Link to Owner Dr. Robert B. Pamplin Jr.



Wilsonville Chamber of Commerce selects two graduating seniors for scholarships

COURTESY PHOTO - From left, Jason Jordan, Republic Services/WACC board president; Kevin O'Malley, WACC CEO; Karen Cardenas; Derek Cauley; and Tara Sprehe, dean of Clackamas Community College.
Without scholarships, it's unlikely that Wilsonville High School seniors Karen Cardenas and Derek Cauley would attend college.

But after each were awarded a $1,000 scholarship from the Wilsonville Chamber of Commerce (WACC), their lives after high school just became a little more clear.

In an effort to respond to local businesses' need for workers in the trade industries, the chamber awarded two graduating Wilsonville seniors scholarships for continuing higher education in a skilled trade.

The scholarships are to be used for tuition for any type of continuing education — two-year programs, auto mechanic schools, cosmetology schools, among others — and for any materials or tools needed.

"Three years ago, the business community leaders who serve on our Wilsonville Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors recognized that virtually all local businesses were having difficulty finding qualified candidates to match area job growth," said Kevin O'Malley, WACC CEO. "We created the Wilsonville Chamber Workforce Scholarship to provide an opportunity to help individuals who want to improve their skills and be able to access much-needed scholarship funding."

Cardenas, who moved here from Mexico three years ago and started attending WHS in 2015, says this scholarship is a blessing.

"In Mexico, there's not a lot of opportunities to earn scholarships, and here I had the opportunity to earn a scholarship," Cardenas said through her translator. "My mom had told me when I was going to go to college that, unfortunately, she wasn't going to be able to help me pay for my studies."

Cardenas has always been interested in constructing homes and plans to use her scholarship money at Clackamas Community College to study a program that relates to her interests.

"It grabbed my attention from the beginning because it's something different from other jobs and I've seen how they build different types of walls. For example, in Mexico, houses are built so much more different than they are here. Here, the houses all utilize wood; they have a wood frame," Cardenas said, adding that houses where she's from were built with art and heavy detail. "Even the doors of the houses might be made out of wood or steel, but they are all very detailed."

She hopes to eventually build Mexican-style homes in America and construct her own home from the ground up.

Cauley plans to attend CCC as well. He wants to study manufacturing, particularly programming code into machines.

"I'm mainly interested in welding, but I figured something like this would be good to know how to do anyway," Cauley said. "I don't really like normal jobs. I like to be outside doing stuff and welding fits into that pretty good."

Cauley added that since he comes from a family that would not be able to afford his college education, this scholarship was a great opportunity that helped boost his future.

"I'm super stoked and can't wait to see what lies in front of me," he said.

Cardenas said the scholarship will help pay for her courses that will further her career, but she plans to pay for English classes as well.

When asked what her dream job is, Cardenas said she doesn't have a dream job, rather she dreams to have a good job so she can help her mom financially.

"I'm thankful to God for giving these people a signal so they could give me this scholarship," she said.

The chamber raises funds for the scholarship through their annual Chamber Golf Outing, which will be held June 19 at Langdon Farms Golf Club, 24377 Airport Road NE, Aurora. They are currently looking for golfers to help support the program.

"Through our annual Charity Golf Tournament event and additional generous donations, we look forward to continuing to grow our Workforce Scholarship fund and serve this very important community need," O'Malley said.

Readers can learn more at

Reporter Clara Howell can be reached at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or 503-479-2384.

You count on us to stay informed and we depend on you to fund our efforts. Quality local journalism takes time and money. Please support us to protect the future of community journalism.

Go to top
JSN Time 2 is designed by | powered by JSN Sun Framework