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RCC apprenticeship grad receives 2021 Outstanding Alumni Award

Community college is often seen as a stepping stone to the university, and that's the case for Rogue Community College alumnus Gary Malone—though his path wasn't what you may expect.

The RCC Foundation proudly announces former apprenticeship student Gary Malone as recipient of the 2021 Outstanding Alumni Award. Malone completed the boiler operator apprenticeship program and an associate degree at RCC, training that helped him secure a position as a co-generation engineer for the University of Oregon facilities team.

"We are very pleased that Gary Malone has been named 2021 Alum of the Year for RCC," said Judy Basker, executive director of the RCC Foundation. "His employment following his studies at RCC provides a terrific example of the benefits of pursuing career and technical training. He is a public servant who does extensive volunteer work in his community. Gary also enjoys traveling and spending time with wife, children and grandchildren.”

Like many RCC students, Malone was a non-traditional student, heading to college 20 years after he graduated high school. Malone was a U.S. Navy veteran working at Biomass One in White City when he joined the boiler operator apprenticeship program at RCC in 1994. He went on to earn an associate degree in stationary engineering in 1995.

“RCC gave me the confidence to apply for and get a better-paying job with great benefits and a retirement,” he said. “Before having my associate degree, I was just another guy with boiler and generator operations experience. I believe my degree helped me get this job.”

As part of the UO Utilities & Energy team, Malone's team is responsible for operating, monitoring and maintaining all services to the campus. “The campus is like a small city, typically supporting up to 30,000 people a day,” he said. “The electricity, water, steam, compressed air, and chilled water for air conditioning is all monitored and controlled at the central power station.”

In addition to his work, Malone has served as a union officer for 24 years, holding multiple positions including president. His current role is lead steward. 

Malone is an advocate for the value RCC offers to all students and especially to veterans and those who have been out of school for years.

“I say, go back to school. It is a lot different going back,” he said. “I couldn’t believe how much easier things are to accomplish when you are a little more mature. I graduated high school in 1975, and it took me 20 years to get my associate degree. And I am ever so grateful that I did. It gave me confidence in myself.”

The RCC Foundation honors the recipient of the Outstanding Alumni Award at the annual President’s Circle Reception in September.