For immediate release
April 26, 2012
For additional information:
Barbara Kerr, APR
Executive Director of Communications and Marketing
Two paths, one college
Two students named to the 2012 All-Washington Academic team
reflect very different paths toward higher education
VANCOUVER, Wash. – Clark College students Tami Eldridge and Lauren Stanton have been honored as members of the 2012 All-Washington Academic Team.
As All-Washington Academic Team members, Eldridge and Stanton are eligible for multiple scholarships from colleges, universities, local businesses and the Clark College Foundation. They were recognized by Gov. Chris Gregoire at a ceremony in Olympia on March 22.
The students who make up the All-Washington Team are academic high achievers who have demonstrated a commitment to success in the classroom and in the communities in which they live.
For Tami Eldridge, attending Clark was a way to honor a promise she made herself when she was in high school. The daughter of a single mother, Eldridge spent part of her freshman year in a homeless shelter as her mother struggled to support the family. Eldridge’s two elder brothers became ensnared by drugs, and during her sophomore year of high school her oldest brother committed suicide during a drug-induced psychosis.
“Every choice I have made in my life since then has resulted from the determination to rise above the tragedy, chaos, poverty, and disappointment I experienced in my youth in a way to make myself and my mom proud,” Eldridge wrote in a recent essay.
It was when Eldridge’s own children (Michaela, 9, and Evan, 6) entered elementary school that she began considering a career as a teacher. She chose to attend Clark because its flexible class times allowed her to balance her studies with her family life, and because the college’s diverse student body meant that, as a 32-year-old mother and wife, “I don’t feel like I stick out like a sore thumb.”
Elridge, who resides in Orchards, has a 3.98 GPA. In June, she will graduate from Clark College with an Associate of Arts degree. She has been accepted into the Bachelor of Arts in Education Program at WSU Vancouver and is considering pursuing a career as a middle school math teacher.
Eldridge said, “I originally saw my two years at Clark as merely a stepping stone to the education program at WSU Vancouver. However, my experience here has changed my life dramatically. Getting engaged in college events and activities has allowed me to feel connected to other students. My instructors and professors have been inspiring and have strengthened my love of learning.”
When Lauren Stanton graduated from high school, her original plan was to move straight to a four-year college. But then she began to rethink things. She wasn’t sure what she wanted to major in yet—what if she got two years into college, only to discover the institution didn’t offer her chosen major? And tuition at a four-year institution was too expensive to allow her the freedom to sample classes in many subjects while trying to decide which she wanted to pursue.
The 20-year-old Stanton, who resides in Vancouver, has earned a 3.77 GPA and has become active in Phi Theta Kappa, the international honor society for two-year colleges. Through Clark’s chapter, she organized a project to provide Thanksgiving dinners for 274 students who might otherwise not have been able to afford a holiday meal for their families. By her own admission “the shy one” in her family, Stanton’s experiences at Clark have helped her learn how to develop leadership skills and push past her comfort zone.
After graduating in June with an Associate of Arts degree, Lauren Stanton plans to attend WSU Vancouver in the fall. She will major in history as she pursues her goal of becoming a college professor.
Stanton said, "My time at Clark has been life changing. I don't feel like the opportunities that have happened here could have taken place elsewhere. I'm happy that I decided to attend a two-year college first and it's all because of my involvement in Phi Theta Kappa. Clark brought me closer to achieving both my career and personal goals."