PLU Women's Center

Katherine Kandel and Elizabeth Oleksak Scholarship

The Katherine Kandel and Elizabeth Oleksak Scholarship for the Women’s Center was established in March 2010 to celebrate the 20th anniversary of the PLU Women’s Center and Women’s & Gender Studies Program. The scholarship shines light on the immense importance and influence of women in community, especially those women who have been invisible in the history of our society.

The scholarship represents a belief that power and influence should not be limited by gender, race, sexuality, class or access to education. Each spring the scholarship will be awarded to a PLU student committed to support the mission of the Women’s Center through research or programming.

The lead gift for this scholarship endowment was donated by Anthropology Professor and founding chair of PLU’s Women’s Studies program and the Women’s Center, Dr. Elizabeth Brusco, in honor of her grandmothers Katherine Kandel and Elizabeth Oleksak.

The scholarship recipient will work with the PLU Women’s Center on either research or programming throughout the academic year in which s/he receives the award. There is an expected time commitment of one to two hours per week for the academic year. Through involvement in the Women’s Center, award recipients will enrich the fabric of university life while increasing their own research and leadership skills.

Who may apply?

Any continuing full-time undergraduate student with demonstrated leadership and/or involvement in activities within a women’s and gender studies context. Preference will be given to first-generation college students and applicants who have demonstrated a commitment to the Women’s Center.


  • Renewal of the award is NOT automatic. A complete application must be submitted each academic year.
  • The information in the application must be no more than 2 years old.
  • Recipient must be a full-time undergraduate student.
  • Recipient must have a cumulative GPA of 3.0 or above.
  • Recipient must be a continuing PLU sophomore, junior or senior.
  • The Selection Committee’s decision is final.

Scholarship Legacy

Elizabeth Brusco

Dr. Elizabeth Brusco speaks at the Women’s Center’s 20th Anniversary Gala on March 22, 2010.

picture of Elizabeth Brusco with mom and grandmother
Maria's Photo
Maria Cruse, Class of 2016

Story of Impact

Hello! My name is Maria Cruse, and I’m a senior majoring in Women’s and Gender Studies with a Music minor. I was awarded the Kandel-Oleksak Scholarship through the Women’s Center for the 2015-2016 academic year. Working in the Women’s Center as part of my scholarship has been a rewarding and vital community and relationship-building experience. I’ve always felt a sense of belonging visiting the Women’s Center space, but by working more intimately in the space with my peers and mentors, I’ve been able to form stronger relationships with people and with the work. I’ve be able to share my personality with them and have it reciprocated in a fun-loving environment. Two projects that I’ve coordinated this fall are organizing the Love Your Body Day campaign in October and a gender spectrum panel for the annual Gender Exploration Week in November.

I’ve also enjoyed my role on the Women’s Center Advisory Board as part of this scholarship program. My work with the Advisory Board has provided me with the opportunity to meet and engage in thoughtful inquiry and to collaborate with faculty and staff in order to work towards gender equity and social justice at PLU. The scholarship program has also allowed me to learn and grow in practical ways. I’ve expanded and refined my event planning skills – a set of skills which are important to my development and success in my various roles on campus. I’m incredibly grateful for this experience and am looking forward to the rest of my year in this scholarship program.

Please consider supporting student experiences at PLU by making a donation (however small) to the Women’s Center today. And thank you for your support of vital Women’s Center programs like the Kandel-Oleksak Scholarship!

Past Recipients

2010-2011: Lauren Fuglevand (Biology)
2011-2012: Audrey Lewis (Chinese Studies & WMGS)
2012-2013: Malia Oshiro (Secondary Education)
2013-2014: Jenny Taylor (Hispanic Studies) and Leslie Ducay (Communications–Public Relations)
2014-2015: Lauren Mendez (Political Science)
2015-2016: Maria Cruse (Women’s & Gender Studies)