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Graduates Say Goodbye to Clark and Hello to Their Next Chapter

Reporting by Miranda Manzano, Madison Reznicki and Troy Williams

Graphic by Mary Guevara/The Indy

It’s one of the most bittersweet times of the year: graduation. As students finish up their coursework and prepare for the next chapter in their lives, the Indy interviewed five Clark students who shared their post-graduation plans and offered advice to prospective Clark students.

Photo courtesy of Erin Thompson

Erin Thompson is a full-time student, full-time mom and is moving full steam ahead with her education. She is graduating from Clark this spring with an Associate in Arts Education Transfer degree.

Thompson is wasting no time and will be starting at Washington State University this summer to pursue her bachelor’s in teaching. Her dream is to become an elementary school teacher. 

In the spring of 2019, right around her 38th birthday, Thompson started her education at Clark.

“I am a single mom, and working at McDonald’s or Target or someplace like that is not paying the bills,” Thompson said. “I needed something that was going to provide a better future for them and myself.”

Thompson wants prospective students to know it’s never too late to go to school.

“Age is just a number, it doesn’t really matter,” Thompson said. “Now that I’m older, I realize maybe waiting a few years is actually better; you mature a lot so you have that focus or drive to actually want to be successful in school.”

Photo courtesy of Caitlin Fearrington

Eighteen-year-old Caitlin Fearrington is a Clark Running Start student who is finishing up her last year at Camas High School. She will earn her Associate in Arts Direct Transfer degree after the spring quarter. 

Fearrington is taking a gap year and moving to Los Angeles in the fall to pursue dance, which has been her passion for nine years. She plans on taking classes and auditioning with the hopes of getting signed to an agency.

Fearrington advises students to research their professors before they enroll in classes.

“One of my favorite memories was my sociology class that I took when Clark switched to remote learning,” Fearrington said. “I researched my professor and heard that she was a very good teacher. She made the transition easy and fun.”

Photo courtesy of Justin Lein

Culinary student Justin Lein said that he’s grateful for his time at Clark. He will earn a degree called Cuisine Management – Associate of Applied Technology.

Lein said that he went to culinary school about 20 years ago, but did not finish. When he was 44-years-old, he decided he wanted to go back to school, so he began taking classes at Clark in the summer of 2019. 

“You have to have the desire to continue doing what you love to do,” Lein said. “Make sure you love what you are doing, or else it just turns into a job or a hassle.”

Lein currently interns at SAAP Fusion Kitchen in Vancouver. After graduation, he said that he plans on continuing to work there to see where it takes him.

Photo courtesy of Emily Wolfe

Running Start student Emily Wolfe started attending Clark during her junior year at Mountain View High School. When she is not completing school work, she works at Crumbl Cookies in Hazel Dell. 

Wolfe will earn her Associate in Arts Direct Transfer degree and will be attending Portland State University in the fall to major in psychology and minor in business. She said that she plans on using those areas of study to become a psychiatrist and open her own clinic. 

Though Wolfe’s in-person college experience was cut short due to the pandemic, she said that one of her favorite parts about Clark was making new friends in her classes. 

Wolfe advises students to stay on top of their homework. 

“Once you get behind, it can be so hard to catch back up,” Wolfe said. “That’s why I think it is important to make friends in classes so that you can support each other.” 

Photo courtesy of Josiah Joner

In a previous interview with the Indy, Josiah Joner explained how he first got into ASCC. After serving as ASCC president for the past year, Joner is ready to pass the torch. 

Formerly, Joner was planning on attending University of Washington to pursue a BA in Political Science. Now, his plans have solidified, and he will attend Stanford University for the same degree.

Reflecting on his time at Clark College, Joner explains how he sometimes felt a disconnect between himself and the college community.

“I think a lot of students, myself included, feel at times like you’re alone in your educational journey,” Joner said. “You’re not alone in it, there are resources and groups to help.”

When asked about what one thing he wished he knew before attending Clark, Joner explains how he wished he got involved with clubs and programs at Clark sooner.

“There are so many different opportunities, clubs and programs,” Joner said. “It’s a great community to get involved in. Joining the ASCC provided a great opportunity to be involved in the community and service students.”

Learn how to get involved at Clark with the full list of ASCC clubs. 

This year’s commencement ceremony takes place on June 17 at 6:30 p.m. on the Christensen Soccer Field. Students from Clark’s class of 2020 and 2021 are able to attend, but outside guests are not allowed due to COVID-19 guidelines. A livestream will be available for friends and family to watch.

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