GSE alumna Marilyn DeVault donates winnings to GSE scholarship

Marilyn DeVault displays one of her cakes, with professor emeritus Steve Brannan

Marilyn DeVault displays one of her cakes, with professor emeritus Steve Brannan

Alumna Marilyn DeVault, MS ’71, has parlayed what she learned in the Graduate School of Education (GSE) Special Education program at PSU into a career, “creating desserts that are amazing and that all can enjoy.” This includes her patrons with special dietary needs. And, thanks to her skills and talent, she is able to donate $10,000 toward a scholarship to support students in the Special Education program.

DeVault studied special education under Professor Steve Brannan, one of the founders of the Special Education Department, and received her master’s in 1971. After graduating, she taught students with disabilities for several years. In 1978, she made a career change, opening the Piece of Cake Bakery in Sellwood. Here, she combined her love of baking with her interest in supporting people with special needs. Abundant research exists on the impact of nutrition and learning. Devault’s teaching experience inspired her to address dietary issues, developing formulas that are gluten-free, organic, and vegan. Her bakery offers a wide variety of items that meet the needs of people who are pursuing gluten-free or other food sensitivity–related diets.

By 2010, DeVault owned a thriving bakery business and decided that she would like to give back to future generations. With the encouragement of her former professor, Brannan, she established the Marilyn DeVault Scholarship for GSE graduate students preparing to become special education teachers.

Marilyn DeVault was one of the School of Education’s early master’s degree graduates who also demonstrated her dedication by serving as a counselor in the 1970s at the Mt. Hood Kiwanis Camp, serving campers with disabilities. After several years of teaching, Marilyn chose to start her own pastry business and soon earned recognition in the Portland community. Marilyn believes her training and teaching in special education have helped her tremendously in the baking profession, in her development of individualizing baking to meet the health needs of various patrons.
—Professor Steve Brannan

DeVault is always on the lookout for innovative ways to contribute to her scholarship. There are opportunities to donate in person at the bakery and on its website. This year, DeVault and the bakery’s head decorator, Shelby Page, competed on the Cooking Channel’s Sugar Showdown in Toronto, Canada, and they won! DeVault and Page donated the $10,000 from this award to the Marilyn DeVault Scholarship in the GSE. This will provide scholarships for five or more special education teacher candidates. The GSE is grateful for the support of DeVault, Page, their team, and their customers who contribute to the Marilyn DeVault Scholarship.

Marilyn DeVault

If you are interested in establishing a scholarship in the Graduate School of Education, or supporting an existing GSE scholarship, contact Jaymee Jacoby, director of development, at 503-725-4789 or


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