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Two WCC physical therapist assistant graduates named Siemens Technical Scholars
WCC PTA graduates Adam Fedewa (left) and Dustin Sloan are 2017 Siemens Technical Scholars.
Bellingham, Wash. – Two Whatcom Community College physical therapist assistant (PTA) graduates have been named 2017 Siemens Technical Scholars by the Aspen Institute College Excellence Program (CEP) and the Siemens Foundation. Adam Fedewa and John (Dustin) Sloan were among 51 exceptional community college students selected from some of the nation’s strongest community college programs in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM). Fedewa, who graduated December 2016, and Sloan, a December 2015 graduate who works at Performance PT in Bellingham, each will receive a $3,500 scholarship. The scholarships can be applied to continuing education or student loans.
Whatcom, as one of just 150 community colleges identified for its excellence in the most recent round of competition for the Aspen Prize, was invited to propose up to three programs to be considered for the Siemens Technical Scholars competition. After providing data on Whatcom’s PTA program, the College was chosen to nominate current students or program graduates for scholarship consideration.
“Adam and Dustin were among 51 exceptional community college students selected for this award from some of the nation’s strongest programs in STEM,” said WCC President Kathi Hiyane-Brown. “Their recognition speaks to the instructional excellence of our programs in STEM and healthcare fields, particularly PTA. I appreciate the investment Aspen and the Siemens Foundation makes to support innovative programs like Whatcom’s and the outstanding students we develop.”
Whatcom’s PTA program has been recognized by state and national organizations as a model of student success and collaborative learning. Students consistently exceed national pass rates on licensing exams. For the past two consecutive years, 100% of graduates have passed the licensing exam on their first or second attempts. This quarter, program staff are offering a teaching clinic in which students work with physical therapists and physical therapist assistants to provide patient evaluations for clients who are uninsured or underinsured. Classes and the clinic are located at WCC’s state-of-the-art health professions education center.
Overall, jobs in science, technology, engineering and math fields are projected to grow at almost double the rate of non-STEM occupations. Community colleges like Whatcom are playing a huge role in meeting this demand. More than half of all STEM jobs across the United States require no more than an associate’s degree, and pay wages that average more than $50,000 annually. People with a postsecondary education earn 74% more than those with just a high school diploma.
“The best community college programs are providing top-notch preparation for the jobs employers are clamoring to fill,” said David Etzwiler, CEO of Siemens Foundation. “We need to change the mind-set about community colleges and make sure that students, parents and college guidance counselors see these exceptional STEM programs as strong pathways to opportunity – whether that means heading right into a great-paying job or getting a more advanced degree.”
The Siemens Technical Scholars selection committee identified exemplary community college STEM-related programs – like Whatcom’s PTA program – that deliver exceptional training for technical jobs in areas ranging from power plant technology to healthcare.
About Whatcom: Whatcom Community College is a regionally and nationally accredited two-year college with an accomplished faculty and staff who serve 11,000 students annually. On its campus in Bellingham, Wash., and through online courses, Whatcom offers transfer and professional-technical degrees as well as basic education, job skills training, and community and continuing education classes. The College will offer a BAS degree in IT Networking, beginning fall 2017. Based on student outcomes, the Aspen Institute recognizes Whatcom as one of the top community and technical colleges in Washington and among the nation’s leading two-year colleges. The College is celebrating its 50th anniversary in 2017. For more information, visit whatcom.edu/50.
Contact: Mary Vermillion, Whatcom Community College PIO, 360.383.3310, firstname.lastname@example.org