by Desiree M. Cooper
“Seeing the moments when students catch on to a learning objective is a great feeling.” – Brock Ostrander
Brock Ostrander, who graduated from Eastern New Mexico University with a bachelor’s in communication with an emphasis in public relations in 2003, is helping students by providing scholarships through the Ostrander Scholar Society.
The origin of the Society dates to April 1997, when Mr. Ostrander met Josh Sain, Vice Chief of the National Order of the Arrow (Scouting’s National Honor Society).
Mr. Sain inspired him to remain active in the Order of the Arrow and pursue leadership roles beyond the local level. That October, Mr. Sain died after a tragic automobile accident at the age of 19.
“I decided that something ought to be done to keep his spirit alive, and, thus, the Josh Sain Memorial Scholarship © was created with the blessing and support of Mr. Sain’s family,” explained Mr. Ostrander.
The first scholarship was awarded in 1999. By 2005, the scholarship was becoming known and the number of applicants was expected to increase.
It was decided that the program should operate as a non-profit organization to give the general public the option to support the scholarship with their donations.
In 2007, Mr. Ostrander incorporated the organization as the Ostrander Scholar Society and established a Board of Directors to help manage its operations.
In March of 2011, the Internal Revenue Service determined the Ostrander Scholar Society qualified as a 501(c)(3) tax exempt entity.
“What makes each scholarship unique is they are merit-based,” said Mr. Ostrander, the executive director of the Society and part-time school teacher for Kennedale Independent School District.
The Josh Sain Memorial Scholarship is specifically for Eagle Scouts who have a high level of active service within Order of the Arrow. Applicants must be attending an accredited college/university. Funds can be used toward any field of study.
The Michael Rossman Memorial Scholarship, a third scholarship program that is currently in its conceptual stage, will honor students pursuing a career in animal services. A dear friend of Mr. Ostrander, Michael Rossman loved his pets and recognized the value animals play in daily life.
Contingent on available funding, the scholarship is anticipated to launch in 2016.
Another recent idea for the Society is the creation of a college internship program where students could potentially earn college credits and a stipend to be used toward college expenses.
Mr. Ostrander is hoping to launch the internship program within the next 3-5 years, possibly sooner, if a benefactor is found.
“In the meantime, we welcome anyone who is interested in serving as a volunteer,” he said. Volunteers can lend their talents in fundraising, promotions/marketing and graphic design/newsletter writing.
Overall, roughly 25-30 scholarships are awarded through these programs nationally.
“Our hope is to substantially increase funding, so we can select more applicants each year,” explained Mr. Ostrander, whose job duties include day-to-day operations to strategic planning with our Board of Directors.
As of 2015, only one ENMU student has ever applied for one of the Ostrander scholarship programs. Ben Bruelhart, a music major, attended ENMU roughly 10 years ago and was chosen as a scholarship recipient.
As of 2015, only one ENMU student has ever applied for one of the Ostrander scholarship programs. Ben Bruelhart, a music major, attended ENMU roughly 10 years ago and was chosen as a scholarship recipient. Mr. Ostrander would like to see more ENMU students apply for his Society’s scholarships. As a certified school teacher, he works primarily with special education high school students. He occasionally teaches special needs elementary kids.
He finds both of his positions (teaching and being executive director) “equally rewarding. “Teaching is a family tradition and I love helping students learn,” explained the Albuquerque/Cimarron-native. “Seeing the moments when students catch on to a learning objective is a great feeling.”
The executive director “loves meeting new people, advancing a worthy cause and helping our young leaders achieve a higher education.
The biggest challenge for him in teaching is “keeping up with lesson planning and maintaining order in the classroom.”
For running the Society, the toughest part is “raising enough funds each year to keep the programs afloat as well as researching the most effective ways to market and promote what we do.”
The Sigma Chi’s immediate career goal is to either teach full-time or work full-time in a non-profit management position. His long-term career goal is to build the Ostrander Scholar Society into a well-established, medium-sized non-profit and work full-time for the organization.
Mr. Ostrander, who enjoys traveling, spending time with family, playing guitar and fishing, is married to Jane, an ENMU graduate. They have a cat, Snickerdoodle, and a bird, Tweetums.
“We do not yet have children but we are exploring the idea of adoption,” said Mr. Ostrander. He chose to attend ENMU because of its location and size. “I was within a few hours of family and I prefer small town settings. The university also had a more welcoming feel than other universities in New Mexico.” The communications major tried two other majors, pre-med and business administration, neither were a “good fit” for him. During high school and college, he spent “countless hours” writing newsletters, articles and formulating strategic plans for non-profit organizations.
“After reviewing the curriculum for a degree in communication, I knew it would be the best fit and everything began to click for me once I settled on this major.” Mr. Ostrander said the communication program prepared him for careers in the real world by providing a “wealth of opportunities to learn not only communication, but also business and marketing. “The extracurricular activities available to me complemented what I was learning in my classes and that knowledge and experience is transferable to so many career paths,” said the graduate, who participated in Alpha Phi Omega co-ed service fraternity (which is no longer active in Portales), Sigma Chi Fraternity and served for a brief time as the Director of Campus Comedy for the Associated Students Activities Board (ASAB). For one semester, he served as station manager for KZIA student radio and worked with the adviser to bring in funding to update equipment and expand operations. He also worked for “The Chase” as a student reporter for one year. “Eastern’s smaller class sizes and friendly instructors/professors allowed me to take my learning to new heights. From class discussions to hands-on experiences, ENMU gave me a solid foundation on which to build my goals. I am proud to call ENMU my alma mater.” Before becoming a teacher, Mr. Ostrander spent one year in Wyoming working for the state’s largest animal shelter. As the volunteer director, he oversaw all recruitment, training and placement of volunteers.
He also served as an interim marketing coordinator and oversaw all print media, social media, special events and was the media spokesman for the local television stations.
Prior to his time in Wyoming, he worked in a myriad of fundraising, sales and customer service jobs. Mr. Ostrander currently serves his local community via the Sigma Chi Fort Worth Alumni Chapter. They do service projects every year to benefit the local food bank and a non-profit that helps victims of domestic violence. He also volunteers for the Burleson Animal Shelter and assist with animals, adoption events and fundraising events. Applications for scholarships through the Ostrander Scholastic Society are available at www.ostranderscholars.org