Angela Kyle and Heather Leasure represented Clark College at the 23rd annual All-Washington Academic Team ceremony
VANCOUVER — On March 21, two outstanding students represented Clark College at the 23rd annual All-Washington Academic Team ceremony, honoring 59 students from Washington State for their academic excellence and community service.
Top students from 33 of Washington state’s community and technical colleges were honored at the annual ceremony, which was held at South Puget Sound Community College in Olympia; each received a medal and a $250 scholarship from KeyBank and became eligible for additional scholarships from private sponsors as well as transfer scholarships from four-year colleges and universities.
Angela Kyle was also awarded a $750 scholarship from WSECU. Gov. Jay Inslee, who served as keynote speaker at the event, presented a signed proclamation declaring March 21, 2019 to be All-Washington Academic Team Day.
The All-Washington Academic Team is a program of Phi Theta Kappa, the international honor society for two-year colleges. Earlier this month, Alpha Sigma Phi was awarded the highest honor of Most Distinguished Chapter in the Greater Northwest Region, along with four other awards.
This year’s Clark College team members share many things in common: They both came to Clark in their 30s, after many years away from school; both are members of the college’s Entrepreneur Club; and both have found confidence in their capabilities through their achievement at Clark. Below is a bit about their stories.
After graduating from high school, Angela Kyle went straight to a state university, intent upon becoming a teacher. But when she became pregnant with her first child, Kyle dropped out and put her educational plans on hold. It was only when all four of her children were in school that Kyle felt she could focus on her own goals again. She enrolled at Clark College in 2016.
Kyle, now 41, said her experience at Clark was dramatically different from what she experienced at a large state university. “At university, they’re so focused on academics,” she said. “You’re kind of on your own. But at Clark College, they’re focused on the student as a whole. It’s so hands-on. Even online instructors share resources with us, from the Penguin Pantry to tutoring.”
Kyle has taken a mix of face-to-face and online classes to balance her schoolwork, volunteer work, and family obligations. She is on track to graduate this June with both a transfer Associate of Arts and an Associate of Applied Science in Business Administration. She is also dual-enrolled in Central Washington University’s online program, working on a bachelor’s degree in social science/interdisciplinary studies with a minor in accessibility studies.
Heather Leasure was sitting in the audience at her cousin’s graduation when the thought struck her: She should go to college herself. “My cousin is 11 years younger than me, and I felt embarrassed that she was getting her bachelor’s degree and I didn’t even have an associate,” she recalled. “So I came home and enrolled in summer quarter.”
At Clark, Leasure discovered she had leadership and academic strengths she had never recognized within herself. As president of the college’s Entrepreneur Club, she helped start a new event at Clark called Pitch Fest, where budding student entrepreneurs could bring their start-up ideas and compete for a chance at the $25,000 grand prize offered at the University of Washington’s Business Plan Competition. She serves as public relations officer of the college’s chapter of Phi Theta Kappa and volunteers as a precinct commission officer in her neighborhood—all while maintaining a 3.82 GPA.
In her first year at Clark, Leasure was struck a terrible blow that could have derailed her promising start to college: The store where she worked closed and she was laid off. “Financial aid has been the biggest support service for me, because without them I would not have been able to continue attending,” she said.
Leasure said that she remains committed to continuing her education because she wants a more stable economic future. “I’m 36 and have worked since I was 15 in jobs that I had no future in,” she said. “What motivates me is the will to be better and to do better.”
About Clark College
Located in Vancouver’s Central Park and serving up to 12,000 students per quarter, Clark College is Southwest Washington’s oldest public institution of higher education. The college currently offers classes at two satellite locations: one on the Washington State University Vancouver campus and one in the Columbia Tech Center in East Vancouver. Additionally, its Economic & Community Development program is housed in the Columbia Bank building in downtown Vancouver.
Information provided by Clark College. Photos courtesy of Clark College/Jenny Shadley.