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OWAA Bodie McDowell Scholarship Application – 2018


NAME (LAST/FIRST/MIDDLE): Ross, Megan Nicole

PERMANENT ADDRESS: 8182 Pippen Dr. Romeo, MI 48065

EMAIL ADDRESS: meganross@ou.edu

PLACE OF BIRTH: Royal Oak, MI                   DATE OF BIRTH: February 5, 1997     GENDER: Female



CLASS IN 2018-19 SCHOOL YEAR (CHECK ONE):            Undergraduate __X__       Master’s Candidate _____

CURRENT GPA: 4.000         MAJOR FIELD(S) OF STUDY: Journalism (major) + Art and Spanish (minors)





I’ve been working as a freelance photographer for a little over four years. A majority of my paid projects have been portraits and weddings, but nearly all of my personal projects have been related to the outdoors. I used to think of landscape photography as sort of a guilty pleasure—something I absolutely loved to do but was not exactly valuable or useful. It wasn’t until recent years, when I began to develop a deeper appreciation for conservation, that I realized the important role of outdoor photography and art in that effort. I believe that journalists and artists are uniquely equipped to cultivate in others an appreciation for the natural world and a sense of global citizenship. By pointing to the beautiful and the broken things in the world, we can show people that they are part of a world that is much bigger than themselves and encourage an active participation in that world.

Last summer, I went on a field works research trip with the art school at the University of Oklahoma. We drove from Oklahoma to Big Bend National Park and followed the Mexico border across New Mexico, Arizona and into California. We veered up into Utah and made our way back east. We camped and hiked and spoke to locals in the towns we visited. The objective was documenting the social and political climate in the region and analyzing the way it is impacted by the landscape there. Every day, we were photographing, filming, writing and sketching what we found. Rarely have I felt more energized and excited by my work. It was a fantastic experience and certainly solidified my desire to be traveling and working in the field in my future career.

My photography and journalism classes have given me an opportunity further my outdoor communication efforts while refining my technical skills, using flexible assignments as an opportunity to do more work with an outdoor focus.

I have always had a fascination with natural sciences. My high school biology class was one of the best courses I’ve taken. In college, I’ve taken courses in botany and the geology of volcanoes and earthquakes, both of which ranked among my favorites at OU. The more I learn about the way the natural world operates, the more awestruck and engaged I become.



On fair-weather weekends, I can’t escape this crowded college town fast enough. I pack my car with some friends and a generous supply of trail mix, and we drive until we lose cell reception. There’s nothing quite like stretching your legs on unfamiliar ground after hours of being crammed in the back seat. We spend the afternoon hiking and climbing before finishing the day fireside, laughing and exchanging stories in the moonlight. Finally, we tumble into a tent, totally exhausted, and sleep harder than we would on our mattresses at home.

I’ve had the chance to explore campgrounds and trails all over Oklahoma since moving here for school. A few long weekends have been spent in Texas and Arkansas. Before that, I camped in the desert of New Mexico and Arizona and in the Smoky Mountains of Tennessee, and of course, by the beautiful Great Lakes of Michigan.

Summers in Michigan shaped my love for the outdoors more than just about anything. Every Saturday morning in the summer, my dad and I race our mountain bikes down the rolling dirt roads of our hometown. The cool morning breeze whips against my skin and the branches of maple trees stretch out above the road, farm fields slowly passing by on either side.

My aunt and uncle’s property has always been a haven for outdoor activities. My brothers and I fish for hours off kayaks in the lake, listening to the waves gently hit the plastic frame and pulling a hook from the lip of a glistening bass or crappie every now and then. We would ride four-wheelers through the fields and past the bee hives in the pine woods, our little cousins in tow. Under the careful supervision of my dad and uncle, we shot at clay pigeons, falling into a steady rhythm of “pull,” bang, silence.



I love art, and I do my best to carve time out of my busy schedule to be creative. I usually gravitate towards drawing and painting. I love mixing different media: watercolor and ink and colored pencil and acrylic paint. Recently, though, I’ve been exploring fiber art more extensively: macramé, weaving and embroidery. It’s a very tactile process, so it makes for a refreshing break from schoolwork, which requires so much time staring at a screen.

Reading is another of my favorite pastimes. Right now, I’m working on “All the Pretty Horses” by Cormac McCarthy, which I adore so far, but I generally tend to read non-fiction. Memoirs and biographies are my usual choices. Last month, I finished “Wild” by Cheryl Strayed, the story of her solo hike up the Pacific Crest Trail. As someone who has been interested in long-distance backpacking for a while, her vivid descriptions of the land and honest accounts of mental obstacles were both challenging and inspiring.

I also spend a lot of time improving personal fitness. A few years ago, I started practicing yoga regularly, and it has become one of my favorite forms of exercise. It requires one to develop an active physical awareness, a huge benefit to holistic health. I also like to run, go to the gym or play volleyball with my intramural team. Recently, I’ve been climbing regularly at a local gym, and I’m excited to improve that skill and take it outside.

Volunteering played a crucial role in shaping the way I see the world. I grew up about 40 minutes north of Detroit in a nice home with a nice backyard and nice neighbors. When I was little, my dad would wake me up early to go to neighborhood cleanup days in the city, and trust me, the neighborhoods we worked in needed the cleanup. We would plant gardens and paint houses and haul mulch. And I saw a lot of people who had a lot less than I did. It was through those experiences that I came to understand how fortunate I had been and also how easily I could make a difference in someone else’s life.

In middle and high school, I served as a student leader for my youth group. Our student leadership team decided that we wanted to place a strong emphasis on service. We volunteered at homeless shelters in Detroit and organized fund-raising and events to support a group fighting human trafficking in India, Nepal and Bangladesh. We raised money to dig two wells in impoverished African communities with Charity Water. But perhaps most valuable were the “local mission trips” we organized annually. We spent days serving at nursing homes, rehab centers, churches and schools all within our own zip code, with the goal to serve the communities we lived in and build lasting relationships there.

It was also during this time, I became a member of my church worship team, singing backup vocals or playing the bass guitar and keys. I loved being able to use those hobbies to give back to my church community, and I continue to serve in this capacity whenever I’m home in Michigan.

In 2016, I volunteered as the marketing director for an event called “Off the Market: Putting an End to Human Trafficking,” at the University of Oklahoma. It was day-long conference discussing strategies for fighting modern slavery, a cause I care about deeply. To increase visibility, I designed promotional materials, built a website and managed all social media outreach.

During my first two years at OU, I lead a small group for a campus ministry. We met regularly for inductive Bible study and discussion, but we also volunteered at a local homeless shelter. The prevalence of homelessness in a college town like Norman, Oklahoma illustrated for me the educational and economic disparity that plagues this country, and it’s an issue that remains important to me today.





University of Oklahoma Correspondent in Residence

Former War Correspondent at ABC, NBC and CNN

Four-time Emmy Award Winner

405 325 1866 | mikeboettcher@ou.edu



University of Oklahoma Journalism Professor

Former Reporter and Editor at the Chicago Tribune

Pulitzer Prize Winner

405 325 9020 | j.shmeltzer@ou.edu



Associate Professor, Photography and Imaging at the University of Oklahoma

405 325 3637 | stewart@ou.edu



University of Oklahoma Journalism Professor

 National Press Photographer’s Association ‘s Workshop Chair

405 325 4137 | juliejones@ou.edu



Wardosky & Associates, Inc. President


586 337 6579 |  drwinsurance@gmail.com



University of Oklahoma Student Media Adviser

405 325 6334 | sethprince@ou.edu