Vern Duwell

Vern DuwellVern Duwell of Walton is on track for a new career in health care thanks in large part to a Ford Family Foundation Restart scholarship awarded in spring 2011. That scholarship will cover up to 90 percent of his unmet college costs up to a maximum of $25,000 per year, through degree completion.

Duwell encourages others to seek out scholarships. "You won't get anything if you don't apply." He wouldn't be in college today without scholarship support.

Now 47, Duwell worked for more than 16 years as a skilled millwright. A back injury put an end to that. He moved into RV sales, then that industry collapsed. With two sons to support by then, Duwell wanted something not only secure, but meaningful.

He started thinking about a healthcare career after a challenging personal experience. His son Morgan was diagnosed with liver cancer at just two years old. The outlook was bleak. A transplant was required. Happily, that happened, and today Morgan is a robust 10-year-old who accompanies his dad and his 9-year-old brother Kyle on outdoor excursions such as fishing and four-wheeling around western and southern Oregon.

Duwell loves people and especially kids—he volunteers as Santa every year and helps out Toys for Tots—and he knows that his technical skills from his millwrighting days will make him a quick study in learning the high-tech equipment used in radiology or nursing, the two careers that most interest him. So far he's making it through the rigors of anatomy and physiology and other pre-requisites as a full-time student at Lane. He spends his free time with his kids and his fiancé, who works in a hospital emergency room.

Published by Marketing and Public Relations February 2012.