These remarkable women in Portland State history made their mark on Oregon

From the 1990 Viking yearbook, courtesy PSU Library Archives

During Women’s History Month, we salute these remarkable women in Portland State history who went on to make their mark in Oregon and the world.

Judith Ramaley

Judith Ramaley

The first woman to serve as president of a university in the Oregon State System

Dr. Judith A. Ramaley was president of Portland State University from 1990-1997, a pivotal time in the university’s history.

She served as president of Winona State University from 2005-2012, after which she became a distinguished professor of public service at Portland State.

Watch an interview with Ramaley by Liza Schade on May 22, 2020 in the PSU Library Archives, in which she discusses lessons learned during her time as president of PSU, ideas behind the new University Studies curriculum, diversifying student and faculty, and creating safer and more inclusive university spaces.


Gladys McCoy, ’67

From the Spring 1985 issue of Portland State Perspective, courtesy PSU Library Archives

First African American elected to public office in the state of Oregon

Born in Atlanta, Georgia, on February 28, 1928, to Tilman Sims and Lucile Dawson and raised in Chattanooga, Tennessee, McCoy grew up during the Depression in the Jim Crow South.

The first in her family to attend college, McCoy graduated in 1949 from Talladega College in Alabama. She moved to Portland, married William McCoy, and had seven children before she decided to pursue a graduate degree at Portland State University. She received a master’s degree in social work in 1967.

During her years of service, McCoy focused on issues of diversity in public workplaces, public health programs and social services for low-income populations, and justice and human rights.

In 2018, the Multnomah County Commission adopted the Gladys McCoy Standard, which directs the county to interview qualified candidates of underrepresented groups for leadership roles in county departments.

Gladys McCoy died in Portland on April 11, 1993. Each year, the Multnomah County Office of Community Involvement presents the Gladys McCoy Lifetime Achievement Award for “volunteer service dedicated to improving the county community.”


Avel Gordly, ’74

First African American woman to be elected to the Oregon Senate

From Senator Avel L. Gordly Papers

Born Feb. 13, 1947, Avel Gordly served in the senate from 1997 to 2009. Previously, she served for five years in the Oregon House of Representatives.

Gordly graduated from Girls Polytechnic High School in 1965 and worked at Pacific Northwest Bell until 1970, when she enrolled at Portland State. She earned a degree in the administration of justice in 1974, the first person in her family to graduate from college. She went on to work for the Oregon Corrections Division as a women’s work-release counselor and later as a probation officer.

She was elected state representative from north and northeast Portland in 1992. In 1996, she was elected to the Oregon Senate, where she served from 1997 to 2009.

In 2008, OHSU opened the Avel Gordly Center for Healing, which provides mental health and psychiatric services. Gordly has also served as a professor of black studies at PSU.


Nancy Ryles

First woman to serve on the Public Utility Commission

Nancy Ryles served in the Oregon House of Representatives, the Oregon Senate and as one of three members of the state’s Public Utility Commission. She was known as an advocate for education and for equality for women and minorities. An elementary school in Beaverton is named after her.

Born Nancy Ann Wyly, she graduated from Jefferson High in Northeast Portland and was chosen as Portland Rose Festival Queen in 1955. Ryles attended Portland State and Willamette University, but did not graduate from college.

Nancy Ryles

Ryles served on the Beaverton School Board from 1972 to 1978. The Oregon Education Association gave her its Human Rights Award in 1974, and she was named Beaverton’s “First Citizen” in 1979. She was elected to the Oregon House of Representatives in 1978, the Oregon Senate in 1982, and was appointed to the Oregon Public Utility Commission in 1987.

In July 1990, Ryles was diagnosed with brain cancer. She died in September at age 52. Her early death gave her farewell speech to the Senate added poignance: “The challenge then is to do the best we can … wherever we are … in whatever time we have. I hope I have done that.”

Before she died, a group of Ryles’ friends decided to honor her legacy by creating a scholarship in her name. She insisted that it go to students who returned to school at PSU after their education was interrupted.


Betty Roberts, ’58

From Honorable Betty Roberts Papers, courtesy PSU Library Archives

First woman to serve on the Oregon Supreme Court and the Oregon Court of Appeals

Betty Roberts was the 83rd Associate Justice of the Oregon Supreme Court, the highest state court in Oregon.

She was the first woman on the Oregon Supreme Court and the first woman on the Oregon Court of Appeals. Roberts served from 1982 to 1986 on the high court and from 1977 to 1982 on the Court of Appeals. She graduated from Portland State College in 1958.

A native of Kansas and raised in Texas, Roberts had previously been elected to both chambers of the Oregon Legislative Assembly, but lost bids for the governor’s office and the United States Senate, both in 1974. She was married three times, including to Frank L. Roberts and Keith Skelton, both of whom she would serve with in the Oregon Legislative Assembly.

She was a private mediator and senior judge until her death due to pulmonary fibrosis.


Margaret Carter, ’72

Senator Avel Gordly (left) with Representative Margaret Carter (center) from Gretchen Kafoury Papers, courtesy PSU Library Archives

First African American in the Oregon House

Born December 29, 1935, Margaret Carter was the first black woman elected to the state’s legislature. She served in the Oregon House of Representatives from 1985 to 1999, and the state senate from 2001 to 2009.

Born Margaret Hunter in Shreveport, Louisiana, on Dec. 29, 1935, she was one of nine children. Her father was a Baptist minister, and her mother was a cook at the school cafeteria. After getting married she had five daughters by the age of 28, and moved to Oregon in 1967 to escape abuse by her then husband. In 1970, she enrolled at Portland State, graduating in 1972 with a bachelor of arts degree in education. She earned a masters of education in psychology from Oregon State University in 1973.

She resigned from the senate in 2009 and took a post as deputy director for human services programs at the Oregon Department of Human Services.


Tawna D. Sanchez, ’12

From the Spring 2017 issue of Portland State Magazine

Second Native American to serve in the Oregon legislature

Born and raised in Portland, Sanchez is Native American, of Shoshone, Bannock, and Ute descent. She is currently serving in the Oregon House of Representatives, for the 43rd District which covers parts of north-central Portland. She is the second Native American to serve in the Oregon legislature, and the first to represent Portland.

Sanchez graduated with a bachelor’s degree from Marylhurst University and with a master’s degree in social work from Portland State University in 2012.

Sanchez served on the Oregon Child Welfare Advisory Commission and the Oregon Family Services Review Commission, and has worked with the Native American Youth and Family Center for much of her life.


Deborah Murdock

Deborah Murdock with friends and family

Debbie Murdock was known and widely respected for her tireless belief in and dedication to public service and Portland State University. She worked tirelessly at PSU for 14 years serving as lobbyist and strategic advisor to the president. Her intellect, passion and powers of persuasion led to tens of millions of dollars in funding for PSU and policy directives that helped transform the University into the largest in the Oregon Higher Education System.

During her time at PSU, Murdock helped secure funding for several major projects, including the Native American Student and Community Center.

Murdock died of cancer in 2007 at the age of 52. Her colleagues and friends established the Deborah Murdock Scholarship to honor her memory in a way that she would have loved: by helping PSU students reach their educational goals.

The Memorial Clock Tower in Urban Plaza is named after Murdock, and is said to represent her energy and vitality.


SOURCES: pdxscholar.library.pdx.edu, wikipedia.org. oregonencyclopedia.org.
All images courtesy of Portland State University Special Collections & University Archives

In Defense of Comfort Objects

By Claire Golden

There’s a scene in one of my favorite books, The Giver by Lois Lowry, that’s stuck with me. It’s a dystopian novel where every year children go through a different ritual for their age group. One year, they have to give up their “comfort object,” which is a stuffed animal they’ve had since they were born. The idea is that the children are now old enough that they shouldn’t have a stuffed animal anymore. This appalled me as a kid and continues to appall me today as a 23-year-old college graduate. See, I have more stuffed animals than ever and I don’t plan on stopping anytime soon.

Since The Giver is a dystopian novel, it’s showing a world that we shouldn’t aspire to. But in our own society, don’t we do exactly the same thing? I remember getting dolls and plushies from my friends on my birthday, only to start receiving clothes and makeup when we hit our teenage years. But I hadn’t stopped liking stuffed animals. It just wasn’t cool to do so anymore.

Maybe it’s thanks to my homeschool background that I managed to hold onto my stuffed animal collection rather than giving it away due to peer pressure. But I love my plush companions. They’re fluffy, soft, cheerful and comforting to cuddle with. I dream of meeting a kiwi bird in real life, but since that’s unlikely to happen anytime soon, I got a plush version that I can hug. When my pet chicken died, I got a plush that looks just like her that I can hug when I really miss her. Some of my stuffed animals are over a decade old and hold lots of memories. I wouldn’t give them up for anything.

Since it isn’t socially acceptable to have stuffed animals in public, I brought plush keychains and pencil cases with me to create the illusion of what I thought was maturity. But the fact that I greet my stuffed animals when I come home has nothing to do with how functional of an adult I am. My stuffed pandas sit next to my desk while I work from home. I make my own doctor’s appointments…and then bring a fluffy alpaca to the hospital with me. (Pictured is Millicent the alpaca, first in a bonnet I made for her, and second, at my surgery consultation last week.) 

I’m learning to care less about what people think. But you know what? Whenever someone sees one of my plushies, they usually think it’s awesome. Often they want to give it a hug, and they tell me about their own stuffed animals at home. It’s like me embracing my own weirdness gives them the courage to reveal their own. Sometimes it even helps me make a new friend. Life is too short to hide something that makes you happy, especially when it’s this fluffy and cute.

A New Fit Experience

by Beth Royston

Earlier in the year, I had the opportunity to try something I’d always been curious about — working with a personal trainer. I was fortunate enough to try purchasing sessions with a personal trainer from campus Rec, with the hopes that I could get assistance developing an at-home routine that would help me get a little more fit. Due to the pandemic, I wasn’t playing sports anymore and I’ve never been a fan of running. I was hoping that being able to exercise in my garage with someone to motivate me would be a novel experience that would be just what I needed.

Looking back on my sessions, I am definitely glad that I tried it. It’s a lot easier for me to stay motivated if I have someone to check in with, and I was grateful that I could ask questions and figure out what reasonable goals were with a professional. Before I committed to purchasing sessions, I was able to meet with my trainer to discuss my goals, and feel out if it was a good fit. I think it helped me to have clear goals, like something that I could easily fit into my busy day, but my trainer was able to help me clarify those goals even more and get specific. Finding relatively short but intense workouts that I could do at home helped me minimize the personal excuses that I’ve always come up with — I don’t have enough time, or I don’t want to go to the gym, et cetera. I also did realize that I think I honestly prefer sports as my form of exercise. I’m just not a big gym person, and while working out at home is definitely better, sometimes it still feels a bit too similar. I’m definitely going to keep up the workout routine that I developed up until the pandemic is over, but I’m looking forward to being able to join a sport again and have that be my go-to. I would say overall that I recommend the experience if you can try it and do want to check it out! 

PSU student-founded Turner Automotive converts gas-fueled cars to hydrogen-combustion

Blake Turner got the idea for Turner Automotive got the idea for his business from working on a Chemistry class term project, but the idea wasn’t fully developed until later when he participated in Invent Oregon, a PSU-led competition for college students to address imperative problems.
Photo by Patric Simon

What if the solution to a more sustainable car is to install a hydrogen engine conversion kit instead of replacing the entire car?

For student-entrepreneur Blake Turner, converting existing gasoline-fueled cars to zero-carbon hydrogen-combustion vehicles using a conversion kit is the solution to a more affordable and sustainable car.

Turner is the founder of Turner Automotive, a business that focuses on converting existing gasoline-fueled cars to hydrogen-combustion. Turner says he got the idea for his business from working on a Chemistry class term project, but the idea wasn’t fully developed until later when he participated in Invent Oregon, a PSU-led competition for college students to address imperative problems.

Here’s how Turner explains Turner Automotive: “Our conversion kit can convert a gasoline engine to hydrogen without modifying any existing components. The idea is that converting a car is much more affordable, convenient and sustainable than building new cars. The affordability comes from the fact that it’s a small conversion kit, rather than a whole new car, and the convenience is that you can go back to burning gasoline at any time, allowing for a gradual transition that does not exist at the moment.”

Turner Automotive was built with the help of PSU’s Cube Program. The Cube is a four-month-long program that helps students turn their prototypes into reality, preparing them for launch by the end of the program. Currently, Turner Automotive is developing its Hydrogen Engine Conversion Kit.

“While COVID-19 has put a serious stop to our ability to work with our mentors, I hope to come out of this pandemic driving a fully converted car! We have explored various business strategies and how we plan to distribute our kit,” Turner said.

We asked Blake about his business and experience at PSU.

“The Cube has been invaluable as a resource for funding, access to mentors, and most importantly access to other student entrepreneurs.”

BLAKE TURNER

How did The Cube program help you?

The Cube has been invaluable as a resource for funding, access to mentors, and most importantly access to other student entrepreneurs. This environment of collaboration has helped give us new ideas and strategies that we would not have been able to come up with otherwise.

What is some advice you can offer to other student entrepreneurs?

Just say ‘yes’. I had a hard time trying new opportunities and going outside my comfort zone. I would doubt myself, and just stick with what I knew. But when I first agreed to participate in Invent Oregon, it changed my life…In the two and a half years I have been with the cube, I have had experiences I never would have dreamed of.

What’s next?

As we continue to refine our technology, we intend to raise more non-dilutive funding through other competitions to fund a Beta test of our Conversion Kits. This Beta Program will convert ten volunteer cars to give us long-term usage info, as well as valuable user feedback to refine our kits. After the Beta Test, we will convert a small fleet of vehicles. We have talked with PSU about converting the PSU facilities fleet, but this is still in its early stages. After the first fleet conversion, we plan on selling to individual consumers to scale up production before targeting larger fleet operators.

Turner planned to graduate in 2022, but the COVID-19 pandemic has put that on hold for now. In the meantime, he is working out his education plan. After graduating Turner said he plans to take his business as far as he can. “Outside of my business, I plan on pursuing a career in communications, specifically technical communications, ideally representing an engineering team and communicating their projects to other sectors,” Turner explained.

Visit the Cube webpage to learn more, or find out more about Turner Automotive.

— Autumn Barber


This is one a series of profiles about students in the Cube program, a four-month intensive course that is designed to prepare student entrepreneurs for launch and go-to-market for their companies.

Urban Honors as a Music Major

By: Ragan Love

As someone who always likes to push myself academically, I applied for the Urban Honors program. It was a way for me to challenge myself in something that didn’t involve music. Luckily, I have a friend who is a year ahead of me who answered my many questions. How the program worked, how they liked the courses, what they were learning? They were also able to tell me the differences between University Studies and the Urban Honors program.

If you are not familiar with University Studies or the Honors program, this is PSU’s general education pathway for all majors. Many traditional universities require a certain amount of math, science, and social studies credits even if they do not relate to your future career. With University Studies, you still get the basic general education, but in a more discussion friendly way. There are many different topics that you get to pick including power and imagination, the city of Portland, sustainability, and more. These discussions allow students to learn in the real world rather than a textbook.

Since I am not a University Studies student, I don’t have any personal thoughts on those classes but here is a resource to learn more about it!

https://www.pdx.edu/university-studies/

The Urban Honors program has the same idea but is a little more tailored. At the end of your four years, you will write a thesis in your focus area and the three years prior to that give you the skills to prepare that thesis. You learn how to write different academic papers, how to analyze and research for a thesis, and you also have real life experience before you graduate.

This is what drew me to the honors program, the fact that I could have the opportunity to work in my discipline before diving into the real world. One of the ambassadors that I met from the program was an English major who was able to get an internship at a publishing company. I was very excited to see what I could do in these future classes and for the baccalaureate thesis. 

University Honors has improved my writing skills so much. I have been able to write papers that are looked at as academic articles rather than regular assignments. As a freshman, the honors community was a fantastic way to meet new people. The ‘honors dorm’ is a smaller community so you are able to really get to know all of the students you live with. I have also been able to create an independent research study that would fill in as my junior credits. I have set up a project with my music advisor where I will spend my time analyzing different pieces from female composers. 

One thing that I have struggled with is scheduling my music classes with honors classes because there is always a conflict. My first year, there was only one out of the ten honors classes I could take and it was with a professor that I knew I wouldn’t be that successful with. Their teaching style does not go with my learning style and it was hard for me to understand some of the comments he gave me because his thoughts were so complex. This second year, I have run into even more conflicts as every class I needed to take was at the same time as my required music classes. I asked an advisor if the classes would differ the next term and they told me that it was unlikely. 

Luckily, with remote learning my band class was shifted to small ensembles, having Zoom meetings once a week so I was able to get around that. There was also a conflict with my required noon concert course, but again with COVID I was able to take that course asynchronously. I saw that for winter term I would have the same conflicts so I registered for the two other 200 level honors courses I needed. At this time I was not sure if we would be remote for this upcoming term so I didn’t want to take the chance of overlapping happening with on-campus classes. Adjusting to remote classes during COVID has been a challenge, but in the end it allowed me to balance the demands of being a music major with my honors classes.

Walk through PSU’s Walk of Heroines to celebrate these and more women leaders

Portland State’s Walk of Heroines was conceived in 1998 as a special place to honor women. It was designed in 2002 by landscape architects Mayer/Reed, and finished in 2011. Special features include a fountain honoring mothers and grandmothers, engraved quotes, a naming wall and sculptures.

This Women’s History Month, take a stroll through Portland State’s Walk of the Heroines and celebrate some of the African American women activists and community leaders who left their mark in our city:

Kathryn Bogle
Photo courtesy Oregon Historical Society Research Library

Kathryn Bogle

Kathryn Bogle was a freelance journalist, social worker and community activist best known for “An American Negro Speaks of Color,” a 2,000-word article she sold to The Oregonian in 1937, which described the realities of being Black in Portland.


Willie Mae Hart

Willie Mae Hart co-owned Portland’s first Black-owned cab company, which helped people out during the Vanport flood, and was the first African-American nurse to work at Portland’s Physicians and Surgeons Hospital. The PSU Library’s University Archives & Special Collections has this interview with Willie Mae Hart from 2010.


Pauline Bradford

Pauline Bradford, among one of the first African Americans hired by the IRS, was a respected teacher, committed community volunteer and longtime neighborhood advocate. The Portland State University Archives & Special Collections has this interview with Pauline Bradford.

The interviews were conducted by Portland State University public history students in 2010. In winter 2015, with professor Dr. Patricia Schechter, a second cohort of students reviewed the recordings and transcripts of the oral histories and created a digital exhibit containing audio and written excerpts from the interviews, photographs, and historical and biographical information. The digital exhibit can be accessed here.


Marie B. Smith

1953 photo from Portland Challenger via Verdell Burdine and Otto G. Rutherford Family Collection, courtesy PSU Library Archives & Special Collections

Marie B. Smith was a civil rights leader, a Williams Avenue YWCA board member and became the first female president of the Portland branch of the NAACP. 


Verdell Burdine Rutherford

Verdell Burdine Rutherford

Verdell Burdine Rutherford was a prominent leader in Oregon’s civil rights movement. She also was an avid historian who created an extensive collection that chronicled the African American experience in Oregon, which you can now find at Portland State’s Library Archives & Special Collections.


Beatrice Morrow Cannady

1913 photo of Morrow Cannady as part of The Willamette Orchestra from The Advocate via Verdell Burdine and Otto G. Rutherford Family Collection, courtesy PSU Library Special Collections & University Archives

Beatrice Morrow Cannady was a leading champion of Portland progress and racial equality, editor of the Advocate, Oregon’s largest and at times only African American newspaper, and a founding member of the Portland NAACP. 


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Portland State student-led company aims to make homeownership more achievable

Student entrepreneur Jesse Harding (above) and fellow MBA student Jacob Taddy created Couch to make it easier for people to invest in a home either as a group or in a partnership: “Think of it as TurboTax for shared home buying.”
Photo by Patric Simon

Buying a home is the quintessential American Dream. Couch is the evolution of a simple idea to make homeownership more achievable for partners or groups of individuals.

The idea for Couch was developed by MBA students Jesse Harding and Jacob Taddy, evolving from Taddy’s MBA Pioneering Innovation team in 2018. Together, they created Couch, a business that makes it easier for people to invest in a home either as a group or in a partnership.

Here’s how Harding explains Couch: “Couch uses its system of service and educational resources to create a holistic ecosystem that supports buying partners in being more competitive and reducing risk in the venture by helping prepare them for co-owning and management of their property. Think of it as TurboTax for shared home buying.”

Couch was created through the help of PSU’s Cube Program. The Cube is a four-month-long program that helps students turn their prototypes into reality, preparing them for launch by the end of the program. Currently, Couch is in development.

Harding describes Couch’s business this way: “We are focused on improving homeownership access and affordability by making buying and then owning a home with others easier. We take a proactive approach, streamlining the organization, decision making and administrative aspects of buying that is further complicated when you don’t fit within the conventional box of buying with a spouse or as an individual.”

We asked Jesse about his business and experience at PSU.

“Take advantage of the resources that are available to you. They may not always be readily apparent. Always ask.”

JESSE HARDING

How did The Cube program help you?

The Cube provided a dynamic community of innovative thinkers that I could learn from. The ability to share insights and resources made my concept stronger. I also really benefited from the informal accountability that emerged from our group dynamic. Juan, Himalaya, and Xuan [the Cube’s staff] were always there, gently pushing and supporting me along the way.

What is some advice you can offer to other student entrepreneurs?

Take advantage of the resources that are available to you. They may not always be readily apparent. Always ask. Don’t be afraid to seek assistance in whatever form you need it. You’d be surprised how willing faculty and advisors are to support you.

What’s next?

Oh geez! A lot. Of course, we’re looking for funding. We’re still focused on the build-out of our IP (Title Selector, Partnership Agreement Builder, etc.). You can never have too much market validation. So, I’m working on a couple of Study Cases and using lean surveys to that effect.

Harding graduated in June 2020 with an MBA and a graduate certificate in Social Innovation and Social Entrepreneurship.

“Moving forward, I’m focused on positions where I can merge storytelling and strategy. That could be public or private so long as the net benefit of the work is that it grows community. Ideally, within the next ten years you’ll see me helping to lead the charge behind a high-impact social innovation/social enterprise,” Harding said.

Visit the Cube webpage to learn more.

— Autumn Barber


This is one a series of profiles about students in the Cube program, a four-month intensive course that is designed to prepare student entrepreneurs for launch and go-to-market for their companies.

Tools Of The Trade

By: Adair Bingham

I look back on my old art a lot. I probably look back on it more than it deserves, truth be told. Flipping through my sketchbooks from four years ago really helps me to measure the progress I’ve made in my work and helps me gather some confidence when I’m feeling beaten down. I’ve always considered myself to be an artist, but it wasn’t until my senior year of high school that I started to take art a bit more seriously, and actually put time and care into what I was creating. At the end of 2018, I decided to take things a bit further and finally transition to the world of digital art.

My current tools of the trade are a Picasso Simbans Art Tablet and the program Autodesk Sketchbook, a completely free art program that comes loaded with stylish brushes, advanced settings and a lot more. The transition from traditional to digital art was (and continues to be) a jarring experience, and even two and a half years into it, I find myself trying to learn how to properly use the programs and the tablet itself. I still color on the wrong layer, select the wrong tool and go out of bounds on the canvas. I can say for a fact that the tip of my stylus has essentially been ground to a pulp with all the thick lines in my art. Still that’s what makes it a fun challenge. With each mistake that I’ve made I’ve learned twice as many skills and tricks for the medium and I can only go up from here. 

I’ve got my own style and method to doing things — some might call it garish, some might say it’s cute — but even in all its messiness, I’ve come to like it. I still feel like a total novice a lot of the time, no matter what people say. At the very least, though, I can tell that I’ve made progress and that’s something to be proud of. Everything that I create has a piece of me in it, and I think that’s special all on its own. I know that I’ll find my niche and put more of my work out into the wild.

Portland State student starts company that makes GMO-free, sustainable sandwich cookies

German Ochoa is one of the founders of Woppa! The company makes GMO-free sandwich cookies, with a focus on sustainability and inclusion.
Photo by Patric Simon

Looking for a sweet treat? Look no further than Woppa! alfajores. Created by four founders, Woppa! is a business that creates GMO-free alfajores sandwich cookies that come in a variety of flavors.

One of the four founders of Woppa! is innovator and student-entrepreneur German Ochoa. Ochoa is a senior at Portland State University majoring in Global Supply Chain Management.

Ochoa’s business model is focused on sustainability and inclusion while sharing delicious alfajores with the world, which are sandwich cookies found in countries like Spain and Argentina. After a year of research and development, Ochoa found that the only way to stand out from the competition was to create a sustainable product “that can genuinely represent and inspire those who follow their dream.”

Woppa! was created with the help of PSU’s Cube Program. The Cube is a four-month-long program that helps students turn their prototypes into reality, preparing them for launch by the end of the program. Currently, Woppa! is in the process of completing its production line and looking to expand to a second facility.

We asked German about his business and experience at PSU.

“The uncertainty can be your best or worst ally, but you gotta trust yourself so things can turn out for the best.”

GERMAN OCHOA

How did The Cube program help you?

The Cube has made great connections for me in the food industry and advising on a few essential steps to execute my next phases, whether it is preparing financial opportunities down the row or ensuring my company’s IP (intellectual property).

What is some advice you can offer to other student entrepreneurs?

The uncertainty can be your best or worst ally, but you gotta trust yourself so things can turn out for the best. That is why you are called an entrepreneur, take the risk because no one will do it for you.

What’s next?

Next is to open a second facility here in Portland to ensure a lean process that would allow me to grow in different regions.

Ochoa anticipates graduating in the fall and plans to finish two of his certificates in Food and Beverage and Social Innovation at PSU. In terms of his business Ochoa said he plans to “expand more in the food industry and find more opportunities where my knowledge can serve others.”

Visit the Cube webpage to learn more, or find out more about Woppa! alfajores.

— Autumn Barber


This is one a series of profiles about students in the Cube program, a four-month intensive course that is designed to prepare student entrepreneurs for launch and go-to-market for their companies.

Portland State student entrepreneur creates app to make parking easier

Omar Waked is the co-founder and CEO of Raedam, a technology-fueld parking solution that helps drivers find an available spot more quickly. Raedam was created with the help of CUBE, a four-month-long PSU program that helps students turn prototypes into reality, preparing them to launch their product.
Photo by Patric Simon

For student-entrepreneur Omar Waked, being late to a chemistry final his freshman year sparked an idea that would later become the foundation for his business.

Waked is a senior at Portland State University majoring in Civil Engineering and the co-founder and CEO of Raedam, a technology-fueled parking solution that helps drivers find an available spot more quickly. The day he almost missed his final, not being able to find a parking spot for 30 minutes was frustrating, and Waked knew he was not alone in experiencing this. That’s when he decided to do something about it and developed the idea for Raedam.

Here’s how Waked explains Raedam: “It provides scalable hardware that collects real-time data, paired with our mobile app that helps individuals streamline and automate tasks such as guidance to parking and automating payments.”

Raedam was created through the help of PSU’s Cube Program. The Cube is a four-month-long program that helps students turn their prototypes into reality, preparing them for launch by the end of the program. Currently, Raedam is in development. “We are testing a new method of acquiring real-time data in a far more scalable form than we previously worked on. We have an IOS mobile app for individuals to use to be guided to available parking and payments for supported locations,” Waked said.

We asked Omar about his business and experience at PSU.

“The CUBE should be the first place you look to for support, help, or guidance as a student entrepreneur.”

— OMAR WAKED

How did The Cube program help you?

“The CUBE has provided a foundation for support and guidance in my entrepreneurship journey. Access to mentors with experience in various industries, a group of other student entrepreneurs to connect and learn alongside, as well as the information shared through credible and knowledgeable in the subjects have provided for a more supportive and effective journey.”

What is some advice you can offer to other student entrepreneurs?

“Anyone who plans to pursue the route of entrepreneurship needs to have conviction in what they are doing. You will be faced with rejection throughout your journey, and unless you have the drive and conviction to see your ideas and dreams come into existence, you will be overburdened and eventually quit. It will not be fast nor easy, especially going at it alone. Find people who you enjoy working with, people who will support you and help you reach the finish line. The CUBE should be the first place you look to for support, help, or guidance as a student entrepreneur.”

What’s next?

“We are looking to bring on additional members to help with ramping up our developments. We plan to deploy our hardware this year at various locations and begin gathering feedback from individuals and businesses to fine-tune our products and services to provide the best experience possible as we expand.”

“I would like individuals to spend more of their time on things that matter
and I can assure you, parking is not on that list.”

— OMAR WAKED

Waked anticipates graduating later this year and plans to continue to develop and expand Raedam beyond Portland. “I would like individuals to spend more of their time on things that matter and I can assure you, parking is not on that list,” Waked explained.

Visit the Cube webpage to learn more, or find out more about Raedam.

— Autumn Barber


This is one in a series of profiles about students in the Cube program, a four-month intensive course that is designed to prepare student entrepreneurs for launch and go-to-market for their companies.