Being Thunderbirds, Becoming Huskies

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When 39 Mount Tahoma T-Birds recently celebrated their admission to UW Tacoma, they were welcomed by a Husky who is one of their own.

Spring brings the annual rituals of college admission. A UW Tacoma program called Pathways to Promise is helping to create college-going culture and college readiness in local teens.

Pathways to Promise aims to make a connection between merely hearing about college and actively considering it as an option. It’s a network of partnerships that developed as a natural extension of UW Tacoma’s urban-serving mission.

The program started in 2013 with Tacoma Public Schools and Puyallup School District. Today, it’s expanded to include Bethel, Federal Way, Franklin-Pierce, Kent, Steilacoom and Tahoma school districts.

Recently, Tacoma Public Schools published a story about seniors at Mt. Tahoma High School celebrating their admission to UW Tacoma. With the school district’s permission, we present the story for your enjoyment.


Mount Tahoma students on "Pathways to Promise"

Thirty-nine T-Birds admitted to UW-Tacoma

3/8/2017 | TACOMA, Washington
[Originally published by Tacoma Public Schools - used with permission.]

​Alec Pallasigui came back to his alma mater, Mount Tahoma High School, last Friday, to congratulate a group of his fellow T-Birds for taking the first steps on a college path he has nearly finished.

“I came from Guam, and I’m the second generation of my family to go to college, but the first generation in this country,” he told the assembled students. “In retrospect, high school was the easiest time of my life. There are plenty of nights I stay up to four in the morning, working on assignments. There is no easy route. But keep pushing.”

Mt. Tahoma students Ken Le, Amy Nguyen and Hanna Song celebrate at a 2017 Pathways to Promise event.Pallasigui, currently in his fourth year at the University of Washington-Tacoma, graduated from high school in 2013, and enrolled in college through the Pathways to Promise program. Overall, 123 Tacoma seniors from the class of 2017 gained admission to the UW Tacoma through the program this year. Thirty-nine Mount Tahoma seniors were recognized on Friday—the highest tally of any high school in the district. Stadium was second with 22, Lincoln third with 21, followed by Wilson (18), Foss (12), SAMI (8) and SOTA (3). ...

Tacoma Public Schools Career and Technical Education Director John Page apologized for being a Washington State Cougar, before saluting the students for their achievements. Page offered the caveat, however, that the truly hard work lies ahead.

“This is a game-changer,” Page said. “I want to see you on the other side of this, four years from now, when you’re walking across that other (graduation) stage, to see what you’re going to bring back to this community. You’ve got room to grow. The responsibility of being a college graduate in this country is to make the world a better place for other people.”

UW-Tacoma Director of Student Transitions Amanda Figueroa pointed out the distinction students entering college face—taking over their own destiny. Parents, the school system and other authority figures don’t control the educational path of college students, Figueroa said—now it’s all up to the student.

“This is about you knowing who you are, and finding out where you will thrive,” she said. “Here in Tacoma, you have a whole city behind you that wants you to succeed.”

Brandon Ervin, head of College & Career Readiness for TPS, gave the students a mission, before the group adjourned to Mount Tahoma’s career center for a celebration with a Husky-themed cake.

“You have so much more work to do,” Ervin said. “We look forward to you coming back to this community and serving.”

Written by: 
John Burkhardt / March 22, 2017
Media contact: 

John Burkhardt, UW Tacoma Communications, 253-692-4536 or