Gale Sumida never anticipated when she left Hawaii for college at Oregon State University that she would still be in Corvallis today. And although her parents encouraged her to leave the islands to have the experience of becoming independent, her mother was expecting Sumida to return.
“We are the black sheep in the family,” she jokes of both her and her husband’s decision to stay in Oregon rather than return to Hawaii where the rest of their two families still live.
But it was definitely a hard adjustment at first, especially to the weather. “Every time I’d leave the island I’d say to myself, ‘Why am I doing this?’” she laughs.
Her answer eventually became that Corvallis was a great place to raise her two boys.
After finishing degrees in computer science and business administration, she started her career at OSU at the Office of International Research and Development, and has now worked on campus for over 25 years. She moved to the School of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science (EECS) when a position opened up to coordinate the TekBots program.
TekBots are programmable robots that the School uses to introduce students to basic concepts of electrical and computer engineering. She got a chance to know exactly what the experience was about when she took the introductory class and learned how to program her own TekBot.
“It was really fun to work with the students and see what they get to do,” she says.
Since then her job in EECS has evolved to marketing and communications which includes developing the school’s web site, brochures, and other promotional materials.
A dabbler in crafts like fused glass, knitting and photography, the creative part of her job fits her “artsy-craftsy” nature and she enjoys doing the layout and design work.
“I also like learning about what our faculty are doing here when I write stories about them, because you can see how the things they are doing affect the world. I think that's really cool, and it’s why I love engineering,” she says.
A major part of her job is finding ways to get the word out to a broader audience about the “fabulous things being done here,” she says.
An avid sports fan, Sumida loved going to her kids’ baseball and football games as they were growing up and enjoys attending Beaver games with her husband. Although a fan, she says she was never athlete, but has taken up walking long distances including the Eugene and Corvallis half marathons.
Just as her parents did, she urged her boys to go somewhere else for college, but both stayed close to home, attending OSU. However, her older son studied abroad in Japan during college. Now that he has graduated with a degree in East Asian studies, he is returning to Japan to teach English. “I’m really excited for him to be spreading his wings,” Sumida says.
Since she has finished raising her sons, her mother may still get her wish for Sumida to return to Hawaii one day.
“I still dream of retiring in Hawaii… where it’s warm!” she says.
—By Rachel Robertson