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About Whatcom: Whatcom Community College in Bellingham is regularly recognized as one of the top 150 community colleges in the nation by the Aspen Institute. The College, a destination for cybersecurity, healthcare and business studies, offers a bachelor of applied science degree, transfer degrees, career preparation, online courses, and community education classes. WCC’s accomplished faculty and staff serve 11,000 students annually. For more information, visit

Alumni News - July 2019

New Need Grant, Art Show, Growing Greens for Students

Post Date:07/01/2019 1:00 pm

WCC Friends and Alumni Newsletter - July 2019

Gathering Fountain Looking Back at Syre Hall

New Need Grant, Art Show, Growing Greens for Students

Washington College Grant provides free college for eligible students

The new Washington College Grant (WCG) makes it easier to qualify for free college at Whatcom this fall. Thanks to a sweeping financial grant program, a Washington state resident from a family of four, making less than $46,000 annually, can receive up to $4,108 (which covers three quarters of tuition and fees for 12 credits each quarter at WCC).

  • Expanded program now includes median-income families (up to $64,000 for family of four)
  • WCG doesn’t need to be paid back; can be used with Pell grant or other scholarships
  • Funding begins this fall; full funding in place by fall 2020
  • Tuition at community and four-year colleges eligible; can be full- or part-time student
  • Complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) to apply
  • More:

Orca Food Pantry with bananas on the table and red tableclothStudents Grow Vegs for Orca Food Pantry

The Associated Students of Whatcom CC (ASWCC) planted two garden beds in the Cordata Community Garden this spring to help feed hungry students into the fall. SPECIAL REQUEST: Please donate, it would be much appreciated! Email:

  • 2-3 large bags of soil
  • 4-6 bags of compost
  • Watering wand
  • Tomato cages

Left: Catherine Chambers from the Orca Food Pantry at the free pop-up fresh veggie market on campus.

Colorful painting of iris flowersBob Bragg’s Art on Display in WCC’s Library through Mid-September

Bob Bragg, an engaging and talented faculty member at Whatcom Community College for more than 30 years, also was a gifted artist. Bob developed art classes and award-winning interdisciplinary humanities courses, and was one of the first faculty members to sign a contract to teach at the new community college in 1971.

Upon his passing in 2017, Bob left a generous bequest to the Whatcom Community College Foundation, and other organizations. This gift will provide scholarships to countless students in years to come.

Whatcom is pleased to have the opportunity to display some of his work (Iris oil painting, left), which illustrate his mastery of many styles and his unique vision. With a vibrant collection of 90 oil paintings, plus over 70 pastels and pen and ink drawings, Bob’s legacy as an artist endures.

WCC Trustees John Pedlow and Tim Douglas holding an awardFormer Trustee Tim Douglas Wins Statewide Trustee of the Year

Tim Douglas, former WCC trustee, received the Trustee Leadership Award from the state Association of College Trustees. He helped establish the Transforming Lives award, as well as advocating for the state’s community and technical colleges. Read more here.

Left: WCC Trustee John Pedlow and Tim Douglas

WCC newly tenured faculty posing on stairsTenure Awarded to Nine Faculty

Congratulations to the following nine faculty members who were awarded tenure by the Board of Trustees this spring.

Left, bottom row: Christy Saunders (Computer Information Systems); Ryan Parsons (Computer Science); Kim Doyle (Early Childhood Education); Mei Luu (Math)
Left, middle: Brian Cope (English); Melanie Zabel (Psychology); Kate Baker (Business)
Left, top: Justin Martin (Art); Eric Davishahl (Engineering)

Stefens family smiling at cameraIt’s all in the Family – WCC Alumni Spotlight

WCC’s BFET/Workforce and Turning Point coordinator, Monique Stefens, has been involved with Whatcom in some capacity for nearly 15 years. She attended WCC in the fall of 2005, and returned to work here in 2013. Here she is with her two children, Tarin and Zoelle, both WCC Alumni. This issue we decided to highlight the whole family of alumni, to hear about why they chose WCC, what they’re up to now, and what makes WCC such a special place.

Left: Monique, Tarin and Zoelle Stefens

  1. Why did you choose WCC?
  2. Zoelle: I went to WCC as a Running Start student because I wanted a more challenging course load and the opportunity to explore a wider variety of classes. Through the Running Start program, I was able to graduate with both my high school diploma and an AAS transfer degree.
    Tarin: I attended Whatcom through the Running Start program, so the choice of WCC for me was as an alternative to Squalicum High School. But what I've heard from other people who went to WCC for Running Start is that it was an escape from a negative high school experience: for me it was much more of a positive, best-of-both world’s option. I still did choir and drama at my high school and kept in contact with my friends, but I also got to experience the freedom and responsibility that is provided by WCC's many options for classes and activities for students. In short, I guess, I chose WCC because it was an option full of other options, where elective credits were actually open-ended and my time was truly my own.
    Monique: I chose WCC because I heard so many positive things about Whatcom’s instructors and their relationship with Western Washington University, to which I planned to transfer.
  3. What are you doing now?
  4. Zoelle: I am currently pursuing my master's degree in Speech Language Pathology at Western Washington University. I hope to work as a speech language pathologist with children when I graduate in 2021.
    Tarin: As I'm writing this, I am finishing up the final quarter of my undergraduate degree at the University of Washington in Seattle, with majors in Creative Writing and Linguistics and a minor in Spanish. The Creative Writing is all I have left to finish, so this quarter is seeing me with a lot of fiction-writing amidst the job-searching and networking that will hopefully land me a relevant job that I can use to prepare for law school.
    Monique: I had such an amazing experience at Whatcom from the faculty and staff I wanted to return and be part of that team, which I did. After completing my undergraduate in psychology I started my career in workforce education and training, eventually landing me a job with the College. I currently run the Basic Food Employment and Training (BFET) program, teach Turning Point workshops and provide support to those with conviction histories interested in pursuing education. I can honestly say I love working at Whatcom Community College.
  5. Do you have a favorite memory of WCC?
  6. Zoelle: No single memory stands out, but when I think of WCC, I remember being excited about learning, collaborating with peers and a sense of belonging. WCC felt very welcoming and I remember feeling like I was thriving while I was there.
    Tarin: There are several snapshots that come to mind when recollecting WCC, but I'll just elaborate on one. It was an event - the name of which I've forgotten - that took place out on the Syre lawn and included carnival-esque food, hamster balls, and a number of other fun and zany attractions. I remember thinking it was very cool that these kinds of fun activities were available to students and it served as a delightful break between classes. It was also a pretty and sunny day and I believe both my mother and sister were there (me as a student and my sister and mother as employees) and I remember feeling a lot of solidarity with a college that I felt provided fun and income for myself and my family as a whole.
    Monique: I have several memories of faculty using teaching methods that inspired me to think more critically, and realizing how much there was to learn and feeling very supported along the journey. I loved having staff and faculty call me by my name, knowing who I was and remembering I was planning to transfer to Western. The academic advising I received was excellent! It felt so much like I belonged and people genuinely cared about me.
    My absolutely favorite moment was walking into the room full of applause during commencement and hearing my kids cheering for me. Whatcom’s commencement was so inspirational, hearing others’ journeys and realizing how much my children and friends had helped me achieve my goals.
  7. Do you have a favorite spot on campus?
  8. Zoelle: There are a number of places I'm fond of on campus. I love seeing the artwork in the hallway of Cascade: there are some very talented artists at WCC! I also enjoy the top floor of the library, where you can see the paper cranes as you study. For outdoor spaces, my favorite would have to be the bridge by the Roe studio: it's so peaceful and quiet there.
    Tarin: I have a couple, actually! The first is probably Heiner, which I can probably just chalk up to my attraction to libraries in general. Another is probably the bridge between Cascade and Roe - though it's not the nicest year-round, there are certain times of certain days where the combination of the trees, the water, and the little art exhibits make for a really picturesque spot on campus. And the last is actually the Running Start office, not because the office itself is nice but because it's where I used to meet the ceaselessly wonderful Laine Johnson for help on setting up my schedule and planning classes and where I now meet my mother (the BFET office is also in that space) when I visit campus! It's an office that I've long gone to and been welcomed with warm and supportive faces, essentially, and that makes it an easy favorite place.
    Monique: I love the birch trees between Cascade and Kulshan and the amazing conversations in Syre/Student Life. I did lots of studying in Heiner Library as a student and loved meeting with staff in Entry and Advising.
  9. Do you have a favorite professor?
  10. Zoelle: Rhonda Daniels taught my English 101 class and I loved how she inspired people to write and get excited about writing.
    Tarin: My favorite WCC professor would have to be Ulrich Schraml. If I remember correctly (it's been a while now) I had two history classes with him, and I entered the first of those classes feeling like history was one of my least favorite subjects. But after his classes I really began to appreciate history for the extended, melodramatic soap opera that it is, and Ulrich and history both have earned a place of long-lasting respect and admiration in me. Ulrich and I also ended up working together when I helped with the international student orientation, and this further solidified my view of him as a man who treats those he interacts with as respectable and capable, and I think that makes him an excellent representative of WCC as a whole.
    Monique: Several, actually. Jody DeWilde taught me to love math. Tim Watters and Fred Tabor had amazing teaching styles, I felt like I was learning the subject matter and also how to think critically. I gained some great communication and compassion from my psychology teachers, techniques I use every day. The faculty at Whatcom are truly amazing!

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    WCC Foundation Board of Directors

    Dr. Brenda-Lee Karasik, chair; Dr. Ron Kleinknecht, vice chair; John Stewart, secretary/treasurer; Kurt Anderson, immediate past chair; Susan Sandell, at-large; Wendy Bohlke, Trustee Representative; Kira Bravo; Anne-Marie Faiola; Sandra Hughes; Bev Jacobs; Mike Langey; Dr. Lynne Masland; D. Andrew Moquin; Carolyn Simpson Scott, M.D.; Phyllis Self; Robert M. Tull; Victoria Dahlgren, Member Emeritus; Satpal Singh Sidhu, Member Emeritus; WCC President Dr. Kathi Hiyane-Brown; WCC Executive Director for College Advancement Sue Cole; WCC Foundation Director Caite Holman

    Advancement Staff

    Sue Cole, executive director for college advancement; Marisa Ellis, communications and marketing director; Caite Holman, Foundation director; Stephanie Schmitt, Foundation operations manager; James Zyon, senior graphic designer; Jonathan Dymond, development officer; Kate Imus, Foundation program specialist; Brenda Chomiak, assistant graphic designer; Courtney Shannon Strand, communications manager; Sarah Jenkins, program coordinator

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