Top community college students enrolled at UW Tacoma
October 12, 2009
Six students transferring from the region's community colleges are attending UW Tacoma with support from the Next Step Scholarship.
Next Step scholarship students picked from cream of crop
Some of the region's brightest community college students have embarked upon the final stage of their undergraduate experience, with generous financial support from the University of Washington Tacoma's Next Step Scholarship.
The six students, each nominated by the presidents of their respective community colleges as outstanding scholars, vary in their chosen fields of study. Their interests range from social welfare and computer engineering to social sciences, psychology and education. But one thing unites them: They're all eager to get started and well prepared to thrive at UW Tacoma.
Founded in 1998 and funded by 30 community donors, each contributing $50,000, the Next Step Scholarship recognizes high-achieving students at UW Tacoma's regional, two-year partner institutions. Recipients receive significant support to be used for tuition, fees and books while attending UW Tacoma.
Meet the Next Step Scholars for 2009.
Green River Community College
As a teen, Susan Hollister wasn't interested in going to college. Having lost her mother as a young girl, she grew up without the encouragement a girl needs to prepare for college admission. But her intelligence and sociability found a productive outlet in politics. After high-school, she made her livelihood as a community organizer with citizens' groups in Illinois and Pennsylvania, including a stint organizing a voter education drive that resulted in the registration of a few thousand new voters.
Later, feeling inspired by 30 years of community and political involvement, Hollister discovered a new perspective on the value of higher education and decided to return to college. Her achievements at Green River Community College include the Science, Technology, Engineering and Math Scholarship Award and, for three terms, a Certificate of Achievement for her 4.0 GPA. She has been a member of Phi Theta Kappa, an academic honor society for junior college students, since 2008. A research project on the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina for a sociology course revealed her deep curiosity about social systems and set her on course to pursue a degree in social science. She lives in Auburn.
South Puget Sound Community College
Not wanting to settle for a typical teen job, Karlina Dannenmiller had the good sense to take a diversified occupations course in high school. Her high marks in the course qualified her for a work-study program at SPSCC that landed her in the Washington Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction, where she worked as a senior secretary.
The experience gave Dannenmiller a keen interest in psychology and newfound confidence in her work abilities. She found her supervisors' passions for improving children's lives through education contagious and experienced work, not as a dull means to a bill-paying end, but as a fulfilling end in itself. While at SPSCC, Dannenmiller made both the President's List and the National Dean's List of College Honor Students and became a member of Phi Theta Kappa. She is pursuing a bachelor's degree in Interdisciplinary Arts and Sciences with a concentration in psychology and lives in Olympia.
Christopher Brady McConnell
Highline Community College
Christopher Brady McConnell has been a highly motivated student from an early age. One of his fondest memories of childhood is his satisfaction in building or reinventing mechanical objects from his father's forgotten discards. He excelled in his rigorous studies at Federal Way Public Academy with high honors and, as a junior, entered the Running Start program, where he made the Vice President's List for High Scholastic Achievement in 2008 and 2009.
At Highline, he remained keenly focused on engineering, math and physics. His teachers admire him not only for his intrinsic motivation, but for his ease in relating to peers of all ages and backgrounds and for his genuine interest in the society around him. He lives in Federal Way and is pursuing a degree in computer engineering.
Tacoma Community College
The challenges Patricia Schneider faced that first landed her in a recovery program and then in transitional housing turned out to be the prism through which she discovered her life's work: empowering others through social services.
With the help of a network of teachers, a caseworker-mentor and a few other caring individuals, Schneider learned to shape her experiences into a lesson for others-if she could overcome tremendous adversity, she reasoned, so could they. Her teachers admire her perseverance and empathy for others, which was revealed in the mentoring relationships she developed with a few struggling students.
While working part-time and raising two daughters, Schneider earned a 3.7 GPA in the Human Services program at TCC, as well as the President's National Service Award and an Americorps Scholarship. She has been a member of Phi Theta Kappa since 2006. Schneider lives in Puyallup and is pursuing a bachelor's degree in social welfare.
Pierce College Puyallup
Growing up, the possibility of attending college was never discussed in Denise Zetterberg's home. The pursuit of education was something she observed in her peers but, as a teen, never dared visualize for herself.
More than 20 years after starting a family, having instilled the value of education in her three children, all of whom are currently attending college, she finally found the time to return to school to fulfill her own dreams of being an elementary teacher.
Zetterberg currently works as a para-educator, attends college and every day becomes more passionate about helping disadvantaged children succeed in school. Her teachers have praised her exceptional capacities as a researcher and analytical thinker, as well as her strong leadership abilities.
She completed an associate's degree at Pierce College, earning a spot on the President's List nearly every term, as well as a Trio Outstanding Achievement Award, recognition as Outstanding Student in Sociology and membership in Phi Theta Kappa. Zetterberg is now working toward a bachelor's in Interdisciplinary Arts and Sciences and plans to enter the master's in education program. She lives in Puyallup.
A firm believer in second chances, Thea Oliphant-Wells returned to college in her late 20s after some potentially devastating choices. She is now preparing for a life dedicated to helping women in the criminal justice system re-enter society. Her pivotal experiences as a volunteer at Mission Creek Corrections Center for Women gave her an awareness of the value and potential of women in corrections, and sparked an academic interest in sociology.
While enrolled at Olympic College, Oliphant-Wells earned a place on the President's List and the Dean's List for six quarters. She lives in Bremerton and is now working on a bachelor's degree in social welfare.
Aaron Artman, president of the Tacoma Rainiers since 2007, will teach Revenue Generation in the Milgard School of Business, Sports Enterprise Management program. The class will be held this Winter Quarter at Cheney Stadium, with free parking for students.