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PSU student receives Gates Cambridge Scholarship

When Portland State graduate student Eric Jensen applied for the prestigious Gates Cambridge Scholarship last fall, he accepted the possibility that he would not make the cut.

To his surprise and pleasure, he found out he had been chosen out of thousands to receive a full scholarship to study at Cambridge University in England.

“I just couldn’t believe it,” he said of receiving the news.

Jensen still has to wait until about mid-April to find out if Cambridge has accepted him through the general admissions process. He feels his chances are good, however, as he was just invited for an interview with Cambridge admissions representatives in Annapolis, Md.

Jensen applied for several scholarships to study abroad after his cousin, who just completed his doctorate overseas, convinced him that the experience was worthwhile.

The Sacramento, Calif., native moved to Vancouver, Wash., with his family when he was 10 years old. Starting in the sixth grade, Jensen was home schooled.

“It was really not that different from college, in that it was just a lot of homework,” Jensen said of his home-schooling experience. “It got me use to working independently.”

After the 10th grade, Jensen participated in the “Running Start” program out of Vancouver, which allowed him to complete his last two years of high school and begin his college education at the same time.

Through this program, Jensen was able to receive an associate’s degree from Clark College at the age of 18. From there, he transferred to PSU.

Jensen obtained his bachelor’s in communication studies last year, and plans to receive his master of arts in communication studies, both from PSU.

If Jensen is accepted into Cambridge and uses his scholarship, he plans to pursue a doctorate in social and political sciences, which he hopes will lead to a future career in politics.

Jensen said he will probably go into a teaching or research position right out of Cambridge. However, 15 to 20 years down the road, he wants to pursue a political career and hopefully become a senator.

Currently Jensen is working as a teaching assistant in the communications department and is also a research assistant in the biology department, with professor Lisa Weasel.

“I study how human cloning is communicated both personally and in the media,” Jensen said, emphasizing a focus on religious and scientific responses to the technology.

Jensen has been encouraged by his large family – five siblings – all along the way of his education.

“I’ve been very well supported in my desire to better myself and to pursue higher education,” Jensen said. “I think I’ve been especially motivated to do well in school because my dad didn’t graduate college, and I’ve seen him struggle in the jobs he’s had to take because of that.”

Jensen describes himself as a confident, driven person. One ideology he uses as a motivator is, “If you work hard, you’ll succeed.”

Besides school and work, Jensen also officiates for several sports. Currently, he referees for basketball about four to five times a week.

“I find it stimulating,” Jensen said, even despite comments he’s received, such as, “worst official I’ve ever seen.”

In the long term, Jensen hopes he is able to make a difference in the world and be able to help people.

“If its possible to help people on a larger scale,” he said, “I think that would be great.”