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PCC selects five 2014 Diamond Alum Award winners
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 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 Wednesday, June 11, in a special luncheon linked to commencement on Friday, 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.
Following are briefs of the 2014 PCC Diamond Alum Award winners; longer profiles on the winners – one each day – will run during Founders’ Week:
Abel Ahumada Alaniz – Abel Ahumada Alaniz arrived to the United States at the age of 15, ready and able to work as a beet and berry picker as a means to make money to send home to his family in Mexico. But he had a bigger dream: to become a dentist. Read about his journey from PCC to Portland State University to Oregon Health & Science University’s School of Dentistry and ultimately, to the launch of his own dental practice in southeast Portland.
Cheryl Burgermeister – As a longtime PCC Foundation board member, Cheryl Burgermeister recognizes the needs of PCC students, each with their own story, for whom the Foundation’s help is critical. Her personal story is one of tragedy and triumph, too – with PCC providing the tools necessary for Burgermeister to engineer her triumph, which led to a vibrant career, first in health care and then in accounting and finance.
Rep. Chris Gorsek – Who knew that studying criminal justice at Portland Community College would light the fire of Rep. Chris Gorsek to transition from being a police officer to becoming a state legislator and college instructor after obtaining a doctorate in Urban Studies?
Peggy Halley – Crises don’t shake Peggy Halley; rather, they spur her on to greatness. Read about how personal tragedy inspired Halley to continue her education at Portland Community College, which led to becoming Oregon’s first female career fire officer, followed by being tapped as the state’s first female Battalion Chief.
Hung “Lee” Nguyen – The story of Vietnamese immigrant Hung “Lee” Nguyen illustrates the power of determination, industriousness, and education: the impression they make and inspiration they create. Read about how this young man learned English and automotive technology at Portland Community College, which led him to launch his own successful automotive repair business.