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Whatcom Community College Foundation Newsletter - July

Plant pigments, GenCyber camps, Alcoa & engineering

Post Date:07/31/2018 9:30 am

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High school cyber camp with Rep. LarsenRep. Rick Larsen visits GenCyber camps

Congressman Rick Larsen, representing Washington’s 2nd District, dropped by the GenCyber Camps this month. The camps for middle and high schoolers, sponsored by the National Security Agency, provide students with a broad overview of cybersecurity and hands-on activities.  These include setting up a simple network, understanding operating systems, web applications and vulnerabilities, and application security.

Our new BAS in IT Networking is producing a skilled workforce in this critical industry. WCC computer information systems graduates work at Boeing, Puget Sound Energy, and many other businesses. Whatcom is home to CyberWatchWest, working with over 430 colleges to grow and strengthen our nation’s cybersecurity workforce. Whatcom is a National Center of Academic Excellence in Cyber Defense, funded by the National Science Foundation. About the college’s Bachelor of Applied Science-IT Networking.

Faculty = Excellence x2

Ericksen, Justin 2018Did you have a favorite teacher who made a difference in your life? We honored two such inspiring teachers with Faculty Excellence Awards. This year’s awardees, sponsored by our friends at Tiger Construction, are Justin Ericksen (full time faculty, left) and Erin Graham (adjunct faculty, right). These two epitomize the integrity and philosophy of the educational profession, demonstrated by their dedication to their students and community.

Justin has been a fulltime English faculty member since 2014. He champions cross-department collaboration, and was instrumental in creating and obtaining grant funding to support a faculty learning community focused on growth mindset.

Graham, Erin 2018“I try to imagine my own children being in the class which helps me focus my teaching on respecting and connecting with all students, helping them recognize their inherent brilliance and unique individual voices, and working together toward maximizing their potential.  Teaching is a fluid and dynamic blending of art and science, so I know that while I'll never be an expert, there is always room to learn and evolve,” he said.

Erin has been a psychology adjunct faculty member since 2013. Students praise her willingness to go above and beyond to assist them with understanding concepts, as well as providing substantive feedback. She also actively participates in professional development to continue to strengthen her own teaching.

"It is an honor and a privilege to work with the inspiring students at Whatcom. As an instructor I strive to meet my students where they are, connect with them on a personal level, and engage them in applying what they learn directly to their lives." Erin said.

Student presents at research expoMore than 40 students exhibit their work at research expo

What are the effects of plant pigments on maximum voltage achieved by solar cells? What is the distribution and variation of graffiti in Bellingham? How about biodiversity of tree species based on elevation at Oyster Dome?

These are just some of the fascinating student research projects showcased at the first-ever Research Expo this spring. Students and faculty in anthropology, biology, and chemistry, engineering, and geology courses explained the culmination of their work to attendees.

Chemistry faculty member Dr. Tommaso Vannelli said, “Several faculty implemented a course-based authentic research component into their courses. As a result, this group collaborated to create the Research Expo. An important component of the research ‘experience’ is to present the results in a public forum which provides students with a sense of community and context for their work.” He added that there are now conversations about making this a campus-wide showcase of student work.

+2 more faculty members honored

Two WCC faculty members were recognized by two state organizations. Annalise Martucci, who has taught paralegal studies here for two years, received the Washington State Bar Association’s APEX (acknowledging professional excellence) award for Outstanding Young Lawyer. She is an active member of the bar in Whatcom and Skagit Counties, and volunteers with Whatcom Street Law, among other leadership positions.

Dr. Kaatje Kraft received the State Board for Community and Technical College’s (SBCTC) 2018 Anna Sue McNeill Assessment, Teaching and Learning Award. She has been a geology faculty member here since 2014, incorporating research and service learning into most of her courses. She also serves as chair of the college Sustainability Committee.  We’re proud of our faculty and their impact in our college and our community.

Meet one of our 230+ scholarship recipients

This year, the Robert Bragg Scholarship was awarded to 22 students, all planning to pursue a 4-year liberal arts education.

Tania Gonzalez is an incoming high school senior and first generation college student. She is inspired by her volunteer service with Special Olympics and plans to become a special education teacher. As a teacher, she hopes to motivate students, saying, “Helping others and showing them that someone is on their side gives them hope that someone cares and is looking out for their well being. I want to be that person for them.” While she has overcome significant hardship, she is praised for her patience, servant leadership qualities, and tenacious perseverance. In addition to school and her many volunteer commitments, Tania works part time, cares for her younger siblings, and managed the girls’ wrestling team throughout high school.

Robert Bragg, a humanities faculty member at Whatcom for more than 30 years, developed a range of courses that built the college’s art curriculum. He received state recognition for his contribution to the humanities. A gifted artist, he exhibited his own oils and pastels throughout the Northwest. Mr. Bragg’s legacy includes humanities scholarships. 

A close friend and colleague, Jean Carmean, told us, “Even non-art majors took multiple classes from Bob, partly because he was a master of the Socratic method as opposed to a straight lecturer, drawing out students’ understanding through questions that encouraged them to look and think more deeply.”

Learn more about the WCC Foundation's scholarships here. 

Retiree reception 

Nine retirees, 188 years of service

Nine retirees were feted this spring, with funds donated in honor of their combined 188 years of service. This creates the WCC Retirees Scholarship, an inspiring tradition so faculty and staff can continue to support the college mission of transforming students’ lives. Find out more about supporting students through the WCC Foundation.

Bridge breaking classEngineering program soars with two major grants

Whatcom received $320,000 from the SBCTC to fund an additional 40 fulltime students in engineering. This includes adding a new faculty member and resources to support the program. WCC is the only comprehensive engineering transfer program north of Everett, offering pathways in aeronautical and industrial engineering, manufacturing, plastics, composites, and more.

The Alcoa Foundation awarded WCC a $30,000 grant to further add tools for engineering, building on the resources the Foundation provided last year. Those included a laser cutter, robotics kits, 3D printer kit, and furniture for the lab, as well as laptops.

The new grant will increase student capabilities with a new full classroom of laptops, a benchtop CNC milling machine, and a set of digital multimeters. Besides the resources that will provide students with the skills that industry expects, this significant grant includes an outreach project with Cordata Elemental School. Engineering students and faculty member Eric Davishahl will collaborate with third graders to design projects for 3D printing, laser cutting and the CNC machine. The collaboration will help teachers modernize their curriculum to new state standards. Learn more about Whatcom's engineering program here.

Did you know…

  • 39% of all bachelor degree graduates from public universities here (2016) started at a community or technical college. Most of the transfer students --- 80% --- already had a two-year degree, saving thousands in tuition.
  • The Orca Student Success Fund helped 178 students with $129,978 in emergency grants for unanticipated and disruptive expenses.
  • Over 2,000 pounds of food were donated to the Orca Food Pantry this year.
  • Orca student volunteers provided almost 400 hours of service to the campus and community
  • Watch President Kathi Hiyane-Brown talk about Whatcom on BTV and at the Bellingham City Club
  • WCC is one of only five approved providers of the Limited Legal Licensed Technician program in Washington
  • One of the country’s top 150 community colleges for the fourth consecutive year.


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WCC Foundation Board of Directors

Dr. Brenda-Lee Karasik, chair; WCC President Dr. Kathi Hiyane-Brown, vice chair; Dr. Ron Kleinknecht, vice chair; John Stewart, secretary/treasurer; Kurt Anderson, immediate past chair; Susan Sandell, at-large;  Troy Wills, Dr. Lynne Masland, Phyllis Self,; Kira Bravo; Anne-Marie Faiola; Mike Langey; Andrew Moquin;; Satpal Singh Sidhu; Robert M. Tull; Bev Jacobs; Josh Summers; Sandra Hughes; Carolyn Simpson Scott; 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; Jonathan Dymond, development officer; Kate Imus, Foundation program specialist; Laura McGowan, communications manager; Brenda Chomiak, assistant graphic designer; Sarah Jenkins, administrative assistant

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