Sy Ear: Creating Opportunities for Others

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His journey has brought Dr. Sy Ear, '16, from war-ravaged Cambodia to the stage of the Tacoma Dome where he is one of the recipients of UW Tacoma's first doctoral degree.

Sy Ear, '16Sy Ear currently serves as the Dean for Student Success at Edmonds Community College. He is one of the first to receive the new Doctor of Educational Leadership degree from UW Tacoma.

Receiving the Ed.D. is for him the culmination of a long journey. Dr. Ear was born in Cambodia. “My family endured the Khmer-Rouge era,” said Ear. “My father was a college professor, and as a result was imprisoned and tortured for four years. After his release, my family made the cross-country journey to the refugee camp in Thailand to escape.”

After two years in the refugee camp, the Ear family emigrated to the U.S. “Once we arrived, my dad worked as a janitor and completed his GED and eventually his college degree. This instilled into me that anything is possible.”

His parents’ sacrifices made it possible for Ear to attend college. He got his undergraduate degree at the UW in Seattle. “What brought me into pursuing a career in education was going through college as a 1st-generation student. I had a difficult time navigating the American college system. I made education my career so I can work on increasing access for underrepresented populations. Impacting lives and creating opportunities for others are my passion,” said Ear.

After his B.A., Ear got a master’s of education from Seattle University. He worked at South Seattle Community College for 12 years, then as director of career and advising services at Green River Community College for a couple of years. He has been in his position at Edmonds for about a year.

Ear plans to stay in the Puget Sound region. “I have set a goal of creating and implementing policies that are inclusive and equitable. In order to do this, I have to be in senior level leadership in the community college system. Obtaining the Ed.D. creates opportunities for me to serve in the local community I grew up in,” said Ear.

Dr. Ear’s journey isn’t over yet, but the three years he spent in the Ed.D. program were transformational. “My parents preached to me and my siblings that education is the key to having a better life,” said Ear. “Impacting lives and creating opportunities for others are my passions.”

Written by: 
John Burkhardt / June 10, 2016