Shyla Shankle: Community Engagement Important to First-Gen Student

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Working two jobs and taking five classes keeps Shyla Shankle, '16, on the run, but she values the time she spends volunteering at the University Y Student Center.

Shyla Shankle, '16Shyla Shankle is busy. The UW Tacoma senior works two jobs, volunteers at the University Y Student Center and is currently taking five classes. Shankle graduates in June with a degree in history. She won’t have much of a break. Ten days after graduation, Shankle starts work on her master’s in education at UW Tacoma. “I really like the area and hope to eventually teach in the Puyallup School District,” said Shankle.

The 23-year-old was born in Germany near Ramstein Air Base. Her family moved to Yelm when Shankle was a child. In high school she fell in love with history and is fond of Greek and Roman literature.

Not long after she graduated from high school, Shankle’s parents divorced. “I decided to go to community college so I could help my mom and little sister,” said Shankle. The decision to stay close to home was made easier by a scholarship she received in high school that paid for two years of community college.

Shankle transferred from South Puget Sound Community College to UW Tacoma in the fall of 2014. “I really like how UW Tacoma is part of the community and that’s one of reasons why I decided to come here,” said Shankle.

The transition wasn’t easy. Shankle credits volunteering with the Y for helping her make friends and feel more at home. She’s also grateful for the support she received from friends and family. “I really would not be here today if I didn’t have that support system,” said Shankle.

June is going to be a big month for both Shankle and her family. Shyla is the first person in her family to graduate from college. She’ll take a moment to celebrate, to revel in the moment, before getting back to work.

Written by: 
Eric Wilson-Edge / June 6, 2016
Media contact: 

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