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Diamond Alum Burgermeister is an established, and very valuable, asset
Photos and Story by Kate Chester
Five graduates of Portland Community College who have become community leaders along their professional and personal journeys since attending PCC have been tapped by the college to receive this year’s Diamond Alum Awards.
The 2014 winners include Abel Ahumada Alaniz of Garden Home, Cheryl Burgermeister of Southwest Portland, Rep. Chris Gorsek of Troutdale, Peggy Halley of Hillsboro and Hung “Lee” Nguyen of Beaverton. The award winners will be honored as part of PCC’s annual celebration of “Founders’ Week,” May 12-17, when the college salutes its history and accomplishments by way of a slate of activities in which staff, faculty, students, and the public at large can participate. Additionally, the honorees will celebrate together on June 11, in a special luncheon linked to commencement on June 13.
“I am so impressed by the caliber of the nominations we received, as well as the achievements of the winners selected this year,” said Jeremy Brown, president, Portland Community College.
“These five graduates exhibit the qualities of which the college is so proud. Each demonstrates a strong work ethic, a positive outlook on life, and a desire to give back to the community at large. We are delighted to honor them this year, to showcase their efforts and the inspiration they offer to others,” he said.
The judging committee was made up of a collective of external constituents, two former Diamond Alum Award winners, and PCC staff.
Diamond Alum: Cheryl Burgermeister
One of the five is longtime PCC Foundation board member, Cheryl Burgermeister has established herself as a valuable asset. Her financial acumen and experience gained while sitting on several well-respected mutual fund boards are of significant benefit to the college. Burgermeister knows, however, there is more to life than numbers. She recognizes that numbers are attached to real PCC students, each with their own story, for whom the Foundation’s help is critical.
Burgermeister’s own personal story is one of tragedy and triumph – and PCC provided the environment, encouragement and tools she used to engineer the triumph.
An automobile accident took the life of her mother when Burgermeister was only five years old. She and her four siblings were raised by their father until his death six years later; at that time they became wards of the state and were placed in foster homes.
Burgermeister graduated from Franklin High School and soon thereafter was working at Providence Portland Medical Center in patient admission and transport. Her friend at the hospital encouraged Burgermeister to enroll in PCC’s newly established Radiologic Technology program as a means to pursue a career in health care with greater potential for advancement.
Within three years, Burgermeister earned her associate’s degree, which enabled her to quickly move up the professional ladder at Providence: By the age of 27, she was the chief technologist of the Radiology department.
Burgermeister credits her PCC education for the success she achieved in the health care field and for giving her the confidence to pursue new opportunities. With a love of numbers, she went on to earn her bachelor’s degree in Accounting and obtained a CPA license. This led to a successful 30-year career in the field of finance including public accounting, as a chief financial officer with a noted investment advisory firm, and most recently, as trustee for several nationally recognized mutual fund companies.