Scholarship Applications

Application for the Wayne Morse Legacy Scholarship is made through the Oregon Office of Student Access and Completion (OSAC). The Legacy Scholarship was created to recognize and help support an Oregon student who seeks access to higher education and has demonstrated or may be inspired by Senator Morse’s legacies of public service, integrity, fierce independence, and commitment to principle. It takes into consideration an applicant’s academics, community service, individual achievements and financial need.

In addition to the submissions requested by OSAC, the Wayne Morse Legacy Scholarship requires applicants to provide a personal essay, not to exceed 500 words, examining ways in which principles espoused by Senator Morse are reflected in the applicant’s past actions and/or plans for the future.

Watch a short video of Senator Morse’s passionate defense of his core belief, his faith in the role of the people in the democratic process and decision making, via the Wayne Morse Center for Law and Politics website (coming soon). This particular video clip shows Morse questioning the constitutionality of the Vietnam War.

Read excerpts from some of Wayne Morse’s speeches by clicking on this PDF link (4 pages/135k).

Read excerpts from some of Wayne Morse’s memorial tributes by clicking on this PDF link (4 pages/79k).

Read a brief biography of Senator Morse by clicking on this PDF link (22 pages/325k).

Visit our links page to find additional resources about Wayne Morse.


Wayne Morse Legacy Scholarship Recipients

Legacy Scholarship recipients have attended Portland State, Oregon State, the University of Oregon and Lane and Portland Community Colleges. Among them are those who were first in their families to attend college as well as nontraditional and marginalized students who overcame a variety of challenges before entering college. They were active in their communities and on campus, often taking leadership roles, while maintaining outstanding academic records. They have pursued studies in sociology, social work, nursing, education, psychology as well as fisheries and wildlife science.

Each fall, WMHPC honors the Legacy Scholarship recipients and their families along with past recipients at a Board Meeting. We have been inspired by their determination to seek higher education, their leadership and public service skills and their commitment to integrity and principle. They carry forward Wayne Morse’s charge to “open the widest door of education to all who have the… capacity to step over that threshold.”

Sunshine Navarro – 2017 

The Seventh Morse Legacy Scholarship recipient, Sunshine Navarro, grew up in rural Junction City with her parents and grandparents. She graduated from Sheldon High School where she established and led the Green Club. She currently attends Lane Community College, majoring in Psychology.

An activist, Sunshine worked with 350 Action Eugene and with Friends of Trees, volunteered at the Circle of Children outdoor education camp at Triangle Lake, and helped clean up city parks. She is training with Cahoots (Crisis Assistance Helping Out on the Streets). Besides her studies and activities, she worked at a local grocery market.

Sunshine is an amazing young woman who has faced the challenges of growing up in poverty and sometimes being homeless. Her personal experience has influenced her to work hard and succeed. She is determined to contribute positively in society. She and her mother, Melissa Flores, attended our October Board meeting. Sunshine’s presentation inspired us. We have confidence she will continue to be a beacon for others to follow.

Julie Mertes and Tony Vezina, former Legacy Scholarship recipients, traveled down from Portland for the scholarship announcement. They brought the Board up to date on their activities and shared how the scholarship impacted their lives.

Shianne Walker – 2016

The sixth Wayne Morse Legacy Scholarship was awarded to Shianne Walker of Eugene, who attended Lane Community College before transferring to the University of Oregon. During a recent visit with the Board, Shianne told us she often thinks about how the WMHPC’s belief in her helped her in turn believe in herself.

Shianne is on the Dean’s List at the University of Oregon and has since received a Ford Family Foundation scholarship. She juggles responsibilities as a single mom, a student, and a leader at the UO, where she is co-director of the Native American Student Union. At LCC, she co-chaired the Native American Student Association (NASA), which championed Chinook Wawa, a language used from the Rocky Mountains west as a trade language. NASA fundraised to keep the language program alive at LCC, and it also is now being taught at Oregon State University.

A member of the Klamath Tribe, Shianne plans to become a social worker and potentially work with the tribe. Raised in Eastern Oregon, Shianne found it impossible to consider college when she was younger because of her family’s economic situation. In her scholarship essay, she spoke eloquently of the importance of expanding educational opportunities for marginalized students. “I am committed to advocating for greater educational opportunities in my own community. People of color continue to be underrepresented in higher education and, as a Native American, this is an area of my focus. From personal experience, I know that higher education can be daunting and isolating for those who don’t feel they have a voice in the dominant society. Upon the successful completion of my education, I plan on finding a position where I can help other marginalized students reach their educational goals.”

Tony Vezina – 2015

The fifth Wayne Morse Legacy Scholarship was awarded to Tony Vezina, then a student at Portland Community College Cascades where he served as ASPCC-Cascades President and Chair of the PCC District Student Council. In addition he headed the Phi Theta Kappa honor society. He founded the Recovery 101 Club at Cascade Campus and initiated a mentoring program at the 4th Dimension Recovery Center. He is working for his Alcohol and Drug Counselor Certificate and hopes to earn a Bachelor’s in sociology.

Tony continued studies at Concordia University and started a nonprofit, 4th Dimension Recovery Center (4D) which helps hundreds of young people on the Portland area monthly. He also serves on the Board for the Oregon Recovery High School Initiative. In 2017, he was honored with the Skidmore Prize, given by Willamette Week to “. . . young adults who devote their work and time to charitable, non-profit organizations that directly benefit the Portland community.”

Growing up with generational addiction, Tony struggled with substance abuse. As he worked to get clean, he earned his GED and was determined to find ways to give back to a community from which he’d taken. He credited relationships with people who approached him to provide help without judgment, unconditional love, hope and the opportunity afforded him at the 4th Dimension Center for motivating him to change his life. His is a remarkable story.

Among those who reached out to Tony was Julie Mertes, our first Legacy Scholarship recipient. He acknowledges her as being especially influential in his recovery and an integral part of him finding hope and direction. It reminds us of what impact the Scholarship can have.


Merriam Weatherhead – 2014

The recipient of the fourth Wayne Morse Legacy Scholarship was Merriam Weatherhead, who majored in sociology at the University of Oregon and graduated in 2015. Merriam earlier attended Lane Community College where she was Student Body President, served as Chair of the Oregon Student Association Board of Directors, and, as a member of the Board of the U.S. Student Association, chaired the Community College Caucus.

A tireless non-partisan political activist, Merriam worked as campaign director for the largest nonpartisan voter registration drive in Oregon which, in 2016, registered over 45,000 students. Her civic involvement began early at Churchill High School with service on the West Eugene Teen Court and as a volunteer with SMART and with Creative Care at Cesar Chavez Elementary School.

Merriam well understands the importance of making post-secondary education more broadly accessible. In her scholarship essay she told us, “It’s been my passion since first arriving on campus. Earlier I had never thought that college was a possibility for me. I don’t want to work just on issues of affordability, but also to ensure that students from under represented communities can attend college free from barriers that may not at first glance appear to be “education” issues, but still affect students and whether they can obtain a degree.”

Currently Merriam is a property manager in Portland and hopes to obtain her real estate license. She volunteers with local animal rescue groups as well.

Dylan McDowell – 2013

WMHPC chose Dylan McDowell, who grew up on the Oregon coast in Yachats, as the 2013 Legacy Scholarship recipient. He has since graduated from Oregon State University and now works in Washington D.C.

Dylan graduated from Waldport High School where he also took on-line courses through Chemekata Community College. At OSU, he majored in both Fisheries and Wildlife Science and in Education. A writer for OSU’s Terra Magazine, he published several articles featuring OSU scientific research and developed an OSU science podcast.

Dylan learned about civic engagement as a member of the Yachats Youth Council beginning in the fifth grade. Youth Council members were encouraged to create proposals and present them to the City Council, resulting in the creation of a community garden, a food pantry, and other local programs. McDowell adds, “The community in Yachats really taught me the power of working together to achieve a common goal. I was able to participate in many projects throughout the town as I grew up, and learned a lot along the way. I was really fortunate to have the support that I did.”

 Dylan currently serves as program director at the National Caucus of Environmental Legislators, a nationwide network of state legislators that is a resource on the environment. He participates in everything from science communications to fundraising and grant writing. He finds it incredibly rewarding to work with state legislators.

Mary Gross – 2012

 Mary Gross was the 2012 Legacy Scholarship recipient, a first-year nursing student at Lane Community College who attended elementary through high school in Pleasant Hill.

While her original intent had been to become a doctor, a medical condition led her to conclude that life and death medical responsibilities were not something she could handle and she left college for several years. Later while helping the victim of a highway traffic accident and assisting in another health emergency, she realized how she “had learned to manage [her] own health, was calm and capable during crisis and could now pursue [her] passion for health care.” Mary plans to become a Nurse Practitioner capable of serving a diverse patient population. In 2013, she was honored by the LCC Foundation with the Patricia & Moreland Speyer Nursing Scholarship for a 2nd Year Student.

Her parents were an important source of inspiration for Mary. Despite never graduating from high school themselves, they “instilled in [her] a deep appreciation for how education can transform lives and how adversity, rather than creating bitterness, can be an inspiration to work even harder and help others who struggle.”

Julie Mertes – 2011

 The inaugural recipient of the newly-created Wayne Morse Legacy Scholarship was Julie Mertes, then a graduate student in social work at Portland State University. A troubled high school drop-out who struggled with drug addiction from an early age and occasional homelessness, Julie secured her secondary education diploma nearly a decade later. With encouragement and support from her grandmother as well as an understanding judge and probation officer, she turned her life around. She eventually enrolled at a community college and began working with the homeless population as well as with student mentoring programs.

Julie graduated magna cum laude from Portland State and received her Master’s in Social Work in 2012 with plans to use her education and hard won knowledge of personal behavioral transformation to help others overcome the kinds of problems and barriers she herself faced. After interning at Volunteers in America Oregon she now serves as a Licensed Clinical Social Worker at the Portland Men’s Residential Center.

During a recent visit with the Board, Julie recounted how receiving our scholarship offered encouragement for her studies and her chosen career. Currently she is organizing her workplace, where many employees lack sufficient benefits. WMHPC couldn’t be more proud of our choice for the first Legacy Scholarship — for her response to the challenges in her life, her outstanding academics and her continuing commitment to serving her community.