WCC grad: Running Start a great start on higher education

COURTESY TO THE BELLINGHAM HERALDJune 23, 2014 

McKenna Fishbook is one of more than 900 students who attend Whatcom as Running Start students. She was part of the spring 2014 Whatcom Community College graduation class.

SHELBY MADDUX, RED FILTER PHOTOGRAPHY — COURTESY TO THE BELLINGHAM HERALD

My experience with Whatcom Community College began long before I actually became a student. My brother Braden decided to enroll in the Running Start program during his junior year of high school. I remember watching his lifestyle shift from that of a high school student to the much busier life of a college student. He began to navigate the challenges of balancing both his high school life and his newfound college life.

The amazing thing about Whatcom is that there are an endless amount of resources made available to you to help you overcome any obstacle you face, whether it is an academic resource such as the tutoring center or a campus culture resource such as Student Life. With the help of all Whatcom's programs, I watched my brother flourish and grow into the student he is today. After two years of enviously observing this, it was finally my chance to partake in Running Start. I could hardly wait to become part of the environment in which my brother had thrived.

I'll never forget the first time I walked onto Whatcom's campus. I was a 16-year-old filled with excitement at the thought of a new chapter in life. Little did I know, it would be one of the most monumental chapters yet. Without a doubt, I grew as a student during my time at Whatcom. I walked away from every course feeling as though I thoroughly understood the subject that had been taught. But, more importantly, I grew as a person. Whatcom Community College is filled with a diverse group of students and teachers. I quickly came to realize that each and every encounter with one of these individuals was filled with a small life lesson. From my English professor Mrs. Frankenfeld, I learned the importance of approaching topics analytically. Thanks to my friend Alexa, I experienced the valuable friendships that can be found through taking a risk and becoming involved in student leadership. From the students in the tutoring centering, I learned that it's important to accept the help of others as you pursue a dream. Thankfully, there are many students at Whatcom who not only understand but also enjoy calculus!

The professors and Running Start advisors at Whatcom challenged me to dive deeper into my education, pushed me to produce work I didn't know I was capable of and encouraged me as I chased my dreams. Thanks to the flexibility of my schedule at Whatcom, I was able to become a legal assistant at a law firm in downtown Bellingham. You see, that's the amazing thing about choosing this school. Not only can you thrive in the incredible environment Whatcom has to offer, you are also given the change to thrive in the community that surrounds it.

I am now proudly graduating from Whatcom Community College with the aspiration - and the necessary educational foundation - to become a lawyer. I plan to attend Western Washington University next year and major in political science. I am well aware I have a long road ahead of me academically, but if the coming years resemble my two spent at Whatcom Community College, it will be a road well worth traveling.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

This article is one in a series of essays written by Whatcom Community College students who graduated June 20. McKenna Fishbook is one of more than 900 students who attend Whatcom as Running Start students. The program is a statewide partnership between high schools and community colleges that allows juniors and seniors to enroll simultaneously in high school and college classes or solely at the college tuition-free. Students receive both high school and college credit for completed classes.

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