Capstone Presentation Day is June 5

Centralia College students will unveil their 2015 Capstone Projects on Friday, June 5, in the Walton Science Center. A handful of students will deliver oral presentations at noon in room 121. The rest of the students will have their presentations on display from 1 to 4 p.m. on the third floor.

The community is invited to view the research projects, meet the students, and celebrate academic discovery. Refreshments will be served.

“The Capstone Project Presentation Day is the opportunity to share with the community some really groundbreaking, innovative student work,” said Karen Goodwin, Capstone Projects coordinator and chemistry professor. “The projects this year are incredibly interesting and represent a broader range of disciplines than previous years. The addition of oral presentations allows our students to further explain and share their projects.”

This year’s projects include:

  • Using tree rings to date a centuries-old landslide in the Columbia River Gorge
  • Exploring a 6-axis robot in manufacturing
  • Developing a goal sensor for roller hockey
  • Designing a pet-controlled, automated, locking pet door
  • Building a remote vehicle to explore underwater environments

This is the third year of the Capstone Projects at the college, but the first year the Centralia College Foundation has offered financial support to complete the high-profile projects. The Centralia College Foundation approved $10,000 for students to complete Capstone Projects across all disciplines. The money was awarded through an application process. Funded projects will be marked by the Centralia College Foundation logo on Presentation Day.

“By funding undergraduate research, we’re investing first in our own students, and their future,” said Robert Frost, president of the college. “Once again, we are modeling excellence in teaching, learning, and professional development of our students.”

Previously, students secured their own funding, either out of pocket or through private fundraising.

“The first year, in 2013, we had six total projects. The second year, we had 17 projects from more than 30 students,” described Goodwin. “Every year, more and more students want to participate and share their work. Having funding available has created opportunities for students to do bigger, bolder, more creative projects. Our guests won’t be disappointed.”

Student wins scholarship to attend Chinese Bridge Summer Camp

Euchari Majors

Euchari Majors crop 5.8.15

This summer, Centralia College Running Start student Euchari Majors will get to walk on the Great Wall of China. As a recipient of a scholarship from the Confucius Institute of the State of Washington, Euchari will be joining a total of 700 high school students from across the U.S. at the 2015 Chinese Bridge Summer Camp in China this July.

The two week camp focuses on Chinese language immersion with intensive language classes and many opportunities to mix with Chinese students and host families. After an orientation and welcome in Beijing, Euchari will travel throughout China visiting host schools in different provinces. The program also includes fun activities like visiting the Great Wall and participating in a talent show with Chinese students.

Euchari has been studying Mandarin for two years. Although she was initially interested in learning Japanese because of her interest in anime, she settled for Chinese as a second choice. However, once she started Chinese, Euchari “fell in love with the class.” It’s clear that she has had a great mentor. “My Chinese teacher has been extremely nice and is a wonderful person.”

Euchari’s Chinese language instructor, Christine Wynder, is also proud of her student. “Euchari is very diligent and one of the best students I have ever had. While other students were resting during the summer break last year, Euchari voluntarily came to my office to learn more Chinese. I introduced her to a new Chinese reading supplemental textbook…and she finished this reader (usually done in a quarter) and half of the next reader all during the summer.”

Wynder also explained, “I always offer to all my students scholarship opportunities as they come up. Euchari always consistently applies for these scholarships.” Her student’s hard work definitely paid off. The scholarship includes all costs in China including food and transportation. Euchari will be required to pay only the international airfare and visa application fee.

“I’m looking forward to the immersion experience and the culture,” said Euchari who will be graduating with her associate degree in Chinese language this year. She will attend Willamette University in Salem this fall, where she plans to major in Asian studies and minor in Chinese. Whether she chooses to pursue business, teaching English in China, or working in government or foreign relations, Euchari Majors will be using her passion for Chinese to do something she loves.

Veteran finishes degree two decades later

Vernon BarlowVernon Barlow

Vernon Barlow is back. After attending Centralia College for a short stint in 1995, Barlow, a US veteran, recently decided to return to CC to finish his degree. He plans to graduate this June with an associate degree in business and an emphasis in management.

Having spent a number of years in the military and later in the work force, Barlow brings a unique perspective to his learning—real world experience. During his military career with the Air Force, Barlow served as an aircraft mechanic in Louisiana, North Dakota and Guam. After his parents relocated to the Onalaska area from Seattle, Barlow decided to make this area his home as well, moving to Lewis County after finishing his military service. That’s when he first started his business degree at Centralia College almost two decades ago. However, after attending only two quarters, he quit school in order to support his new family.

Over the years that followed, Barlow held a variety of jobs that included working in sawmills, managing a cleaning outfit, supervising a warehouse dock, managing a staffing agency, and most recently, working with an explosives company in Onalaska, something he said he really enjoyed. Unfortunately, the job’s physical demands aggravated old knee and back injuries he had received while in the military, forcing him to look for something different.

That something different turned out to be Centralia College. “The VA decided to send me to school,” Barlow jokingly admitted, referring to the counsel he received from the Veterans Administration. He returned to CC in 2013.

Even with years of management experience under his belt, Barlow is pleased with how much he is learning in the business program. “It’s been great. I’ve got to learn a whole lot of wonderful things. It’s really going to pay off better for me to have the degree.”

Even so, his job and life experience have played an important role in his education. As a self-appointed mentor to younger classmates, he has helped them understand why the classes are important. “I’ve been able to deal with younger people and give them real world experience,” shared Barlow. “It’s been awesome.”

In addition to mentoring fellow CC students, Barlow is also actively involved in our community through the American Legion, the largest veteran’s organization. Passionate about helping veterans and their families, Barlow has served as the American Legion district commander of the Lewis, Grays Harbor and Pacific County area and has been asked to step into higher leadership roles once he completes his degree. He also serves as the Western Washington co-chairman for the American Legion Evergreen Boys and Girls State mock-government summer program.

On campus, Barlow serves even more veterans through the Centralia College Veteran’s Center located in Kemp. “Vern did work study (in the Vet’s Center) for a couple of years. He’s well-versed in veteran’s stuff,” said Rodney Saarela, the college’s veterans-corps coordinator. Last year, Barlow helped start the Vet’s Club on campus and served as president. “To help and guide young and even older vets has been a blessing.”

In the same way, Barlow himself feels blessed by the people at Centralia College who have poured into his life. “Every instructor I ever had has just been totally awesome.” He credits professors Connie Smejkal, Otto Rabe and Jeff McQuarry as having been very instrumental in guiding his career.

After graduating from Centralia College this June, Barlow hopes to find work and then eventually return to pursue his bachelor’s degree. Pleased with his educational experience, Barlow is excited that his daughter, now a high school junior, wants to attend Centralia College. “It’s going to be awesome for my daughter.”

Veterans at Centralia College

The Centralia College Veteran’s Center was launched in 2013 under the direction of Rodney Saarela who was instrumental in getting it started. The center provides a safe place for vets to come study, get help, use computers, complete forms, or just hang out with other students who can relate. Most veterans who attend CC are full time students utilizing VA funding.

Centralia College proudly salutes our 125 veterans on campus this quarter, and we thank you for your service to our country!

Anthropology professor receives Exceptional Faculty Award

Congratulations to Professor of Anthropology Dr. Greg van Alstyne who was the second faculty member to receive this year’s Exceptional Faculty Award.

.Greg Van Alstine

Professor of Anthropology Dr. Greg van Alstyne has brought anthropology and world cultures to life for many Centralia College students. With three masters’ degrees and a doctorate in Social and Cultural Anthropology from Oxford University, Dr. van Alstyne certainly has impressive academic credentials. However, it is his firsthand experiences—spending over ten cumulative years in numerous cross-cultural situations in more than 65 different countries—that bring depth and passion to his teaching.

When Dr. van Alstyne first started teaching at Centralia College 20 years ago, there was only one anthropology course. Over time, he developed five more courses, all products of his numerous years of graduate study and cross-cultural experiences and all fulfilling the Distribution Diversity requirements.

In addition, Dr. van Alstyne researched, developed and co-led 12 different anthropological field trips to various parts of Latin America and Cambodia, immersing students in indigenous cultures through visits to numerous archaeological, cultural, and historic sites, homestays in indigenous villages, and treks to remote locations. He will be leading a trip this summer to Colombia and Ecuador and is already setting up a visit to China with Chinese language instructor Christine Wynder for the summer of 2016. “I believe that these field trips have elevated the anthropology program at Centralia College above that of all the other community colleges in Washington State.”

Not surprisingly, his classes have become so popular that a few years ago he was asked by administration to raise the class cap in two of his classes from 40 to 65 students, giving him the distinction of having one of the highest student to faculty enrollment ratios on several occasions.

Dr. van Alstyne has served on various campus committees, written and presented several publications and papers, tutored foreign students, and has been awarded Phi Theta Kappa Outstanding Faculty Member of the Year, CC Exceptional Faculty Award, and the NISOD Excellence Award. Off campus, he has served the community as a youth baseball and soccer coach and a high school chaperone for several events.

The anthropology professor’s cross-cultural educational environment has engaged and motivated students to think “critically and creatively about themselves as humans as well as about those who inhabit the multiple cultural worlds around them.” According Dr. van Alstyne, “This is the true goal of anthropology.”

Centralia College grads to include dad, mom and son

Dana and Michelle Hall-Fontenette and their children Mikah and Dimitri will all soon be proud graduates of Centralia College programs. Hall-Fontenette Family

The Hall-Fontenette family has a lot to celebrate. Three of them are graduating from Centralia College programs this year!

For Dana and Michelle Hall-Fontenette and their son Dimitri, June 2015 marks the end of an unusual family journey: all three of them attended school on the Centralia College campus at the same time. Soon they will be sharing the same graduation year.

“It was interesting to have all of us at home together doing homework. There were times that were stressful, but we were able to help each other,” shared Dana Hall-Fontenette, father of the family, who finished up his AA in the Medical Administrative Assistant program this past March.

Dana started at Centralia College back in 2012 after being laid off at Cardinal Glass and entering the worker retraining program. Although he originally started in the Medical Assistant program, he had to withdraw due to medical reasons. Once recovered, he found that he was too far behind to continue onto the second year. He decided instead to transition into the Medical Administrative Assistant program. It was a challenge to change career paths, but Dana is excited to start looking for work opportunities where he can use his degree to help people.

Dana’s wife Michelle completed her GED at Centralia College in June 2012 and started classes at CC shortly after. After taking last year off from school to work, she returned this year and will complete her AA in general studies with a focus on psychology and sign language in June. Currently working for the Chehalis School District as a bus driver, Michelle hopes to one day continue her studies and pursue her dream of becoming a teacher.

Across campus in the TEEN program, the Hall-Fontenette’s son Dimitri has been attending classes at the same time as his dad and mom. He plans to graduate with his high school diploma this June. “The people at the TEEN program were awesome!” said Mikah, Dimitri’s older sister, who graduated from the TEEN program last year. She especially enjoyed her experiences in culinary class and out at the farm.

With three of them in school, life got a little crazy at times. “Our house looked like a library—papers all over the place. It was like one big study session with all of us trying to do projects,” laughed Dana. But he believes that doing school together actually made it easier for all of them. When asked to share the best part of their experience at Centralia College, Dana answered without hesitation: “The family all together.”

339 students vote in first-ever online elections

Students use surface tablets from eLearning’s mobile tablet cart to cast their votes in this year’s student elections. Online Voting 2015

This year’s Student Government elections went paperless for the first time thanks to the initiative of Student Government, the ingenuity of our computer science students, and the support of eLearning.

“All voting was conducted online,” said Carrie Powell, eLearning support manager. The new technology allowed students to vote from home as well as at school. One student, Aaron Thomas, even voted from JFK airport in New York!

Emily Ivie, senator for clubs and organizations, applauded the efforts of the computer science interns who made it possible. “We would like to thank Sam Small and his team for turning our idea for online voting into a reality!” The student leadership team had left their idea in capable hands. The applications developer turned their request into an incredible opportunity for his CST 130 internship class. With Small’s guidance, the group of computer science students tackled the project. “We created the application and rolled it out,” said Small.

The new voting app generated a lot of excitement and interest as students used online ballots for the first time in last week’s student elections. 339 students voted this year, almost doubling the number of voters last year. Several students voted from their phones. Others used the surface tablets from eLearning’s mobile tablet cart. According to Ivie, having the tablets available was very convenient and helped attract students. “Student government would like to thank eLearning for letting us borrow their tablets,” she added.

Chemistry Boot Camp equips students for success

During boot camp, students will play several review games to strengthen their chemistry skills Chem Boot Camp 1

Students planning to enroll in General Chemistry CHEM 161 this fall are encouraged to attend the first ever Chemistry Boot Camp on September 11 from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Organized and led by chemistry professor Karen Goodwin, the free one day science “basic training” camp will run students through chemistry skills and drills, covering material at a quick pace but in a fun and relaxing atmosphere. Goodwin and fellow chemistry professor Dr. Ruby Nagelkerke will teach mini-lessons, then students will break into smaller groups to play review games to reinforce those skills. A free pizza lunch will be served.

Concerned that up to one third of her students were dropping out of or failing General Chemistry (CHEM 161) because they did not have the prerequisite knowledge or did not fully understand what was expected until it was too late to drop the course, Goodwin wanted to help. She developed the idea of the boot camp to give students a realistic “taste of what college chemistry will be like.”

The event is designed to not only to help students prepare for the rigors of college chemistry, but also to help them make an informed decision about which level of chemistry they should enroll in to be the most successful. Students who understand what CHEM 161 really requires can decide to stay in the class or choose to switch to the introductory course, CHEM 121, before school begins. Knowing ahead of time what level they should take could potentially save some students hundreds of dollars in tuition, as well as saving them time by not having to retake a course.

However, the most valuable savings, according to Goodwin, will be in students’ self-esteem. Struggling in a course that a student is not yet ready for can do a lot of damage emotionally. Goodwin wants to change that.

In addition, the chemistry professor hopes that by meeting students in a more relaxed atmosphere they will feel less intimidated to ask her questions and will be more comfortable coming for help once the course begins. Working in small groups during the boot camp will also enable students to interact with each other and build positive relationships with their classmates—something that is harder to do in the large lecture hall.

Because she believes the boot camp is so vital, Goodwin is offering it free of charge. And while no credits will be given, those who attend will go home with other free goodies: lab goggles and a cool pen with a pull out periodic table.

The Chemistry Boot Camp is the first of its kind to be offered at Centralia College. For her innovative idea to increase student success in chemistry, Karen Goodwin was recently awarded one of two Hanke Faculty Achievement Awards. Congratulations!