June 19, 2015
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Clark College's 2015 Commencement Ceremony featured faculty
awards and an amazing opportunity for one outstanding student
VANCOUVER, Wash.– Clark College honored its 79th graduating class at the 2015 Clark College Commencement ceremony held Thursday evening, June 19, at the Clark County Event Center. Approximately 2,000 degrees and certificates were conferred on the next generation of our community's workers, leaders, and scholars.
Highlights from this year’s ceremony include:
- Approximately 740 graduates participated in the commencement ceremony, making this the college’s largest Commencement yet.
- This year’s graduating class included 278 Running Start graduates—a new record for the college, which has the largest Running Start program in the state.
- New this year, students who earned GEDs or High School Diplomas through the college’s Transitional Studies program were invited to participate in the ceremony. Approximately 25 of these students participated in the ceremony, and High School Diploma recipient Leeann Hodge was one of two student speakers to address the crowd.
- The other student speaker was Associated Students of Clark College President Emmah Ferguson. Ferguson is the youngest of three siblings, all of whom attended Clark through Running Start. Her eldest brother, Zachary, is entering Duke Law School with a full scholarship this fall; her sister, Ruth, who also served as ASCC president during her time at Clark, just graduated from the University of Washington with a degree in political science; and Emmah will be entering Seattle University in the fall with a full, four-year scholarship. The Fergusons are from Battle Ground.
- This year's commencement speaker was Camas resident and former Seattle Seahawks star Curt Warner.
- During the ceremony, Clark College President Robert K. Knight announced the names of the recipients of the 2015 Exceptional Faculty Awards. The 2015 awardees are Steven Clark, professor of biology; Alison Dolder, instructor of baking; Matthew Gallaher, instructor of English; and Michiyo Okuhara, professor of Japanese.
- Graduate Kathleen Fockler was the recipient of the 2015-2016 Community College President's Award. The annual scholarship is given to a Clark College graduate who is transferring to a WSU Vancouver degree program and who demonstrated leadership potential, a commitment to community service, and academic achievement. The scholarship award provides full-time tuition and is renewable for one additional year, essentially providing full tuition to complete a bachelor's degree.
About Kathleen Fockler
“This has been a really long-term dream,” says Kathleen Fockler of her graduation from Clark College’s nursing program. “I’ve wanted to be a nurse for 20 years.”
The 47-year-old mother of two first began attending Clark in 1994. However, when her newborn son, Gabe, began suffering seizures and developmental delays, Fockler made the difficult choice to leave school. She went on to become a paraprofessional assistant for the Evergreen School District, working with young special-needs children, an experience that solidified her desire to one day work in a hospital setting with medically fragile children. It was only when Gabe entered Clark as a Running Start student that she felt the time was right for her to return to college herself.
Once enrolled, Fockler soon distinguished herself for her empathy and her indefatigable work ethic. She worked two jobs while completing her prerequisites for the college’s highly competitive nursing program. (Thankfully, once in the program, she was able to earn scholarship funds so she could concentrate on her studies.) Along with her family responsibilities, she volunteered weekly for both the Evergreen School District Early Childhood Center and the Center for Medically Fragile Children (CMFC) at Providence in Portland, Oregon. She also served as co-president of the Student Nurse Association of Clark College and as a peer mentor for the nursing program.
Despite these responsibilities, Fockler earned a cumulative grade point average (GPA) of 3.79. Additionally, she became the first Clark College nursing student to be granted an internship at CMFC. Fockler, who passed her NCLEX-RN exam earlier this month, has already been hired by an in-home nursing care service specializing in medically fragile children. However, she knows that to achieve her dream of working in a hospital setting like CMFC as a pediatric nurse, she will need to earn a Bachelor of Science in Nursing degree.
“Earning this scholarship means everything to me,” she says. “I’ve overcome so many hurdles to get where I am. But this will allow me to overcome that final hurdle to work in a hospital with medically fragile children.”
Fockler lives in Vancouver with her husband, Bunnell; son, Gabe, 21; daughter, MaKenzie, 18; and mother-in-law.
More stories from Clark's commencement are available on Clark 24/7, Clark's online news site. Photos from Clark's 2015 commencement ceremony are available on the college's Flickr site. within two business days.