Tag Archives: All Washington Academic Team

Raegan Nelson, All-Washington College Academic Team scholar

Raegan Nelson

Raegan Nelson

Raegan Nelson, an All-Washington team member representing Centralia College, knows what it means to lead a busy life. She is a Running Start student carrying a 3.97 GPA, and is majoring in cellular/molecular biology. She is the starting point guard and a team captain on her high school varsity basketball team, runs varsity track in the spring, works on the college campus as a biology lab aide, she organized and leads a Centralia College chemistry study group, and has evolved her role into that of a mentor. She is also active in the college’s Phi Theta Kappa Honor Society and TRiO Club. In her spare time, if such a thing exists, she curls up with a good book or hangs out with friends.

This past summer she served as a lab assistant for Dr. Steve Norton (Centralia College biology professor) during the annual Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) Academy for high school students. “I was going to pay to attend. Instead, I had the privilege of working at the event, helping Dr. Norton run his chick respiration lab and his heart anatomy/electrical conduction lab. I was very humbled to have been asked by Dr. Norton to assist him.”

Dr. Norton inspired her focus on biology. She said she was fascinated by his expertise and his passion for biology. “He motivated me to learn more about cellular biology. He’s a great professor who makes me want to dig deeper, to see what is going on,” Nelson said.

No doubt she is motivated. “I’ve always had a passion for science,” she said. “My mother and father instilled a love of learning in me. I have always loved to read and am constantly asking questions to learn more about the way the world works,” Nelson said. She plans to transfer to Central Washington University after she receives her high school diploma and two-year college degree this June.

Her goal is to earn a doctorate and to share her passion for learning. She isn’t certain what she will do once her education is complete but she is considering a college-level teaching career. “I am also thinking about cancer research. I want to investigate nanotechnology, which will be important in curing cancer,” Nelson said.

Nelson said she chose to attend Centralia College through the Running Start program. “It was an amazing opportunity. Not only would attending a community college…help me pay for my first two years,” Nelson said, “I would also be able to challenge myself in a way my high school classes were unable to do.”

A resource she found helpful when first coming to Centralia Collge was the introductory class, CC 101. “Coming to college was scary for me at first but CC 101 helped me get comfortable. The class decreases the stress incoming students have. I learned where things were and where to go for help. Plus, everyone was so friendly. That was very important,” Nelson said. Last year’s CC 101 experience was so influential that she became an event leader this year. “I’ve found that people really care and the professors truly care about their students’ education,” Nelson said.

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Kristina Lawley, All-Washington College Academic Team scholar

Kristina Lawley

Kristina Lawley

Kristina Lawley, an All-Washington Team scholar, plans to become a Registered Nurse. Her first-born daughter, Abigail, passed away after only five days of life and that life-changing event is driving her.
“The nurses and respiratory therapists (during her daughter’s hospitalization) were amazing, never taking us out of the care loop for our daughter,” Lawley said. “Now, I feel it’s time to give back to other Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) families and their babies.” Her goal is to obtain her RN degree then her master’s in nursing and be in a position to provide “the best care that I can to families and their loved ones.”

Lawley will finish her associate degree at South Puget Sound Community College. She will then transfer to Pacific Lutheran University to work toward her bachelor’s in nursing.

As if nursing studies were not enough to occupy her time, Lawley, 34, stays active as a wife and mother of three- and four-year old daughters. She is a Certified Nursing Assistant and was a primary care provider for an elderly individual and now helps care for up to 10 residents at the Mother Joseph Care Center in Olympia.

“There is a tremendous need in providing care here and I love working in this environment,” Lawley said.

While a student at Centralia College, she joined Phi Theta Kappa, the two-year college honor society, and served as a tutor in the writing center.

Lawley took a roundabout journey to college. She was born into a military family, lived in Germany, South Carolina, and Victory, Texas, where she graduated high school. While visiting her uncle, who lived in California, she fell in love with the West Coast.

She told herself she wasn’t ready for college. She moved to the Olympia/Lacey area and worked as a veterinarian tech for several years before she joined the army in 2004 and became a signal support specialist and met the soldier who would become her husband. Not too much later she was discharged from the army while her husband continued his military career.

The couple relocated to Rochester where Lawley began to entertain notions of a college education and a career as a nurse. She felt she had a debt to repay.

“A friend told me about Centralia College so I visited the campus and loved it. It’s an intimate campus, easy to find everything. Everyone was so friendly, that really drew me in,” Lawley said. Although new to the campus, she wasn’t treated as a stranger.

She was also impressed with the help she received from her advisor, Dale Carroll. “She was always there for me, very helpful and always willing to listen and I mean really listen. That was very important to me,” Lawley said. “She took the time needed to explain what I needed to know and to answer my questions.”

Centralia College proved to be an important place for Lawley as she moves toward her career goal in nursing. “This is really a good school with really helpful people,” Lawley said. “There’s a lot of diversity among the students and the teachers are willing to listen to all points of view. I appreciate that.”


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