Photo by Shivani Jinger
Andrew Harker, who graduated in March with a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering and a minor in Spanish, plans on spending much more time in the classroom.
“I’ve always had this thought of being an educator,” Harker said. “In high school, I had the opportunity to be a student leader for Oregon Outdoor School with the Multnomah Education Service District and fell in love with it. Education is one of our most powerful advocacy tools; it’s the cornerstone of society.”
As he began his engineering courses, Harker declared a Spanish minor and immediately explored his nonacademic interests. Since his second year, he has served as a peer advocate at the Office of Advocacy, where he supports students accused of academic misconduct while helping them understand their rights, university policies, and due process. Further, he joined the College Democrats at Oregon State in his first year and is now club president, having served as club vice president, state-level financial director, and state-level president.
Harker has also been involved with Oregon State’s Engineers Without Borders chapter, serving as club treasurer during his second year and president during his third, and recently concluding his stint as executive board member.
“Engineers Without Borders has been great for focusing on social and humanitarian aspects of engineering while still finding more ways to explore the career,” Harker said. “Serving as the executive board member, I’ve appreciated the opportunity to meet and mentor lots of people. It has been an important part of my college experience.”
Harker’s experiences at Oregon State make him an ideal candidate for the Fulbright US Student Program, which is administered at Oregon State by the National and Global Scholarship Advising office, so he was elated upon learning he had been named as an English teaching assistant finalist to teach at a high school in Spain. Besides getting a chance to bolster his Spanish language skills, Harker appreciates that the program values interdisciplinary collaboration.
“Fulbright seems like the perfect opportunity to explore education in a setting different from my own,” he explained. “I think the best educators are those aware of different perspectives, so it’s a great way to prepare myself to be the best educator I can be.”
Harker plans to obtain a master’s degree, eager to apply the problem-solving and analytical skills he has honed in the College of Engineering to help students excel in high school STEM classrooms.
“Through teaching math and engineering, I want to impart self-advocacy, empowering students to know they’re capable of pursuing engineering if they wish,” Harker said. “This is my educational mission.”