Bellevue College is still seen by many as a two-year college for those who want a transfer degree. However, many do not realize the stepping stone Bellevue College serves as for those who achieve greatness after graduating.
Amanda Pickler, a prominent student at the University of Washington, got her academic start at BC.
She received the Mary Gates scholarship award last winter for her project proposal, and is nominated by faculty for both the dean’s medal and an excellence award.
“BC influenced me a lot, I’ve been here quite a few years. I came here right out of high school, so I came in 2011. Originally, I was going to health sciences. I changed my major a few times, one of them was psychology. I was thinking about going into art therapy, and so I went to a mental health clinic and did some shadowing there. It wasn’t exactly what I wanted, and that was about the same time I started TAing (teacher assistant) for Jono, and being in the classroom just felt more like the direction I wanted to go.
“Bellevue College was extremely significant; I was very confused coming out of high school. I changed my mind a lot and was very indecisive. I had to try a bunch of different things out and Bellevue College really helps students do that.”
Pickler graduated from BC in spring of 2017 and transferred to UW with an Associate’s Degree in Arts and Sciences. “I’m graduating from UW this June, and I will be pursuing grad school for a Master’s in fine arts so I can teach.”
Jono Vaughn, a professor here at BC, was a significant influence on Pickler and helped carve the path that has led her to where she is today.
“I’ve really been able to see, working with her, what it means to be an artist and work as an artist outside of an academic setting. Seeing what it means to stand for something you believe in; that’s been extremely meaningful and is definitely stuff I put into my own work.”
Not only for education, but Pickler also plans to further pursue a future in activism and support for the LGBTQ+ community.
“My goal in art is social justice issues. When I first had the independent study with Jono I went in her office and told her personal stuff in my own past, and I told her that I want to make art about it but I don’t know how. I know how to make art, and I have all this stuff and I don’t know how to put it together.
“She was very inspiring to me, watching her put her own identity issues in her art and how she navigates that.
“I want to teach, but ultimately I want to create situations where I can help people, and show that art has saved me so many times, it’s amazing and I want to show other people how to do that.”
Photograph by Eliot Gentiluomo / The Watchdog