Generations extol the virtues of learning at Clark
Joner family is one of many extended families that have followed promising paths
When Josiah Joner ’21 moves into his dorm room at Stanford University this fall, it will be the first time he has stepped onto the prestigious campus. The 18-year-old applied without ever visiting the university in Palo Alto, Calif. However, it won’t be the first time he has taken college classes.
For the last two years, Joner attended Clark College through the Running Start program. He graduated this year with an associate degree and 90 college credits. He served as the Associated Students of Clark College (ASCC) president for the past year. Scholarship support from Clark College Foundation donors also supported Joner’s success.
Clark is something of a family tradition for the Joners. Josiah is the third generation to attend Clark. His father, Jason Joner ’95, also completed the Running Start program and graduated with an associate degree in business before transferring to the University of Washington. His mother, Jessica Joner ’20, studied fine arts at Clark and is continuing her education at Portland State University. Josiah’s maternal grandmother, Cindy Holt, is also a Clark alumna.
“I always wanted to go to college but I ended up having a large family and couldn’t balance the two so I stayed home,” Holt said.
When the youngest of her five children was in school, Holt resumed her studies at Clark. As an older student, Holt said she never felt out of place at Clark.
“It was very comfortable. Which was funny because when I transferred to the university it didn’t feel that way,” she said with a laugh.
Holt earned a master’s degree in social work and now teaches at George Fox University.
Jason Joner, who is now an attorney and vice president for Wellons, Inc., an energy and dry kiln systems manufacturer in Vancouver, Wash., was the first member of the family to attend Clark. After earning a law degree from the University of Virginia, he moved his young family back to Vancouver, and quickly found his way back to Clark. He taught three courses in the paralegal department and served on Clark College Foundation’s Alumni Board and its board of directors. Clark is a frequent topic of conversation in the Joner home.
“I’ve always been telling my wife and kids how great Clark is,” Jason Joner said. “And they were like, ‘yeah, yeah, we know.’ So it’s been gratifying to see them go through (Clark) and now they’re like, ‘Oh, wow, it is really good!’”
At Stanford, Josiah Joner plans to study political science and get involved in the archery club. He said he feels well prepared thanks to great teaching at Clark. One of his favorite instructors, English professor Kimberly Sullivan, also happened to teach his dad at Clark.
“I learned so much about writing from her,” Josiah Joner said. Sullivan ended up becoming a mentor and a reference on Joner’s application to Stanford.
Joner said he can clearly remember his first day at Clark, in 2019. He remembers exactly what outfit he was wearing and how excited he felt to take such big steps toward independence.
“I was going to be a full-time college student and starting a new part-time job the week after I started classes,” he wrote in a recent email. “It was a big change and I felt more independent and loved the classes, professors and style of learning. I clearly remember that day, but I really could have never imagined the opportunities Clark would provide me less than a year later.”
The Joner family isn’t done with Clark, either. Two of Josiah’s three younger siblings are currently enrolled in the Running Start program.
Like many families in the Southwest Washington, generations of learning persist at Clark College, the region’s beloved higher education institution.
Story by Lily Raff McCaulou