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Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Moms Honored for Academic Excellence

Every year, the All-Washington Academic Team recognizes outstanding students from communities across the state of Washington.  The award has become highly prestigious to the state’s community and technical colleges because it praises academic excellence, sometimes despite personal odds the recipients face.  For a point of reference, David likely would have received the award after he planted the stone in Goliath’s forehead like an Indian bindi.  If he chose to attend a community college, that is.

This year, two mothers with wills of steel and hearts of gold were chosen for the All-Washington Academic Team from Lower Columbia College.  Maryanne Hirning and Michelle Saiz filled the shoes of their academically outstanding predecessors, being honored by Gov. Jay Inslee at a ceremony held in Olympia.  They will both receive $1,000 in scholarships–$500 from Keybank and $500 from the ever-benevolent LCC Foundation.

The following is an excerpt from "Moms Excel in New Roles as College Students" in the 2013 Summer Quarter Class Schedule:


Daughters Drive LCC Studies

LCC President, Chris Bailey, congratulates 2013 Academic
Team member Michelle Saiz while her daughters watch at
the awards ceremony in Olympia.
As a child, Michelle attended 12 different schools, falling behind as she struggled to learn with changing curriculums and an undiagnosed learning disability. She dropped out at age 16 and went to work. After becoming a parent, Michelle realized she didn't have the skills to help her daughter with school and in 2005 earned her GED. Four years later, she began college classes toward a nursing degree because she wanted a career caring for others. With hard work, Michelle has earned a 3.89 GPA, but missed being accepted into the nursing program on her first try. Determined to show her daughters they could do anything they wanted, Michelle dedicated her entire summer to studying to retake the application exams. Her efforts were rewarded with acceptance to the program this spring. Michelle has found time to also teach her daughters the value of community service. She volunteers in the classroom at Kessler elementary and enlisted her family’s’ help with volunteer efforts for rescued PAWS animal adoption organization. “All of the LCC faculty have been extremely helpful,” Michelle said. “Don’t hesitate to ask for help,” she advises. “Throw yourself out there!”

Faculty Support Aids Success

Maryanne Hirning celebrates with her husband, Ted, and
sons, Nicholas and Jacob, after receiving her medal.
Maryanne will tell you that [hers] is a “love story.” She supported her husband, Ted, through two tours in Iraq and while he earned his master’s degree. She also loves her role as mom to sons nick, 17, and Jacob, 12. So when Maryanne decided to pursue her own dreams, the men in her life gladly returned that love. “We've all made sacrifices.  I've missed some games and dinner often arrives via delivery,” she said. “Now they proofread my papers and are my biggest cheerleaders.” In addition to maintaining a 4.0 GPA, Maryanne is serving as an editor of The Salal Review, LCC’s award-winning literary and arts magazine and helping organize the campus Spring Arts Festival. The Kelso mom has continued to volunteer with parent-teacher organizations at Beacon Hill Elementary and Huntington Middle School and with Cowlitz Youth Baseball. Her success at LCC helped Maryanne gain the self-confidence to write a federal matching grant to help low-income youth play baseball. Maryanne chose LCC because it was close to her home, affordable and had a reputation for providing a quality education that would transfer to baccalaureate institutions. She has been admitted to WSU Vancouver to continue studies toward her bachelor’s degree and her dream to become a school librarian. To her delight, she found the campus provides a wealth of other resources including great lectures and art shows for her whole family to enjoy.