Faculty, Staff & the South Community
All of the people that work and surround the South community are truly amazing. South would like to invite you to share in our appreciation by reading some of their stories from our quarterly class schedules below.
Also see 2009 Graduation Photos | Student Success Stories | student statistics and Foundation Donors whose support helps our students succeed.
|2012 Recipients of Lifelong Learning Award
Congratulations to Christa Colouzis, Environmental Health and Safety Specialist, and Heidi Lyman, Mathematics Instructor, who have been honored with the Lifelong Learning Award by the Seattle Community Colleges Board of Trustees. The Trustees Lifelong Learning Award is made annually in recognition and support of the importance of continued intellectual and professional growth for employees of the Seattle Community Colleges. Award recipients are selected by the Board of Trustees.
Christa and Heidi will each receive a $1,500 award, intended to be used for costs associated with attendance at professional association meetings, conferences, professional development classes, college course work and similar activities which would enhance the recipient’s individual, intellectual, or professional development. They will be recognized by the trustees at District Convocation on Wednesday, September 19, at Central.
2011 Jobsite Shero Award
Christa Colouzis was awarded the
2011 Jobsite “Shero” Award by
Washington Women in Trades.
Christa is an Environmental, Health
& Safety Specialist here at South.
She and the other awardees
were honored at the fifth annual
Dream Big Dinner on November 5, 2011.
Washington Women in Trades Association was founded in
1978 by and for women working in the trades to gather and
share information. The goal is to educate, promote, and celebrate.
NISOD award winners 2008 - 2009
Congratulations to instructors Brian Hughes (Automotive
Technology) and Holly Gilman (English) on their selection
as South’s 2008-2009 National Institute for Staff and
Organizational Development (NISOD) Award winners.
Selection was based on their commitment to students,
professional development, and the college, as well as their
activities in support of the college mission and goals.
Helen Sutton was truly a lifelong supporter of education.
She first got interested in education through her studies at Washington State University, where she earned her bachelor’s degree. Helen then began teaching at Wapato Junior and Senior High School, where she met her husband Milton Sutton. Later Helen and Milton moved to the Seattle area where she taught at West Seattle High School.
Helen’s expertise and commitment to education earned her an invitation to serve the Citizen’s Advisory Council that eventually led to the establishment of South Seattle Community College. Her involvement with this effort resulted in decades of service and dedication to South Seattle Community College and the community......
When the South Seattle Community College Foundation was formed in 1981, Helen served as the first president of the Board of Directors. Helen’s leadership helped the SSCC Foundation successfully
complete a $2.1 million capital campaign for the
Culinary Arts building; she also led efforts to create the
six-acre arboretum on campus.
In addition to her service at South Seattle Community
College, Helen has also been very active in the
Federated Women’s Club, the West Seattle Chamber
of Commerce and the P.E.O. Club. She has served as
president for each of these groups.
Helen has received both local and national recognition
for her dedication. She was appointed by three
Washington State governors to serve on the Seattle
Community College District Board of Trustees, where
she served two terms as the chair. In 1982 Helen was
among 12 community college volunteers to be invited
by President Reagan to travel to the White House for a conference on volunteerism.
Mrs. Sutton was instrumental in the establishment of South Seattle Community College and was appointed by the governor to the Seattle Community College District Board of Trustees, serving two terms, from 1975 to 1985.
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Volunteer, Donor and So Much More! A descendent of Seattle pioneers, Roberta Greer has
dedicated her life to improving the community through
her work and volunteer service. “I have always been
inspired by organizations that promote change for the
future,” Roberta says. “And there is no better way to do
this than by providing education to students like South
Seattle Community College does.
After earning a degree in Finance and Administration,
Roberta put her passion for community spirit to work as
Vice President of the Seattle-King County Convention and
Visitors Bureau. After spending seven years there, she
joined Tillicum Village and Tours where she has served as
the Senior Vice President / CAO for the past 17 years......
Roberta’s remarkable vision for forging partnerships
between businesses and other organizations to create
a vibrant community made her a natural leader in the
Seattle area. South Seattle Community College President
Emeritus Jerry M. Brockey immediately recognized
her talents and invited Roberta to join the President’s
Advisory Council to give him advice on how the College
could meet the needs of area businesses.
Roberta’s service on the President’s Advisory Council
was so impressive, that she was quickly asked to join
the Foundation Board of Directors. “Right away I
was impressed by the board’s passion for the College,”
Roberta says. “I immediately felt like I belonged.”
Upon joining the Foundation Board of Directors, Roberta
jumped right into a leadership role. She served as cochair
of the Culinary Arts Campaign, which was South’s
first capital campaign. Thanks to Roberta’s leadership,
the effort was an enormous success, raising $2.5 million
for a new facility, program equipment and student
In 2003, Roberta served as the President of the
Foundation, during which time she implemented South’s
signature event, “Gifts From the Earth,” which is a
unique wine pairing dinner that has become a highlight
for the entire community. During her time as President,
the Foundation also awarded a record number of
scholarships and began a campaign for the Landscape
In addition to her many hours of volunteer work, Roberta
also expresses her commitment through her personal gifts
to the Foundation. “Not only do I know the power of the
hundreds of lives South touches every year, but I know
individual gifts are needed for this to happen. And it’s
a great feeling to know that I’ve been able to help these
South Seattle Community College is just one of the many
organizations touched by Roberta’s dedication. She
has held leadership positions for Altrusa International,
the Seattle Aquarium Society and the Greater Seattle
Chamber of Commerce. She is also active in Seattle
Rotary #4 and was selected to be part of a trip to
Ethiopia to bring polio vaccines and other supplies to
the region. Recently, she was awarded the “The Jeri
MacDonald Community Service Award” from Bank of America and the Greater Seattle Chamber of Commerce.
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2007 Exemplary Staff Award Winner
Carolyn Dickson, Program Support Supervisor in Registration, has been honored by the Staff Training for Technical and Community College (STTACC) Board with its Exemplary Staff Award. STTACC was established in 1978 to aid in the professional development of community and technical college classified (union) staff. Its Exemplary Staff Award provides annual recognition of these staff, who play a critical role in the success of their institutions.......
Carolyn was selected after the awards committee received
outstanding nominations and letters of support from her
co-workers on campus.
The following was in the letter announcing Carolyn’s
honor: “We feel that you have consistently demonstrated commitment and excellence in job performance and dedication to the mission and goals of your institution, as well as dedication to the professional development of the classified staff on your campus.” Carolyn will receive her award at the 2007 STTACC
Conference in August.
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Outstanding Faculty Honored
Faculty members Howard Andersen, Automotive
Technology Instructor, and Sara Baldwin, ESL Instructor,
are South’s 2006-2007 National Institute for Staff and
Organizational Development (NISOD) Excellence Award
winners. The two were selected for the quality of their
teaching and for their commitment to students. They
were honored in May at NISOD’s annual International
Conference on Teaching and Leadership Excellence.
Since 1978, the organization has “been dedicated to the
professional development of faculty, administrators, and
staff; and to the continued improvement of teaching and learning, with the ultimate goal of student success.
Betsy McConnell-Gutierrez, Program Coordinator at the Duwamish Apprenticeship & Education Center, has been honored among her peers in the Seattle Community College District with the Trustees Lifelong Learning Award. She received $1,500 as a reward for excellence, based on leadership, professional achievement and cooperative spirit.
The awards are meant to encourage recipients to pursue learning opportunities. Betsy plans on using the award to expand her capability to present educational opportunities to classified staff who she represents as their local vice president for the Washington Federation of State Employees........
Betsy was given the award based on nominations from her colleagues. The following are two quotes that give you
an idea of Betsy’s dedication:
“Betsy is one of the wheels that keep the Duwamish campus running. She is dedicated and pays attention to even the
smallest things that can make the site welcoming and pleasant. The support that she gives our program is exceptional.”
“Betsy has always been active in trying to make South a great place to work. She is continually connecting people
and programs. In fact, she could be called a matchmaker for her unique ability to bring the neighborhood
community into the campus community.”
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Math and engineering instructor
Heidi Lyman is exuberantly
enthusiastic about numbers.
An avid skier, the Spokane
native admits to picturing sine
waves as she slaloms down the
course. “I do get carried away
with numbers,” she says with a
laugh, “but my students don’t
The daughter of a math and astronomy teacher,
Lyman attended Spokane Falls Community College before
earning a BS and MS in aerospace engineering at the
University of Washington......
After working in fatigue and
damage tolerance at The Boeing Company for five years,
she began her community college teaching career, joining
South’s faculty in 2002.
As someone who started her
educational path at a community college, she appreciates
the quality a two-year school offers, noting that “At the
community college, students can talk to the teacher, and
the teacher wants to talk to students. Teachers are here
because they love their subject and they really want to
deal with students.”
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During his 36 years at South,
Dr. Jihad Othman has taught
political science and history to
three generations of students
and seen the college course
offerings grow from one
mimeographed page to the
current 88 page schedule. He
has also seen the student body
become more diverse, noting
that 12 different countries are
represented in his International
A Palestinian native who initially studied
law at the University of Syria, Dr. Othman began his
American higher education at Skagit Valley Community
He went on to earn a bachelors in Political
Science, a masters in History, and a PhD in Political
Science, History, and Arabic Languages & Literature
from the University of Washington. He views history and
political science as dynamic and inseparable, explaining,
“History is data; political science tries to explain ‘why.’
father of five, Dr. Othman’s concern for students is based
on a simple principle.“I treat them the way I would like
others to treat my own children. You have to let them
know you care.”
Dr. Jihad Otman
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Bob Dela-Cruz is a romantic at heart. It’s no wonder,
considering his parents’ love story, which defied the
rigid Filipino class barriers of the 1950’s. He recounts
that tale and the Dela-Cruz history as one of Seattle’s
earliest influential Filipino families in the coffee table
book Magnolia – Making More Memories, published by
the Magnolia Historical Society.
A graduate of the United States Military Academy at
West Point, Dela-Cruz earned a Master’s in Literature
from the University of Pittsburgh and taught in
a variety of settings, including West Point, Saint
Mary College, and even the Federal Penitentiary at
After a distinguished 20-year military
career, he began teaching composition, developmental
writing and literature at South, where he appreciates
the family-like atmosphere that encourages solidarity,
fun, and close relationships.
Noting that some of his students have never read a
complete book, he constantly works to convince them
of literature’s relevance, showing them how situations
found in books, even the classics, are representative of
what’s going on in the world today.
“I also want them to realize how much enjoyment they
can get out of literature, and how it can be related to
them,” he adds. “I want them to realize that literature
can have an impact.”
He considers the opportunity to really get to know his
students through the personal stories they share in
essays and composition an especially gratifying aspect
“I get to know them as individuals, not just a name on
That personal attention, plus the enthusiasm he
generates for his subject matter, has made Dela-Cruz a
favorite of South students for more than a decade.
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Since joining South in 2001, Cessa Heard-Johnson has
infused the campus with her passion for diversity and
justice issues. As Dean of Diversity, Retention and
Student Life, she has had a major impact on college
efforts in these areas.
Seeing a need to address diversity issues in an academic
setting, she created and still teaches American Ethnic
Studies 201-Z – Diversity & Social Issues. Offered winter
quarter, the timely and interactive class focuses on
critically analyzing multiple forms of oppression in order
to find solutions to dismantle them on an individual and
“Diversity means differences. We have diversity all
around us,” she says. “But when people start to treat
those differences as bad, and start to judge people as
having less value because of their differences, that’s the
South students, she believes, will be especially well prepared
for life in the global workforce not simply
because of their exposure to diversity here, but the
constant opportunities for interaction with others on
campus and in the classroom.
California born and raised, Heard-Johnson earned
a Master’s degree in Education Leadership from the
University of Oregon. She was recently recognized
for her advocacy and accomplishments with a Trustees
Lifelong Learning award.
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When Carlos Amesquita sees stars,
it’s not because he’s been bumped on
the head by a falling engine part. An
avid astronomy fan, the Automotive
Technology instructor relaxes by
observing the night sky through one of
his several telescopes.
As a younger man, the Peruvian native eyed the vast
Alaskan sky from the deck of a crab fishing boat on the
treacherous Bering Sea. After six years of physically
demanding and dangerous work, he decided to put
his mechanical skills and teaching aptitude to better
The former South ESL student graduated in 1997
from the Automotive Technology program and, after
becoming an ASE-certified Master Technician and
working as an industry professional, he returned to the
college as a full-time instructor.
Students enter the program with widely varying skills,
and seeing them grasp difficult concepts is his greatest
satisfaction. “That kind of feeling is, believe me,
stronger than the feeling when I get my paycheck,”
he says, only half-jokingly. “Not that I don’t like my
paycheck, but when students get something, that’s a
different kind of payment. It’s very rewarding.”
Amesquita focuses on exposing students to the many
possibilities open to them in the automotive industry,
while preparing them not just for today, but a future of
hybrids and increasingly complex automotive systems.
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The Power of Language
They teach different languages, but instructors Asha
Esterberg (Spanish) and Holly Gilman (English) share much in common, from a history of
excelling in physically demanding activities like class
sailboat racing and karate, to a love of travel.
They also share a passionate appreciation of the
richness and power of language and a dedication
to helping students harness that power to become
“I want to show them their ability to wield that
power, and how it works. It’s up to them if they
want to embrace it,” says Gilman, who has taught
developmental and college-level writing at South for
thea past six years.
A former karate black belt holder,
she equates the precision of karate movements to the
precision of language and finds that understanding
what each one accomplishes is an exciting challenge.
Gilman is one of just four recipients of the 2008-2009
Trustees Lifelong Learning Award and was recently
selected as one of South’s two National Institute for
Staff and Organizational Development (NISOD) Award
She has been described as having “enough
energy to light up West Seattle … if not the entire
city.” Impatient with things that slow down the process
of learning, she keeps her classes lively and relevant.
Esterberg’s Spanish classes feature a similarly-spirited
environment in which students explore the broad
spectrum of ways we communicate and learn how to
make that communication effective.
“I try to make it as authentic and meaningful as
possible,” she explains. “Language is more than just
words; it’s an attitude you convey.” She finds that
when students are committed and engaged in the
process, “The payoff is really exciting.”
Esterberg, raised in a multi-cultural family, embraced
adventure early on. A Phi Beta Kappa graduate of
Earlham College, she has lived and traveled extensively
and remains actively involved in the Bainbridge-
Ometepe (Nicaragua) Sister Islands Association (BOSIA),
a humanitarian organization founded by her parents
over 20 years ago. “It is a wonderful association that
has become a fundamental part of my family’s shared
experience,” she says.
Esterberg has developed and presented cross cultural
training workshops for participating delegations of
educators, medical personnel, students, and social
workers, and has also served as an interpreter on site in
Both instructors were Teaching Assistants and earned
graduate degrees from the University of Washington
– Esterberg a Master’s in Spanish and Gilman a Master
of Arts for Teachers (MAT) with a focus on writing. A
community college teaching career appealed to each.
Says Esterberg, “I wanted to teach in absolutely the
most diverse environment possible, where it’s education
for all people. It’s the most inspiring thing about this
place. We get to interact with people from all over
the world and communicate with one another. It’s a
completely fantastic mix.”
Adds Gilman, who attended Tacoma Community
College prior to the UW, “I’m a product of it, and I
know what it’s like to be a community college student.
Dollar for dollar, this is where it’s happening. There’s
everything right with community colleges.“
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