Governor Gary Locke’s Remarks
All-Washington Academic Team
March 12, 2004

Thank you, Walker, for that kind introduction. Good afternoon everyone. I am honored to be here. I also want to thank Key Bank and NELA for their support.

I am so honored to be in the presence of so much talent and dedication. You can feel the intellectual energy surging from this group. I’m hoping to pick up a few additional I.Q. points today just by osmosis!

First, I’d like to thank the outstanding culinary art students here at South Puget Sound Community College for putting this great reception together. Let’s give them a hand!

This is a great day for our state. On behalf of the people of Washington, congratulations to our All-Washington Academic Team. Congratulations. Both for this award, and for the many accomplishments that led to this day.

This is also a great day for the family and friends who have supported the scholars we honor today. Those who have encouraged, inspired, helped and even nagged all of you along the way. Those who have believed in you and helped you believe in yourself. Let’s give these special people a round of applause too.

This event always falls during the busiest time of year for me—the legislative session or the bill-signing period immediately following it. But I come back every year because I believe in this program. And, like your families and friends here today, I believe in each of you.

Today, we honor your outstanding academic performance, and your service to your colleges and communities.

And we honor something more. There are 59 outstanding students here today—our 2004 All-Washington Academic Team. But there are also 59 inspiring stories of determination, hard work, a will to succeed and a drive to make the world a better place.

Some of you are starting or returning to school after years away, working or raising children. Or both! Some of you are getting an early start in college. Some of you are right where you planned to be at this point in your lives. Others took a few detours first.

Whatever your individual circumstances, you all have one thing in common: You’ve met the challenge of college study, and you’ve shown that you are among our state’s best and brightest.

Diversity is our state’s greatest strength. And the 2004 All-Washington Academic Team is an incredibly diverse group. Together, you reflect a broad cross-section of backgrounds, ethnicities, cultures and income levels.

Several of you have come from far away to reach this point, like:

· Angel Kelchev from Bulgaria

· Andrea Akiyama from Brazil

· Marat Chynybaev from Kyrgyzstan

· Sergio Cueva and Christian Guerrero, both from Mexico; and

· Mandana Shoushtari from Iran

And some of you have traveled far in other ways—like Jack Smith, who drives 50 miles each way to attend the Omak campus of Wenatchee Valley College.

We have ages that span 40 years, from 16 to 56! Many of you waited a few years to either start or go back to school. We deeply admire your determination and positive attitude. You are an inspiration to us all. This includes a trio of very impressive 50-something students:

· Linda Scharpp of Bates Technical College

· Jean Dudley of North Seattle Community College; and

· Linda Buskala of Skagit Valley College

We also honor some very youthful students today, including:

· Joshua Stewardson, a 17-year old, 4.0 student at Bellingham Technical College

· Steven Brewer, also 17 and a student at Pierce College Fort Steilacoom; and

· Alex Oh, who is our youngest honoree today—a 16-year old student at Shoreline Community College

This week as I read through your biographies to try to get to know each of you just a little, I was struck by how involved and busy you all are. Some of you care for your families while attending school. Others are working their way through school, sometimes with more than one job.

You are all very active on and off campus. You volunteer at elementary schools, churches, charitable organizations, and recovery and treatment organizations. You organize fundraisers, help the needy, and tutor struggling students.

Many of your stories are courageous. Thomas Hays overcame a childhood in group homes, and a period of addiction and homelessness to attend Seattle Central Community College and major in Social and Human Services. And excel in student leadership.

And Deana McCracken, who studies landscape architecture at Spokane Community College, is arranging for a mobile mammogram screening and bone-density testing service to visit her school’s campus this month. This is especially remarkable because Deana is undergoing chemotherapy herself.

I am proud of all of you. And I am proud of our state’s institutions of higher learning. Our community and technical colleges remain the great equalizers in our society. They open the doors of opportunity to so many. We must always work hard to keep those doors open to all.

I look out today, and I see the future of our state. There are among you tomorrow’s educators, medical professionals, lawyers, veterinarians, computer experts, scientists, business professionals, social workers, counselors, construction managers, engineers, marketing directors and architects. Tomorrow’s leaders.

Whether you’re 16 or 56 or somewhere in-between, you are all an important part of Washington’s bright future. Both in the careers you’ve chosen, and in the shining example you are setting for people from all walks of life. People who may be struggling, or who are considering a similar path. People who can learn from your success that life is full of possibilities and promise.

You are living proof that dreams can come true. And that one especially important dream—the American Dream of a college education—is alive and well in Washington state.

I am confident that as you continue your respective journeys, you will all continue to achieve great things. I wish each of you the very best in your future aspirations. The best is yet to come.

I would normally add “good luck,” but it’s clear from the talent and intelligence gathered here today that luck is irrelevant.

Congratulations, and keep up the great work! We’re so proud of all of you!

And now it is my great pleasure to present and recognize the 2004 “New Century Scholar,” Lauree Fletcher.

Lauree is a beneficiary of the Running Start program. She wasn’t actually a participant. Lauree was prompted to return to school when her daughter became involved in Running Start. Lauree herself had taken a 20-year break from school to do a few things, among them have six children!

But like all of you, the ember of a dream still burned in Lauree’s soul. She returned to school at Whatcom Community College. Today, she is majoring in Education and Communication with a 4.0 grade point average. As if that weren’t fulfillment enough, Lauree plans to pursue a Master’s degree in educational psychology and alternative curriculum development.

Lauree is very active in student government and other programs and activities. And oh yeah—she still manages to keep up with her six children.

Our state is honored to have such an outstanding New Century Scholar for 2004.

Lauree will be transferring to Western Washington State University when she completes her program at Whatcom Community College.

And it gives me great pleasure to make a surprise announcement this afternoon. Western is awarding Lauree the President’s Scholarship—in the amount of $1,000.

Please join me in congratulating our New Century Scholar, Ms. Lauree Fletcher!

Access Washington