OSU scholar’s personal journey influences her academic and professional aspirations

Agricultural Sciences and Natural Resources agricultural sciences natural resources

Emily Ward

Growing up in a small, rural community, sophomore Emily Ward always thought she would be at a disadvantage going to a large university.

She was heavily involved in 4-H in high school, so she knew she wanted to attend a school with a strong agriculture program. While Emily’s older brother was an OSU student, she spent many weekends on the Stillwater campus experiencing the friendly people and iconic OSU traditions.

Her mind was set early on — she would be attending OSU after high school.

Emily is a Food Science major hoping to get into research and product development after earning her master’s degree. When Emily was four years old, she was diagnosed with a rare type of kidney cancer. She had one of her kidneys removed, causing her to change her diet, the largest restriction being sodium.

That experience has influenced many aspects of her life, including her career aspirations.

“That has definitely veered me into the food science perspective,” she said. “Because I do want to find ways to limit sodium.”

Emily experienced the hardships of having food limitations, but she also observes them through others. One of Emily’s close friends at OSU has Celiac Disease.

“She has to shop in the gluten-free section and still her section is probably not even a fourth of a shelf at Walmart,” Emily said. “I always feel really bad because I’m like ‘you are so limited in options. And then on to that, it’s so much more expensive to buy her food’.”

Emily wants to research and create food products to give people with dietary restrictions more options.

Emily is grateful for her scholarship donors and says they inspire her to work hard. Their support allows her to focus on her studies without worrying about the financial burden that comes with attending college.

“Sometimes I feel like I hit a wall,” she said. “But then I think about all the donors who have invested their money not only in me, but also my education. That usually keeps me going because I know they want to see me succeed.”