Heather Danielle Kolowinski came to Centralia College following her layoff after 10years as an interior designer. She evaluated her skills and interests and, coupled with suggestions from a close friend, embarked on a Civil Engineering Technology (CET) course of study.
“When I returned to Centralia College full time I still did not have a clear goal in mind for my future career. I knew I wanted financial stability in a growingindustry and felt that engineering could provide that,” Kolowinski said.
As she began her studies in the CET program, she realized she was at the right college.
“I was impressed with the quality of education at Centralia College. Expectations were clear and the homework load was quite manageable. When I would talk about projects and coursework, my friends in the industry would remark on how it sounded like I was getting a more practical education than they had at a four-year university,” Kolowinski said. “They wished they too had received more hands on experience with surveying, industry software, and creating layouts in AutoCAD.”
She cited a number of strengths of the CET program. Headlining the list was the helpfulness of the faculty and staff.
“They were always approachable and helpful. My instructors were highly encouraging and some will even be lifelong friends and colleagues,” she said.
She also found connection with fellow students.
“Throughout the CET program I became very close to my classmates. We were an unlikely group of individuals with diverse backgrounds,” said Kolowinski. “I came from interior design, another student came from 20 years in banking, and others came from construction. Our common ground was an interest in the program. The structure of the program kept all of us together from the beginning to end and this was a huge advantage.”
Kolowinski said this connection helped them to motivate each other and to work together to complete assignments.
But there was more to Kolowinski’s college career than success in the classroom (she graduated with highest honors in 2010). During her sophomore year she joined the women’s golf team where she became friends “with a super group of girls much younger than myself, and built many lasting memories.”
She said she was able to use what she learned during her time at Centralia College to have a successful career and for building blocks for further education.
After her short career in the CET field, Kolowinski went on to The Evergreen State College to earn her bachelor’s degree. She credits Centralia College for the foundation that helped her succeed in her studies.
Looking back on her time at Centralia College, she credits Jacob Lund, CET associate professor, for his support.
“Jake is personable, approachable, knowledgeable, and encouraging. To this day I correspond with him about my progress and also to see how the current students are coming along. He is one of the best instructors I have ever had. His lesson plans are well thought out and set up so that one may learn easily and be successful,” she said.
“I hope to find a career that incorporates field work, lab based studies, and independent research,” Kolowinski said. “I do know that I will continually draw upon the knowledge I gained from the (CET) program.”