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Congratulations to more than 2,000 graduates: Commencement 2011


This year, the college awarded 2,022 degrees and certificates including 650 transfer degrees, 845 career degrees and certificates, 405 GEDs and 122 adult high school diplomas. It was the college’s largest graduating class in more than 10 years and the first time the college commencement ceremony was held at Comcast Arena. Edmonds College held its 44th annual commencement ceremony June 17 at Comcast Arena at Everett. About 450 graduates participated in the ceremony.

The student speakers were Marti Smithsund of Seattle, who earned her Project Management certificate, and Omar Willis of Mill Creek, who received his Associate of Arts degree.

Smithsund, who holds a bachelor’s degree in zoology from the University of California, Santa Barbara, came to Edmonds CC to update her skills after working as a corporate trainer. She enrolled after attending a Project Management program open house.

Her husband also retrained mid-career at the college, earning an Advanced Paralegal Certificate. “I’m preparing myself for new opportunities in a changing economy,” Smithsund said. “I feel a sense of urgency – to use (and not waste) the talents I’ve been given, cultivated over years with training and experience.” After graduation, she will seek work in the project management field.

Willis always wanted to go to college, but did not think he could afford it. After graduating from Lynnwood High School, he began work as a hairdresser for Gene Juarez Salons and Spas. He enjoys the work, however, after his father passed away, Willis learned he qualified for a college tuition waiver because of his father’s service as a Vietnam Veteran. Now Willis, 24, is trying to get as far as he can toward his goal of earning a master’s degree, before the benefit runs out when he turns 26. Motivated, he finished his Associate of Arts in just one year, while working, and earned a 3.9 GPA.

He has also been involved on campus: performing in the college’s production of The Member of the Wedding, participating in service-learning projects with AmeriCorps program Students in Service, and leading the student philosophy club. He’ll also be in Molière’s The Miser June 8, 11 and 12, a Theatre Arts Students Organization production in the Black Box Theatre. This fall, Willis plans to attend Western Washington University or the University of Washington to study theater and communications.

This year's ceremony also included the first graduates of the college's new Emergency Management and Business Continuity and Energy Management degree programs.

2010-11 Graduating Class — By the Numbers
  • 2,022 degrees, certificates, diplomas, and GEDs (1,617 without GEDs)
  • 32 percent earned college transfer degrees (650 degrees)
  • 42 percent earned career degrees or certificates (845 degrees and certificates)
  • 26 percent completed GED or high school diplomas (405 GEDs, plus 122 diplomas for a total of 527)
  • 32, average age of graduates
  • 55 percent female
  • 45 percent male
  • 9 percent international students
  • 73 – age of oldest graduate, Certificate: Advanced Paralegal
  • 16 – age of youngest graduate, Associate of Arts degree

Information is based on May 2011 data

2010-11 College Highlights

  • Hiring college president Jean Hernandez — who has close to 30 years of experience in higher education and is our college’s first woman president — after completing a national search.
  • Establishing a $300,000 endowment for the Jack and Elaine Oharah Scholarship, to provide 8-10 scholarships per year for students with the greatest financial need, in honor of retired college president Jack Oharah’s 15 years of service.
  • Signifying a strong commitment to student success and completion by joining Achieving the Dream, a national nonprofit that helps more community college students succeed, particularly students of color and low-income students, and beginning work to identify strategies for improving student success.
  • Baking the cakes (Culinary Arts/Baking students) for Snohomish County’s 150th anniversary celebration.
  • Serving 3,411 students in our college library on Library Snapshot Day, a statewide effort to gather library data, in April.
  • Earning accreditation from the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC) — a mark of quality in early childhood education — for the Center for Families Childcare and Head Start programs.
  • Exploring our connections to modern Africa by offering classes, a community read, and study abroad opportunities, and by bringing guest lecturers to campus including Max Lyonga, an internationally recognized painter from Cameroon.
  • Publishing the college catalog online for the first time and thereby saving 13 million printed pages over the next decade.
  • Going mobile — our catalog and online classrooms can be viewed on smartphones.
  • Improving energy efficiency on campus using State Jobs Act funding: retrofitting boilers, installing energy efficient lighting, replacing HVAC systems, and installing advanced energy metering systems across campus.
  • Providing professional training to students from South Asia, Africa, Latin America and the Near East as part of the U.S. Department of State funded Northwest Community College Initiative.
  • Completing an ethnobotanical garden (Learn and Serve Environmental Anthropology Field School students) at Gold Park in Lynnwood.
  • Training workers for critical, local health care jobs with a federal health and human services grant and starting an innovative new Access to Careers in Healthcare (CATCH) program to train low-income adults in Snohomish County.
  • Establishing a Mathematics, Engineering, Science Achievement (MESA) student center, where low-income, educationally disadvantaged students can receive help to pursue science studies and complete bachelor’s degrees.
  • Renewing a federal TRiO grant to provide additional support services to disadvantaged students at our college.
  • Contributing $227 million annually to the Snohomish County economy and providing a 22.5% return on investment for students due to higher lifetime earnings, according to a 2011 EMSI socioeconomic impact study.

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Edmonds College Commencement