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News Releases
From left, Associate VP of PCC Workforce Development and Continuing Education Marc Goldberg, PCC Board Chair Kali Thorne Ladd, Blessing Landscape Owner Jesse Brough and PCC President Mark Mitsui
From left, Associate VP of PCC Workforce Development and Continuing Education Marc Goldberg, PCC Board Chair Kali Thorne Ladd, Blessing Landscape Owner Jesse Brough and PCC President Mark Mitsui
Blessing Landscapes, Intel and Oregon Tradeswomen, Inc. tapped as PCC's Employer Partners of the Year (Photo) - 04/13/18

PORTLAND, Ore. – It was a full house at Portland Community College’s inaugural Employer Partnership Awards celebration on April 11.

Nearly 100 attendees, representing a variety of PCC’s key employer partners throughout the region, streamed into the auditorium of the Oregon Museum of Science and Industry. There they enjoyed an early morning breakfast, networking opportunities, and kudos from the college for the role they play in helping PCC to educate and train a skilled workforce.

It was also the chance to shine a spotlight on the efforts of three organizations chosen as PCC’s 2018 partners of the year in the categories of Small Business (Blessing Landscapes), Large Business (Intel Corporation), and Government/Non-Profit (Oregon Tradeswomen, Inc.).

“For PCC to effectively prepare its students for employment opportunities and careers in an ever-changing work environment, we need strong partnerships with local employers,” said Marc Goldberg, associate vice president of Workforce Development and Continuing Education at PCC.

“The event was simply a means to thank our partners, whose input, support and guidance enables PCC to educate a skilled workforce -- and this is what drives Oregon’s economy. PCC’s partnership with a variety of organizations, in many and varied configurations, enables the college to be a critical catalyst for the region’s economic success. All of us can stand to benefit from a thriving economy, and for that, we want to thank our partners,” he said.

The event was the culmination of about a year and a half of planning by dedicated PCC staff. In the fall 2016, Goldberg formed a college-wide committee representing PCC’s many campuses, centers and district offices, and whose members work with employer partners in a variety of ways. As a resource for the college, the group set out to create a comprehensive inventory of employer partners from across PCC’s service area -- and tallied more than 1,600.

These partnerships vary in look and structure depending on the needs and size of the partnering organizations. Types of collaborations include employers who hire PCC graduates; offer work-based learning opportunities for students such as internships, co-ops, clinical rotations, or apprenticeships; serve on career technical education advisory committees at the college; and participate in PCC’s many job fairs, among other methods and models.

Collectively, such partnerships, “Expand the pipeline of trained workers, ready to enter the workforce,” said PCC President Mark Mitsui. “This helps to bolster the ‘middle class’ -- education is the bridge to opportunity for our students.”

With thoughtful deliberation, the committee considered nominees and evaluated them using criteria such as the length of time an organization has been a PCC partner, their support for hiring PCC students and graduates, their efforts to grow a diverse workforce in the region, and other ways they contribute to student success at PCC by partnering with the college. Following are this year’s award winners:

 

Small Business category -- Blessing Landscapes

An agricultural services company based in NE Portland, Blessing Landscapes is owned by Jesse Brough, who partners closely with the Landscape Architecture Technology (LAT) program at PCC’s Rock Creek Campus, 17705 N.W. Springville Road. He and Rebecca Smith, a landscape designer and PCC graduate, serve on the LAT advisory committee. The company works with PCC’s Workforce Development  in Washington County to offer on-the-job training via WorkSource, helping job seekers find permanent employment through work-based learning experience. Blessing also strives to develop new approaches to sustainability, which dovetails with PCC’s mission and strong commitment to the environment.

“We currently have five PCC graduates with our company, and they’re great. Our partnership with PCC has definitely changed our business for the better.”

-- Jesse Brough, owner of Blessing Landscapes

 

Large Business category -- Intel Corporation

Intel, a multinational corporation and technology company and the Portland Metro area’s largest employer, has partnered with a variety of PCC departments and divisions including Microelectronics, Electronic Engineering Technology, and Civil and Mechanical Engineering Technology. It has hosted several technology camps and Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) workshops, with many of them geared to underrepresented communities to attract them to the high tech field, an industry sector that offers high demand, high wage jobs. And as a long time supporter of the PCC Foundation, Intel offers scholarships and partnered with the college last year to host an Intel Encore intern.

“PCC has been instrumental partner for us to not only recruit students for our manufacturing operations here in Oregon, but also we’ve been able to partner with them in the PCC Foundation on developing a strategy to engage middle and high school students, to get them excited about STEM and careers through different programs here in Washington County.”

-- Donna Maleki, Oregon community engagement manager, Intel

 

Government/Non-Profit category -- Oregon Tradeswomen, Inc.

Oregon Tradeswomen, Inc. (OTI) is a non-profit dedicated to promoting success for women in the trades through education, leadership and mentorship. The organization partners with PCC at the college’s Swan Island Trades Center (6400 N. Cutter Circle) and through such programs as Welding, Machine Manufacturing Technology and Career Pathways. Because of its commitment to advancing equity in the trades, OTI’s “Women in Metals” program regularly brings students to PCC campuses to learn about related metals disciplines. And thanks to OTI’s influence, PCC’s partnership with Vigor and the Maritime Welding program has yielded cohorts with women representing 50 percent.

“Our students tend to go off into a lot of different construction industries, some of which we are really well connected with, and some of which PCC helps us gain even better access to those connections. PCC has been able to bridge that divide for our pre-apprentice program, which prepares them for these entry-level jobs.”

-- Amy James Neel, training director for Oregon Tradeswomen, Inc.

 

About Portland Community College: Portland Community College is the largest post-secondary institution in Oregon and provides training, degree and certificate completion, and lifelong learning to more than 73,000 full- and part-time students in Multnomah, Washington, Yamhill, Clackamas, and Columbia counties. PCC has four comprehensive campuses, eight education centers or areas served, and approximately 200 community locations in the Portland metropolitan area. The PCC district encompasses a 1,500-square-mile area in northwest Oregon and offers two-year degrees, one-year certificate programs, short-term training, alternative education, pre-college courses and life-long learning.

Visit PCC news on the web at http://news.pcc.edu/

Director Jolie Ann Manning, right, hugs one of her graduates after the pinning
Director Jolie Ann Manning, right, hugs one of her graduates after the pinning
Former ITT nursing students find closure at PCC (Photo) - 04/12/18

PORTLAND, Ore. – It may have been a temporary training program, but it will have a lasting impact on its graduates.

A final pinning ceremony was held Thursday, April 5 at Portland Community College’s Cascade Campus where the last cohort of students in an emergency nursing teach-out program graduated with two-year associate degrees, as registered nurses.

Thanks to emergency funding by Higher Education Coordinating Commission (HECC), the Oregon State Legislature and resources from PCC, the temporary program was established in 2016 to support nursing degree completion for former students of ITT Technical Institute, which abruptly closed its doors. To ensure these students had an avenue to completion, PCC developed the curriculum quickly so that the state’s healthcare industry would not lose out on these qualified nursing students.

Of the 140 displaced students who enrolled in the PCC program, 133 students, or 95 percent, graduated. At the commencement, the final cohort of 22 freshly minted RNs received their pins in front of hundreds of family, friends and faculty. They were the final cohort to finish the program, effectively ending the teach out.

“All of us have worked harder than we have ever worked in our entire lives and overcame odds that were stacked against us,” said Melissa Cliffton, who lives in Longview, Wash. “Being the last cohort of this teach out, we’re kind of a mismatched group of students willing to do whatever it takes to reach our goals and have that ‘RN’ behind our names. In doing so, we’ve learned many things about ourselves, about each other and the world around us.

“We have proven to ourselves that we belong and deserve to be here,” she continued. “No matter where our next chapter leads, we will be kickass nurses when we get there.”

Back in fall of 2016, Cliffton and her fellow ITT nursing students were stranded with few if any options for continuing their education when the institution suddenly closed. Following the closure, HECC spearheaded efforts to develop options for the students. PCC’s associate degree program was approved as a temporary program specifically to serve nursing students of the former ITT Technical Institute Breckinridge School of Nursing and Health Sciences in Portland, to ensure they could finish their degrees. The legislature’s Emergency Board quickly and unanimously approved $1.6 million to fund it.

“Congratulations to the graduates for their dedication and success, and tremendous thanks to our student-centered partners at PCC and the Oregon Legislature who came together to make this possible after these students were displaced by the ITT Tech closure in 2016,” said Ben Cannon, HECC’s executive director. “Many of these students were so close to finishing their degrees but without viable options when the state stepped in. This was an innovative partnership that resulted in the exact outcomes we hoped to see.”

The closure of the ITT chain affected students of 130 campuses across the nation that fell under the national organization’s umbrella. Oregon’s effort to support students who were affected locally had little national precedent and has given the graduates new hope as they transition into the nursing field, which is in dire need of trained, qualified workers.  

“Believe me this was no small feat,” said Jolie Ann Manning, Breckinridge teach out director. “We literally put in blood, sweat and many tears into this journey. This particular group is very strong in their skills, integrity and level of academia.”

Hillsboro resident Carolyn Granum is one of those Breckinridge teach out graduates.

“I wanted so badly to be a nurse,” she said. “The opportunity to be able to help others was a dream come true. The teach out was nothing more than a blessing. Without it, I would not have had a place to go to complete the last three terms. I am working in our cardiology clinic as a cardiac nurse and learning new things every day. Without the teach out I never would have been able to work in such a great place.”

Kala Johnston of Kelso, Wash., now works at Vibra Specialty Hospital and with Assured Home Health. She said her new employment has given her the encouragement she needs to get into the residency program with Providence Health & Services in the Pediatric Care Unit.

“This is right where I want to be,” Johnston said. “My goal eventually is to be an ICU nurse, and this residency program will get me there. I am so grateful, and have an abundance of gratitude for all those who have chosen to take part in this teach out to ensure we had the opportunity to become nurses. I hope that sometime in my life I can repay those individuals. I will never forget your dedication to us nursing students.”

About Portland Community College: Portland Community College is the largest post-secondary institution in Oregon and provides training, degree and certificate completion, and lifelong learning to more than 73,000 full- and part-time students in Multnomah, Washington, Yamhill, Clackamas, and Columbia counties. PCC has four comprehensive campuses, eight education centers or areas served, and approximately 200 community locations in the Portland metropolitan area. The PCC district encompasses a 1,500-square-mile area in northwest Oregon and offers two-year degrees, one-year certificate programs, short-term training, alternative education, pre-college courses and life-long learning.

Visit PCC news on the web at http://news.pcc.edu/

KienandGov.jpg
KienandGov.jpg
Student leader shoulders weight of providing for family and under-served students (Photo) - 04/09/18

SOUTHEAST PORTLAND, Ore. – For Kien Truong, college seemed out of reach.

The cost of tuition and textbooks would be too high of an obstacle for his parents, who spoke no English and were working low-income jobs. In addition to these barriers, he and his family had just immigrated to the U.S. from Vietnam, and the thought of immersing himself in a post-secondary American institution was daunting.

“I was afraid because I would be the first person in my family to go to college,” recalled the Southeast Portland resident. “We didn’t have a support group, and there was culture shock. We survived on our own, but at first my dad couldn’t find a job and we were running out of money. As a last option, we were planning on borrowing money from back home in Vietnam just to survive.”

His father and mother would eventually find better paying jobs, but they weren’t enough to support a college education. In high school, Truong and his siblings found a counselor who was Vietnamese, too, and who helped guide them on how to navigate school and find resources. Meanwhile, it was Truong who had to step up to assist his family.

“I had to know to speak English,” he said. “I would always start conversations with questions on how to do this or that, in order to learn. I’m the oldest child and my parents don’t speak English, so it was on me to learn how to open bank accounts, apply for food stamps and healthcare, translate bills, schedule doctor appointments, and act as guardian for my younger siblings.”

Eventually his fears and financial worries melted away. When Truong had the courage to enroll at Portland Community College, his English for Speakers of Other Languages teacher at Franklin High School steered him into PCC’s Future Connect Scholarship Program — a student success program that provides first-generation students with wrap-around support through academic coaching, mentoring, skill-building and scholarship assistance.

Future Connect was the launch pad he needed to take off. The 21-year-old is in his final year at PCC, earning his associate degree with a 3.7 grade point average and ready to transfer to a university to complete a bachelor’s degree in international studies. When Truong isn’t organizing the annual Multicultural Night (which is coming up on May 15 at the Southeast Campus) or serving the college in its district student government, he’s hard at work representing all students on the PCC Board of Directors — just the second student to have ever done so. And, he has been selected to serve on the Association of Community College Trustee’s Student Advisory Committee.

“I want to be a community college president someday,” Truong said. “Community colleges are the bridge to help students find their academic footing. So far, it has been a great learning experience working with higher-level decision makers on the board and seeing how they work to support students. My voice gets heard, and they really do ask me what I think. I really appreciate that.”

Making his Dream Come True through ATD

As an Achieving the Dream 2018 DREAM Scholar, Truong has been on a speaking tour, sharing his inspirational success story to much applause at conferences around the country, like the Association of College Unions International confab in Anaheim, Calif.

Each year, Achieving the Dream conducts a national competition among students in its network of colleges, to participate in a year-long experiential learning program that enhances leadership, critical thinking, and networking skills for those selected as Dream Scholars. Students are nominated by their institution and chosen through a competitive national application process. They are given the chance to attend and present at ATD’s annual professional development conference in Nashville, Tenn.

The opportunity for Truong to be chosen as a Dream Scholar arose from PCC’s membership in the ATD network. And the college has used its membership to create the Yes to Student Success (YESS) framework, which is led by vice presidents Rob Steinmetz (Student Affairs) and Katy Ho (Academic Affairs). It is an institutional strategy aimed at increasing student success through building guided pathways, enhancing support services, implementing diversity, equity and inclusion tactics, and increasing PCC’s data and technology capacity.

“With the help of ATD resources, our college will be better positioned to increase student success rates, without lowering academic standards, and identify and bridge key regional workforce skills gaps so that students are prepared for success in college, work and life,” said PCC President Mark Mitsui. “We’re tailoring ATD’s offerings to fit PCC and our needs. YESS is that framework for our aligned set of strategies, to enhance solutions that help students overcome barriers and succeed equitably.”

Active in Efforts to Help Students Access College

Removing barriers to college success is what motivates Truong, who serves on the YESS steering committee. Truong immigrated to Southeast Portland after his junior year in high school, enrolling at Franklin High School with his siblings (he has a younger sister and brother).

“Coming to the U.S. was one of the most transformational moments of my life,” said Truong, who is the recipient of the 2018 PCC Diversity, Equity & Inclusion Climate Impact Award. “It was a difficult transition with many struggles.”

Truong was able to overcome barriers thanks to that high school guidance counselor and the wrap-around support services of Future Connect. As he succeeded, though, he became concerned with the high cost of textbooks, recognizing that their affordability is a major obstacle of many students. He joined PCC’s Open Educational Resources (OER) Steering Committee in 2016 and helped organize the Textbook Affordability Campaign, where students shared stories about the impact of textbook costs on their academic journeys.

Since its start, the OER initiative has saved students more than $2.4 million in textbook costs. And as a result of his tireless work, Truong was honored with the Student Activism Honor Award by Oregon Open Educational Resources.

“This award motivated me to work harder, so that not only could I contribute to the OER movement, but also encourage other students to join me in this effort,” he said.

Truong, who has worked as vice president of service with his chapter of Phi Theta Kappa, has never rested on his laurels. In addition to his OER contributions, he helped found the PCC chapter of Passion Impact, a non-profit organization devoted to encouraging and facilitating long-term student volunteering. He also serves as event coordinator for the Unity Through Diversity student club, and helped raise $2,000 to buy food and school supplies for Vietnam’s Nhan Ai Orphanage last summer through the Spread the Love Project.

And mindful of his origin, Truong has always lended a helping hand to the Vietnamese Student Association, which supports international students and their navigation of college resources.

An effort, he said, that helps make college within reach for more and more students just like himself.

About Portland Community College: Portland Community College is the largest post-secondary institution in Oregon and provides training, degree and certificate completion, and lifelong learning to more than 73,000 full- and part-time students in Multnomah, Washington, Yamhill, Clackamas, and Columbia counties. PCC has four comprehensive campuses, eight education centers or areas served, and approximately 200 community locations in the Portland metropolitan area. The PCC district encompasses a 1,500-square-mile area in northwest Oregon and offers two-year degrees, one-year certificate programs, short-term training, alternative education, pre-college courses and life-long learning.

Visit PCC news on the web at http://news.pcc.edu/

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ClaudiaBuchard3.JPG
Sunset Grad is in Ivy League of Her Own (Photo) - 03/27/18

ITHACA, N.Y. -- Not yet 20 years old, Claudia Buchard is conquering the world in the realm of biology.

The Portland Community College alum, who made the President's List as a biology major, is working on a bachelor's degree in Environmental and Sustainability Sciences in Cornell University's College of Agriculture and Life Sciences.

"Claudia's positive attitude was persistent," said one of her former PCC biology instructors, Josephine Pino. "One of the things I remember best is how tenacious she could be, regardless of the challenge she was given. Her strong arsenal of creativity, tenacity, and intelligence will take her far as she pursues her goals."

This comes after a whirlwind academic career at Sunset High School in Beaverton where she used her language fluency in Spanish and French to travel to Spain. There she was a Huerva Camp volunteer restoring trails, fountains and participated in wildlife research. She also traveled to Barleban, Germany to aid groundskeepers in restoring campsites and farms. While at Sunset High, Buchard earned a 4.14 grade-point average, was a scholar athlete, a member of the National and Spanish National honor societies, and achieved an international baccalaureate diploma.

Today, she's living the college dream and complementing her impressive studies with games of Ultimate Frisbee while volunteering with Cornell Thrift, which aims to reduce waste on campus and encourage recycling of personal items.

Why did you choose PCC to begin your post-secondary journey?
Claudia Buchard: I knew it was the most affordable option. I also knew that I wanted to be able to work while going to school, so going to PCC allowed me to have a much more flexible schedule than I would have had elsewhere. After starting PCC, I also realized the added benefit of smaller class sizes. I got to partake in really interesting labs in my "Principles of Biology" and "General Chemistry" classes that I likely would not be able to in those kinds of more general classes at another school. It was really cool to be able to dissect things, have access to microscopes, and do our own chemical experiments.

Was there an "ah-hah" moment at PCC that got you into biology or furthered your interest?
Buchard: My time at PCC allowed me to solidify my interests. While I thought I knew the general field of what I wanted to study, I had never really had any hands-on experience with it during high school. I started out my college career with a lot of confusion on whether I would actually enjoy the field I was aiming for. Practicing in biology and chemistry labs really allowed me to visualize a future doing ecological research. I knew that I enjoyed it at PCC, so would likely be able to care about something similar later on as well.

Why biology and how has enriched your life outside of school?
Buchard: Throughout high school I realized I had a strong interest in the field of environmental sciences, specifically the biological aspect of it. I have always loved the outdoors and gradually found myself nagging people to recycle, waste less, and be more sustainable in general. Over the summer of my junior year of high school, I volunteered at an environmental camp in Germany, which made me further realize the importance of sustainability. Afterward, I knew that I wanted to pursue a degree in the field, and sought out other opportunities to work in conservation and sustainability. I gradually changed aspects of my everyday life to cause less harm to the planet, such as only buying used clothes and becoming a vegetarian. Understanding the biology behind organisms and environmental interactions broadened my interest in a field that I was already passionate about.

What are some of things you do outside of studying?
Buchard: I joined the Cornell Wild Roses Club Ultimate Frisbee team after starting school as I always find myself being most successful when I am able to get exercise and take a break from academics. I also joined the Alpha Chi Omega sorority at the beginning of the spring semester, so am able to volunteer through them quite often at various events, often specifically related to domestic violence awareness. I also hope to get a regular volunteer position at the Cornell Botanic Gardens sometime this semester.

Was Cornell your first choice or were you considering other universities?
Buchard: After reading about the environmental science program at Cornell, I knew that I wanted to go there if I got in. I applied to their College of Agriculture and Life Science, which emphasizes sustainability. This is a field I want to focus on, so I knew I would be able to find a lot of on-campus opportunities related to my interests. Their Environmental and Sustainability Science program is well respected, and I really wanted to become involved in the research taking place there.

What has the experience been like at Cornell and how does life there differ from Oregon?
Buchard: Cornell was a little overwhelming at first but is a really great place to be. There is a lot of student involvement and various opportunities to take part in. I find myself trying out new things that I would have never thought to do in the past. Cornell and Portland are surprisingly similar in many ways. Both have beautiful outdoors, and people in both places have similar values. Having those things made the transition a lot easier.

Is the biology program at Cornell everything you thought it would be?
Buchard: The biology program at Cornell really allows students to explore their different interests. I know lots of students that are studying topics that fall under the realm of biology, and they all have a very diverse array of involvements within it. People are able to choose what aspect of biology they want to explore. My favorite part of the program has been my "Field Biology" class last semester. We were able to do our own research project and learn about relevant ecological fieldwork techniques. We had labs that included hands-on fieldwork related to invasive species, soil dynamics, and limnology. I learned to identify various trees and animals and have more knowledge about ecology and conservation.

What career are you hoping to have after your education?
Buchard: While I am undecided on exactly what I want to pursue, I know I want to build a career in sustainability. This may be doing fieldwork conserving endangered species, engineering methods of powering sustainable energy, or working in a lab to find new ways to naturally fix issues. Virtually all aspects of this field interest me, and I am excited to discover what I will enjoy most and where my skills can best be applied.

What goals do you want to accomplish in the field of biology?
Buchard: I really want to find a way to make the largest beneficial ecological impact I can through the scientific aspect of sustainability. I hope to find a career that I am excited about in my day-to-day life and that's important, to me, in the grand scheme of things. I think it would be amazing to travel and discover different forms of biology around the world, too.


About Portland Community College: Portland Community College is the largest post-secondary institution in Oregon and provides training, degree and certificate completion, and lifelong learning to more than 75,000 full- and part-time students in Multnomah, Washington, Yamhill, Clackamas, and Columbia counties. PCC has four comprehensive campuses, eight education centers or areas served, and approximately 200 community locations in the Portland metropolitan area. The PCC district encompasses a 1,500-square-mile area in northwest Oregon and offers two-year degrees, one-year certificate programs, short-term training, alternative education, pre-college courses and life-long learning.

Visit PCC news on the web at http://news.pcc.edu/