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Mathew Frischman standing in front of a green bush

Presidential scholar and Eagle Scout builds a future career in medicine.

By Martha Wagner

Pre-med student Mathew Frischman was in his high school English class when he received a note asking him to report to the student services office. He arrived to receive congratulations on being awarded the coveted presidential scholarship, OSU’s most prestigious award for in-state undergraduates. Balloons were released, and in walked his proud parents and teachers who has mentored him in his academic journey.

Frischman graduated as valedictorian from North Bend High School and simultaneously earned an associate degree from Southwest Oregon Community College, an opportunity made possible by a partnership between the high school and the community college.

Frischman applied only to OSU – but only after careful research. He spent a prospective student weekend on campus in his junior year and recalls being impressed to learn how well the sciences are supported by research grants. He believes that OSU rivals better-known schools in the sciences while charging lower tuition. He’s not been disappointed, even though the coronavirus interrupted spring term.

Frischman is a biochemistry and molecular biology major with a pre-med option. He’s also part of the Honors College and has added a minor in chemistry and a certificate in medical humanities to his academic docket for the next three years.

In his senior year of high school, he took a dual-credit introductory anatomy and physiology class that he says “really cemented my love for the life and human sciences.” This class led Frischman to think seriously about a career in medicine. There are no doctors in his family; his father, head of technology at North Bend School District, graduated from Oregon Institute of Technology, where his older brother is now a senior.

Frischman says his draw toward medicine has been two-fold. “It initially started with a desire to serve others. This attitude of service really developed during my time in the Boy Scouts, when I became an Eagle Scout. As I took some more advanced science courses in high school, I realized how much I enjoyed the life sciences, especially anatomy and physiology. This provided the second rationale for wanting to become a doctor, which was my passion for the processes that explain how and why treatments work.”

His first science classes at OSU this fall have already inspired him toward a future medical career in neurology. “I became interested in neurology for two reasons. First, I had been studying neurons and the nervous system in my anatomy and physiology class, and it was my favorite section of the class. The other reason was personal, related to the diagnosis and passing of my grandmother from ALS in less than a year. My interest in neurology has been further enhanced through reading academic literature on neurodegenerative disorders for my research lab led by Professor Alvaro Estevez.”  

He is excited to have Dr. Estevez as his mentor for his Honors thesis and to be part of his lab. He chose to work with the professor because of his research background in working with ALS patients.

Despite having his spring term all online, his enthusiasm for OSU has not wavered. “The biochemistry department here is just fantastic,” Frischman says. “The advisors you meet with are all incredibly knowledgeable about every class and program you could ever think of taking and are great for guiding you along your academic path.”

As much as he loves science, Frischman also pursues several non-academic interests, including hiking and music. He spent over 10 years playing saxophone in middle school and high school symphonic and jazz bands.

While sheltering at home this spring with his parents—and being an online student—he’s been reading about coronavirus vaccine trials, expanding his music library and doing some baking. He says he’s looking forward to getting back to campus and his lab work in the fall and becoming more involved in the Pre-Med Club.

Frischman was one of 14 College of Science students to receive the presidential scholarship in 2019. At $10,000 per year, the scholarship provides up to $40,000 toward students’ undergraduate education. Frischman was also awarded $2,700 in scholarship funding from Oregon’s American Legion; as captain of his high school’s speech and debate team, he competed in statewide American Legion speech contests. He also was awarded several smaller scholarships from community organizations.