Category Archives: Fall 2012

Stephanie Schiele, ASCC President

Stephanie Schiele

Stephanie Schiele

As the ASCC (Associated Students of Centralia College) president, it is my pleasure to welcome you all to Centralia College.

My experience this past year at Centralia College has been absolutely amazing. By becoming involved in just one club I have grown immensely as an individual, as a community member, and as a leader. As a first generation college student, I joined Student Support Services (SSS) and TRiO, and because of the significant support offered through these programs I decided to join the TRiO Club and return the favor. Through the club’s endeavors I have met many community members, students and faculty who were dedicated to lending a helping hand to those in need.

These positive experiences have led to friendships, a better understanding of myself, and the knowledge that involvement can change lives. Because of this, I encourage you to consider joining one of the various clubs, organizations or committees here on campus. There are many athletic events you can attend at home or away to cheer on your Blazers, as well as theatrical performances and lively SAAT (Student Activities and Admissions Team) activities to keep you connected also.

Starting college in spring quarter, I missed out on a great opportunity for freshmen students called CC101. This new student orientation offered just prior to the start of fall quarter gives new students an introduction to college life here at Centralia College. Faculty and staff members, as well as the ASCC and SAAT offer workshops, campus tours, tips on college life and the opportunity to meet other new students. I urge you to take advantage of the opportunity that CC101 offers, and make college a little easier for yourself.

I am excited to be representing you, the Associated Students of Centralia College this year. I plan to attend leadership training this summer and will be working to organize and formulate new projects for Student Government, as well as working on the Strategic Plan from last year’s team. Campus sustainability, campus smoking designations and open source textbooks are issues we will continue to attack. If you have any questions, suggestions, or simply just want to talk, the Student Government office is located in room 126 in the Student Center near the cafeteria. I look forward to meeting you all, and hope you fully enjoy your time here at Centralia College.

Best of Fortunes!


Ben Smith

Ben Smith

Ben Smith

Centralia College provides a well-rounded college experience in and out of the classroom. In some cases it’s those out-of-the-classroom experiences that set the stage for a student’s success in life.

For Ben Smith, who worked part-time as a tutor, it was the recognition that his experiences helping others in the Centralia College math lab as a tutor was something he really enjoyed. He has turned that experience into his chosen career.

Smith, a 2003 Centralia College graduate, was a Running Start student from Toledo High School. He is now the Tutoring Coordinator for Student Support Services at Binghamton University (New York) where he manages a staff of over 30 people. He coordinates and provides tutoring and supplemental instruction in math and the sciences as well as academic, personal, and career counseling to students. He is working in a field that is essential for guiding students but also one that brings a lot of personal satisfaction for Smith.

“It was my time at Centralia College that helped me decide to enter the field of Learning Assistance. Before Centralia College, I had never tutored,” Smith noted. He stepped into the position anxious to help others. “After I got my bachelor’s degree I looked back on the things I had most enjoyed and realized that starting with the math lab, tutoring was something I had embraced and wanted to always do. I started my own tutoring business, and eventually wound up running a tutoring center at a university,” Smith said.

He is another in a long line of individuals who credit Centralia College with its great track record of helping men and women find their calling.

“I really had no idea what college would mean,” said Smith. “My family didn’t know. Centralia College provided me with an introduction to college life without a complete immersion in residential college culture. My largest class still only had 50 people in it, as opposed to the 450-plus I would later experience when I transferred.” Centralia College set the standard for his expectations of a college experience. “And it set that bar high!” he said.

Outside of the classroom, Smith was a member of the Science Club, math and writing centers tutoring teams, and was a member of Phi Theta Kappa, the college’s honor society.

“Members of the Centralia College faculty were the first to show me that there was more to education than just memorizing factoids and regurgitating them on tests. I first learned to truly study at Centralia College,” he said. “And the experience I got working with fellow students on math homework, and in the inaugural quarter of the Writing Center, was something I have never forgotten.” Smith said that Centralia College was the perfect launching point for his academic career as well as his adult life. “I enjoyed not just feeling like a statistic, but knowing that people truly cared about my well being.”

Centralia College prepared him well to take on the challenges of a larger university and also life, lessons he wants to pass on to people who might not recognize the value that Centralia College offers.

“Without Centralia College, I might not have completed college. As the first person in my family to graduate college, I can tell you that poverty and lack of experience with college are big stumbling blocks. Had I gone straight to a four-year school, I’m not convinced I would have survived my freshman year. Centralia provided the perfect environment for learning about college level academics and what it means to be a good student,” Smith said.

“My experience at Centralia College expanded my thinking and opened up my perception of the world, better preparing me to become a productive member of society at large,” he said.


Christina Williams

Christina Williams

Christina Williams

Christina Williams, 25, of Centralia, is determined to be the first in her family to be a college graduate. She has learned the hard way that to overcome obstacles, “you need to have the drive to want to succeed and can’t be a victim of anything that may deter you.”

To prove her point, Christina has learned from her tough experiences and wants to do something important. She’s setting her goals on becoming a neurophysiologist–a researcher who studies how the brain has developed.
“The two greatest mysteries are space and the brain,” she exclaimed. “They both leave a lot of room for discoveries.”

Life hasn’t been easy for Christina. She moved frequently during her childhood years and has lived in Centralia since turning 13. She attended Centralia High School and stopped to help at home (she has four siblings). She earned her GED at Centralia College, acquired her CNA, and worked for five years.
“It was an exhausting job. I worked for a rehabilitation center and took care of 15 to 18 people during an eight- to 12-hour shift,” she said.

She wanted to return to college, but needed to wait until she turned 24 to qualify for financial aid. “At one point, I was juggling three jobs and still helping out at home,” Christina said. “My STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math fields) scholarship has allowed me the freedom to work in my field and focus on my studies.” That wasn’t possible before the STEM scholarship.

Her passion for science was ignited by her grandfather, who was in the U.S. Air Force. They spent a lot of time talking about science and stars. Only recently, Christina chose to study neurophysics over studying astrophysics. “Everything we use is a product of what is created in the mind,” she added.

Christina is taking classes such as Pre-Calculus 2 and a slew of environmental and earth science classes. She is beginning an independent research project for biology associate professor Dr. Steve Norton.

“This is a great opportunity to do real research that’s not always available at other colleges,” she claimed. “Dr. Norton is recruiting responsible, self-motivated students to conduct the research.”

Christina and Dr. Norton are collecting different species of freshwater cottids (bullheads) from different rivers around the Olympic Peninsula. The bullhead DNA will be used to track the postglacial recolonization of the northern and eastern rivers after the last major glaciation in Puget Sound.

“Christina was my student in the biology series last year,” Dr. Norton noted in an email. “She worked very hard and demonstrated tremendous curiosity and self-motivation.”

Dr. Norton also said, “These are the important characteristics in developing the next generation of scientists. Christina is the first participant of what I hope will be a developing partnership between students and faculty in the sciences to conduct independent research.”

Christina has been involved with starting a new student club appropriately dubbed the Centralia College Science Club. “I heard rumors that the local creeks were polluted,” Christina said. “So we started a club to recruit volunteers to collect data.” She also attends Stream Team meetings to see how the club, which started winter 2012 and is advised by biology associate professor Dr. Lisa Carlson, can be involved.

Christina has one more year at Centralia College and is considering attending Evergreen State College – although her heart wants to attend a private school in Boston. Besides attending classes and working with the science club, Christina also works five hours each week as a lab/office assistant for Dr. Ruby Nagelkerke, chemistry/mathematics professor.


Chris Richardson

Chris Richardson

Chris Richardson

For more than 12 years, Chris Richardson worked in various manual labor jobs in local saw mills and for a construction company. By June 2009 his employer no longer had enough work to keep Richardson employed and had to lay him off.

He was qualified as a Dislocated Worker because he was receiving unemployment benefits. He decided to turn his misfortune into an opportunity to learn a new set of skills to be more marketable to future employers in an in-demand job.

Armed with nothing more than a desire to make a change, Richardson began his journey at the Lewis County WorkSource where he first learned about the Dislocated Worker program (available through Centralia College) from his counselor, Judy Clark. Based on his high math scores on the COMPASS test, she encouraged him to look into the Electronics, Robotics, and Automation (ERA) Associate of Applied Science program at Centralia College. Richardson remembers that day vividly, “Sure, that sounded pretty interesting, but here I am, the guy who dropped out of high school to go work in the mill, and this lady is telling me I could go to college and get a degree in electronics!” Richardson had earned his GED about a decade ago, but he never imagined himself going to college, let alone graduating, and doing so with honors!

Now, two years later, Richardson graduated with his AAS in Electronics, Robotics and Automation, and is starting a new job.

Last spring, a couple of the ERA students took a weekend road trip to Hillsboro, Ore., to attend an open house at The Intel Corporation, the largest and most complex semiconductor production site in the world and a global center of research and manufacturing, as well as the largest private employer in the state. Richardson recalls, “That was when everything really clicked for me. I knew right then I wanted to work for Intel, but I also knew I was going to have to work extra hard if I wanted to graduate by June 2012.”

With the guidance and encouragement of his instructors, he put in the time and effort to meet his goal. “I was taking between 18 and 21 credits every quarter so I could finish this June. Cal Taylor and David Peterson (two ERA faculty members) were extremely helpful and accommodating. I couldn’t have done it without their assistance,” Richardson said. He also credits the helpful staff in the Worker Retraining office for helping him navigate through the stacks of paperwork that he had to complete. “Going from being a blue-collar worker to a college student is very overwhelming. Joanie Meister in the Worker Retraining office was always there to help me with the paperwork side of things.”

Chris started applying for jobs with The Intel Corporation about a year ago and with less than a month before graduation he received the email he’d been waiting for. Intel extended an all-expenses paid invitation for Chris to come interview for a position as a Cross Module Support Specialist at their Chandler, Ariz., facility. Less than two weeks later, Chris was formally offered the job, which he accepted.

“The ERA program gave me the basic knowledge I needed to qualify for this great job with this world-class company. Just a couple of years ago I was an unemployed construction worker and now I’m graduating from college, with honors, and going to work for Intel, the world’s largest manufacturer of semiconductor chips. I couldn’t have done it without the help of so many different people, but if I can do it, anyone can.”


%d bloggers like this: