Opportunity Scholar Stories

WSOS mentors help students overcome obstacles and reach their career aspirations 

By Veronica Craker

If you’re looking to unlock the full potential of the Washington State Opportunity Scholarship program, you don’t need to look any further than our program’s rockstar mentors. Our mentors are dedicated individuals who play a critical role in helping Opportunity Scholars achieve their career aspirations. They provide valuable insights into their chosen fields, connect them with top-notch professionals, and offer a wealth of knowledge and guidance drawn from our own experiences. With their support, Scholars can overcome obstacles and take their futures to new heights.

Opportunity Scholar David Yun says he benefited greatly from his mentor Jared Black, prompting him to become a Scholar Lead while studying chemistry at Pacific Lutheran University. Now that he’s graduated with a degree in biochemistry, he continues to support WSOS while working as a manufacturing associate for Bristol Myers-Squibb

“My mentor was able to give me direction and give me a new perspective,” Yun said. “He was able to give me clarity in terms of what would be best for me. I felt free. I felt I had the ability to make decisions more efficiently. If it wasn’t for WSOS, I wouldn’t have any of those opportunities.” 

Mentors can play a critical role in helping students achieve their full potential and realize their dreams. By volunteering as mentors, individuals can make a meaningful difference in the lives of others and help build a stronger, more vibrant community, especially for students who are the first in their families to pursue college. Yun’s path was similar to many first-generation college students. He says he had no choice but to find scholarships. 

“I Googled STEM scholarships in Washington and WSOS was one of them,” he said. “I decided to apply and it was one of the best things that ever happened to me just because it offered a slurry of opportunities like me also being able to be a Scholar Lead.”

The Scholar Lead program offers peer mentorship to support new Scholars in their academic journey by pairing them with experienced Scholars who provide them with resources, information, and social support as they transition into their postsecondary program.

Yun shared how one of his mentees gave him heartwarming feedback during the COVID-19 pandemic. According to Yun, the mentee told him they wouldn’t have made it through the pandemic if it weren’t for his support. Yun says that comment filled him with joy and fulfillment in becoming a Scholar Lead.

Since its inception, WSOS has matched more than 800 scholars with mentors. Scholars repeatedly say their mentors provided emotional support and encouragement to reach their goals. Mentors and Scholar Leads like Black and Yun are valuable resources who can help Scholars navigate college and prepare for entering the workforce.

Yun paid it forward by prioritizing being there for other students at Pacific Lutheran UniversitySaint Martins and Washington State University during his time as a Scholar Lead. 

“I wanted to create a space where students can come to me,” he said. “Not as a mentor, but as a friend.”

Overall, WSOS has proven to be an invaluable resource for Scholars like Yun, connecting them with dedicated mentors who help guide them through their academic journey and beyond.