Michelle Marie:

Program Manager, Innovation X Center of Excellence for Innovation and Entrepreneurship, College of Business

Years at OSU: 20 months in her current position, but various roles as a student and employee off and on since 2001

City of Residence: Philomath

Sewing has always been part of the fabric of Michelle Marie’s life.

“It’s just something I’ve always done,” she said. “I’m at least the fourth generation of women who sews in my family. It’s part of my family heritage.”

Marie first came to Oregon State to complete her bachelor’s degree in 2001 and later earned master’s and doctoral degrees at OSU, as well. She’s been the program manager for the College of Business’s Center of Excellence for Innovation and Entrepreneurship for about 20 months.

For Marie, sewing is a hobby and an occasional side business - she had plans to launch Fifth Generation Sewing to teach a sewing in the community this spring before the COVID-19 pandemic put a halt to her plans.

As shortages of medical supplies began making headlines, Marie was among those who heard the call for homemade masks. She joined the Corvallis Sewing Brigade, a Facebook group for interested sewers, got a pattern provided by Samaritan Health Services, pulled her supplies together and got to work.

“Michelle has a rich background in sewing instruction and is using her incredible skill set to not only help our community directly but also to scale her efforts by training others,” said Danelle Kronmiller, who sits on the board of the Willamette Innovators Network with Marie and nominated Marie as an Unsung Hero. “Michelle is a model of generosity, kindness and strength in today’s uncertain times.”

Marie has made 100 masks for Samaritan and is working on more for friends working at a Eugene-area hospital and a local care facility as well as for family and friends to wear.

“I recognize that the most valuable thing I can do right now is stay home,” Marie said. “Making masks is also a way for me to give back in recognition of the immense privilege I have to be able to do that. Making masks is a tangible thing that I can do right now. ”

Marie is also sharing her sewing knowledge with other mask-makers through social media and through individual consultation via video chat and text message. “It’s been another way to support folks who have time and want to help,” she said.

There’s also a meditative aspect to sewing that is beneficial at this time, she said.

“For me, doing something simple, repetitive and also productive is a good coping mechanism,” Marie said. “I find it soothing.”

To learn more about Marie’s mask-making efforts, follow her on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/fifthgensewing/  or on Instagram, @fifthgensewing. Marie said she is happy to help others in the community who want to make masks.  

~ Michelle Klampe

Have an OSU Unsung Hero suggestion? We are looking for submissions that highlight OSU employees and students who are not typically in the spotlight but are going above and beyond during this pandemic. Send your suggestions to [email protected] and our staff may contact them to conduct remote interviews that we would feature in OSU Today and elsewhere.