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Where are they now?

Celebrating 50 years: Alumni who found their path at RCC

Angel WoodsAngelica Woods-Reuter
Associate of Arts – General Studies (2008), Oregon Transfer degree (2009) 

Angel started attending classes at Rogue while still in high school in 1992. After graduating from Hidden Valley High School in 1995, she took more classes and worked as a student employee until completing her degrees and walking in the 2009 Rogue Commencement. Her classes and work experience helped her prepare for her career at Rogue as a switchboard operator and secretary in various departments at Rogue. Today, you will find her at the Rogue Welcome Center answering questions on the phone, via email and in person.

Mike McClureMichael (Mike) McClure
Certificate in Massage Therapy (1994), Associate of Arts – Oregon Transfer degree with a focus on Computer Science (2002) 

Mike is RCC’s director of IT-Network & User Support Services. He first attended classes at Rogue in 1992 and continues to learn here today. Mike was hired as an RCC classified employee in 1995 and moved into management in 2008. He met his wife of 25 years in Lutz Kramer's International Studies class. His children were cared for at the old RCC Daycare, and now both kids have studied at Rogue. Mike says, “I would not be the person I am without my experiences at Rogue.” He is still working at Rogue after 28 years!

Millie ShawnMillie Shawn
General Educational Development: GED (1972), Associate Degree — Practical Nursing (1974), Certificate in Operating Room Technology (1977)

Millie had always wanted to be a nurse but put her goal on the back burner when she met her husband. They married when she was a sophomore in high school. She didn’t finish high school as they began their family sooner than planned. When their three daughters were older, she still had the desire of becoming a nurse and caring for those who needed care. She wondered if she could pass the GED test since it had been years since she had cracked open a book but decided to plunge right into the test to see if she had it in her!  Millie said, “It was a surprise when I had passed, and it gave me the courage to apply for the LPN [Practical Nursing] program.” She remembers having some great teachers like Gary Gates, Eric Larson, Mary Slayter, Doc Holiday and David Fuller. It wasn’t easy but she managed to complete the required classes. Her nursing career gave her the ability to work in several areas of nursing: Josephine Memorial’s emergency room and operating room, Southern Oregon Hospital and Royale Gardens Nursing Care. Rogue Community College gave her the BOOST to continue her education and she will always be grateful to RCC. Millie exclaimed, “I AM PROUD TO BE AN ALUMNI!”

Colleen PallidaColleen Padilla
Associate of Applied Science in Business Technology (1999)

RCC was the first step in Colleen’s return to education as an adult.  She studied at Rogue between 1997 and 1999, where she really liked basic communication classes and business writing, saying that both are fundamental to the career she currently enjoys. She graduated with a 4.0 GPA and received a top business student award. Then Coleen transferred to Southern Oregon University where she studied communication and business, both of which prepared her for a successful career at Southern Oregon Regional Economic Development, Inc. (SOREDI), where she’s been since 2001. After serving in every capacity at SOREDI over the years, Colleen was named executive director in 2016. She received the RCC Foundation’s Outstanding Alumni Award in 2020.

Eric WalportEric Walport
Mathematics (transfer)

An aerospace engineer, Eric met his wife and launched his career at Rogue, where he attended classes between 1998 and 2005, studying general education with a focus on math and physics. Eric transferred to University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) to complete his degree in applied mathematics, but says Rogue had a foundational impact in helping him find his path — both in his career and life. Eric met his wife in a statistics class at Rogue. Today, Eric works as an aerospace engineer with CIRCOR Aerospace and the couple runs Walport Family Cellars, a small winery in the Applegate Valley. Together, Eric and Amy received the RCC Foundation’s Outstanding Alumni Award in 2019.

Amy WalportAmy Walport
Associate of Arts – Oregon Transfer degree (1997)

Amy earned her Associate of Arts – Oregon Transfer degree in 1997 and came back to Rogue between 2003 and 2005 to complete prerequisites for optometry school.  Amy’s favorite teacher was chemistry instructor John Salinas. “Mr. Salinas was an amazing teacher who was extremely enthusiastic, making chemistry very entertaining. He was also very patient and understanding to my needs not only as a student, but as a mother.” As a single mother and full-time employee at a local optometry office, Amy had a full schedule. Rogue’s night classes allowed her the opportunity to pursue higher education and her goal of becoming a doctor. Today, she’s a practicing optometric physician 5 days a week in Medford. She’s also raising a young daughter with husband Eric, who she met in a statistics class at Rogue. In their spare time, the couple runs a winery and tasting room in the Applegate Valley. Together, Eric and Amy received the RCC Foundation’s Outstanding Alumni Award in 2019.

Gary Brelinski, Jr.Gary Brelinski, Jr.
Associate of General Studies (2014)

Gary took a few classes at RCC in the late 1990s before eventually pursuing an associate degree, which he completed in 2014. His occupational skills path emphasized chemistry, biology and math — training directly related to his career in public works. His favorite teacher — “hands down” — was Frances Gunson, who was always pleasant and funny, Gary recalls. “She had such a calm demeanor about her. The math classes were tough, but she made it bearable.” Today, Gary is superintendent of the Water Restoration Plant for the City of Grants Pass. “Without RCC, I would not be in this field — period! The training and opportunities that the school and staff have provided cannot be measured. It sounds so glib, but I truly mean it — they helped me be the person I always thought I could be.”

Joan MomsenJoan Momsen
Associate of Arts degree (1973)

Joan was part of the first class to attend two complete years at the new Rogue Community College, graduating with an associate degree in 1973. She transferred to Southern Oregon College (now SOU), earning a bachelor’s and master’s degrees. Higher education opened to the doors to her 28-year teaching career at Grants Pass High School. She recalled being part of RCC’s first classes in the summer of 1971. The graduation ceremony, complete with robes, was so small it was held in the office of Tenison Haley, dean of students. Joan says all her teachers were great, but the ones that stick out were Jerry Daywitt, Tenison Haley and Mary Slayter. Today, Joan is retired and volunteers at the Josephine County Historical Society.

Kevin BoringotKevin Boringot
Transfer student

Kevin was affiliated with RCC from 2012 to 2014 as a student completing general prerequisites in order to transfer to Southern Oregon University (SOU). Kevin remembers having had many amazing classes and instructors at Rogue, but he really enjoyed his chemistry classes with Kevin Culhane as well as interpersonal communications class with Serena St. Clair. Initially, Kevin was unhappy about starting his path at Rogue because he'd wanted to go to a big university. “However, starting out at Rogue was one of the best decisions I made. It allowed me to save a lot of money while receiving excellent education in a smaller-sized class setting. I was able to really focus on my studies while studying under excellent instructors who are passionate about their crafts. Rogue prepared me for the next level and the rigors of studying at bigger institutions.” After graduating from SOU, Kevin taught English for two and a half years in South Korea. He’s now pursuing a master’s degree in applied linguistics with the University of Birmingham while teaching English online and doing substitute staff work for the Medford School District.

flamurFlamur Vehapi
Associate of Arts – Oregon Transfer degree with a focus on Psychology and Writing (2008) 

“Thanks to Rick Williams' writing courses at RCC, I am now a published author,” says Flamur Vehapi, who graduated from Rogue in 2008 and taught a few courses here in 2012-2013. Today, Flamur is a college success coach at Portland Community College and is pursuing a PhD in education and leadership at Pacific University. He earned a bachelor’s degree in counseling psychology from Southern Oregon University and a master’s degree in conflict resolution from Portland State University. He’s published several books including poetry and a study of Islamic perspectives on conflict and resolution. Flamur remembers most of his instructors at Rogue as “amazing” and very supportive of his progress. Two that stand out are writing instructor Rick Williams and Greg Marton for psychology. “Through Rogue’s supportive faculty and staff, RCC paved the way for my future successes. As a recent immigrant, and as the only student from Kosovo who struggled with English and a new culture, RCC provided me with a sense of community and belonging, a new home, which I still miss 12 years after my graduation.” 

Jessica Goldberg
Jessica Goldberg
Associate of Applied Science in Early Childhood Education (2017)

Jessica studied early childhood education at Rogue between 2009 and 2017 and has fond memories of instructor Deborah Murphy as a great teacher. Jessica took many of Murphy’s child development classes and said they were a lot of fun. Jessica said RCC “helped me complete my schooling and get my degree and close that chapter in my life.” Today she works as a housekeeper at Rogue Regency Inn in Medford. “I like it,” she said.

Heidi LeibHeidi Leib
Transfer student

Heidi took classes at RCC that she was able to transfer toward her bachelor’s degree in natural resources from Oregon State University. As a transfer student, the TRiO Student Support Services office at RCC guided her university transfer process and played a critical role in her college success. “The staff's steady guidance and strong encouragement gave me the tools I needed to navigate college, and the confidence to believe I could be a top student,” she said. “Their commitment to my success is what kept me going during times of self-doubt. I am ever grateful for their generosity and sincere dedication to first-generation students.” Heidi said the partnership between RCC and OSU made obtaining her bachelor’s degree an attainable and affordable goal. “The intimate learning setting at RCC, partnered with knowledgeable and approachable staff, helped me feel confident in building relationships with mentors and professors during my college career; it continues to be a foundation for my success today.” Heidi is the Logging Contract Coordinator for Boise Cascade in Willamina, Oregon and serves as a board member of the Oregon Logging Conference.

Briggett RizzoBriggett Rizzo
Certificate in Emergency Medical Services (2013), Associate of Applied Science in Paramedicine (2014) 

Briggett put aside her uneasiness about blood and pursued emergency medical services training at Rogue. Gary Heigel and Jim Shaw were her favorite instructors. In just a few years, Briggett has already had a celebrated career as a paramedic. She was named 2017 Paramedic of the Year for Bay Cities Ambulance and received the American Ambulance Association’s Star of Life in 2018. She is currently paramedic supervisor for Umpqua Valley Ambulance in Roseburg, Oregon.

Cheryl OlsenCheryl Olsen
Associate of General Studies (2019)

Cheryl credits RCC’s student support services with helping her earn her associate degree in 2019. TRiO advisor Layne Morell was her favorite RCC staff member. “He was so helpful whenever I had questions about classes at RCC or my transfer to SOU. I am grateful for him as well as my involvement in TRiO.” Cheryl took advantage of TRiO’s free tutoring, which helped her earn an A in math. TRiO’s enrichment opportunities also allowed her to attend performances at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival and and Medford’s Craterian that she “otherwise would have never experienced.” Cheryl said RCC’s Financial Aid department also helped quite a bit after her life turned upside down during the summer of 2016. She had to drop summer courses because of a serious health diagnosis followed by surgery and a lengthy recovery. She still wasn't feeling 100% when fall term began in September and thought she would need to put college on hold until she talked with a financial aid advisor who helped her navigate through some adjustments so she could continue attending classes with an abbreviated schedule. “RCC helped me understand that if I put my mind to it, I could accomplish anything,” she said. She earned her associate degree in 2019 and is currently homeschooling her son.

Cheyanne Bumgardner Cheyanne Bumgardner
Transfer student

Cheyanne Bumgardner was dual-enrolled at RCC while attending high school at Logos Public Charter School. Her favorite course series was Psychology 201 and 202 with Angie Schultz, which led her to declare a psychology minor when she transferred to Western Oregon University (WOU) where she’s pursuing a major in American Sign Language/English interpreting and certificate in leadership. Cheyanne also enjoyed Introduction to Literature - Drama (ENG105) with Chip Phillips, which introduced her to drama in a way she had never been exposed to before and ignited her love for theater. “Chip made his classroom so much fun, with learning and laughing happening during every class session.” She graduated from high school with 61 college credits and valuable experience in the college environment. When Cheyanne entered WOU as a sophomore, she was already familiar with the college atmosphere, how to create a course schedule, how high school and college classrooms differ, how to work with professors and advisors, etc. “That was a huge advantage as an incoming student,” she said.

Dan PetersonDan Petersen
Associate of Arts and Fire Science, 1979 to 2013

Dan is the fire chief and CEO for the Unified Fire Authority (UFA) in Utah, serving over 422,000 people in greater Salt Lake with over 600 employees working from 25 Fire Stations. He found his path here at RCC, where he appreciated learning about fire science from career firefighters. “Two instructors stand out, Dave Penicook and Mark Burns. Both delivered highly professional instruction that gave me both the knowledge and skill to do my job as a firefighter." Dan went on to earn a master's degree, and became a part-time RCC instructor in the RCC Fire Science program, then served as Fire Science Coordinator. “These opportunities reinforced my desire to be a lifelong learner and gave me a chance to also develop my skills as an instructor,” he said.

Dave McKeenDave McKeen
AAS degree in Electronics Technology, 1993-1995.

Dave found his path in an unexpected way. “I really didn’t see the relevance of taking a humanities course as a requirement for an electronics degree, but HUM101 with Lutz Kramer was life-changing. His course is what really got me interested in teaching,” said Dave, an instructor and chair of the Electronics department at RCC. "I tell my students that their education will pay off and change their life. I learned that a degree is so much more than some knowledge/skills and a piece of paper. It represents a body of work and completion of a goal that nobody can take away from you."

David MatthewsDavid Matthews
Business Transfer to SOU, 2002-2004 and 2013-2014

An accountant with Josephine County, David says RCC helped him find his path. “It was a great steppingstone toward getting my degree and putting together a solid career. It really helped build confidence." David says, “BA 131 with Melissa Polen was super fun and useful. Economics was eye opening.”

David McAllister

David is “doing my own thing now” but he has fond memories of his 3 ½ years at RCC. "I started to work at a diesel shop after the first term. I worked at the shop all the way though school. I kept working there for about two years in the shop, then I drove a few trucks for a few years too. Now I just use for myself. Thank You.”

Deborah (Baker) Miller
Criminal Justice, 1979-1980

Deborah has held several interesting jobs over the years. “While I didn't go into criminal Justice, I worked in radio, served as PIO for the Lincoln County School District in Newport, Oregon, and I am now a licensed funeral director.” She said taking classes at RCC helped her prepare for the University of Oregon. “RCC gave me a way to get some college credits while living at home and preparing for life. I received my journalism degree from the U of O a term early because of the credits I was able to transfer from RCC. If I had a child, or grandchild, I would highly recommend going to a community college for the basic courses.”

Doris (Fricke) Atherton
GED and AAOT, education focus, 2003-2007

Doris earned her GED as well as an associate degree at RCC. She’s now a fourth-grade teacher in Idaho. "Yvonne Hughes was the BEST math teacher ever! I can't remember his name, but my science teacher was the most exciting and engaging teacher on the planet. I worked for TRiO SSS for a while and that's where I learned that I wouldn't die from speaking in public! Joe Momyer was the most compassionate, caring, patient, wise and giving person I've ever met. Not only did he help me with academics, but he also helped with my marriage and myself. I still thank him in my head almost every day!”

Elizabeth ButlerElizabeth Butler
Computer science, 1999-2001 and 2015-2016

The college’s Cooperative Work Exchange program helped Liz find her path to a full-time job in her field. While studying computer science, she took a CWE position at the college that led to student employment that led to her job as the RCC webmaster. Another bonus: “[Math instructor] Tracy Redd almost made me like math."

Eric Culver
AAOT, 2004-2010

Eric is finishing his bachelor’s degree at Southern Oregon University. “Great instructors made classes easier to pass,” he said. His favorite RCC class was writing with instructor Colin Mills-Cannon.

Hailey JolingHailey Joling
AAOT, 2013-2015

"While RCC was the perfect springboard for furthering my education, I also met my future husband on campus,” says former transfer student Hailey Joling. “We met in a Native American Studies course we were both enrolled in as an elective. We began dating soon thereafter, took other courses together at RCC and eventually were married in the summer of 2018. Not only would I potentially have never met my husband without RCC, but I wouldn't have created other lifelong friendships and memories as well. RCC has a special place in my heart for not only the education I received there but the relationships created during that time as well.” Hailey recalls her favorite teacher was Spanish instructor Suzanne Lewis Chavez. “Prior to Chavez's classes, I had always struggled with learning new languages and while intimidated at first, this course quickly became one of my favorites. Subsequently during this time, I took public speaking courses and I remember thinking how in comparison to reciting speeches in a secondary language, as I was required to do in Spanish classes, my public speaking courses in my primary language of English were easily attainable. Since that time, I've held on to a similar mindset and went on to pursue my bachelor's degree in communication.” Today, Hailey works for the Grange Co-op as their digital marketing specialist.