By Audrey Engel
This fall, the Oregon Right to Life Education Foundation is offering its third annual $2,500 scholarship to students majoring in journalism, film, literature or other types of media communication. The application is due Nov. 1.
I learned about the media scholarship last year, just a couple weeks before the deadline. As a literature and creative writing major, I was intrigued by the opportunities it presented. The scholarship called for good communication skills, a strong pro-life conviction, and a need to receive extra college tuition.
When I talked to Kate Ewald, director of the Education Foundation, she emphasized that ORTL focuses on presenting information about the value of life. Through a 10-20 hour internship included with the scholarship, ORTL trains students to understand and communicate a pro-life message.
At the time, I had little experience with journalism or nonfiction, and I wasn’t sure that fiction would count as an appropriate type of communication for ORTL. Still, I submitted the application, along with two short essays and the reference letters ORTL requested.
In December, I found out that ORTL had selected me for the 2009 scholarship.
ORLT expects applicants to participate in an interview with the scholarship committee, and the winner will attend three hour-long seminars on abortion, assisted suicide and stem cell research. I was able to drive to ORTL’s office in Keizer to fulfill these requirements.
Before I started, I knew the general arguments over abortion and stem cell research, but the seminars provided a thorough background on the issues, as well as some revealing facts. For example, many people oppose cloning as a source for stem cell lines, but some advocates re-label the process as “Somatic Cell Nuclear Transfer” to avoid the negative associations of “cloning.”
Also, polls show that most people oppose late-term abortion, but they don’t realize that the procedures are still legal and largely unregulated. My first assignment was a 400-word research article on common myths about abortion.
I wrote two other short articles during my internship, including a movie review for “Juno” and an interview with an adoptive family, describing the adoption process and the way it had affected their family.
These articles helped me to see pro-life issues differently. I realized I couldn’t just argue that abortion is wrong and harmful; I need explain how women could find help through adoption or community outreach centers. In the process, I discovered a new form of storytelling.
For students interested in the scholarship, ORTL offers more information and an application form on its website: