For Brandon Degarimore, college was just part of the story. The June 2016 Green River College graduate used his time in school to take the classes he needed to earn a Bachelor of Applied Science in Information Technology: Software Development. He also used the time to go above and beyond his classroom requirements. The result? Degarimore joined the software development management team as an intern at the Tukwila-based BECU.
Degarimore spent his first two years at Green River studying network and server infrastructure. As he moved into his third and fourth years, he specialized in software development. Degarimore keep his grades up, twice qualifying for a National Science Foundation scholarship. He also earned certifications as a Certified Ethical Hacker, CompTIA Security+, Certified ScrumMaster, and Microsoft Technical Associate certifications in Administration and Development among others.
What made Degarimore stand out for his instructors, though, was his dedication to work outside of the classroom. He competed at the Pacific Rim Collegiate Cyber Defense Competition. From that experience, he coached a local CyberPatriot team, preparing high school students for the National Youth Cyber Defense Competition. He also served as an IT Bachelor’s Student Ambassador, telling his story to high school students. He was a guest speaker at the Cross-Site Request Forgery at Green River’s Web and Mobile Developer Meetup.
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What made Degarimore stand out for his instructors was his dedication to work outside of the classroom.Share Your Story
Merrill Williams had been out of school for nearly 35 years when she gathered the courage to enroll in South Puget Sound Community College (SPSCC) in the fall of 2012 to improve her knowledge and job prospects.
Williams spent her first year catching up on basic education skills. When she was ready for college-level courses, she hit the ground running, taking as many social science courses as she could. Her favorite classes were psychology, multicultural and ethnic studies, which helped her better understand her own past.
Before long, she was on the honor roll, elected to student government, and nominated for the Association of College Trustees Transforming Lives Award.
At the same time, Williams quickly earned a campus reputation for her compassion, helping others, making connections and taking no one for granted. As associated student body senator for diversity and equity affairs, she helped bring speakers from different cultures to campus to enrich students’ understanding of each other and the world around them.
She earned her associate of arts degree and was SPSCC’s student commencement speaker for her graduating class in 2015.
Today, Williams studies psychology, working toward her bachelor’s degree from The Evergreen State College, with a goal is to become a chemical dependency counselor to help others overcome substance abuse as she herself did.
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To give back for all the good they helped bring into her life, Williams continues to volunteer with the Family Support Center, a United Way charity that led her to the SafePlace shelter.Share Your Story
Duyen Le traveled from her native Vietnam to attend South Seattle College. She wanted a school that offered smaller classes and more personal instruction. She was very active in the South Seattle College community, volunteering as an International Student Ambassador and serving as the college representative at the annual International Education Fair in Ho Chi Minh City. Le also earned a spot on the All-Washington Academic Team, was a member of the Honor Society and regularly appeared on the President's List (students on the list must have a 3.8 GPA or higher).
In 2014, Le was selected as a 2014 recipient of the Jack Kent Cooke Foundation Undergraduate Transfer Scholarship, the largest private scholarship for two-year and community college transfer students in the country. The Foundation provides as much as $30,000 a year for up to three years to the nation's best low-income community college students seeking to complete a bachelor's degree at an accredited college or university. Scholars were selected based on high academic ability and achievements, persistence, leadership, and financial need. With a nation-wide pool of over 3,700 applicants, Le was one of only 85 students to receive the award.
Now studying at Southern Methodist University, Le is one of the thousands of students who start their bachelor’s degrees at Washington’s community and technical colleges.
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Now studying at Southern Methodist University, Le is one of the thousands of students who start their bachelor’s degrees at Washington’s community and technical colleges.Share Your Story
Bryan Daniels was among the first group of students to enroll in Clover Park Technical College's new applied bachelor's degree. The Manufacturing Operations program began in fall 2014 and is just one of many applied bachelor's programs now offered by Washington’s community and technical colleges.
For Bryan, though, CPTC is more than just a place to earn a bachelor of applied science. He started at the college years ago when he transferred from Port Orchard to the Northwest Career and Technical High School.
In that program, students earn a high school diploma along with a degree or certificate in a technical field. Each year, thousands of students earn a high school diploma or equivalent at the colleges, opening doors to higher education, employment and self-sufficiency.
After graduating high school, Bryan continued his college education at CPTC in the Heating & Air Conditioning Refrigeration/Service Technician program. To help pay for his education, he took a work-study position at the Hayes Child Development Center on campus, working with 3- to 5-year-olds in the Head Start program.
Earning a technical associate degree qualified Bryan to enroll in the Bachelor of Applied Science in Manufacturing Operations. He continues his work with the kids while attending school.
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Daniels was among the first group of students to enroll in Clover Park Technical College's new applied bachelor's degree.
For the Telecky and Olson families, Spokane Community College and Spokane Falls Community College is a decades-long tradition. It started in the early 1960s when Bruce Telecky enrolled at Spokane Technical and Vocational School. He was voted student body president and graduated just before the school officially became Spokane Community College (SCC) in 1963.
The tradition continued when Dawn, Bruce’s daughter, enrolled at SCC in the late 1980s as a paralegal student. She met Ryo Olson in 1987, a fellow student studying biomedical equipment technology. “I like the personal attention you get at a community college, and you can find out what you excel at,” said Ryo.
Dawn and Ryo graduated with jobs right out of their programs. Ryo spent 25 years in the biomedical equipment field, meeting his first boss, also a program alumnus, when he came to SCC recruiting for jobs.
Now their son, Caleb, is the latest addition to the tradition as he prepares to graduate from Spokane Falls Community College in June 2017. “I wasn’t ready to jump into the four-year experience,” he said. “I thought there would be more time to find myself at a community college.” Caleb is an accounting student holding a 4.0 GPA, an internship and, like his grandfather, the role of student body president. He plans to continue his education and dreams of working at one of the “Big Four” accounting firms as an auditor.
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For the Telecky and Olson families, Spokane Community College and Spokane Falls Community College is a decades-long tradition.