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Edmonds College Foundation Honors its 2011 Distinguished Alumni

The Edmonds College Foundation has named the college’s 2011 Distinguished Alumni — Clyde Klingenbeck, Ben Kocaj, and Duane Lewellen.

They will be honored at the Distinguished Alumni Awards 5-7 p.m., Fri., Jan. 27 in the Black Box Theatre, 20000 68th Ave. W, Lynnwood.

Clyde Klingenbeck, 64, of Seattle, is a paralegal in the Consumer Protection Division of the Washington State Attorney General’s Office.

He came to the college for worker retraining after an on the job injury prevented him from continuing his work as a roofer. He discovered an aptitude for law and he was able to complete a Paralegal degree in one year. He has served on the college’s paralegal advisory board for 15 years.

He offers this advice to other worker retraining students, “Try to identify a career — not just a job — something you want to do that meets your financial needs and fits your life. If you like and appreciate your work, it improves your professional and personal life. It makes life good all around.”

Ben Kocaj, 35, of Mountlake Terrace, is executive director of Puget Sound Surgical Center in Edmonds. He earned his Associate of Arts degree and studied Business Management at Edmonds College.

After graduation, he attended the University of Washington-Bothell and earned his degree in Business Administration with a focus in finance. Not long after, he was hired as the Executive Director for Sunrise Medical Campus.

While at the college, he was president of the college’s honor society, Phi Theta Kappa, a top scholar named to the college’s All-Washington Academic Team, and a commencement speaker at the 2002 graduation ceremony.

Kocaj is a member of American Society for Metabolic & Bariatric Surgery. He has volunteered for a Crista Nursing Center and the Helping Hand House.

Duane Lewellen 51, of Lynnwood, is principal owner of The Rice Group, Inc., a Lynnwood consulting engineering firm. He earned his Associate of Technical Arts Degree in Energy Management at Edmonds College, began work at the Snohomish County PUD and went on to earn a Bachelor’s Degree in Business Administration from City University.

“Edmonds College pointed me to a completely new career in Energy Management. It’s the only reason I’m doing what I’m doing today. I got excited about this field,” he said.

Lewellen serves as advisory board member for the college’s Energy Management program. He has taught Energy Management classes and his wife, Carol Lewellen, currently teaches in the program.

The Lewellen family has stayed closely connected with the college as a homestay family for the college’s international students. They’ve hosted students from Japan, China, Bulgaria, and Denmark among other countries.

Last year's Distinguished Alumni Award recipients were: John Little, the political and legislative director for the Pacific Northwest Regional Council of Carpenters, and Becky Mackenstadt, a senior auditor and accounting manager at Vine Dahlen PLLC in Lynnwood.

Since it was established in 1991, the college’s Distinguished Alumni award has been given to 55 people notable for academic success, professional achievement, and community service. They include outstanding community leaders who are accountants, artists, fire chiefs, musicians, educators, paralegals, therapists, business owners, and engineers.

Nominations for Edmonds College’s Distinguished Alumni Award are accepted year-round. Submit nominations for the 2012 award online at www.edmonds.edu/foundation.

Established in 1982, Edmonds College Foundation supports access, success, and excellence for students, faculty, and staff at Edmonds College.

For more information about the Foundation, call 425.640.1274, email foundation@edmonds.edu, or go to www.edmonds.edu/foundation.

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Edmonds CC Foundation