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Rep. Chris Gorsek has fostered lifelong service to the community
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: Rep. Chris Gorsek
One of the five is Rep. Chris Gorsek, who was a PCC student in the late 1970s and early 1980s, studying Criminal Justice as a means to meet the Portland Police Bureau’s requirement of 90 credit hours. His studies at PCC inspired a lifelong love of learning that took him south to the University of Oregon for his master’s degree, and later to Portland State University, where he earned his doctorate in Urban Studies.
Gorsek’s professional focus has been that of serving the community at large: first as a police officer, then as a member of the Troutdale City Council, and now as a state legislator and instructor of Criminal Justice and Geography at Mt. Hood Community College.
He is deeply dedicated to adult learning and has worked to bolster an understanding of the impact and significance of community colleges, for both students and the state of Oregon. As a member of the House Committees on Education and Higher Education and Workforce Development, he has added apprenticeships to the state’s ambitious “40-40-20” educational goals, sponsored the “Aspirations to College” bill to expand PCC’s successful Future Connect Program statewide, and championed proposal to increase childcare options for community college students.