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Whatcom Community College Foundation Newsletter - November

Time Capsule, Cybersecurity and Whatcom CC

Post Date:11/15/2017 10:00 am

The Whatcom Community College Foundation Newsletter is sent on a regular basis to keep you current on news and events at Whatcom Community College. We hope you'll join us on campus soon!

Friends & Alumni Web Banner

'Tis the season of gratitude.  We embrace this community that supports and believes in education to transform lives. To mark the conclusion of our 50th year celebration, our students will be putting together a time capsule. What would you add to best illustrate WCC?  Submit your ideas at


Kulshan Sculpture web

In the top 150 community colleges nationwide: again

For the fourth consecutive time, WCC is one of the top 150 community colleges in the country, according to the prestigious Aspen Institute. We were selected from more than 1,000 colleges, based on outstanding achievement in certificate and degree completion, employment and earnings of our graduates, and high levels of access and success for low-income and minority students. WCC will compete for the $1 million prize in 2019. Read more here about the Aspen Institute and the Aspen Prize.

Cybersecurity center dedicated at Baker HallCybersecurity Dedication with trustees and college president

Whatcom dedicated the Cybersecurity Center at Baker Hall, in recognition of our regional and national leadership in the field of cybersecurity education. WCC's achievements include:

  • Designation as a National Center of Academic Excellence in Information Assurance/Cyber Defense 2-year education by the National Security Agency and the Department of Homeland Security; the first college on the west coast to earn this honor.
  • Named the lead institution of CyberWatch West, a National Science Foundation Advanced Technological Education regional center; one of only four in the nation in the field of cybersecurity education and the sole college on the west coast. Learn more about CyberWatch West here.
  • Selected by the National Security Agency to lead efforts to improve and expand cybersecurity education nationwide as one of four Centers of Academic Excellence in Cyberdefense National Resource Centers.

In the past five years, enrollments in computer information systems programs have doubled, while cybersecurity enrollments have tripled. Learn more about our degrees and certificates in CIS including our Bachelors of Applied Science in IT Networking.

Photo: (From left) Trustee Steve Adelstein; President Kathi Hiyane-Brown; County Executive Jack Louws; Dir. Computer Sciences and Information Systems/CyberWatch West Corrinne Sande; Trustee Barbara Rofkar; and Trustee John Pedlow prepare to unveil the new Cybersecurity Center campus sign.

Prof-Tech Advisory Committees impact WCC programs

WCC has over 80 community members who help ensure our professional and workforce programs are current and innovative. These community members also help facilitate opportunities for students to gain meaningful career-focused work experience. At its fall kick-off of committee meetings with our program coordinators, the members heard from four students who are also veterans. 

Britney Fortner, a six-year Navy veteran, is studying to be a physical therapist assistant. “Whatcom is so supportive and invested in my success,” she said. “I have seen the quality and skill of WCC graduates.”  Someday, she would like to be an instructor and give back. “Like the military, I want to contribute to a purpose beyond myself.”

Peter Milnes, in the Navy for 24 years, is in his first year of nursing. “I see a similar support network with the nursing cohort as I did with the military. Nursing has a lot of processes and procedures like the military, and thinking on your feet and problem solving.” He would like to work into a job in acute care or intensive care.

Logos of prof-tech employers (partial representation)

Both Orlando Lugo (10 years in Coast Guard) and Bryann Flynn (six years Army) praise Jarid Corbitt, Associate Director of the Veterans Center, for his helpfulness. “Jarid answered my emails promptly,” Orlando said, "and got me registered the week before classes started.” Orlando is studying Office Administration/Logistics, and Bryann is working in Accounting towards his CPA degree. 

“Whatcom is a great community,” Bryann said. “I have built some great friendships here.”

We are proud to recognize some of our over 260 veteran students, one-fifth of whom are in our professional and technical programs. Our Veterans Center is known for its expertise in working with veterans to help them ease into the life of a student. Thank you to all who have nobly served our country. Learn more online about veteran services at Whatcom.


Fall 2017 Discover Magazine CoverBiz after biz: Community Education holds mini classes

For the Chamber of Commerce’s monthly Business After Business social hour, Community and Continuing Ed hosted guests for a series of mini classes: Thanksgiving wine and food pairings with chef Robert Fong; salsa dancing with Janice Shepherd; and figure drawing with Trish Harding. Besides a variety of fun and lifelong learner classes, we offer specialized skills training for businesses. Check out the current schedule of Community Education classes.

Meet one of our 285+ scholarship recipientsAltynay Bekbossyn portrait

Altynay Bekbossyn, who received the Sam Girouard Memorial Scholarship this year, is an international student from Kazakhstan. She is studying early childhood education at Whatcom, allowing her to work toward her dream of opening a language school for children while enhancing her English skills and understanding of American culture. 

Prior to studying at Whatcom, Altynay earned her bachelor’s degree in linguistics in Kazakhstan, while teaching Russian to Peace Corps volunteers. Later, she was awarded an internship in Germany studying artificial intelligence before earning her MBA in South Korea, while working as a Korean, Russian, and English translator. Altynay is a 4.0 student and a member of the Teachers of Tomorrow Club and a volunteer at Cordata Elementary School. She is the Director of Academic Success Programming for WCC Associated Students. She plans to transfer to WWU next year. How did Altynay discover Whatcom? She googled safest places in the United States!

Sam Girouard was a Running Start student at Whatcom. His mother, Paula, told us, “As a Running Start student, our son Sam enjoyed and felt at home at WCC. After he passed away, his family wanted to honor his memory and thank WCC for the support they gave him by providing scholarships for future deserving students." His parents, Paula and Sam, chose to endow a scholarship “knowing that Whatcom didn’t have the number of endowments a major university had.” About 60% of Whatcom students need financial aid. Endowments carry on into perpetuity, meaning many students ultimately benefit from this generous gesture of support for education. 

Learn more about the ways that a donation to the Whatcom Community College Foundation can help students.

Students studying in courtyardOrca Student Success Fund gives just-in-time grants

Investing in a college degree or certificate pays off for years to come, but paying for it is challenging for many students. Even with scholarship help, students struggle to make ends meet, with lab fees, expensive textbooks and the exceptionally high cost of living here. Emergencies like unanticipated car repairs or childcare needs can force students to drop out or delay their completion in order to pay unexpected bills. The Orca Student Success Fund provides small, just-in-time grants to support students who persist. With a simple application and quick turnaround by our financial aid counselors, students can take care of these financial obligations and keep moving forward.

We will be establishing a new endowment fund to expand this program so students can graduate and move into the work force. Dave Klaffke, Financial Aid Director, reported 187 students received a total of $126,425 in emergency grants last year, along with another 60 students helped by the Laidlaw Emergency Book Fund. Students who successfully complete their education have more choices in life. Let’s help them get there. Donate today! 

Ro McKernanAnd speaking of textbooks

Ro McKernan, Library & Information Science faculty member, won the state’s Washington Library Association Outstanding Performance Award for her work in open educational resources (free digital and openly licensed educational materials). The award notes Ro’s efforts in creating programs to help eliminate some financial obstacles to college success. The rising cost of textbooks is a problem for students and colleges alike. Ro has created and maintained these programs which help offset these rising costs. The honor cited her passion and dedication to both libraries and students. Well done, Ro!

Donor Appreciation Honorees pose President Kathi Hiyane-Brown and their awardsExcellence in Educational Giving honorees announced

At this year’s Donor Appreciation Breakfast, four friends were honored with Excellence in Educational Giving awards. All are uniquely connected to WCC, and all have given generously of their time, talent and treasure.

Deane and Susan Sandell, lifetime Whatcom County residents, have lengthy connections to our college. Deane’s father, Floyd, was the first tenured faculty member at Whatcom, teaching a class in farm management. Deane, who retired as Whatcom County undersheriff after 34 years, established the Floyd Sandell Memorial Scholarship with Susan to honor Floyd’s life. Susan and Deane owned Sandell’s for Her, where Susan worked for 33 years. As a WCC Foundation board member, Susan was instrumental in two successful fundraising galas called Magic of Whatcom. Susan is also a proud alum of Whatcom! 

Giving back to the community is a value that Deane and Susan learned at a young age. According to Susan, they were “injected with the spirit of social conscience” in 1954, when their mothers volunteered them for the Polio Pioneers project,  successfully testing the new Salk vaccine on American school children.

Dr. Russell Sherif has taught math and engineering classes at WCC since 1995. Russ attended the University of Washington for his B.S., earned a Master’s in Education from Princeton, and his Ph.D. from the University of Southern California. As the father of three daughters, Russ recognized a disparity in the number of women enrolling in engineering classes here, and endowed the Sherif Family Scholarship for Women in Engineering, to encourage female students to pursue professional engineering careers.

“As I contemplated starting a scholarship at WCC, I realized that I would need to write a rather sizable personal check…I knew I could afford it, but I struggled with the idea that I would be giving away my hard-earned money, fulling knowing I would never be receiving any financial gain from that donation.

“I gradually came to realize that my making such a contribution to the education of deserving students wasn’t just a choice, it was my responsibility. As I donate to WCC each year now, I do so with a belief that it is my responsibility, that it is our responsibility, to try to make a positive difference in students’ lives.”

Bob Winters has been a full-time English faculty member at Whatcom since 1985. He earned his B.A. from the University of California-Berkeley, and his Master of Fine Arts from the University of California-Irvine. Bob served twice as chair of the English Department, and two terms as Division Chair for Arts and Humanities here. He was awarded the Puget Power Faculty Excellence Award in 1989. Bob has been a member of the Foundation’s board of directors for several years. For the past year, he has also been the official ambassador for the college’s 50th year celebration, hosting tours, giving entertaining talks to community groups and eliciting Whatcom stories from our many friends, keeping our past preserved.

Bob said, “I’ve enjoyed the privilege of representing the college and its history to the broader community. We didn’t just build a college; we built a doorway to the future, and I am proud to have been a part of that for 32 years. In that time I’ve realized that what this college has provided me is much more than my efforts can repay: Whatcom has given me work with purpose and meaning. Former Whatcom Vice President Ron Leatherbarrow once told me that the most valuable thing anyone can give your career is the chance to use your talents for a noble cause. Whatcom—and specifically the WCC Foundation—has given me that gift, for which I am deeply grateful.”

And we are equally grateful for these four dedicated friends of Whatcom.

Photo: (From left) President Kathi Hiyane-Brown, Bob Winters, Dr. Russell Sherif, Susan Sandell and Deane Sandell.

Men's soccer team includes six refugees

Whatcom Talk reported on the WCC men’s soccer program, unbeaten during the regular season. The article, titled "Different Backgrounds and Experiences Strengthen WCC Men’s Soccer Program" (written by Grant Clark for, tells the story of six players who are refugees from vastly different circumstances. Having experienced violence and disaster, lost family and friends, struggled without food or water, they have endured. They come from war-torn Congo, Kenya, post-earthquake and hurricane Haiti, Mali, and Ghana, where most villages lack quality drinking water. What they have in common is their love of soccer. And their desire for an education leading to a better life.

Elijah Moon, from Ghana, said. “My village was always in a war with other villages, but when we stop shooting each other, soccer was the only thing that kept our minds together. When you’re playing the game, nothing else matters at that moment because you don’t need to speak the same language to play it. When you’re on the field, everyone is speaking the same language.”

“Playing soccer is a union of people,” said Alain Murhula, who lived in a refugee camp without electricity in Uganda. “Playing at WCC has promoted my experience of living with people I didn’t know, and [they ended up turning] into my family.”

Each player hopes to win a scholarship to a four-year university. Head coach Jason Jorgensen said, “We want the players to look back and be proud of where they came from and the program they helped build. They bring energy, team chemistry, dedication. Each player helps create the team’s identity and helps shape who we are and what we strive to be: an Orca nation, a family and a place where their individualistic greatness can be recognized and nurtured and pushed to be the best version of themselves daily.” Learn about more on-campus events and activities and get involved at WCC!

2017 Men's Soccer Team group photo


We are building futures together

Your gifts to students, faculty and staff, and college programs inspire us to do more. Dream bigger. Provide opportunity. Invest in our community. Join us! | 360.383.3320 | Visit our website

WCC Foundation Board of Directors

Kurt Anderson, chair; WCC President Dr. Kathi Hiyane-Brown, vice chair; Dr. Brenda-Lee Karasik, vice chair; John Stewart, secretary/treasurer; Troy Wills, immediate past chair; Dr. Lynne Masland, past chair; Phyllis Self, past chair; Victoria Dahlgren, at-large; Kira Bravo; Anne-Marie Faiola; Dr. Ron Kleinknecht; Mike Langey; Andrew Moquin; Susan Sandell; Satpal Singh Sidhu; Robert M. Tull; Bev Jacobs; Josh Summers; Sandra Hughes; Carolyn Simpson Scott; Bob Winters, College leadership representative; Tim Douglas, Trustee representative; Sue Cole, executive director for College advancement; Caite Holman, WCC Foundation director

Advancement Staff

Sue Cole, executive director for College advancement; Marisa Ellis, communications and marketing director; Caite Holman, Foundation director; Stephanie Schmitt, Foundation operations manager; James Zyon, senior graphic designer; Kate Imus, Foundation program specialist; Laura Going, communications manager; Corrie DenHartog, administrative assistant; Brenda Chomiak, graphic design intern

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Media inquiries: For photos and other media resources, please contact the Public Information Office at 360.383.3310 or Thanks for your interest!



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