Nurses learn in virtual hospital

New software creates realistic life and death scenarios for CC nursing students


Centralia College nursing students are some of the first to use new software that transports them into a virtual hospital room with a sick patient. Through trial and error, they must make critical decisions with a click of the mouse. Racing against time, students must make the right decisions in the right order. One wrong click could cost the patient his life!

This exciting new vSIM software was purchased and implemented for the first time this year in Centralia College’s nursing program, thanks to the generous gift of an anonymous donor. Because vSIM is relatively new in the field of nursing education, Centralia College’s nursing program is one of the few nursing programs offering this option.

The vSIM software gives nursing students an opportunity to experience emergency situations and to test their nursing skills in realistic situations—and, as one nursing student jokingly said, “all without causing any harm to real patients!”

The beauty of this individualized program is that it is designed to help students improve. In each medical scenario, students make critical decisions, get valuable feedback, learn from their mistakes, and repeat the scenario as many times as needed to reach the desired score/proficiency.

“I think getting to practice the scenario multiple times is what I found most helpful,” said one student. “When I completed vSIM for the first time, I was slow and found myself wondering what to do next. I think the repetition is what made the difference. By the fourth time of doing vSIM, I was way quicker and more productive…it definitely affected how I reacted during our (traditional) simulation lab.”

It’s definitely not a game, though. Students say the tension and anxiety they feel is very real.

“The simulation does a good job of creating realistic scenarios. There’s a little bit of tension and the interaction is great.” Other students agree that the program has helped them to “conquer fears in different scenarios.”

One student sums it up well: “The vSIM is beneficial in many areas. Not only does it give great simulation experience with the sights and sounds that accompany it, but it also provides great resources before, during, and after the simulation. This product provides superior preparation for the following day’s simulation, as well as education that I can take with me into the healthcare environment.”

Ellen Hinderlie, assistant nursing professor, often assigns students a virtual scenario to work on prior to the next day’s simulation lab. She said the nursing program was considering purchasing the $5,000 vSIM program, but did not have enough funds. It was a timely gift from an anonymous donor that made the purchase of the vSIM software with the medical/surgical package possible.

Hinderlie wants the donor to know what a difference that gift has made: “Thank you very much for your generous gift! It has been put to excellent use!” The first and second year nursing students are unanimous in their appreciation for the gift.

“I am beyond thankful to have the opportunity to use the equipment you provided,” one student shares. “Thank you!”

Singing with the best

CC music student trains with one of the world’s best


Centralia College music student Ruth Newkirk recently had the honor of participating in a master class taught by master voice teacher Robert Edwin.

Edwin, who trains classical singers, music and theater performers, rock and pop vocalists, child singers and pageant contestants, is a leading authority on contemporary commercial music. He travels around the US, Canada, the Bahamas and Australia leading master classes and workshops for aspiring vocalists.

When Ruth’s voice teacher, Dan Colgan, found out about Edwin’s class, he encouraged her to audition. To her joy, she was accepted. Colgan then helped Ruth prepare music for her session with Edwin.

On the day of the master class, Ruth, along with several other nervous and excited voice students and their teachers, met together with Edwin at Bellevue First Congregational Church. Unlike private lessons, these voice lessons were taught on a stage in front of the other students and voice teachers so that everyone in the room could benefit from Edwin’s expert teaching.

When it was her turn, Edwin worked with Ruth for about 20 minutes, helping her refine her skills and giving her tips and techniques that he has used with professionals.

“He worked with me a lot on making my consonants clearer. He also helped me tell the story of the song, expressing what the writer wanted the song to be about through inflection and emotion,” she described.

Ruth shares that she also learned new techniques from watching Edwin work with the other students, instruction that she found just as valuable as her own lesson.

Singing is nothing new to this Running Start graduate.

“I started singing with my family,” says Ruth with a smile. “My family is big on music.”

Ruth plays flute, violin, and piano, and sings soprano. She teaches a few voice students, tutors choir students at the college, and also teaches piano, violin, and flute to a few others. She herself played violin in the Pacific Northwest Chamber Orchestra for about 10 years and is currently playing percussion in the Lewis County Community Band. In addition, she is part of the Uptown Voices, a local group specializing in patriotic tunes sung in eight-part harmony. Ruth, who is number seven out of 10 children, continues to sing with her own family, who are well-known musicians in the area.

Ruth earned her associate degree in fine arts 2012 along with her high school diploma and is currently pursuing her general associate degree at Centralia College. After graduation, she plans to continue her passion for music by enrolling in a vocal program. Always looking for a challenge, Ruth says she is next considering singing opera.

CC student gets his feet wet

CC student’s geological research gains national attention


“There’s no better way to find out about a career than doing it.”

When science professor Pat Pringle presented this challenge to Running Start student Garret Marlantes, Garret took these words to heart. What followed was a fascinating journey into the wilds of the Olympic Peninsula, hunting for clues in tree rings, piecing together geological evidence and solving the mystery of Irely Lake’s formation—a dendrochronology “case” that would ultimately lead to Garret’s invitation to present at the Geological Society of America.

Garret was not just studying about geology—he was doing it.

Last year, when Garret thought about what he wanted to do in life, he knew it would be something to do with earth or natural sciences. After taking Pringle’s oceanography class, Garret was intrigued with the geology portion of the course and wanted to know more about it. Arranging a meeting with Pringle, Garret shared his interest with Pringle, who related his own career journey from researcher to professor. When Garret asked about doing some research of his own, Pringle went to the college’s tree ring lab, dusted off an unfinished research project started by his colleague Karl Wegmann (now at North Carolina State University) over a decade ago, and handed Garret a unique opportunity to get his feet wet in the field. Literally.

The research project centered on Irely Lake—a lake with a mysterious origin. Solving the puzzle of the lake’s formation would require the application of dendrochronology, the study of a tree’s annual growth rings to date past events and determine climates and geologic history. It would also require of pair of sturdy hiking boots.

After spending time in the tree lab reviewing tree ring samples gathered from the same area, Garret joined Pringle on two separate field trips to Irely Lake near Lake Quinault. Tromping through the woods, he was able to extract tree and soil core samples, identify key geological features, and look for evidence of fire scarring on trees—all clues that would help reveal when and how the lake was formed. The initial discoveries of Garret, Pringle, and Wegmann point to the possibility that the lake may have been formed in the early 1700s, although they will need more evidence to be certain.

In October, Garret was invited to present this research at the Geological Society of America during its annual meeting in Vancouver, B.C. Impressed with Garret’s initiative in the project and also his skillful presentation at the meeting, Pringle says, “Garret is one of the most self-motivated students I’ve had. He worked on every aspect of this research project (both field and library research), playing an active role in writing the abstract and also in writing and compiling the poster. He was so poised and professional when interacting with scientists who stopped to read the poster.”

Not surprisingly, at the meeting, Garret was asked to present this research at a workshop sponsored by the National Association of Geoscience Teachers and the National Science Foundation. The workshop was focused on encouraging research in two-year colleges and was attended by a number of two-year college faculty members for which Garret’s project provided a great example. Garret says the whole process was “wonderfully exciting!”

Garret, who plans to finish his associate degree this year at Centralia College, has already started two other research projects. Working with the US Geological Survey, he and Pringle are now studying subfossil trees that are submerged in Crescent Lake, a small lake atop the Red Bluffs landslide west of Stevenson in the Columbia Gorge. They will go down this spring to sample living trees atop the landslide. This project is a collaboration with geologist Tom Pierson of the US Geological Survey Cascades Volcano Observatory and other researchers who sampled the trees in Crescent Lake with Pringle more than a decade ago.

Garret is also assisting in a research project in the Chehalis watershed, helping to determine how and where the river changed its course over time. He hopes to present, write, and publish this research as well.

Spending time doing the work of a geologist has given Garret confirmation this is the career for him. After graduating from CC this year, he plans to pursue his bachelor’s in geology. Ultimately, Garret wants to earn his PhD so that he can research and someday teach geology at a community college or university—inspiring other students the same way Centralia College professor Pat Pringle inspired him.

Grief leads student to success

2015 All-Washington Academic Team member uses family tragedy to accelerate personal growth

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Whether he’s studying physics or throwing a baseball, Jeremy Brockmann strives for excellence. As a 2015 All-Washington Academic Team member, Jeremy is thankful for a strong foundation.

Spending most of his youth in Lynden, Jeremy found the tightly knit community a great place to grow up, go to school, and play ball.

“I had a great experience in high school both in education and in sports,” he recalled. “My parents were great role models—hardworking and diligent.”

Life was going smoothly for this aspiring student athlete.

Then in 2011, a tragic loss turned Jeremy’s world upside down. His older brother Jason was hit by a distracted driver and killed. A sophomore in high school at the time, Jeremy remembers the shock and pain.

“I was totally lost,” he recalls.

During the days that followed, the small community of Lynden rallied around the Brockmann family, offering their love and support. Still, through the next several months, Jeremy walked around numb, overwhelmed with grief and anger. Then one day, he came to a crossroads.

“I decided that I could be despondent, consumed with sadness, or I could let (Jason’s loss) motivate me,” he said. “I decided to live life for both of us.”

With a renewed focus, Jeremy did just that. He excelled in sports, playing varsity football and baseball and serving as captain of his team. He enrolled in a special engineering academy his senior year of high school that was offered before school hours. He played bass in the jazz band, served as an officer in the National Honor Society, got involved in his church, was very active in multiple community service efforts and continued to participate in an independent weight lifting/agility program. Learning to live with the loss of his brother was not easy, but Jeremy also saw a positive side.

“One thing I learned from this experience is to value what you have and to tell people how you feel—tell them that you love them.”

When he was ready to graduate from high school, Jeremy knew he wanted two things: to study engineering and to play baseball. He also knew he needed to find the funding to make that happen. After getting a call from the baseball coach at Centralia College, Jeremy came down, worked out for the coach, and was invited to join the team. He then contacted Dan Taylor, associate professor of mathematics, and inquired about scholarships. When Taylor told him about the STEM scholarship, Jeremy applied and won. He received the CC Foundation/National Science Foundation S-STEM Scholarship two years in a row, covering most of his tuition and expenses. (Brockmann also earned six other scholarships, including the American Legion Baseball All-Academic National Team scholarship.)

During his two years at Centralia College, Jeremy has been able to pursue his love for baseball and engineering. In addition, he made the President’s Honor Roll and is a member of Phi Theta Kappa. He plans to graduate with his associate degree this summer. After taking the engineering courses at Centralia College, he feels well-prepared to pursue his bachelor’s and master’s degrees in mechanical engineering.

Ultimately, Jeremy’s dream is to work for Boeing and to get his pilot’s license.

CC student finds his place

2015 All-WA Academic Team member discovers his passion for people and the environment

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Aaron Thomas has worked hard to be the scholar and leader he is today. Aaron was recently named to the 2015 All-Washington Academic Team, representing Centralia College.

As an older student, Aaron came to Centralia College after having spent several years moving around, struggling in school, and striving to make ends meet. Although he joined the Navy and attended several community colleges and universities during that time, he didn’t have a plan.

“I wasn’t very focused. I didn’t know what I wanted to do, so I was going with the breeze,” he said. “I went through the motions, did the minimum, then I went home and would waste time. I had no purpose.”

His grades slipped, and he found himself out of school, looking for work—again. Living paycheck to paycheck was a struggle. But, it was a struggle that finally made him realize the importance of going back to school.

After working several different jobs in the courier and retail businesses, Aaron was encouraged by various customers who kept telling him, “You can do better than this.” He also had many opportunities to observe the ways employers treated their employees. Often, he noticed management did not appear to value their employees, being more concerned about the business and making a profit. Having spent time at the bottom as one of those “barked at” employees gave Aaron empathy and understanding that could not have been learned in a textbook. This eventually motivated him to be a different kind of leader in the business world.

“To effectively lead, you have to know what it’s like to be the guy at the bottom,” Aaron explained.

Returning home to Centralia, Aaron enrolled in Centralia College, finally ready to do something with his life. Surprisingly, after moving around the country looking for direction, he found it right back where he started! After taking an environmental science course, something finally clicked.

“I found what I’m passionate about here,” he said. “The environmental science class opened the door for me to gaze at the world in a different way.”

He now has a purpose: “I’m passionate about taking care of the world.”

Making the most of his education this time around, Aaron has not only been getting excellent grades, but he has also intentionally found ways to connect and get involved in leadership. He currently serves as president of both the Science Club and the Iota Omega Chapter of Phi Theta Kappa. He attended the Students of Color Conference and serves as chairman of the Student Services and Activities Committee. In addition, he is the student representative on the Budget Review Planning Committee and the Sustainability Committee. Aaron was also named Student Employee of the Quarter for fall.

Diligent and hardworking, Aaron is finishing his associate degree through Centralia College and completing his bachelor’s degree online through NJ Thomas Edison State College. He plans to pursue his master’s degree in entrepreneurship.

Combining his passion for caring for the earth with his interest in business has led Aaron to pursue a career in sustainability and entrepreneurship. He sees himself creating a company that is not only profitable, but takes care of the earth and treats its employees well. He desires to “do the right thing—not just make a buck.”

Free tax help at CC

This winter, local residents can take advantage of the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance Program offered through Centralia College.

As a service to the community, accounting students will be volunteering their time and skills to help area residents complete and electronically submit their 2014 income tax returns. This free service is open to all area residents who are not self-employed. (Those requiring an IRS Schedule C are not eligible for this service.)

The Volunteer Income Tax Assistance Program will operate from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Feb. 2 – April 15 in the Washington Hall Tax Lab, Room 110. Schedule an appointment by calling the Tax Lab at 360-736-9391, ext. 390. Drop-ins are also welcome.

In addition to their W2 forms, residents will need to bring two forms of ID and any supporting documentation, including bank account information if they wish to have their tax return directly deposited into their account.

For student volunteers who run the program, this opportunity means hands-on practice outside the classroom. Second year accounting students will help complete tax forms under the supervision of third and fourth year students who will provide quality control. The Volunteer Income Tax Assistance Program not only offers a wonderful service to the public but also provides these future accountants with valuable job experience. A win-win for everyone!

This week in jobs at CC

The following positions are now open at Centralia College.

  • Dean of Instruction, Academic Transfer Programs 
  • Nursing Director (Workforce Education)
  • Assistant Professor of Adult Basic Education 
  • Assistant Professor of Biology and Nutrition
  • Assistant Professor of Music
  • Part-time Instructor for Adult Basic Education/Intensive English Program (Transitional Education)

View these and other position announcements.