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At South, our students can "Start Here, Go Anywhere." We know South students enjoy success. See for yourself and read some students and alumni stories below. Join our Alumni Network today to receive the latest news, updates on events, and be sure to submit your alumni story today.

Also see Graduation Photos, Staff and Community, Student Statistics and Foundation Donors whose support helps our students succeed.

Minh-Trang Duong

"I first came to South while I was still a student at Chief Sealth High School, joining the Running Start program," says Minh. It was this first experience at a community college that open my eyes and broke the cliché that only smart high schools graduates go on to universities. Minh is currently working at a Virginia Mason's Cancer Institute as a Licensed Practical Nurse and will return to South this fall to continue her education to become an RN. ~ Minh-Trang Duong LPN (Licensed Practical Nurse) Program, Class of 2006.

Teklezgy Sequar

Long Road Leading to Bachelor's Degree When Teklezgy Sequar started at South in 1993 as an Adult Basic Education and English as a Second Language student he never believed he would be pursuing a bachelor's degree. Teklezgy is originally from Eritrea, a country situated in northern East Africa. He came to the Seattle area where his brothers and sister are living because of the continuing conflict his country has had with Ethiopia. The conditions of his life were dangerous because he had to serve in the military...a choice he did not make freely.

Teklezgy, who has earned Associate of Applied Science degrees in Network Technician and Network Administration and most recently this past spring an Associate of Arts degree, will be pursuing a Bachelor of Science in Technology: Applied Technology. The degree, which he should receive in 2008, is one of three bachelors degrees that South offers on its campus. This one is offered by Eastern Washington University. His goal is to find a career in the IT industry. He has this to say about his experience at the college: "My experience here at South Seattle Community College is a blessing. I never thought I would have this opportunity to go to school and change my life. But I discovered with determination and commitment anything is possible."

Janice Young

South is a place where you can find your passion and receive support even if you are not sure that college is right for you. Janice Young (AA, Winter 2007) found this out. In her own words, she describes her feelings when she started: "I didn't know what I wanted to do with my life, or major in. I just wanted to make my parents happy, so I enrolled at South. Enrolling was the easy part, but Janice would soon learn there would be challenges in reaching a degree. Janice recounts her experience: "Math has always been an obstacle for me. In high school I took the easiest math classes just to get my credits to graduate. I honestly didn't think I would need anything more than to be able to add, subtract, divide and multiply. Boy was I wrong. To complete my AA degree I would have to pass Math 102 or equivalent. I tested into Math 083 (pre-college math). I was so embarrassed that I eventually dropped the class. I decided to concentrate on other parts of the degree. I was completing just about everything but one area was still untouched, math. I went into Math 083 with a bad attitude, failed it and retook it. Moved onto 084, failed it and retook it. Moved onto 085, and failed it. Do you see my pattern? I went into my math classes with the wrong attitude. Of course I was failing. I didn't try or put in the time I needed to put in. I finally was able to move into math 098, and Heidi Lyman was my instructor. Her love for math was unbelievable, that it changed my perception. I put in the time and I got good scores on my quizzes. It was definitely a self-fulfilling prophecy. I passed math 098 and 102 with a 3.4." In addition to finding passionate instructors, Janice credits Student Success Services with helping her reach her goals. The federally-funded program helps those who are the first in their family to attend college, low income, or have a documented disability to pursue higher education dreams. The program also has a learning center that offers free tutoring, information on available scholarships, university campus visits, and helpful workshops. Janice will be attending Western Washington University this fall, majoring in public relations with a minor in Spanish. After she graduates from Western, she wants to become an officer with the Seattle Police Department, hoping to eventually work as a spokesperson for the department.

Steve Hale

Baby Boomer Finds New Passion Retired after 27 years in the U.S. Army as a physician assistant, Steve Hale had a desire to do something quite different. He thought what better way to explore options it than to go back to school. "Continuing your education later in life keeps your mind sharp," says Steve. "And going to school is a natural way to stay involved with the community and be around positive people going places." South's Northwest Wine Academy seemed a natural fit for Steve.

During his career in the army he was stationed in Germany, exposing him to the wine regions of Europe and growing his interest in the grape. His interest really peaked as he traveled around Washington State visiting wineries, talking to winemakers and seeing the wine country scenery. The positives of the program are endless according to Steve: "Wine is about food, fun, history, religion, our culture and meeting great people. Wine is also about visiting wine areas all over the world. This program also helps me develop my creative side. It is interesting, can be challenging, and sometimes is a work out!" Steve plans on taking winemaking classes this fall. He dreams of finding a part-time gig working for a small winery in the area while continuing to work at South's program.

Erika Pollard

Erika Pollard, 2003, is one of the first students to take advantage of the new bachelor's degrees offered at South's new University Center. Erika is pursuing Heritage University's BA in Education (with Residency Certification and Elementary, K-8, and ESL Endorsements, K-12).

Erika, who is currently a Family Services Provider for Seattle Public Schools Head Start Program, has this to say about her choice: "I started at South soon after graduating from high school but soon realized that I wasn't quite ready for college, so I took a break. Naturally, when I decided to pick up where I left off, I returned to South. I really feel like the college has helped me to set, visualize and accomplish my educational goals. Deciding to continue at South through Heritage for my BA was truly a no-brainer. The fact that I could continue to enjoy the qualities of South while obtaining my BA was truly a blessing for me."

Erika, who plans to become a middle School or high school teacher, wants to eventually obtain her master's degree and eventually obtain her principal's credentials. Who knows, maybe she will pick South again. Heritage University also offers these programs on our campus.

Christian Guerrero

"Receiving a scholarship from the Foundation allowed me to complete my transfer degree and made me feel proud that I am part of the many students at South deserving of a scholarship. I will continue to give back to the community that has given me so many opportunities." Christian graduated from Seattle University in 2007 and accepted a position with an engineering firm. ~ Christian Guerrero AA degree, Class of 2005

Tammy Wilber

"You only have one life and you have to live it to the best of your ability," says Tammy, who has been educating young people on making safe decisions since a life changing accident left her a paraplegic. I encourage people with disabilities to go to college to get an education, and to try to get out there in the work force. Tammy was hired in March 2007 as the Marketing Manager for VARILITE, a local company in Seattle that makes postural support systems for wheelchair users like her. ~ Tammy Wilber, AA, Class of 2003 2006 Ms. Wheelchair Washington.

Kerry McNamar

Kerry McNamar works and studies at South. An Officer on our Campus Security team, Kerry is also a full-time student at Heritage University, one of the college’s four year partners at our new University Center. "As a West Seattle resident, I love the convenience of taking classes so near to home," Kerry said. He plans to become a teacher, and expects to graduate in 2008 with a BA in Education.

Tuyen Nhan

Tuyen Nhan is a Running Start student at South and is taking courses toward Pre-Medicine. Her goal to become a pediatrician is reflected in her public service. She has volunteered at the Pacific Science Center helping children with science-based crafts and at Highline Head Start helping teachers and children in the classroom. She served at Highline Medical Center as part of Project HOPE, assisting patients in their care.

Xuan Don

Xuan Don is an international student from Vietnam. She plans to major in Biological Sciences. In addition to her rigorous course load, Xuan works to promote the academic success of her fellow students in the Women's Center, in the International Programs Office as Vietnamese Student Ambassador, and as a campus math tutor. She volunteers organizing activities for senior residents at Providence Mount St. Vincent. Her career goal is to work with the International Red Cross to provide global healthcare and education in impoverished nations.

Culinary Arts Students

Culinary Students Take State
Culinary Arts students recently won the Washington State Preliminaries of the American Culinary Federation's Junior Hot Food Competition. As winners of the Washington State Preliminaries, South's Junior Hot Food Team represented the state in the Western Regional Finals in Coeur d'Alene, Idaho in April.

The students took part in the American Culinary Federation Junior Hot Food Competition, which was sponsored by the Washington State Chefs Association and hosted by Olympic Community College. The American Culinary Federation is the preeminent culinary organization in the United States. It is not only responsible for accrediting college programs but awards professional certification levels and helps perpetuate the culinary profession. Getting to regional finals in Coeur d'Alene, however, was not as easy as it sounds. During the timed competition, which lasted approximately four hours, the teams were required to create a four course meal for four people, as well as preparing all elements of the meal on site.

Emma Schuster

Emma Schuster tells about the journey that brought her to South in her own words: I was born and raised on the South Pacific island of Tutuila in American Samoa. I came to South after high school graduation in May 2006. I chose this college because my aunt told me it was a great school. She is a graduate of the Accounting program. I am very family oriented, so I am determined to be the best that I can be not only for myself but for them. I especially want to make my mother, Tai Duseigneur, proud. I am committed to my studies but at the same time I love to enjoy myself.

Bringing my Samoan and Polynesian people together is one of my passions. I was able to share my passion for my culture when I helped host South's first annual Siva Pasefika, (South Pacific Dance-Movements) last spring. The event was a huge success. I look forward to continuing my work in this area. I am now the Student Commissioner for Pacific Island students for the college's Cultural Center. Now I am stepping into my fourth quarter, and I believe that choosing South has been one of my best decisions. Not only does the college have great programs but also is a great and safe environment with a wonderful staff and administration. I am working towards my Associate of Arts degree, so I can eventually transfer to the University of Washington and major in International Business Law and Foreign Communications. I love it here and I believe in the school motto: Start Here, Go Anywhere!

Kyle Shaffer

Inspiration and Achievement Born and raised in Seattle, Washington, Kyle Shaffer is a sophomore, studying Business. Kyle is active in South's student government, and serves as chairman of legislative affairs for the USA (United Student Association). After attending South, he plans on applying to the University of Washington's School of Business. Kyle spent 10 months last year studying in Japan. He would very much like to return in the not too distant future, and believes that every student should consider studying abroad.

Outside school Kyle is an on-call teacher at WeeWACs Childcare Center at the Washington Athletic Club in downtown Seattle. He enjoys working with pre-K children, and is especially gifted at creative storytelling and impromptu marching bands. In his down time, Kyle enjoys reading, karate, and hanging out with friends. You can usually find Kyle in the fitness center working out or at a local pool.

Kathie Pham

Alumna Goes Places
Kathie Pham is certainly making her mark. The former Running Start student (AA, Summer 2005), now studying finance and information systems at the University of Washington Business School, won a position with a prestigious internship in Washington, D.C. this past summer. The internship was offered jointly by the Organization of Chinese Americans (, which is �dedicated to advancing the social, political, and economic well-being of Asian Pacific Americans in the United States, and the United States Student Association (, which "believes that education is a right and should be accessible for any student regardless of their socio-economic background and identity." For 10 weeks Kathie spent time in Washington, DC and at conferences in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania and Sacramento, California. She was able to meet many legislators of national standing, as well as activists involved in making education accessible to all. The experience has left Kathie inspired. She hopes to one day go to law school and eventually become involved in policy issues affecting K-12 education.

Deepak Parashar

Deepak Parashar began taking classes at South when he was 15 as a part of Running Start. He earned a BS in electrical engineering at UW, and is now pursuing concurrent JD and MBA degrees at University of Alabama and Notre Dame University.

Sarah Michelle Leonard

Sarah Michelle Leonard South grad is a senior at the University of Cairo majoring in Islamic studies and anthropology, with plans to pursue a Master's degree in Middle East studies.

Abebe Aberra and son Edonyas

Abebe Aberra and son, Edonyas South grad is now a country project management assistant UW's Department of Global Health, International Training and Education Center for HIV (I-TECH).

Strauss Family

South is a family affair for Jimmie Strauss and sons Johann and Eric. Dad received an AAS degree in Diesel & Heavy Equipment Technology, and both 20-year old Johann and 15-year old Eric participated in South's Upward Bound program. Johann, who now attends Stanford University, was a program volunteer this past summer.

Dayib Ismail

Dayib Ismail loves South Seattle Community College. So much so that he arrives on campus before the cafeteria opens, and often leaves at night as the library lights are turned off. The Somali native, who has been in the US for just eight years, has completed course requirements for an AA degree in software engineering and is currently working on prerequisites for transfer to a four-year Registered Nurse (RN) program. Dayib's software engineering skills have already helped the college community. As a final class project, he and fellow students created new software for use in Registration.

He then interned for six months at the Seattle Community Colleges District office, working on websites and the Intranet. It was a positive experience that he says "opened the door to what the life of a software engineer was like." Unable to find his dream job, Dayib spent the next several years as an interstate truck driver, hauling produce from California to the East Coast. It was during those long trips that the idea of becoming a nurse took shape. "A nurse is like a mechanic," he says. "And the most important mechanic in the world is the mechanic of the human being." Nursing, he realized, would allow him to pursue his lifelong passion to help people in need. At the same time, he'll be able to utilize his technology skills in a high-demand profession that is becoming increasingly computerized and high-tech. Plus, his cultural understanding and fluency in four languages (Somali, English, Arabic and Swahili) will enable him to better serve a multi-cultural patient population. While looking forward to graduation, Dayib says he will miss much about South, including the beauty of the campus, accessibility of the faculty, and the diverse community of which he's become a part. "That diversity is important because everybody can belong to the community," he explains. "When you see different colors, you see that you can mix with those colors." Dayib works as a part-time cab driver to support his wife and three children in Somalia, looking forward to the day he can bring them all to join him in Seattle. In the meantime, he will continue to arrive early and leave late, studying to not just keep pace, but to get ahead.

Abeba Vandenburgh Tram (Tammy) N. Tan

All-Washington Achievers Abeba Vandenburgh (College Transfer) and Tram (Tammy) N. Tan (Running Start) were selected as South’s representatives to the All-Washington Academic Team, which honors Washington state community and technical college students for academic achievement and community service. They and other members of the All-Washington Academic Team were honored at an awards ceremony on March 20, at South Puget Sound Community College in Olympia, where each student scholar received a medallion, and a $750 scholarship.

Eduardo Muñoz

Eduardo Muñoz ~ 2003 Running Start student came to South in 2003 as a teenager to finish his high school diploma as a Running Start student. Eduardo struggled to complete this initial goal, but he did find success in other areas. He served as the Chicano/Latino Commissioner for the Office of Diversity, and as a Senator for the United Students Association. Through his involvement, he found a network that would support and encourage him to persist in his educational goals.

Eduardo has earned his GED, and now is pursuing a degree that will prepare him for a university program in design and architecture. Eduardo also works for the Student Outreach, Admissions and Recruitment office. He feels that through this work he can give something directly back to the community. "With everything I’ve learned here at South, I feel ready to meet my future head-on. I have set my goals in life and I am going to achieve them. I have had so many good experiences at South that I don’t think I would be as strong today if it wasn’t for the people, the services, and the friendships that I found here."

Jonathan Habeeb-Ullah

A Good Evening speech from Jonathan Habeeb-Ullah:
Good evening,

I am very happy to stand here before all of you this evening. Just a couple of years ago, I never could have imagined this moment, that I, Jonathan Habeeb-Ullah, a student here at South Seattle Community College would be giving a special occasion speech like this one.

To those of you that have achieved your dreams, and to those of you that are going on even farther to achieve your goals, as well as those of you around us that have inspired us to make it here today.

This truly is a day to remember, a day of achievement, a day of fulfillment, and completion of fulfilling our dreams.

I take great honor in being here, to have the chance in speaking to you before you take that second step to a four year University, or on your way to your career, coming that much closer to completing your goals.

Through out the hard times of struggle and sacrifice of being a student and giving until there’s nothing left.

This is a day of honor, for all of you, for never giving up on your dreams. As you leave here tonight and think back on this place remember the experiences that you have gained, and the people’s lives that you’ve touched along the way.

Through out your lives you have become something more than a graduate. You have become role models to those around you.

You have been given the ability to up lift the spirits of those around you who didn’t think it was possible to make it; you are the impossible made possible…

It takes courage to turn the word "no" into "yes", to turn "I can't" into "I can". There are no stops on this ride until we reach the end of the line together.

It is that determination that helps us students with the struggle, the sacrifice, and the commitment to be in college, to stay in college and to make our dreams come true. This is a blessing.

Webster’s Dictionary defines determination as: “A fixed movement or tendency toward an object or an end.”

The dreams that we hold in our hearts is the object that is the visions of our destinations, our ends with no boundaries, our goals that are driven by determination.

Sometimes life is the best teacher in order for us to focus through the darkest times of life’s trials and tribulations.

We are blessed when those helping hands that are around us are there to let us know that it is possible to succeed, and to turn a negative into a positive.

With the helping hands of those around us and our determination, we have been shown that there is light; there is a future.

I dedicate this speech to those of you who have given us students this chance of being here today.

I dedicate this speech to those students who have learned from life’s experiences that there is a better way.

To these students I say congratulations and to those of you who have made our dreams possible I say thank you.

Thank you, Jonathan Habeeb-Ullah

Khoa Ho Kathie Pham

South Students All-Washington Academic Team Honored in Olympia.
Khoa Ho and Kathie Pham were recognized as top community and technical college students for their academic achievement and community service. The two are part of a group of students representing the state’s two-year colleges. The students were nominated through a state program modeled after the national All-USA Academic Team, initiated by Phi Theta Kappa, the two-year college international honor society.

The program has become the showcase for Washington's community and technical colleges because it honors the academic high achievers, the men and women who have demonstrated a commitment to success in the classroom and in the communities in which they live. This recognition demonstrates the state's commitment to scholarship and community service on the part of those attending the state's public community and technical colleges.

If there is one word that describes Khoa Ho – it’s involved, both on campus and off. Ho is vice president of the International Students Club, membership chair of Phi Theta Kappa, and math and science tutor at the college tutoring center. Off campus he teaches Vietnamese to Vietnamese American kids, tutors at an area high school and volunteers with the elderly through his church. This is done while carrying a full course load and maintaining a high GPA. With such a drive to succeed, Ho is sure to reach his goals.

Sometimes a change of environment is all a student needs to succeed. For Kathie Pham, it was her decision to become a Running Start student, Washington’s high school college credit program. Since then, she has become a leader inside and outside of the classroom. As the Academic Success Committee Chair at the college, she has helped foster a program where students can take faculty to lunch, which has improved the learning community on campus. In another instance, an instructor recalled how Pham empowered her fellow students in a group project to “take ownership” of their presentation.

The two students were honored at an award ceremony on March 2 at South Puget Sound Community College in Olympia. Each student scholar received an All- Washington Academic Team medallion, a $750 scholarship, and was personally recognized by Gov. Christine Gregoire.

Elise Hwang Johann Strauss

Council for Opportunity in Education’s 24th Annual Policy Seminar. Students Elise Hwang and Johann Strauss recently helped represent Washington State at a national education conference in Washington, D.C. The two are alumni of South Seattle Community College’s Upward Bound program, part of the federally funded TRIO programs whose mission is to build a tradition of college among students who might never consider it an option. South’s program serves Evergreen and Tyee High Schools.

The two were in Washington, D.C. to attend the Council for Opportunity in Education’s 24th Annual Policy Seminar. The council is a national organization, headquartered in Washington, D.C., which represents institutions of higher education, administrators, counselors, teachers, and students in the federal TRIO programs across the country.

As a part of the seminar, Hwang and Strauss visited congressional representatives and their staff to inform them about the TRIO programs, due in part to proposed White House cuts to the programs.

Elise Hwang is in her first year at New York University, where she is studying social work. At Tyee High School she was active in shaping the campus through the school’s Totem Council, which worked on improving the social climate of the school.

Johann Strauss is currently in his second year at Stanford University, where he is studying international relations. As a student at Tyee High School, he was student body president, founder of the Tyee Latino Club, and co-founder of Tyee Diversity Team.

Maria Lopez

Maria Lopez, 2005 College Transfer Graduate
Maria Lopez immigrated to the U.S. from Mexico City 18 years ago, seeking a better life. At first, her lack of English kept her from going to college; however, she soon discovered the ESL program at South Seattle Community College. As her language skills improved, she began taking academic courses. She credits Math Instructor Ted Coskey, who she calls an "inspiration," for her early successes in pursuing her educational dreams.

Maria also found help with Student Success Services, which helps students like her who are the first in their families to attend college. Maria is giving back and now serves as a peer tutor with the program. Receiving her Associate of Arts this fall, she plans to get her teacher certification at Central Washington University's Des Moines campus. She hopes to one day be a community college math instructor.

Claudia Sorum

Claudia Sorum ~ Student Overcomes Odds to Succeed
If you had asked Claudia "Dia" Sorum a few years ago if she would be contemplating finishing her bachelor's at Whitman College in Walla Walla, Washington or Seattle University, she would have probably told you that the dream of college was not even on her agenda.

Dia, a 3.8 GPA student in the Computing Technology program at South, has come a long way, showing that everyone deserves a second chance.

Her life, which never had a solid start, began with a shattered childhood and culminated in her being sent to prison as an adult. Where many people might see prison as an end, Dia saw it as a beginning to a new life. After her release, Dia went to work, enrolling in South's Life-Skills-to-Work program and eventually reuniting with her three children. She was able to continue her studies at the college due to a federally-funded Carl Perkins grant the college receives to support career training for ex-offenders.

Dia's story of hope was featured in the January edition of the local magazine "Seattle's Child." She has also used her life experience and her coursework at South to help others, preparing a resource guide for offenders re-entering society. This work was capped off by a presentation before a joint committee of the Washington State Senate and House of Representatives about the children of the incarcerated in January 2005.

Deb Tremlow

Deb Twemlow - College Transfer Graduate
Virginia Sullivan, Director of Advising & Running Start, recently received a letter from former student Deb Twemlow, who is now the Recreation Director for the University of Alaska Southeast. The following are some excepts:

"Almost ten years ago my college experience started at South Seattle Community College.

I still remember how big it felt to walk around campus and see all the different buildings, housing so many opportunities for social and educational growth. Signing up for classes was really exciting because there were so many choices and I wanted to learn about everything.

"I was able to broaden my awareness in such topics as British English with Mr. Bob Dela-Cruz, Psychology with Mr. Bob Rice, Anthropology with Mr. Mike McGrath, and Music with Ms. Paula Herd. I thank these and countless other SSCC professors for having the patience to teach a wide eyed young girl full of ambition to never give up on my hopes and dreams.

"If I could give one piece of advice to anyone thinking about attending school at South Seattle Community College, it would be to ask lots of questions, take the time to answer the questions your professors ask of you, don't be afraid to stick to your goals no matter how crazy they seem, and to truly immerse yourself into your college community. There are countless professionals at SSCC who have dedicated their lives to helping students succeed. Keep that in mind during your time and when things become overwhelming seek out an advisor, faculty, staff, or fellow student to pull you through.

"True success is never an easy road and graduating with my Associate of Arts from SSCC took a lot of long nights reading, some blank stares at a frozen computer screen trying to write a term paper, some Seattle rainy days that I thought would never end, and some days so filled with activity that I didn't even want to get out of bed in the morning. These are the moments though that gave me such an indescribable personal satisfaction when walking down the graduation isle."

C'Ardiss Gardner

C'Ardiss Gardner ~ 2004 College Transfer Graduate
Students at South often show us how to live the school motto of "Start Here, Go Anywhere.". C'Ardiss, or CC, is an example.

CC's journey at South began in 1994 when she was 18 years old. Her dreams were delayed to take care of her two children and to enter the workplace. Determined to finish her associate's degree, CC entered the college again in spring 2003 and was able to complete her degree.

This was no easy task, as it required taking 25 credits each quarter, while working full time. CC went far from Seattle when she started the next step of her education at Yale University in the fall of 2004.

Joseph Seia, Upward Bound Student

Joseph Seia ~ 2002 Upward Bound Graduate
Joseph was honored as one of the Seattle Times’ “Outstanding Graduates 2002.” His freshman year in high school Joseph thought to himself, "Maybe I shouldn't be just doing what my peers are doing. Maybe there's something bigger out there for me. You only live once and I want to help the world," he said. Pursuing his studies was challenging as he grew up in a two-bedroom apartment with 10 relatives.

But through Upward Bound, which helps low-income students get to college, Seia was surrounded by role models who provided guidance and encouragement. He raised his grade-point average from 1.8 in his freshman year to 4.0 as a senior. Joseph planned to enter Seattle University's addiction-studies program and then work with youth in his community.

Chef Tory McPhail

Tory McPhail ~ 1993 Culinary Arts Graduate What does Tory McPhail have in common with cooking legends Paul Prudhomme, Emeril Lagasse and Jamie Shannon? All have held the position that Tory now holds, executive chef of the prestigious New Orleans restaurant Commander's Palace.

Knowing that he wanted to be a chef since a young age, the Ferndale native began his culinary journey at South. After graduating, he began his professional life at Commander's Palace, moving through all 12 stations in the kitchen in two years.

He left briefly to broaden his culinary knowledge and held positions in Florida, London and the Virgin Islands. He returned to Commander's Palace in 2001 and trained under Jamie Shannon, learning what it takes to lead a staff of 60.

Now its executive chef, Tory has been gathering his own accolades and making his mark. He was nominated as one of the James Beard Foundation's "Rising Star Chefs of the Year 2003," appeared on the Food Network, and hosts Turner South's original weekly series "Off the Menu." Check out where Tory works at

Norm Knowles

Norm Knowles ~ 2003 Web Design & Development Graduate
When Norm Knowles found himself at South, it was far away from his home in Alaska and former life, where he spent the previous 16 years finishing concrete and pouring foundations, as well as working part time as a personal trainer. Norm’s life changed when an ice climbing accident left him unable to continue doing construction work, eventually leading him to seek training for a new career.

His new path brought him to South, where he graduated from the Web Design & Development program with an emphasis in systems administration.

“I researched the technologies and industry standards used in the career I wanted, and the program at SSCC covered more of them than any other single program I could find,” says Norm.

Norm credits South’s computing instructors with his success and current employment by the state of Alaska, where his duties include serving as a Webmaster of many state Web sites, systems administrator for a Web server, database administrator, and Web applications developer.

“All of the instructors at SSCC made an impression on me,” says Norm. “Some impressed me with their technical expertise, others with their genuine concern for each individual student. More than a few of them demonstrated both of those qualities. A perfect example of this is Sabra Schneider (Web Design & Development Instructor).

“My education at SSCC prepared me to hold my own. As a matter of fact, after a round of discussions in one of the Alaska State Webmaster Committee meetings, the comment was made by a member of the Governor’s Communication Commission that ‘ looks like we got the real thing when we hired this guy.’ That and the job made two years of study at SSCC worthwhile.”

Josh Turner

Josh Turner ~ 2005 Running Start Graduate
How many 17-year-olds do you know with a college degree under their belt after just two years? Josh Turner is such a student. In the fall of 2003 Josh started full time at South as a part of the Running Start program, which lets students earn tuition-free college credit. He will graduate in June 2005 with his Associate of Arts degree. Josh plans to attend Central Washington University in Ellensburg, to pursue a major in information technology.

Jessica Burtt

Jessica Burtt ~ 2005 Running Start Graduate "I have been a Running Start student at South Seattle Community College since the fall of 2003 and I just want to tell you how much I love it. Most kids at my high school give me an awful look when I tell them that I am in the Running Start Program. They think I am a genius because I am taking college classes. But I tell them I definitely am not. In high school I was a "B" average student, (except for math) but my grades started to drop at the end of my sophomore year.

I was bored and I felt dumb. "When my mom told me about Running Start my first thought was "No." I couldn't even pass the classes in high school. Why should I go to college and fail there? She said all I had to do was try one class to see what I thought of it. So I took the COMPASS test, (which I later found out was much easier than the WASL) passed and took English 101. To my surprise I loved it. It was interesting, made me think and express my thoughts. The next quarter I took three classes. I was never pressured to take more than what I could handle and I still got to go to high school in the afternoon.

"There is something really important that I would like to share: I was horrible at math. The second day of my freshman year in high school I was so humiliated in my math class that I was afraid to try after that. Every time the teacher called on me I would say I did not do my homework and I usually did not because I never understood it. When I started math here at South I was afraid to ask questions in case they might be stupid. When my teacher noticed my nervousness, and my assignments not being turned in, she talked with me. She started working with me on a daily basis. I was still so nervous when she would ask me a simple question I would panic and forget to think. But as the quarter went on I got better. I became more comfortable with her and with math. I am now taking my fifth math class at the college, she is still my teacher. She made a comment to me the other day when she looked up from helping another student and saw me whipping through my homework that maybe I should consider taking a harder math class. I think she was a little proud. I am now helping my sister (who is in high school) with her math;it makes me feel so confident in myself, for I had failed that high school math class.

"I love being a full time Running Start student, but I am still involved with my high school. I play Varsity Soccer, Basketball, and Softball. I go to all the dances and an occasional assembly when I can. My college grades are so much better than high school. Being in this environment has opened my mind, it has made me think, learn, and study, most importantly it has made me feel confident in myself, because being at South Seattle Community College has proven to me that I am a lot smarter then what I thought. I am going to be graduating this spring from high school, with my A.A Degree. I was able to stay active in my high school and get a better education, for free!!!!"

Note: Jessica graduated with a 3.3 GPA and transferred to Central Washington University.

Chef Bart Kuliczkowski

Bart Kuliczkowski ~ 1992 Culinary Arts Graduate
Chef Kuliczkowski shows that hard work and dreams go a long way. Originally from Poland, Bart came to the United States in 1986. Shortly after immigrating, he started his culinary journey at the age of 14 at Tosoni's, an Italian restaurant in Bellevue. His road to success also included training under the executive chef at the Bellevue Hyatt Hotel, attending school, and serving as executive chef at Ristorante Paradiso in Kirkland for 10 years.

After spending nearly half his life in the kitchen, Bart and his wife Jerri decided to open their own restaurant - Sages. The Redmond restaurant opened in 2001 and has been described by the King County Journal as "rustic-style Italian food with a Continental flair." One of his customers has had this to say about Sages, "This little place gets my vote for best food in this area!" To learn more about Bart's success, go to

Lyudmila Botamanenko

Lyudmila Botamanenko ~ 1996 Accounting Graduate
Lyudmila is a great example of South’s motto “Start Here, Go Anywhere.” Her story is that of a remarkable individual. Lyudmila came to the United States from Ukraine in 1989. At that time she did not speak much English, so she enrolled in the English as a Second Language (ESL) program in 1993.

After completing the program she enrolled in classes and received a certificate in accounting.

She was a very dedicated student and eventually started volunteering in the Basic & Transitional Studies Office, which houses the ESL program, helping out with office work. She made such an impression that she was hired at the college, eventually worked her way to a position as a fiscal technician. Lyudmila, who had been at South for 10 years as a student, volunteer and employee, retired in June 2003. We look at her journey with both thanks and admiration.

Chef  Mat (Mathias) Wolf

Mat (Mathias) Wolf ~ 1992 Culinary Arts Graduate
After graduating from South, Mat promptly moved to New Orleans, where he spent the next five years mastering the techniques and ingredients of the city’s unique cuisine. He returned to Seattle in 1998, holding positions at Campagne and Flying Fish. Drawn back to New Orleans in 2002, Mat won the position of executive chef at Gautreau's, where he indulges his passion for creating seafood dishes, calling back to his Northwest origins.

Mat was named one of the best new chefs in the country by "Food & Wine" magazine in July 2004. The has this to say about him: "Seasonality and freshness are always priorities in Chef Mathias Wolf's menu, so look for a number of frequent changes in his menu at the classic, intimate Uptown eatery." Mat is very modest about his efforts and gives credit to those around him. "I received excellent support from South's instructors and previous grads when it came time to find a position after graduation," he said. "That network opened the biggest door for me, allowing me to move to New Orleans and work my way to where I am today." Take a look at Mat's restaurant at

Dana Musselman (left) Valerie Tran (right)

Dana Musselman (left) Valerie Tran (right) ~ 2002 Running Start Students

“I like the fact that my classes are flexible. I like the ability to choose what to take and how great the teachers and students are. It’s nice to have small class sizes and the closeness of the student teacher relationship. Plus, the fact that my classes are free doesn’t hurt. I have a great opportunity to achieve a lot further than my peers. I have excelled in college and when I transfer to a four-year university, the transition will be easier.”
~ Dana Musselman (left) ~ Junior, Chief Sealth High School

“I like that I could receive college credit for classes taken in the Running Start program. Running Start also gave me an opportunity to experience a college-level class, the curriculum and standards, while attending high school at the same time. I like the nice staff members, the peaceful atmosphere and the curriculum at South Seattle Community College. I have learned a lot in my classes.”
~ Valerie Tran (right)~ Chief Sealth High School graduate ~
Attending Seattle University in fall 2002.


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