Two named to All-Washington Community College Academic Team

Centralia College students John Hofman, Tenino, and Lauren Wiley, Centralia, have been named to the select Coca-Cola All-Washington Community College Academic Team and have been nominated to the 2011 All USA Today Community College Academic Team.

Students are selected for the team based on their academic achievement, community involvement, and service to the college.

The two were nominated by members of the Centralia College faculty and are invited to take part in the academic team awards ceremony scheduled to take place March 24 at South Puget Sound Community College. Governor Chris Gregoire is expected to be the keynote speaker. Those earning All-USA Today team status will be notified in April.

The two Centralia College scholars will have scholarship offers from just about every four-year college and university in the state.

“These students are examples of what individuals can do when they have purpose. They each hold great promise not only for their lives but also for society in general. We are proud of what they have done and for what they will do,” said Dr. Jim Walton, college president.

John Hofman

John HofmanA few years ago, John Hofman, now 33, was at the top of his game. As a family man, he was running his own construction company and was teaching Sunday school, another of his passions. He and his wife were buying a home so plans were in place for the long haul. Life was good.

Then came the economic recession. It was early in 2009, when Hofman faced the reality that consumers weren’t spending. Work spiraled downward and his company closed.

With no income it wasn’t long before the Hofmans lost their home to foreclosure. While at the bottom the couple decided that John would go to college.

“I did okay in high school, not great. Music and church were all I really cared about back then,” said Hofman. Right out of high school he landed a position as a youth minister.

He soon found that his church job, while spiritually rewarding, wasn’t providing the financial security he needed to support his growing family so he went to work in construction. He liked the work, was good at it, and soon started his own company.

“We had three kids while my business was prospering,” he said. Then the economy collapsed bringing about his return to college. He enrolled in Centralia College and found he had a skill for engineering and his instructors encouraged him to go into engineering. Even though it added at least two years of schooling, the couple recognized that in the long run it would be worth the effort. To help matters, he applied for and received a STEM scholarship, which is paying tuition, fees, and book expenses. With those items covered, Hofman has more time to study.

Hofman carries a 3.67 grade point average, is a paid engineer intern with Centralia City Light, and serves on the City of Refuge Resource Team (Centralia), a program that works with the homeless, teaches job-hunting skills, helps with resume-writing, holds sports clinics for kids, and hosts a free medical clinic.

“I want my kids to go to college and get a good education. I believe that what I’m doing serves as a good example. I’m showing them that I’m willing to do what it takes to better myself for my family, and showing them the importance of a college education,” said Hofman.

Lauren Wiley

Lauren WileyLauren Wiley, 19, is working toward a career as a registered nurse and is getting some first-hand experience as a caregiver.

“I take care of my grandmother who is suffering from dementia/Alzheimer’s,” she said. It’s a task of love she undertakes for two, 20-hour shifts each week. She is grounded in family partly because she is the oldest of six siblings in a close-knit family. Helping care for her grandmother has helped her gain skills as she works toward becoming a Certified Nursing Assistant. She has also put those skills to good use while taking part in overseas medical missions.

When not providing care for her grandmother or studying (she carries a 3.84 gpa), you might find Wiley is in the band Rosie and the Posers, where she plays fiddle, an instrument she has played for about half of her life. The band, she said, supports local charities, performing for banquets and auctions. The band recently gave a concert for the regional Wounded Warrior Project and performed at a dinner that supported the local farmers market. She also is giving fiddling lessons.

Wiley came to Centralia College for reasons many choose to come here: It is close to home and costs are much lower than at a four-year school.

As might be expected, Wiley is involved in community activities, having worked at a local crisis pregnancy center during the past two summers. On campus she is involved in getting a Christian Club up and running and is just getting active in the college’s Phi Theta Kappa Honors program.

“We will see where life’s journey takes me, but for now, I have my eyes fixed on becoming a registered nurse. And a good granddaughter,” said Wiley.

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