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Gov. Inslee visits with Edmonds CC need-based grant recipients, immigrant and MESA students


Gov. Jay Inslee visited Edmonds Community College April 28 and spoke with student groups, including State Need Grant (SNG) and Opportunity Grant recipients; international and immigrant students; and Math, Engineering, Science Achievement (MESA)  students.

Washington State Sen. Marilyn Chase, Rep. Strom Peterson, Snohomish County Council Vice-Chair Stephanie Wright, Edmonds CC Board of Trustees Chair Carl Zapora, Trustee Quentin Powers, and Student Trustee Lia Andrews were also in attendance.

Gov. Jay Inslee met with student groups, including State Need Grant (SNG) and Opportunity Grant recipients; international and immigrant students; and Math, Engineering, Science Achievement (MESA) students.

Edmonds CC student Samantha Riexinger told Inslee she lost her job last year and was unsure about her future and her children's. As a single mom, Riexinger knew it would be important to retrain before reentering the workforce.

She chose to pursue the college’s Clinical Lab Assistant and Phlebotomy programs and received financial assistance through an Opportunity Grant, a federal education grant for undergraduate students with exceptional financial need.

“I really appreciate everything the Opportunity Grant has provided for me,” Riexinger said. “It’s changed my life and the lives of my two kids.

“The grant was an investment in me, and now, I get to give back by being a contributing member of society.”

As a student, Riexinger was on the college’s honor roll and completed a five-week externship at Virginia Mason Medical Center. She started a full-time job Monday in her field of study, and will graduate in June from Edmonds CC.

“I will pass on your ‘thank you’ to 7 million Washingtonians who were behind it,” Inslee said after hearing from Riexinger and an SNG recipient. “They believe in what you’re doing.”

The SNG program helps the state’s lowest-income undergraduate students pursue degrees, hone skills, or retrain for new careers. Inslee is encouraging the Legislature to increase the number of SNG scholarships by 14,000.

Inslee also met with students in the college’s MESA program, which provides resources and support for underserved students to succeed in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) fields. Most MESA students are low-income and many are the first in their families to attend college.

Inslee asked, “What’s the greatest value of this program to you?”

“This program has given me access to opportunities, informational opportunities, that are difficult to find on your own, like internships and scholarships,” said Fitz Haileselassie, who’s studying mechanical engineering and plans to transfer to University of Washington in the fall.

Inslee also held a private meeting with some of the college’s international students and undocumented, immigrant students.

Edmonds CC President Dr. Jean Hernandez thanked Inslee for his support of the college’s proposed $35 million Science, Engineering, and Technology (SET) building and support of a prison education bill, Senate Bill 5069, that has been five years in the making.

The bill, signed by Inslee April 25, allows the state Department of Corrections to partner with community and technical colleges to offer two-year workforce degrees to those in the prison system. Edmonds CC has provided prison education programs at Monroe Correctional Complex in Monroe, Wash. since 1979, and currently serves about 350 students.

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Laura Daniali