Bev Brown (center) with her some of her "grandchildren," Adam Fargher, Tessa Marks, Brady Fry, Spencer Liverman, Josriel Pasikatan, Miguel Delgado and Bryan Barnes.
The best part of funding scholarships for Bev Brown is the chance to meet the students face to face and hear about their accomplishments.
“I feel like I have a lot of adopted grandchildren, and the good thing about that is that they're all doing well!” she said at an annual luncheon with the recipients of the Hal and Bev Brown Scholarship in Oregon State University’s School of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science.
Bev wasn’t there to boast about herself, but to listen to all of the students’ stories. When coaxed to tell about her background she claimed, “I haven’t done anything.”
The nearly 100 students who have benefited so far from her scholarship program would disagree. The awards are based on need and academic achievement but Bev also stipulated that at least one scholarship a year be awarded to a woman.
The scholarship honors the memory of her late husband, Hal Brown, whom she met in 1943 at a dance. Both students of Oregon State University, she was a studying secretarial science and he was majoring in electrical engineering. Their courtship took a break during World War II when he traveled for Army Signal Corps to set up communications in Europe, the Philippines, and Japan.
But he didn’t leave without asking her to marry him. He popped the question when he returned home from his base camp for a brief stay in Portland where they both grew up. Her engagement ring showed up a few weeks later in her mailbox — sent from New Jersey where he was stationed before shipping out.
While he was gone at war, Bev worked as a secretary for the superintendent of a shipyard, and later for radio station, KEX, in Portland. Before the Browns could begin their life together, Hal wanted to earn his degree in electrical engineering.
“It was always a dream of his to be in communications. He was absolutely determined, and as soon as he came home from overseas the first thing he did is enroll to finish his last two years,” Bev said.
He reached his goal in 1948 when he got his degree and started work right away with Pacific Northwest Bell where he had a successful 33-year career. They settled in Beavercreek, Ore. on 40 acres which was a dream for both of them.
The scholarship is a tribute to Hal’s passion for electrical engineering and a gift that Bev finds personally rewarding.
“It's so gratifying to meet these eager talented young people and know that I made a difference. Some would not have been able to graduate without the scholarship. So it's just a wonderful thing to be able to do,” she said.
A better future
The first thing Miguel Delgado did when he met Bev Brown is ask if he could have a hug. His journey to become a student at OSU’s School of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science has not always been easy.
Education and opportunities were not available to his parents when they were growing up.
“We were living in very poor conditions in Mexico, and my parents’ decision to emigrate to the U.S. gave us a better future,” Delgado said.
When he was barely a toddler and his brother a baby, the family moved from Guadalajara, Jalisco to Medford, Ore., where his dad found work as an agriculturist and his mom provided financial support through seasonal work. But finances were always a struggle.
Then it was discovered a few years ago that his younger brother, who has mild cerebral palsy, needed a kidney transplant.
“It was a life changing event for the whole family. The medical bills were super expensive and even though we received help from several organizations, there was still a lot for us to pay,” he said.
At this critical time, Delgado received additional support from the Hal and Bev Brown Scholarship Endowment Fund which has assisted him in continuing his studies.
“When I was young I found my passion for creating things through Legos. Later, I developed a keen interest in electrical devices and rapidly changing technologies,” Delgado said. “That’s what led me eventually to engineering.”
Focused on employability, Delgado plans to do internships every summer, already completing his first at NetApp after his freshman year. Although his studies keep him busy he also enjoys traveling to new places, working out, drawing, and playing piano. But he keeps his eye on the bigger goal beyond graduation — eventually supporting his parents so they can retire.
“Getting an education was really important to my parents, especially in a field that's tough like engineering. It’s something they always wanted for me and they're excited to see it come true,” Delgado said.
Brown was pleased to hear he and his brother are doing well. “I told him that his family must be very proud of him. He just smiled and asked if he could have another hug,” Brown said.
–by Rachel Robertson