Adrianna Marlen:

TRACE data entry worker

Years at OSU: Two

City of residence: Corvallis

For soon-to-be graduate Adrianna Marlen, signing on with OSU’s TRACE-COVID-19 coronavirus prevalence project meant a chance to meld community service with the goal of testing her “real-life skills.”

Marlen, who will begin graduate school at Oregon State in the fall after earning a bachelor’s degree this summer, is part of TRACE’s data entry team. She’s one of about 20 student workers who take the information gathered from the thousands of study participants during door-to-door sampling and enter it into the TRACE database.

“It’s been amazing,” she said. “It’s not difficult work, but I can see how our impact is super instrumental. I’m in a room with a bunch of co-workers, mainly females, who are really nice and welcoming, and it’s like a saving grace because a lot of us are self-isolating besides that job. We all especially look forward to coming to work since we don’t have a lot of human contact right now. We get tested for the virus every other week, and if we’re clear, we can keep working. It’s such a special project to be a part of.”

Marlen’s bachelor’s degree will be in ethnic studies with minors in Spanish and business entrepreneurship. In graduate school she will pursue an MAIS – master of arts of interdisciplinary studies – with a focus on adults in higher education, college student service administration, and ethnic studies.

“I really love my coursework, and that made school easier because I have so much passion for what I was studying,” Marlen said. “No one in my family had gone to grad school, and I figured I was really just now learning how to learn, and I didn’t want to stop.”

Marlen grew up in Upland, California, 40 miles east of Los Angeles. She began her higher education career at a junior college in her home state, then moved to Corvallis, where an aunt lives. She spent one year at Linn-Benton Community College and started her OSU studies in 2018, while also working as a lifeguard at the Dixon Recreation Center.

Last winter and spring, before the pandemic took hold, Marlen served as an intern at Casa Latinos Unidos, a Corvallis-based group that advocates for Latinos in Benton County, helping with translation, legal services and food and housing needs.

“I love it here in Corvallis,” said Marlen, who is fluent in Spanish. “That’s also part of why I’m not ready to leave. And I’m grateful for the ways I can help make our community an even better place.”

Eventually Marlen plans to seek a career in nonprofit leadership.

“Having that as a goal, I can’t really go wrong with any type of job in the nonprofit realm,” she said.

~ Steve Lundeberg

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.