Category Archives: Spring 2013

Chase Grimmett, on a career path to marine biology

Chase Grimmett

Chase Grimmett

by Ed Riley

Chase Grimmett, a Running Start student who was a top graduate in Rochester High School’s 2012 senior class, carries a clear vision of what he wants out of life.

As a high school student he played varsity football, basketball, and baseball and had the potential of attending several universities on scholarships based on his athletic skills. It is, however, academics that hold his passion and what he believes is the key to his success in life. He is now a second-year Centralia College student with plans to work in marine biology.

Grimmett will attend Western Washington University to study marine biology next fall and plans to focus on coral reef ecology.

Marine biology is the perfect career for Grimmett: he is passionate about the environment and is an certified scuba diver with deep water and cave dives in Hawaii and the Pacific Northwest to his credit.

“Finishing my associate degree at Centralia College makes a lot more sense financially. Besides, the college has the advanced science classes I need for my degree in marine biology. And the Environmental Science department has amazing instructors who are experts in their fields,” Grimmett said. “The support I’ve received from the faculty has been incredible, they have really helped guide me in the direction I need for my degree.”

In fact, Grimmett was accepted and offered partial scholarships to attend Oregon State University, the University of Oregon, and Western Washington University. Grimmett puts it this way, “The scholarships would have only paid for about 40 percent of my tuition; my family would have had to come up with the rest. That’s an incredible amount of money. I don’t want my family to go into debt for my education.” With two scholarships from the Centralia College Foundation to help pay the way, his overall college costs will be much more manageable.

Grimmett also has his family to thank for his recognition of the importance of education and his career direction. His mother works for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife department tracking endangered species, and his father is an instructor for special needs children.

In what little spare time Grimmett does have, he enjoys hiking and backpacking, and he takes lessons in Tae Kwon Do, and he still manages to work part time. Through his hard work and dedication, coupled with a clear vision for what he wants, he is certain to realize his dreams.


Delanie Willows, selected for All-Washington academic team

Delanie Willows

Delanie Willows

Delanie Willows was named to the 2013 Coca-Cola All-Washington Community College Academic Team and has been nominated to the 2013 All USA Today Community College Academic Team.

If passion determines success in a person’s career, then there is little doubt that Delanie Willows will be a great journalist. She is driven by her desire to bring about change and innovation through effective communication, essential for individuals as they inform themselves and improve their lives.

Willows has been in training as a writer for much of her life.

She started early in childhood by creating stories that her mother would transcribe. As she got older, she took over the writing part.

“I have notes scribbled on absolutely every free space of paper, I carry a journal as if it were engrained into my flesh,” said Willows. She was writing so much that she eventually felt the need to pull back from everything except homework assignments.

“Once some of that weight fell off with credit fulfillment, I ached for the creative side of things again,” she said. So, she directed her extensive writing into journalism, an interest bolstered by her scholarship from The Chronicle. She is now honing her skills as she writes for The Chronicle and its Centralia College student newspaper, The Blaze. This, she says, is the pinnacle of her writing career.

Her role as a tutor in Centralia College’s Writing Center also helps. “It gives me the perfect work experience in developing an objective viewpoint and listening to others, even if I disagree with their idea; it is the perfect recipe for news writing.”

Willows came to Centralia College as a Running Start student, looking for challenges in math. She found “an amazing experience. Coming from a small high school, I was afraid that I’d be lost. That didn’t happen. I received a lot of help from the instructors and from peers. I was continually taking classes that were better and better,” said Willows. But that was only part of it.

“A strength of this college is its diversity,” she said. She has developed great friendships among international students and others who “have added so much to my life and my studies. There is a tremendous cultural influence at Centralia College, and I appreciate that,” she said.

Miles & Mozeek Waggener, finding success at Centralia College

Miles & Mozeek Waggener

Miles & Mozeek Waggener

by Ed Riley

When you meet Miles and Mozeek Waggener you first notice just how tall these brothers are. Miles, at 23, is an impressive 6 feet 9 inches. Mozeek, at 21, is the shorter of the two measuring in at 6 feet 8 inches. You might next notice that both have multiple tattoos, including each other’s name on their arms, and their jersey numbers on their legs.Both play on Centralia College’s basketball team. Their tattoos and their stature could be a little intimidating until you talk to them. They qualify as two of the nicest, and most polite young men that you will ever meet. They are soft spoken, with noticeable southern accents, acquired while growing up in Beaumont, Texas.

What impressed me the most about these two men, is just how focused they truly are. The Waggener brothers know what they want in life, and they have clear plans on how to achieve it.

In 2011, the pair moved to the Centralia area and enrolled in college to focus on education and basketball; both hope to continue athletic careers but are working on another goal that tells more about their character than rebounds and points scored: Their goal is to help single mothers, troubled youth, and those less fortunate to search out a more positive lifestyle. That career will likely be fashioned out of their criminal justice and business studies.

Miles, who transferred to Centralia College from McNeese State University in Lake Charles, Louisiana, says he will eventually return to McNeese State University to finish his degree but for now both brothers are studying criminal justice. Miles, by the way, played college football as a tight end and was one semester from earning his bachelor’s degree in business. He put McNeese on hold for a while to play basketball with his brother.

These brothers push each other on and off the court; they are impressive students with GPAs that top 3.9. The Waggeners are on scholarship for their academic achievements. They are known on the basketball court as Tic ‘n Tac, nicknames given them by their father to reflect how well the two go together.

When I asked Miles about adjustments he made transferring from a large college, he responded with a resounding, “At Centralia, you are a name not a number. The classes are small, and you get one-on-one attention from your instructors. At McNeese the classes were huge, your instructor may not even know your name.”

Their father Derrick Waggener, and sister DeErica Waggener moved to the area as well. Like the brothers, their father was a basketball player. He helped lead his team to state in 1984 at Seward Community College in Liberal, Kansas. When asked why they chose to relocate to Centralia, Mr. Waggener said, “The Lord led us here. I researched rural colleges where the boys could get a good education, and have an opportunity to play ball together, and Centralia is the door that God opened.” Mr. Waggener ministers at churches throughout the region. When asked what it’s been like moving to the Pacific Northwest from Texas, Miles and Mozeek both say, “It’s been a culture shock. We aren’t used to seeing so many trees and mountains.” They also commented on the Northwest rain, “This isn’t rain, it’s just drizzle. When it rains in Texas, it really pours.”

It is apparent that this is a family that truly love and support each other, and when it comes down to it they aren’t just brothers, they are friends. The also praised their teammates, and especially their coach Jason Moir for helping them to settle in this area. “Our coach went the extra mile, helping us to find housing and jobs. We love it here at the college, and we love Centralia.”

Edward Riley, selected for All-Washington academic team

Ed Riley

Ed Riley

Edward Riley was named to the 2013 Coca-Cola All-Washington Community College Academic Team and has been nominated to the 2013 All USA Today Community College Academic Team.

Edward Riley, who started college two years ago while in his mid-40s, is not a typical first-time college student, and what he has done while at Centralia College is not typical of most students.

“The economy had just tanked, and my personal life was a mess; I needed a change and I had always wanted to go to college,” Riley said. He enrolled, bringing a renewed perspective to his goals.

It is because of his drive, his academic achievements, and his involvement in campus activities that Riley has received multiple scholarships and has been named to the prestigious All-Washington Academic Team. He is also a nominee to the All-USA Today Academic Team through Phi Theta Kappa, the two-year college honor society.

In addition to his studies, Riley holds a student worker position and writes for the Office of College Relations, and he writes for The Blaze, the student newspaper overseen by The Chronicle newspaper. Riley has also recently written and published his first children’s book, My Monster and Me.

“My time at Centralia College has been incredible. I have learned so much, mostly about myself. I didn’t realize that I was capable of the things I have been able to achieve.” Riley said.

He attributes his success to the support of the faculty and staff at Centralia College, and to the encouragement of his family. “I couldn’t have accomplished half of what I have if it weren’t for my parents believing in me, and the help from everyone at the college. The encouragement and challenges I’ve received through my job with the college, Dr. Jody Peterson prodding me along in Phi Theta Kappa, even the ladies in the cafeteria teasing me; they all have made my experience at the college special. My time at Centralia College has been one of the most important in my life; I am grateful, and I will never forget it.”

Riley will graduate this spring with an Associate in Arts degree and will be pursuing a bachelor’s degree in business marketing. Riley will continue with his own personal enterprises, and explore additional avenues of writing, which includes writing additional children’s books.

“I knew exactly what I wanted to do when I first started taking classes at Centralia College; I can’t say that anymore, because there are so many more doors open to me now.”

Icy Straley, earning a bachelor’s degree at Centralia College

Icy Straley

Icy Straley

by Ed Riley

By the time she was 23, Icy Straley lived through more than most people twice her age. What she has overcome is an inspiration to just about everyone.She is enrolled in the Centralia College Bachelor of Applied Science in Management program and although she does not have a clear career goal, she knows that the bachelor’s degree will open doors to greater opportunity. She’s seen the uglier side of life and knows that education will give her access to a brighter future.

Growing up without a father and in a destructive home environment, by the time she was a teenager Straley was exposed to a life of drugs. At 15 she was removed from her home and placed in to foster care. When Straley was 16 her mother died as a result of her own personal struggles.

Straley’s life began to turn around when she entered drug rehabilitation and received a level of stability through life with her foster mom Annette Peters and her foster grandpa Roy Gutschmidt.

“I don’t know where I would be without them and their encouragement.” said Straley. “They have stuck with me through thick and thin. They truly are my family now.”

When Peters speaks about her foster daughter, she does so as any loving mother would. “I’ve fostered other kids, but Icy is a success story. She has gone the furthest,” Peters said. “How far she has come is amazing. We are so proud of her.”

Straley began taking classes to earn her GED at Centralia College in 2006. She continued to take classes and later went on to earn her high school diploma and an associate in arts degree in 2011. Straley is now stretching her abilities, setting her sites to qualify for a brighter future, and having some fun through the BASM program.

“The BASM program is not typical of a lot of bachelor programs,” said Straley. “The amount of teamwork among students, faculty, and support staff is amazing. We are all in this together.” The bachelor’s program has grouped the students into a single cohort, each member working with others as a team to tackle projects.

In addition to overcoming her past, Straley has been able to succeed while having the additional task being a single mother of 3 year old twins.

“She definitely holds her own against students who have a lot more experience in the business world,” said Jeff McQuarrie, one of Centralia College’s BASM instructors. “She is really a hardworking student.”

When asked about continuing her educational goals, including her bachelor degree at Centralia College, she said, “I’m always pushing my friends to come to the college. The way the people at the college support you is what makes the difference at Centralia.”

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