Category Archives: Fall 2009

Kenta Yamaguchi

Kenta Yamaguchi

Busy fulfilling his life’s dreams and goals, Kenta Yamaguchi is finding challenges everywhere he can. The twenty-seven year old Yamaguchi is a Centralia College International student from Japan. Since arriving in the United States three years ago, Yamaguchi has been studying at Centralia College. He came to Centralia College with a bachelor’s degree from a Japanese university and five years work experience as a Japanese licensed real estate agent. However, he did not speak English and that is what he wanted to learn to do.

Yamaguchi chose Centralia College because of the English studies programs. Through the college’s International Club, his friends suggested that he seek a work study opportunity helping with children at the Centralia College Children’s Lab. He used this opportunity as an additional way to enhance his daily English learning regime.

Summers off from classes have also been learning experiences as well as challenges. One year Yamaguchi took a Greyhound bus for two months of travel around the United States, and the next year he flew to Anchorage, Alaska, and rode his bike 4,200 miles up to Prudhoe Bay and back to Centralia. Biking approximately 60 miles a day for three months. Yamaguchi said he hardly got any sleep biking through Alaska, as the nights brought the sounds and sightings of bears. But, he made it.
Expecting to finish his Centralia College studies in about another year, he is contemplating a career in journalism. He noted that he also is expecting to return to Japan and may seek a career in an international industry such as import/export or with a trading company such as an international purchasing agent. Yamaguchi wants always to use his hard earned English language ability in his career and to work in the international arena.


Victoria Stewart

Victoria Stewart

Victoria Stewart

She is a renaissance woman who looks with anticipation at the wide-open canvas of her life. There is so much to do, so much that piques her curiosity. She likes the possibilities. The foundation for what Victoria Stewart will do has been laid with her life’s experience and now with the associate in arts degree she just earned, a tool that will open more doors of opportunity. It would have been easy to assume she would enter college bent on earning a degree in journalism. She is, after all, a freelance writer/photographer for The Chronicle and for DeVaul Publishing, has served as a writer for and managing editor of the Lewis County News, and wrote and edited the Legionnaire the Washington state American Legion newsletter. At Centralia College she served as the editor and photographic designer of Beyond Parallax, a showcase publication primarily for student-generated literary and artistic talent. One of her poems and, augmenting her display of talent, several pieces of her photographic art were included in the publication.

But as it is with many writers, when it came to working on her degree she didn’t want to limit herself. “There’s so much I’m interested in, so much to learn. I want to get a wide range of knowledge and that’s why I went after the associate degree.” And she did that in style, graduating this June with honors.

“Earning my two-year degree was important. I know so much more about the world around me. I really enjoyed taking Pat Pringle’s (earth sciences professor) class. Now I can look at rocks and not only know how they were formed, I also know how they got there. He taught me so much about the environment. Jody Peterson (history/political science professor) brought history to life. It was fun to be in her class. All my instructors made their subjects exciting. I enjoyed Centralia College from the time I first walked into a classroom,” said Stewart.

Beginning her college career in 2007 was not an easy direction. She is a 1985 Napavine High School honor graduate but spent the following 20-plus years working as a journalist, raising a family, and involving herself in a myriad of community activities. She also battled some major health issues. Going to college, which began fulfilling one of her life’s dreams, was a significant life change, but a challenge she accepted. “It was time,” she said. When checking out colleges she started with Centralia College partly because it was close to her home but also because of its reputation. “People I know had a lot of success here. I knew by talking to others that I would get a really good education,” she said. So she took the plunge.

“I really appreciated the support I received all along but it was particularly important and helpful when I first started,” said Stewart. “People always took the time to help. They made me feel welcome.” She could see the opportunities to get a great education, a fresh start, and areas for new involvement. And getting involved in college was part of Stewart’s psyche. Involvement defines her, community service motivates her. She served 10 years as a volunteer in the local school system assisting teachers in planning, organizing and implementing activities for preschool through third grade students; she monitored students in classrooms and on field trips; served as a food drive volunteer; and is a former Lewis County Master Gardener. She worked with the Lewis County Historical Museum and the Boy Scouts of America. She has a long list of recognitions for service from organizations such as Lewis County Crime Stoppers and the Association of University Women. Stewart was also selected for inclusion in Who’s Who in American Journalism. Adding to that is her penchant for performing arts as a standup comic. What doesn’t she do?

It’s easy to see why Stewart has succeeded in college. In addition to positive outlook, she works hard and is blessed with a natural curiosity that took seed at the tender age of seven when she said she wanted to be a spy. “I would follow shoppers around the supermarket then I would journal what they did. ” While the spy career is on hold, “that curiosity and the journaling have stayed with me,” said Stewart. She parlayed both skills into her writing career.

Stewart’s life experiences have helped her develop a formula for success in school. “I think you need to challenge yourself, engage the professors, read the material, and do the work. Do that and success will be yours,” she said. She’s proof that the recipe works. “I received my two-year college degree at Centralia College but more important is the fact that I received a great education from the professors who taught the classes. Centralia College has been such a good school for me,” said Stewart.

While she plans to continue her push to earn a four-year degree she will always be willing to explore opportunities that might pop up. “I want to keep this area as my base but I’ve learned to be open, to be ready for opportunities that come along. There’s a lot that can happen when you are receptive,” said Stewart.

Ben Clary

Ben Clary

Ben Clary

Ben Clary, an Energy Technology student, trains using electronic equipment donated to the college by John Fluke Manufacturing, tools that enhance his training. A resident of Napavine, Clary is returning to Centralia College to earn his degree and receive training for a career in Energy Technology.

“Careers in the energy field are stable and the pay is very good,” said Clary. “This is something that will work for me for a long time.” He said Centralia College offers the program that would lead to a secure career in a solid field. He worked out a schedule with his instructors to get the training he needs while keeping his regular job. “Centralia College is a quality school and the Energy Technology program has a great reputation,” he said. He also appreciates the opportunity to use quality equipment donated by Fluke as part of his training. “It’s important to be able to use equipment that gives accurate readings,” he said. This is the same equipment he will likely use when he converts his training to a real job. They are tools he can use to his advantage.

One of the best measures of a professional/technical program is the support it gets from the industry it serves. Employers prefer to recruit trained workers that fit seamlessly into their firm’s successful profile. That measure is resoundingly met in Centralia College’s electronics program. Ongoing equipment donations from the far-flung divisions of John Fluke Manufacturing are one reason, they point out, that the college’s Electronics, Robotics, and Automation program — ERA — has been so successful at placing graduates in high demand, high wage jobs.

John Fluke Manufacturing, headquartered in Everett, and its subsidiary, Pomona Electronics of California, are major manufacturers of electronic test equipment and a line of fittings and specific-purpose cables. Between them, the two related firms have donated an estimated $50,000 in updated digital meters, function generators, and other special test equipment to the Centralia College ERA program. Assistant Professor of electronics Cal Taylor said the gifts do more than train students in the electronics classrooms. “The people at John Fluke and Pomona have been very generous,” he explained. “We’ve been able to outfit other programs and internal college programs like chemistry, physics, radio/TV, and our own electronic maintenance shops with some state-of-the-art John Fluke and Pomona equipment,” Taylor continued. “We have provided some area high schools with modern electronics equipment, and the students who use it are quite likely to come to Centralia College to begin their electronics or engineering studies.” The gifts aren’t outdated, worn out, or hand-me-downs, either. They are brand-new, highly specialized close-tolerance products that present students with hands-on learning on the latest products available.

Taylor says the company also gets a substantial return for their donations. “Many times our students get job offers even before they finish our courses,” Taylor said.
Last year, every electronics/ERA student graduating from Centralia College had received one or more job offers before the academic year ended. Informal placement of students from those classes remains near 100 percent through faculty networking and industry support of the college. Federal Labor forecasts indicate electronics jobs will grow, according to Taylor, and there will be a robust market opportunity for technicians with certificates or associate degrees in the months ahead.

If you are interested in a career in Energy Technology, visit the program Web site at:

Jibril Gude, Samuel Dafala, and Marco Kila

Jibril Gude, Samuel Dafala, Marco Kila

Jibril Gude, Samuel Dafala, Marco Kila

When classes resume in September, Centralia College will welcome three young men from Sudan. When Jibril Gude, Samuel Dafala, and Marco Kila enter their classrooms, they will write a very different chapter in their ongoing story.

During the pre-dawn darkness at an isolated cattle camp in northeast Sudan, life changed for those three young teenagers in the blink of an eye. A band of armed, militant Arab Muslims swarmed into the camp with guns, knives, and machetes and began targeting anyone who moved. There was a bloody civil war underway—North versus South—and the Muslim rebels were intent on enforcing the North’s Islamic Law. Black Sudanese in the cattle camp were mostly Christians whose allegiance lay with the African population to the south. Jibril, Samuel, and Marco, caught in the deadly firestorm, did the only thing they knew; the trio ran for their lives. How they ran. They didn’t slow their pace until they had outdistanced a handful of pursuers late that day—and still they ran!

The situation was dire. The boys had no way of knowing if their parents, siblings or friends had survived the brutal attack. They knew only to run. “We would stop sometimes to gather wild fruits off the trees,” said Jibril, “and then we would keep running.” It would be nearly two months of running and 300 miles before the boys reached the border with Ethiopia. But their troubles didn’t end at the border; they needed to reach a refugee camp inside the neighboring nation. “But it cost money to cross the border,” explained Samuel. “We had no money and no food, so we worked for farmers in Sudan to earn enough.”

Once they were allowed to travel to a refugee camp they were interviewed by the International Red Cross and the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees. It was eventually decided these three were good candidates for schooling and a foster home in the U.S. Months later the arrangements were made and the trio left Ethiopia for New York and then Seattle, where they met their new foster parents: Larry and Rhonda Hewitt, from Centralia.

For two years the young men have studied for high school completion and are taking English as a Second Language at Centralia High School. Their sills are advanced enough to allow them to enter college this fall. They have made a lot of friends in Lewis County and look forward to their college experience. “We will make friends at Centralia College,” said Marco, the most outgoing of the three. “We have talked with teachers and students and we are anxious to start college here.”

The boys from Sudan have their long-term goals already chosen. Marco hopes to become a U.S. Immigration Inspector, Jabril has his eye on a career in Physical Therapy, and Samuel will study in a health care or medical field. In the past year or more the boys have all learned their parents escaped the deadly nightmare at the cattle camp and are safe in another part of Sudan. All three say they may go back to Sudan someday, but only to visit. All three are convinced their future lives lie in the United States.

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