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Seven PCC scholars to be honored by governor

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Mariko Newton, Rock Creek Campus

Mariko Newton, Rock Creek Campus

Oregon’s Outstanding Community College Student Scholars – honored by Gov. Ted Kulongoski – include seven students from Portland Community College. They will be recognized for academic and personal accomplishments. Each scholar is eligible for a $1,000 scholarship from public and private Oregon universities and colleges. This is the 17th year of the event, which is sponsored by the Oregon Community College Association.

Mariko Newton, a resident of Beaverton, is originally from Tokyo, Japan, and sports a 4.0 grade-point average. The 18-year-old transfer student plans to move on to the University of Portland. In extracurricular activities, Newton is president of a Japanese American citizens youth group and regularly volunteers at St. Vincent’s Hospital, American Red Cross and a local senior care home. The Phi Theta Kappa and President’s List student also is president of a local chapter of the Future Health Care Professionals of America.

The honor is especially sweet for Newton, who was raised in Japan and said she faced difficulty in adapting to the American culture.

John M. Smith, Rock Creek Campus

John M. Smith, Rock Creek Campus

“I have now learned to equally accept both cultural values, and it is my cross-cultural identity that has shaped who I am today,” she said. “I feel satisfied with my involvement in college and the community. I see college as an opportunity to paint my own self-portrait. It provides the canvas and paintbrushes, and the dreams and wisdom I collect along the way are the vividly-colored paints.”

John M. Smith, 38, of Northwest Portland is a business management and finance student who has a 3.5 GPA. Smith, who has made the President and Dean’s lists, plans to transfer to Portland State University. He is an active member of Rock Creek’s student government and is coordinator of Rock Creek’s Gay Straight Alliance as well as a former board member of the Greater San Diego Gay Rodeo Association.

Chris Goessler, Southeast Center

Chris Goessler, Southeast Center

“After a short stint serving in the military, I worked in customer service and eventually moved to the managerial level,” Smith said. “This varied work experience brought me to a point where I knew it was time to go back to college. I realized that I need and want the education necessary to pursue a fulfilling career that is more than a job to just pay the bills. My future plans are to complete my degree and start my career in finance and business. My time at PCC reinforces the idea that learning never stops.”

Chris Goessler, a resident of Northeast Portland, is majoring in history with a 3.94 GPA. The 18-year-old is a regular on the President and Dean’s lists, and volunteers at a local community center. Goessler said after a rough stint getting through high school that he now is making the best of college.

Amber Parke, Cascade Campus

Amber Parke, Cascade Campus

“High school was a very hard time for me, and without the support of my teachers, I don’t think I could of made it through that experience,” he said. “Because of that I am pursuing a bachelor’s degree with a major in history and after that I am planning on moving on to a teaching program. There is no way that I could achieve my goal of becoming a teacher without college.”

Amber Parke of North Portland carries a 3.74 GPA. Parke, 34, plans to transfer to Portland State University to study social work. She is extremely active in helping women being released from prison and serves as the state board secretary for Oxford Houses of Oregon. She earned a two-year scholarship from the Coca-Cola Foundation and is an alumna of NEW Leadership Oregon.

Marissa Johnson, Cascade Campus

Marissa Johnson, Cascade Campus

Marissa Johnson, Cascade Campus

“I come from a long line of criminals, addicts and alcoholics,” Parke said. “I followed in those footsteps thinking that is what life was; that is what I was worth. I was wrong.

“I felt when I started (college) I spoke in whispers, now, with the help of some wonderful mentors, a lot of determination, and a welcoming college campus; I speak in a loud, clear voice. My college education has given me that.”

Marissa Johnson, a resident of Southeast Portland, is studying communications and political science. The 27-year-old sports a 3.93 GPA and serves as the Cascade Campus student government president. She has made the Dean and President’s lists and is a member of Phi Theta Kappa. Johnson said she used to manage a caf

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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