Two Paths, One College
Clark helps two outstanding students achieve their dreams
Clark College's representatives on the 2012 All-Washington Academic Team reflect two very different paths toward higher education. Yet, both women show why community college is so often the right choice for people beginning their academic journey.
When Lauren Stanton graduated from high school, her original plan was to move straight into a four-year college. But then she began to rethink things. She wasn't sure what she wanted to major in yet—what if she got two years into college, only to discover the institution didn't offer her chosen major? And tuition at a four-year institution was too expensive to allow her the freedom to sample classes in many subjects while trying to decide which she wanted to pursue.
At Clark, the 20-year-old Stanton has had the opportunity to take classes in diverse subjects and graduate with an Associate of Arts degree that will allow her to transfer to a four-year institution where she can focus on becoming a professor of either history or biology. She has earned a 3.77 grade point average and is active in Phi Theta Kappa, the international honor society for two-year colleges.
Through Clark's chapter, she organized a project to provide Thanksgiving dinners for 274 students who might otherwise not have been able to afford a holiday meal for their families.
By her own admission "the shy one" in her family, Stanton's experiences at Clark have helped her learn how to develop leadership skills and step out of her comfort zone.
Tami Eldridge, on the other hand, attended Clark as a way to honor a promise she made to herself when she was in high school. The daughter of a single mother, Eldridge spent part of her freshman year in a homeless shelter as her mother struggled to support the family. Eldridge's two elder brothers became ensnared by drugs, and during her sophomore year of high school her oldest brother committed suicide during a drug-induced psychosis.
"Every choice I have made in my life since then has resulted from the determination to rise above the tragedy, chaos, poverty and disappointment I experienced in my youth in a way to make myself and my mom proud," Eldridge wrote in a recent essay.
It was when Eldridge's own children (Michaela, 9, and Evan, 6) entered elementary school that she began considering a career as a teacher. She chose to attend Clark because its flexible class times allowed her to balance her studies with her family life, and because the college's diverse student body meant that, as a 32-year-old mother and wife, "I don't feel like I stick out like a sore thumb."
Having earned a 3.98 cumulative grade point average at Clark, Eldridge plans to enter WSU Vancouver's Bachelor of Arts in Education program, which she will begin just days after graduating from Clark in June. Currently she's leaning toward specializing in math. "After having some really great math teachers in my college courses, I realize that math can be fun and I would love to instill that in others," she says.
As members of the All-Washington Academic Team, which honors two outstanding members of Phi Theta Kappa from each Washington two-year college, Stanton and Eldridge attended a recognition ceremony in Olympia in March.
Members of Clark College's Speech and Debate Team traveled to Rome, Italy, in March and captured top spots in the 22nd Annual International Forensics Association Tournament.
John Sousa and Samantha Peppers—who earned a perfect record—placed first in National Parliamentary Debate. Peppers also took third-place in the poetry competition, while Ruth Ferguson received a sixth-place award in informative speaking.
Additionally, Gabe Foster and Jessica Mohr were semifinalists in the informative speaking category.
As a team, Clark captured third-place among all community colleges in attendance and sixth place overall.
After the competition, the team and their coach Professor Dave Kosloski spent a few days taking in the sights, including the Vatican, the Pantheon and the Coliseum.
Photo: Members of Clark's Speech and Debate Team pose inside the Coliseum in Rome.
Clark College greets a new quarter
Spring quarter 2012 began on April 9 with sunshine and bright faces. How many faces, to be exact?
According to a recent Summary Enrollment Management Report, there are 14,906 students enrolled at Clark, down from 15,143 students in spring quarter 2011. However, students are taking more classes, as the number of full-time equivalent students (FTE) has risen from 9,636 in spring 2011 to 9,733 in 2012.
Clark also welcomed more Running Start students this year: 1,229 FTE students, up from 1,125 in spring 2011.
And the number of students taking eLearning classes continues to rise, from 1,044 in spring 2011 to 1,280 today.