree program?
Since I was interested in forestry, I took a U-Engage class where a representative from each forestry department came in and talked each week. One week David Smith, the advisor for Renewable Materials came in, and I really liked his discussion. So, I took the intro to renewable materials class, I liked it, and I knew it would be the degree program for me.
- What is your favorite part about being an OSU student in the renewable materials degree program?
I love the community feel. Everyone in the degree program knows my name. I’ll walk down the hall and a professor I had two years ago still knows who I am and asks how I’m doing. I recently returned to campus after going to a conference in Brazil, and every person I saw welcomed me back and asked about the trip. Everyone wants to help you. I’ve been approached by professors asking if I wanted to attend a networking event or conference, and I really appreciated them thinking of me.
- Are you involved in any clubs or other activities?
I’m a part of two clubs. One, a more academic club, is the Forest Products Society (FPS), which is one of the OSU College of Forestry clubs. We meet each week, and sometimes go on tours of different manufacturing facilities. Last term, we went to a reclaimed wood facility up in Seattle and spent the weekend there. The other club I’m a part of is the OSU hammocking club which is really fun.
- You stated you recently attended a conference in Brazil, could you take a moment to discuss the experience?
I’m doing undergraduate research on gender diversity in the forest sector with Eric Hansen, professor of forest products marketing. Last year, I went to the Society of Wood Science and Technology conference in the Grand Tetons National Park and presented our first stage of research. I wanted to go to the next year’s conference in Brazil, but at first I didn’t think it would be realistic financially. I knew the College of Forestry and College of Agricultural Sciences (home of the sustainability degree program) offered scholarships, and thanks to their funding opportunities I was able to go. Each day at the conference there were presentations from professors, students, and people in industry. Most of the presentations are on chemistry or design topics, or how to be more innovative in the industry. Many relate to classes that we take in renewable materials, and it’s really cool to know that I’m learning real, valuable information. My presentation on gender diversity was different, and people seemed to realize how it was important and relevant. I was approached by several people after with questions.
- You are about to graduate from Oregon State, what are some of your plans after you graduate?
I plan to study abroad this summer, doing research in Slovenia for three months. I applied to OSU for the master’s degree program and am hoping to get accepted and get funding. Ideally, I’ll either get my master’s degree or get a job in sustainability in the forest products industry, possibly in Portland.