News Releases

June 17, 2011
For Immediate Release
For additional information: 
Barbara Kerr, APR
Executive Director of Communications and Marketing
Telephone: 360-992-2921


Penguin Pride on Parade:
Clark College Commencement 2011

Clark graduate with Oswald

Two Clark graduates with Oswald

VANCOUVER, Wash.–The penguins were marching–and marching–as Clark College honored the largest graduating class in its history during its 2011 commencement ceremony.

Nearly 600 graduates participated in the ceremony, held on June 16 at the Sleep Country Amphitheater in Ridgefield. [Video: Memories of the Class of 2011]

More than 1,500 men and women earned degrees and certificates at Clark College during the 2010-2011 academic year. Both were records for the college.

The class of 2011 included the first graduates from the college's weekend degree and online degree programs as well as the first graduate to have taken their classes almost entirely at Clark College at Columbia Tech Center.

Additionally, 148 students graduated from the Running Start program, successfully taking classes at Clark College while completing their high school studies. Honor student Jacquelyn Patching was the first Running Start graduate from the Washington State School for the Blind.

During the ceremony, Clark College President Robert K. Knight announced the names of the recipients of the 2011 Exceptional Faculty Awards. The 2011 honorees were Laura Demeri, a part-time health and physical education instructor; Kimberly Karaman, a part-time math instructor; Julian Nelson, professor of German; Dr. Marcia Roi, professor of Addiction Counselor Education; and Ann Snyder, who recently retired from Clark’s women’s studies program. Presidential Scholarship Recipient Inva Begolli

Inva Begolli of Woodland (seen on the left, just after receiving her diploma) was the recipient of the 2011-2012 Community College President’s Award. That scholarship is given to a Clark College graduate who is transferring to a WSU Vancouver degree program and who has demonstrated leadership potential, is community service oriented, and who has a strong academic record. The scholarship award provides full-time tuition (10-18 credits) and is renewable for one additional year, or a total of four semesters.

An honors graduate who earned an associate in arts degree, Begolli was a Student Ambassador at Clark College and a member of Phi Theta Kappa, the honor society for two-year colleges. Begolli also served on Clark’s International Week and Environmental Health Committees. In the community, she has been a youth group president for the Red Cross and Director of Youth Ministry for the Word of Life Church. In her application, she wrote: “Not many Albanians have had the opportunity to pursue an education in the United States, but my parents have made sacrifices to help me with my dream.” Her career goal is to become “a successful pharmacist.”

Knight announced that two finalists would also receive scholarships, provided by donor support to the Clark College Foundation. Shaynne Goodwin and Tabitha Michele-Marie Stokes, both of Vancouver, will receive scholarships to “bridge the gap beyond financial aid, ensuring that tuition and fees for both recipients will be covered for the next two years at WSU Vancouver.”

Goodwin, an honors graduate in business administration, served as a peer mentor at Clark College, participated in Clark’s speech and debate team, and was a member of Phi Theta Kappa. He is liturgist for the Vancouver Heights United Methodist Church and volunteers for Open House Ministries. He also serves as a coach in the Central Vancouver Little League.

Stokes, who graduated with a transfer degree in addiction counselor education, was a member of the Clark College Addiction Counseling Education Club. She volunteers with community organizations including Alcoholics Anonymous, Oxford Houses, and Faces of Hope.

The ceremony included special remarks and a moment of silence in honor of Dean of Enrollment Services Alex Montoya, who died on June 11. Knight announced that, in Montoya’s honor, the Clark College Foundation has established a full scholarship for a Hispanic student to attend Clark College.

Knight said, “Alex once said that he loved his job because it ‘gives me the opportunity to make great things happen for people who want to go to college.’” Knight added, “This wonderful opportunity means that Alex will continue–in the best sense–to ‘make great things happen for people who want to go to college.’”

Dr. Donna Beegle, a national poverty expert, was the keynote speaker for the event. Beegle, who grew up in migrant labor poverty, was a single mother who struggled to earn her GED then went on to earn her doctorate. Describing her own challenges and her determination to overcome them, she urged the Clark graduates to stay focused on their dreams and their "unlimited potential."