Pilot Stories | University of Portland

Pilot Stories

Maya Struzak '24
Civil Engineering major
President, Global Engineering Initiative
Treasurer, Human Powered Vehicle Design Club

When she first arrived at UP, Maya Struzak felt a little lost, but once she started to get involved in clubs and began taking advantage of the many resources UP provides, she quickly found her purpose and her community. She took a world-expanding service trip to Ghana, conducted research with professors that led to a soon-to-be published paper, and started a Human Powered Vehicle Design club with funding from the Shiley School of Engineering—all before her senior year. These experiences have crystallized her interest in environmental engineering and we can’t wait to see what she does next.


Drew Wong ’24
Integrative Health & Wellness major
Practice player on UP's women's soccer team
Army ROTC cadet

Like so many first-year college students, Drew came to UP a little unsure of himself, but “through the close interactions with my teachers and peers,” he says, “I have become more confident in presenting myself.” In fact, he has developed into a leader in the Army ROTC program and an ambassador for the Integrative Health and Wellness (IHW) program in the School of Nursing and Health Innovations. Drew says he was inspired to major in IHW because of its emphasis on holistic medicine and disease prevention. “I want to help people attain better health literacy and increase access to other health modalities, especially underprivileged communities that maybe don’t have access to the tools that other communities have,” he says. “My goal is to go into the Army Medical Service Corps when I graduate and land a career in health administration.”


Grant Hobbs ’23
Economics and History double major
Music minor
Member of UP's Jazz Ensemble
Editor of UP's History Journal, Northwest Passages

Grant came to UP as an economics major but UP’s Core Curriculum inspired other plans. “I didn’t think seriously about history until I decided to take a class in it to finish my core requirement. I loved it so much I declared the major while I was still in that class.” With his intellectual fire ignited, Grant became editor of UP’s history journal, worked with a history professor on research published in a book, and received funding from UP’s College of Arts and Sciences to travel to Turkey and conduct research for his capstone project. In between, he continued his studies in music and performing with the UP Jazz Ensemble. “Doing the Core means trying different classes you otherwise might not have taken,” says Grant, “and it exposes you to things you might not have considered before. I discovered through collaborating with my professors that my true passion is teaching others about history and what it can tell us about being human.”


Taylor Webb ’25
Electrical Engineering major
Air Force ROTC cadet

Moving away from home to live and learn alongside several thousand of your peers, all of whom are strangers, is a challenge for anyone. But when you’ve been homeschooled until your senior year of high school, adjusting to college life can be an even bigger challenge. “Coming to UP was a nerve-wracking experience at first,” says Taylor Webb. “However, I’ve already become far more confident in myself and my abilities. Being around people who encouraged confidence, and set an example for it, helped me slowly develop my own.” Taylor says her courses in the Shiley School of Engineering are preparing her well for a career in biomedical engineering, hopefully in the field of prosthetics, and “the AFROTC program has helped me develop my professionalism, discipline, and leadership skills, which have been beneficial inside the classroom and out.”


Will Webber ’23
Nursing major
Air Force ROTC cadet

Despite the upheaval of the pandemic, senior nursing student Will Weber managed to take full advantage of the opportunities for leadership and growth that UP provides. His classes and clinicals through the School of Nursing and Health Innovations have given him hands-on experience in treating patients holistically. He’s built lasting friendships through his many intramural sports teams, and the Army ROTC program has taught him valuable leadership skills that will serve him well in his next stage of life.


Kevin Wong '23
Marketing major
Entrepreneurship & Design Management minor

After years of thinking about learning as an exercise in memorization, Kevin Wong came to UP and found that real learning happens when you have the chance to apply what you study. His experiences in the Pamplin School of Business and in his projects with UP’s industry partners like Adidas, have given him opportunities to gain real-world experience and confidence in his abilities, which will give him solid footing as he embarks on his career.