Here are just a handful of students graduating from Lewis-Clark State College on May 10, 2019 who have overcome a variety of challenges to succeed at a high level and serve as an inspiration to others.
Damien Ketcherside: Chemistry
Damien is graduating with a 3.53 GPA in Chemistry and has been accepted into a chemistry graduate program at the University of Montana. He will start research work this summer after he goes on a three-week trip to Ecuador with his LCSC anthropology class.
Damien grew up in Texas and Orofino in foster families and gives back to both the college and community by serving as a wild lands firefighter during the summers, speaking to CASA groups to share his perspective as a child in the foster system, and through his work as a tutor in the LCSC math and science tutoring center. Damien also is an LCSC work scholar.
Damien is a first-generation college student and says it’s important to obtain a college degree because it marks the first step out of poverty and toward a better life. After he obtains his doctorate, he would like to work for either the EPA or NASA, but eventually would like to teach at a college.
Damien says it is important for him to be an advocate for children who are currently or have been in foster care. “I want to help them and motivate them to push themselves to be the best that they can be, whether it’s going on to college or entering the workforce. I want them to know they control their dreams and aspirations. Growing up in the system, I was sick and tired of everyone telling me what I could amount to. I wanted to be more. And LCSC is pushing me in that direction as well.
“I believe LCSC is the reason I have made it so far. All through my academic career, I’ve been pushed to be the very best and to aim as high as I can. The coursework has been challenging and my time spent with professor Nancy Johnston has helped me with my research experience and helped me build my network.” Damien says the reason he’s going to Montana is because he met his future mentor at a conference where his attendance was made possible by LCSC.
Julie Bean: Office Technology certificate
Julie started the Office Technology certificate last fall after 25 years of working in the construction business. Because her neurosurgeon told her she has one of the worst backs he has ever seen and because her back would no longer hold up under this type of physical work, the neurosurgeon wanted to place her on disability. Julie refused because she felt that she has the ability to give back to society in a different profession. Thus, Julie commuted more than one hour each way from outside of Troy, Idaho to campus.
Julie says she was hesitant to go back to school for several years. She was 54 years old, had never worked on a computer, and hadn’t been in school since 1982. She also knew that even though there were universities closer to where she lived, she would be overwhelmed by the size. “I knew I needed the more personable one-on-one instruction and encouragement,” she says. “That has been great. The instructors are great. They explain things to me and tell me to come by their office anytime to talk more. They are so encouraging and friendly. They are more like friends than teachers. And they constantly are telling me that I can do this. I just love it there. With the help of LCSC and the instructors, I am thriving. I’m going to come out with the tools I need to be successful in any office job.”
Julie says things are going so well (she has a perfect 4.0 GPA) she is trying to secure funding to attend classes again next year and earn an associate’s degree. She is currently working in the school’s print shop with the minimal free time that she has. She says she would eventually like to obtain an office job in the construction industry because she knows the other side of the business, which would be a great asset. But she’s also looking at other possibilities as well.
“I really feel LCSC has invested in me and I’m having so much fun,” she says. “I’ve inspired a lot of my friends my age to think about going back to school. They see how much fun I’m having and that I’m succeeding.”
Myles Baldwin, Kinesiology: Secondary Education with minors in Coaching, Health and Psychology
Myles has done well in the LCSC classroom (3.82 GPA), the Asotin schools district where he did his student teaching internship, and in the community. The three Asotin teachers who supervised Myles’ internship and have more than 60 years of combined teaching experience, said during his exit interview that he was one of the three best students any of them have worked with.
Myles has been active on campus. He has been involved with the LC Loggers football program as both a player (three years) and volunteer coach (two years), along with running the LCSC sports webcasting of athletic events. He is serving as a campus recreation supervisor until the new supervisor arrives in June.
During his student teaching, Myles helped organize the Asotin Bicycle Rodeo. He spent hours making calls to parents, city officials, the police department, EMS, food services, and bike shops to ensure everyone was informed, the roads would be patrolled, every participant would have a bike and a helmet, and lunch would be ready and waiting when they got back to the school. He even arranged for each participant to receive a commemorative T-shirt. This event involved more than 100 students in grades 3-5, their parents, two police cars, one ambulance, over 20 volunteers, and mountains of paperwork and permission slips and Myles pulled it off without a hitch.
Myles has accepted a physical education teaching position at Wells Combined School, a K-12 school in Wells, Nev.
Andrew (AJ) Baron: Communication Arts / Political Science
AJ has done everything there is to do on campus. The graduate of Renaissance High in Meridian, Idaho, Andrew graduates with two majors and a minor in Spanish. He was student body president of ASLCSC during the 2017-18 school year, and worked for the college radio station KLCZ and newspaper The Pathfinder. He also was a member of the speech and debate team, and Model UN, and has been a research assistant and a peer mentor. He’s been accepted to Gonzaga University Law School and also plans to enroll in Gonzaga’s Masters of Business Administration program over the summers to help him run his law business and serve clients better.
“I went to a high school that embraced the International Baccalaureate program's philosophy on an education, and that philosophy has stuck with me,” AJ says about why he was heavily involved on campus. “In a quickly evolving economy, I believe the data shows that specializing in more than one discipline is increasingly valuable, and doing so has meant that, now graduating college, I have a number of pathways open for me to take, from media production to law. Ideally, I hope to find a way to make use of most of these skills together in some way.”
AJ says LCSC was a good place for him. “I would say the most important thing I got out of LCSC was experiencing real leadership for the first time,” he says. “I have previously been captain of a team in high school, but being student body president and assistant manager of the campus radio station gave me a genuine appreciation of the difficulty of leading a group of different people towards common goals. Other than that, I think that LCSC has made me refocus my education efforts from a content to a skills perspective.”
“I really appreciate the way that the school is committed to serving students. I think that other schools lose focus on education to research or sports, while LCSC is focused on creating citizens to make the world a better place. I am very thankful for the opportunity to have served my fellow students and would never have been able to have access to all the opportunities I did at another institution.”
Lauren Johnson: Elementary Education degree with a minor in Literacy
Lauren played on the women’s basketball team for two seasons and then served as an assistant coach on this year’s squad while student teaching. In her first year playing, LCSC made it to the championship game of the NAIA national tournament where it lost a heartbreaker to Oklahoma City. In her senior year, she was an NAIA-Daktronics Scholar-Athlete and made the Frontier Conference’s All-Academic Team.
Lauren grew up in Cashmere, a small town in Washington. She says she decided to go into Elementary Education because she fell in love with kids through working at various sports camps and being a teacher assistant throughout high school. “I am also from a family of educators (my dad and his brother are superintendents and their father was a superintendent) who help influenced my choice to choose this career path. The conversations about education were common in my household. I was able to see education through a different lens and I fell in love with that.”
She plans to get a teaching job in Washington, hopefully close to Cashmere. “At this point I am just excited to get my own class and to be able to mold the minds of children. As long as I am in a school and place that I love and fit in, then I am okay with wherever I am at! I see myself teaching until I can retire so I can work with as many kids as I can. I want to affect as many kids as I can to where they can look back to their education and have my face pop up whenever they are asked about someone who made an impact in their life.”