MCS celebrates students

Chris Toomey/The Watchdog
Chris Toomey/The Watchdog

On Thursday, May 30, 2013, in the Bellevue College Cafeteria, Multicultural Services held the  Annual Graduation Celebration. This event celebrated and recognized the individual triumphs of those students whom Multicultural Services has supported over the past two to three years. This year there are 117 students graduating who have sought guidance from MCS.

Steve Ferreira and Kielauna Heflin were named the 2013 recipients of the Diane Harrison Award. The award signifies student excellence and achievement. The award was inspired by and named after former academic adviser Diane Harrison who worked in Multicultural Services for 30 years before retiring in 2010.

As a freshman, Heflin was part of the Comprehensive Student Success Initiative, better known as CSI. The initiative provides support and a more structured pathway towards college completion. MCS cites Heflin as having “exceeded all expectations,” completing all her academic requirements. Heflin was recently accepted to the Woodridge Teaching Program at Western Washington University where she will start in the fall of this year to obtain her teaching degree and teacher’s certification. Heflin wants to become an elementary school teacher.

Steve Ferreira was selected for his “impressive ability to conquer all obstacles” and his vast involvement in campus activities, as a member of the leadership team, involvement with Peer-to-Peer, Rotaract Club, International Student Association and volunteer work. Ferreira is an international athlete, having received a gold medal at the International Wheelchair and Amputees sports competition in the Czech Republic in 2010 and most recently, a silver medal at last years Paralympic Trials in Indiana. Additionally, in Nov. 2011, Ferreira started his own non-profit, Beyond Disabilities, whose mission it is to educate the public about what it is like to live with disabilities, engaging audiences at schools, local clubs, churches and businesses.

Vice Chair of the BC Board of Trustees Marie Gunn was present at the reception to praise students and their families for their “success, achievement and perseverance,”  them as “role models for future students.”

“Traditionally, students of color have additional barriers going, through school to graduate, said Interim Director of Multicultural Services Aaron Reader. “We want to honor their hard work and honor their family for supporting them.” The keynote speaker for the event was motivational speaker Rowlanda N. Cawthon. Cawthon spoke to students about not fearing the barriers they may face throughout their lives, praising their achievements and reaching out to students to search within themselves for “that sunshine inside of you.”

Former Latin American Culture Club president Eliseo Banda-Gonzalez and current serving Director of the Black Student Union Shayla Richardson were the chosen student speakers for the reception where they shed light on their struggles and how MCS helped them achieve their success and thanked all those whom supported them throughout their time at BC.

“It’s a huge accomplishment for MCS students getting to the end. We finished a part of our journey…a lot of us are going to universities and going off into our careers.” said Richardson. “This [reception] is a big stepping stone from BC saying ‘here you go, here’s the rest of your life, go ahead and finish it.’ They helped us out, giving us a push, starting everything.”