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Chan’s story of re-training, perseverance

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Hilary Chan, PCC Graduate

Hong Kong native and Sherwood resident Hilary Chan knows what it means to be dedicated. If he didn’t, he probably wouldn’t have survived all these years.

Chan had worked for a tavern for almost a decade, but thanks to a downturn in the economy, he was laid off. He rebounded by being hired as a waiter with little training and worked his way to becoming the bartender, then was promoted to manager.

But he was laid off again.

"Finding a new job was not easy, but I was given an opportunity to work for my friend’s trading company," he said. "As a project manager, I loved my job; it gave me a sense of satisfaction. My job was to oversee every aspects of the projects, which included logistics, providing risk factor and profit prediction to clients, providing support to clients on FDA regulation, tariff schedule, communicating and updating to the clients as well as the manufactures."

A year later, though, he was laid off again due to slowing of work in this field. Chan said six months passed as he completed countless applications and interviews, but nobody would hire him.

"I had done a lot of follow-up and the main reason I did not get hired was because I only had a high school diploma," he said. "Even though some jobs only required a high school education, they preferred to hire someone with at least an associate’s degree."

The determined Chan explored his options and soon discovered the Career Pathways Training program in fall of 2006 – nine months after his last layoff. Career Pathways Training is a program that provides short-term training, as well as job placement.

"I thought this could be helpful," he said. "Maybe I could do something good with my life. So I took the placement test. The results were not good and the Career Pathway adviser asked me to take one term of writing before joining the program. I did not have the time or money to do this, so I went to my family for advice. They suggested I talk to a school academic adviser to see what my options were.

"I had no idea what I wanted to do with my life," he added. "The only thing I knew was that a high school diploma would not get me anything but minimum-wage job."

So, Chan made that appointment with an academic adviser, who suggested he complete an Associate’s Degree. He also was advised to fill out a FAFSA application and check out scholarships.

Graduation Video [/caption]

That was then and this is now.

Chan was selected as the student speaker for the 2008 graduation at the Memorial Coliseum. Chan, who also works for the PCC Library, earned his associate’s degree in business, carrying a grade-point average of 3.81. Since he came back to PCC (he had started and dropped out in 1994), he has been on the President’s List six times, and once each on the Dean’s and Honor’s Lists. Chan also earned a Ford Family Foundation Scholarship in 2007, which covers 90 percent of all his college costs not covered by other grants, scholarships and his family’s expected contribution.

This time around at the college, the Phi Theta Kappa member has been active at PCC and the outside community. He has volunteered with Hands On Portland, and PCC’s Financial Aid and Preview days. Chan has been a guest speaker for many scholarship workshops, including for the ROOTS Program at Sylvania, and represented the Ford Family Foundation by volunteering at the Oregon Student Assistance Commission (OSAC) table at the Portland College Fair. Chan plans to transfer to Portland State University to finish his bachelor’s degree in Business Administration.

"I would like to work in the business related field and I would love to work for a global company which values my experience, education, bilingual skills, and also my multicultural background," Chan said. "I was having doubts after being laid off. I am thankful that I came back to PCC, because they helped me to rediscover myself. PCC helped me to set my academy and career goal, believe and feel good about myself, and built and enhance my confident for any tasks in the future."

About James Hill

James G. Hill, an award-winning journalist and public relations writer, has been the Communications Specialist for the Office of Public Affairs at Portland Community College since November of 1999. A graduate of Portland State University, J... more »

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