When 2009 Gresham High School graduate Brittany Ford was 7 years old, she experienced something that no child should ever have to - she lost her father in a workplace accident. He was crushed by a machine at his job in a glass factory.
'It was definitely surprising, I didn't really understand how it happened or anything. I was just little,' Ford said. 'I never had a dad for the large majority of my childhood, so I was pretty bummed.'
Though nothing could replace her father's presence in her life, Oregon OSHA is easing the financial burden with a Workers' Memorial Scholarship. The scholarships are given to Oregon spouses or children who have lost a parent or have a debilitating injury due to a workplace accident. The fund was established by the Legislature in 1991.
'When you lose a parent or your parent is unable to work, you're certainly faced with more adversity in terms of having an income, and support, too,' said Melanie Mesaros, public information officer for Oregon OSHA. 'It has really enhanced their ability to obtain higher education and meet their goals.'
This is Ford's third time receiving the Workers' Memorial Scholarship, totaling $5,500 toward her education at Oregon State University. This year's award was for $1,000.
Ford will be a junior this fall and is studying fitness and nutrition. She hopes to possibly use her expertise to write about those subjects as a career.
She said she tries to honor her dad's spirit still today, and that the scholarship helps keep him in her heart.
'Since he was a really hard worker, I try to work really hard at what I do,' she said. 'He had a lot of stamina, and I would say I have a lot of stamina, too.'
Ford is one of seven Oregon students awarded the scholarship this year, from a pool of 33 applicants. The number of scholarships and money given to each recipient vary from year to year. For more information, visit orosha.org.