2009 All-Washington Academic Team member David Lim stands between SCC President Lee Lambert and Gov. Chris Gregoire (Click here for more photos).
It may seem a long way from Malaysia and Indonesia to Olympia and a handshake from the governor of Washington, but for two Shoreline Community College students, making the journey was just a matter wanting … and a lot of hard work.
The combination paid off for David Lim and Fitri Ardani on Thursday, March 26, when Gov. Chris Gregoire placed medals around their necks, signifying membership on the 2009 All-Washington Academic Team. The ceremony for the two Shoreline students and 60 others from every community and technical college in the state took place at South Puget Sound Community College in Olympia. Joining Lim and Ardani on stage to honor their academic achievement was SCC President Lee Lambert.
Lim knew while still in high school in Kuala Lumpur that his path would lead to an education in the United States. With a relative in the area, Seattle was the obvious choice and Shoreline the ultimate destination.
“My father and I made the decision together,” said 17-year-old. Among his friends in Malaysia, going to school in the U.S. wasn’t a huge leap. “I have friends going to school in California and Minnesota.”
At Shoreline, Lim has a 3.99 grade-point average (GPA), is an International Program Peer Mentor, a member of the political science and economics club and helped his DECA team to third place in a national competition. Lim will finish his degree at Shoreline after summer quarter and hopes to move on to a four-year school for a degree international business and accounting. “I’ve applied to the University of Washington, the University of Indiana, both the Bloomington and Indianapolis campuses,” Lim said.
Ardani, 18, came to Shoreline from one of the smaller cities on the island of Java. She, too, doesn’t see her efforts to come to the U.S. as extraordinary, just the outgrowth of her own drive and goals. Her work at SCC has resulted in a 3.79 GPA and is aiming at a degree in accounting. Ardani is also looking at the University of Washington and University of Indiana. She is also considering Seattle University. While at Shoreline, Ardani is also focusing on English language skills and volunteers as an ESL tutor.
The Olympia ceremony was the 14th year for community and technical college students to be recognized for their academic achievements and community involvement.
Besides handing out the medals, Gregoire was also the keynote speaker.
“There’s no better community and technical college system than right here in Washington State,” she said. “I’m proud of that and I’m so proud of all of you. I’m delighted to be with you today to celebrate your success.”
This year’s academic team was made up of 62 students representing 33 community and technical colleges.
The top award - the 2009 New Century Scholar - went to 17-year-old Running Start student Tierney Kuhn of Highline Community College.
Kuhn is a computer science major with a 3.9 GPA. She is pursuing both Associate of Arts and Associate of Science degrees at the same time. She is co-president of Highline’s Phi Theta Kappa chapter and president of the Software Engineering Club. She is also active in many activities at her high school, including Future Business Leaders of America (FBLA). In the fall, she will continue her education at Princeton University.
Gregoire said while she was delighted that Kuhn was transferring to Princeton, she hoped she was planning to return to Washington. “Please come back,” she said. “Washington needs you.”
Douglas Gannon, 45, of Green River Community College was the second-ranked team member. After more than 16 years in the Air Force, Gannon came to Green River through the Veteran’s Conservation Corps program, which aids military veterans in their pursuit of “green collar” jobs. Focusing on Geographic Information Systems and Natural Resources, he earned more than 70 credits in his first year, while maintaining a 3.8 GPA. Outside the classroom, he spends another 20 hours a month working on conservation and habitat service projects throughout the Northwest.
Gregoire thanked Gannon for his service and for pursuing his degrees, adding, “Green collar jobs are our future.”
The third highest honor went to Theresa Burch, 39, of Spokane Falls Community College. Married with three young children, Burch worked 14 years at a local plywood mill before returning to school to pursue her goal of becoming an elementary school teacher. She maintains a 3.93 GPA.
Gregoire commended her for her hard work and also congratulated team member Amanda Suter, a Running Start student and mechanical engineering major from Lower Columbia College.
“If there is more we need in Washington, it is people like Amanda,” the Governor said, explaining Washington needs more young people pursuing engineering degrees.
All Academic Team members receive a $750 scholarship from the Northwest Education Loan Association and KeyBank of Washington. In addition, every state public and private four-year baccalaureate institution and City University are offering scholarships to attend their institutions.