Bowl selection Sunday was a big deal for Oregon State junior Melanie Fulmer.
“I was really hoping we’d beat out UCLA for the Alamo Bowl,” she said. “I just sat at my computer hitting the refresh button on the Alamo homepage.”
When her last refresh revealed an Oregon State-Texas Alamo Bowl matchup Dec. 29 in San Antonio, Melanie, a member of the marching band, knew she was headed home.
Finding the right place
Fulmer knows what it’s like to be away from home. It’s a 31-hour drive from Corvallis to Southlake, Texas. That’s where Melanie’s family currently resides, the place she spent the majority of her life growing up.
But Melanie chose Oregon State.
“I knew I definitely wanted to go out of state,” she said of her college search. “I took a visit and really liked it.”
Her dad, Norm, a Beaver alum (’81), encouraged his daughter to at least check out campus. Other than that, he was relatively hands-off.
“One of my other choices was the University of Washington, so my dad started turning on more Beaver games,” Melanie said.
Hilarious, but the playful encouragement likely wouldn’t have mattered. Melanie was hooked when she hit Corvallis.
“It was the environment,” she said. “It was really, really pretty. A lot of people were outside, running, biking. I like being somewhere I could be active. I can walk anywhere I need to go. Texas has a lot of malls and restaurants and it’s all compact. Oregon is much more laid back.”
Not only that, but Melanie, a science junky, was impressed with Oregon State’s programs.
“On my tour, they mentioned research was a big deal at OSU,” she said. “I wanted professors that were actually researching in the field. A lot of them had labs on campus, and I thought that was really important.”
She was right. As Oregon’s leading public research institution and one of the country’s top research universities, Melanie found the right place. She is majoring in biology with a pre-education option and hopes to teach high school science or work in a pathology lab.
Home away from home
Looking back, Melanie has no regrets about breaking the norm and straying far from home.
“I was skeptical about going far away,” she said. “I didn’t think I could go so far away until I got up to campus. If people from my area (Texas) go out of state, it’s to Oklahoma, Arkansas or Louisiana. I just wanted to visit some schools and see what’s out there.”
Her experience alone encouraged Melanie to become a Tour Ambassador for the university. So, just as she was guided around campus on her visit, she is doing the same for incoming students, especially out-of-staters.
“I tell them about the resources OSU has, and living on campus as a freshman,” Melanie said. “I made so many friends and they made it so much like home.”
But what about keeping in touch with family?
“Most computers have webcams these days, “she said. “With Skype, there’s always a way to contact your family. You can actually see their faces, which I think makes a really big difference.”
And out-of-state costs?
“There are scholarships for that,” she said. “I got the non-resident provost scholarship. I always point that out on my tour as well. It’s merit-based. If you come in with a 3.75 GPA and at least 1900 on your SATs, then you qualify.”
The Alamo Bowl
Right now, Melanie is relaxed at home in Southlake, spending holiday time with her family. On Dec. 29, she’ll make the four hour drive down to the Alamodome to meet up and perform with the band.
“I’m really excited just to be able to drive down,” she said. “My family is going too.”
If she runs into anybody thinking about leaving the state for college, she has her recommendations ready.
“I would recommend looking at out-of-state schools, and I would definitely recommend Oregon State,” she said. “Always visit. You’re going to like it or you’re not going to like it, but you can’t tell until you’re there.”
By Colin Huber