News Releases

For Immediate Release

March 31, 2015
For additional information:
Chato Hazelbaker
Chief Communications Officer
Telephone: 360-992-2921


Global Journeys Reach Success at Clark

Clark's All-Washington Academic Team members show the power of perseverance


VANCOUVER, Wash. — Two students whose stories began on almost opposite sides of the earth have found success in the face of adversity at Clark College. Martin Parrao and Lidiya Nikolayev represented Clark College at the 2015 All-Washington Academic Team Recognition Ceremony, held on March 26 at South Puget Sound Community College in Olympia, Washington.

About Lidiya Nikolayev 

Lidiya Nikolayev  

Lidiya Nikolayev, 30, came to the United States with her parents from Moldova when she was almost 6 years old. From early on, she displayed a head for business, and it’s unsurprising that she’s now pursuing a career in finance. But there is a more personal and painful reason for her interest as well. The truth is, she began to hone her financial acumen while caring for her son, Ivan, who was born with cerebral palsy. Faced with daunting medical bills and limited income, Nikolayev became expert at managing a budget.

Ivan passed away in 2011; as Nikolayev recovered from her trauma, she became determined to go to college and find a career that would not only make her self-sufficient, but allow her to create family-friendly jobs for other parents. “No parent should have to sacrifice time with their children to have a career,” she says.

Nikolayev enrolled at Clark in 2013, and quickly gained notice for both her aptitude and drive. She has just finished a quarter in which she took a staggering 22 credits, divided between classes at Clark College and at a community college in Texas, where she is enrolled in online courses. Read more about Lidiya Nikolayev’s story.  

About Martin Parrao

Martin Parrao  

When Martin Parrao’s family moved from Chile to the Pacific Northwest in 2006, Parrao was already 15 years old. He spoke no English. “The process of learning English has been one of the longest and most difficult challenges I have ever faced,” he says. “Going through high school was very difficult for me, but I was determined to work extra-hard so that one day I could reach my goals and prove to my parents that their efforts to come to this country were not in vain.”

That hard work paid off: Parrao went from taking English as a Second Language classes to graduating from Battle Ground High School with honors in 2009. He enrolled at a four-year university, but quickly encountered a new challenge. Parrao, 24, is a legal resident of this country, but he is not yet a citizen. This means that up until recently, he could qualify for in-state tuition, but not for federal or state financial aid. A 2014 Washington state law called the “Real HOPE Act” now allows students like Parrao to be eligible for state financial aid, but at the time, Parrao found himself facing thousands of dollars in tuition each quarter, even if he attended part-time, with no hope of assistance.

Parrao regrouped. He dropped out of university, realizing that his limited funds would go farther at Clark. Even so, he had to work for months to save enough money to take a single class, meaning that for his first three years at Clark, he could only afford to take one or two classes a year. Read more about Martin Parrao’s story.

About the All-Washington Academic Team

The All-Washington Academic Team is a program of Phi Theta Kappa, the honor society for two-year colleges. The team honors students who demonstrate a commitment to success in the classroom and service in their communities, and has become the showcase of the Washington community and technical college system. This year’s team consists of 65 students representing all the state’s 34 community and technical colleges.

Gov. Jay Inslee was on hand to acknowledge recipients at the 20th annual ceremony, hosted by South Puget Sound Community College in Olympia, Wash. Phi Theta Kappa, the Trustees Association of Community and Technical Colleges (TACTC), the Washington Association of Community and Technical Colleges, and the State Board for Community and Technical Colleges sponsor the event. All-Washington Academic Team members received scholarships from KeyBank and became eligible for scholarships from TACTC, the Washington State Employees Credit Union, and transfer scholarships from all four-year colleges and universities but one in Washington State.