Fueled by tenacity, Oregon State alumna improves the lives of others

December 31, 2019

She gives the gifts of time, funds and inspiration.

There are many moments in life that help us build strength, push beyond our limits and grow — inside and out. For Oregon State alumna Christine Marciano (Chris Nilsen ’87), it was a series of tiny moments on the women’s lightweight rowing team that challenged her: lifting barbells made from metal pipes and cement-filled coffee cans, rowing in the rain and ice, even hearing the coach tell her she’d never make the team.

Oregon State alumna Christine Marciano (Chris Nilsen ’87) portraitOne of her proudest moments, after rowing for all four years of college, was racing in the Lightweight Women’s NCAA Nationals. “The boat moved so effortlessly through the water, it felt as if we were hovering above it,” she says. They lost to Radcliffe College by 0.6 seconds, but it didn’t even matter to Marciano. “It was the best day of my life.” This resilience and drive to keep going no matter the outcome, and working to create a strong team, has served Marciano well over the years since her rowing days. As a member of Alpha Xi Delta at OSU, she learned leadership, organization and made lifetime friends. Her sorority taught her the necessity of community service, and the crew team challenged her to keep pushing with a team to meet a goal. Both cemented her bond with Oregon State.

She's continued that bond by becoming an OSU Alumni Association volunteer and giving back to her alma mater. As the lead volunteer for the annual OSU Day of Service in Sacramento, California, she researches local service opportunities and recruits OSU volunteers to prepare nonperishable food for distribution to families in need for the Sacramento Food Bank. “It feels great to be with Beavers anytime we meet,” she says. “I’m drawn to our events and enjoy the amazing kinship we have when we are together.”

And in 2019, Christine made a gift to the women’s rowing team during Dam Proud Day — the university’s annual online giving day, bringing her experience full circle. Marciano’s altruistic nature extends beyond volunteering — it can be seen in the work she does every day. As sales and distribution trainer at WCF Insurance in Northern California, she works with independent insurance agents to place workers’ compensation insurance. The 102-year old “boutique carrier” provides safety resources for businesses to create a safer workplace, reduce injuries and generate strong return-to-work programs.

OSU Volunteers for OSU Days of Service at the Sacramento Food Bank, group photo“WCF wants to see all workers return safely to their families every day of the week. We work hard to help this happen,” Marciano says. Personal connections — and making a difference — mean a lot to Marciano. That’s why she takes the time to reach out. To current college students, she would say this: “Meet everyone you possibly can and ask questions. Listen to understand rather than respond. Conversation is an art — put your phone down. Play a sport or join a fraternity. Be sure your major will pay the mortgage. And be a lifetime Beaver,” she says. Marciano emulates the pride, compassion and unwavering devotion of a Beaver in everything she does. That, paired with her exciting journey at Oregon State and beyond, has made her who she is today.