By Edward Riley
Attending Centralia College has become a family affair for Morton High School graduate Jebediah Peterson, his wife and stepdaughter. He is a second-year student in the Electronics, Robotics & Automation (ERA) program.
While Peterson works toward his Associate in Applied Science in ERA degree, he has also undertaken additional work enabling him to earn an Associate in Arts transfer degree.
He will graduate with both degrees this spring.
His goal is to go to work for Intel and perhaps a bit further down the road, earn an engineering degree. Centralia College, with its connection to the Hillsboro high-tech company, is a pipeline for trained workers. Over the years, many ERA students have been offered jobs, some even before they complete the program.
Making attending Centralia College the family activity of choice, wife Tania and stepdaughter Courtney Otterness also are attending. Tania is a second-year student and is the president of Rotaract, the college branch of Rotary, the international business and community volunteer organization.
In addition to her studies, her family, and her civic activities, Tania owns an entertainment company. Her experiences there and in Rotaract have helped her develop a stronger business venture. She will be taking time off from school to focus on her business after graduating.
Peterson’s stepdaughter Courtney started attending college classes this past fall as a Running Start student and has been following in her mother’s footsteps by getting involved in Rotaract.
While Peterson manages the responsibilities as a husband, father and student, this past fall he began teaching robotics programs part-time at Oakview Elementary School and Centralia Middle School.
His Centralia Middle School students recently won first place in multiple categories at a robotics competition held at the college, an indication that Peterson has learned his trade.
With a 10-year-old son at home, teaching children about robotics has become very important to Peterson.
“Robotics challenges kids and helps them to build problem-solving skills,” he said.
Peterson is the college’s Robotics Club treasurer and is on the board of the Lewis County Robotics Society.
He also enjoys acting and recently performed in The Evergreen Playhouse production of Shakespeare’s
A Midsummer Night’s Dream.
Peterson speaks highly of the small classes at the college and the strong bonds he has with his ERA classmates. “We help each other out when one of us is struggling,” he said. “We are all in this together.”
Now that he is reaching his educational goals, Peterson has more confidence about his prospects as he enters the workforce.
“I’m applying for positions in the fabrication department at Intel,” he said. “I’ll have a much better shot than most because I’ll have two degrees.
“I wish more people knew about the programs at Centralia College,” he said. The cost of attending college may be lower than tuition at a four-year college, but the quality certainly isn’t, he said.