Commencement 2017 Student Speaker Azeb Tuji uses her voice to inspire others

Azeb Tuji is the Student Speaker for Shoreline Community College’s Commencement 2017.

Performance arts and digital film student Azeb Tuji is a storyteller who’s started writing her story at Shoreline. This year’s Commencement student speaker, Tuji hopes her experience helps others find their voice as well.

The daughter of a Somali mother and Ethiopian father, Tuji immigrated to the US from Kenya when she was two years old and is the first of her family to graduate high school and college.

“Being student speaker is very important to me,” said Tuji, “because I get to be the person I wish I saw or had when I was younger: a role model of what is possible for a black, muslim, womxn immigrant. There were no positive representations of people who fit that description when I was growing up, so now it’ll be like my 8-year-old self seeing someone who looks like her accomplishing something she never thought she could because she was never shown or told she could. It’s very powerful for me.”

Tuji’s success has even inspired members of her family to re-think their education. Tuji’s mother is taking ESL classes with plans to become a nurse, and Tuji’s older brother is getting his GED. “It’s a little surreal because I’m the younger one and I’m inspiring them,” said Tuji.

As a multimedia journalist, Tuji also hopes to inspire youth who don’t see their own stories reflected in mainstream media. “It’s completely important for youth to have the ability to be creative and in control of expressing themselves and their story through art,” said Tuji. “If you grow up and all you hear in media and news is not reflective of who you are or your cultural values,” said Tuji, “you begin to internalize that there’s something wrong with you and you’re the ‘other’ and you should put a piece of yourself away.”

“I like the idea of going into communities with youth and empowering them to take charge of their own stories,” said Tuji. “If I can give a platform for more diverse stories it’ll let kids know it’s ok to be who they are, that there’s no right or wrong way to be, and that they’re ok.”

Tuji has already begun this work as a RadioActive Advance Producer and youth reporter for KUOW/NPR, telling stories centered on race, feminism, LGBTQ+, art, and the politics of representation.

“Telling marginalized stories of youth is especially important because it’s critical to reach students at that age before their heart turns to stone,” said Tuji. “Before they end up quitting school or going to prison, committing suicide, or thinking there’s no place for them in the world.”

Tuji, who is involved in several campus groups including the Black Student Union, the African Student Club, and the Student Leadership Center, travels to campus daily from Tukwila, taking two buses over two hours each way. She says the commute is worth it.

“I’ve gotten to be a different person here,” she said. “I’ve gotten to step out of my comfort zone and learn to be independent and make room for myself. Being so far from my community at home, I’ve had a freedom to explore who I am and want to be and develop a new sense of self and being comfortable in my own skin.”

Part of that comfort came from the relationships she built here and the intersectional programming put on by the Student Leadership Center.

Azeb Tuji (left) is an events coordinator with the Student Leadership Center. Pictured with Winston Lee (center), President of the Associated Student Government and Rezina Habtemariam, Director of Student Life.

“When I was looking at schools for film I looked at Shoreline because of the reputation of the program and everything that’s going on here like the Seattle International Film Festival, but then also because of the amazing event programming. You’ve got the Community Read events and Margin to Center. I remember coming here for the first time and specifically seeing the Trans Day of Remembrance and Black Lives Matter art installation and knowing there was a community here that would have my back.”

After graduating, Tuji hopes to transfer to the University of Arts, London into the Contemporary Media Culture program, which studies the role that media, cultural, and creative processes play in shaping today’s world. Wherever she ends up, she’ll be telling her story and empowering others to tell theirs.

Her advice to new students? “Take advantage of everything that’s offered here. There are so many free programming opportunities and so much to discover. Get involved and network with fellow students and faculty and just enjoy it. It’s like nowhere else.”

Learn more about Shoreline’s performance arts/digital film program here.

Cranes spread hope, unity across Shoreline’s campus

Emma Parkinson, an Associates in Fine Art major, poses in front of her art installation of 1,000 cranes in the 4000 building. The piece was created for Professor Matt Allison’s 3D design class.

Toward the rear of the main floor of the Ray W. Howard library, on a wall just south of the Math Learning Center, 1,000 origami cranes folded by Shoreline students, staff, and faculty hang as a reminder that even the littlest gestures can bring delight and positivity into the world.

The public art installation is the brainchild of Emma Parkinson, a freshman in Shoreline’s Associate of Fine Art program. The piece represents her final project for professor Matt Allison’s winter Three-Dimensional design class, in which students are tasked with proposing, constructing, and installing a site-specific piece out of any material they choose.

Parkinson had a few ideas in mind for her project, but dialed in on the cranes—which, in Japanese culture, are a symbol of hope and healing during challenging times—after the 2017 presidential election.

“It was the day after the election and I just felt despair,” said Parkinson. Susan Barclay, Parkinson’s anthropology professor, sensed that a lot of students in Parkinson’s class felt the same. So Barclay told Parkinson and her classmates to write down one positive thing on a piece of paper and hand it to someone random on campus. The exercise in spreading positivity brightened Parkinson’s spirits and sparked an idea.

Coupled with her experience in Barclay’s class and remembering an experience from 7th grade in which she and her classmates folded and sent 1,000 origami cranes to survivors of the 2011 Japanese tsunami, Parkinson decided to use her art project to bring unity, positivity, and hope to campus. She would enlist the campus community in creating an art installation of 1,000 origami cranes.

Photo credit: Emma Parkinson

While the idea of recruiting students and staff to fold cranes may sound simple at first blush, the reality of mobilizing enough participants to complete the project within the deadline of the class was daunting.

“I wasn’t sure I could get people I didn’t know to sit down and fold the cranes,” Parkinson said. “I was so hesitant about being able to pull it off, even just organizing the logistics of it, that I almost backed out, but the professor (Matt Allison) was really encouraging and supportive of the idea. He allowed me to extend the completion date into spring quarter, so I knew I had to go for it.”

Parkinson secured space for the installation in the library and then coordinated with various departments across campus to set up stations where students and staff could spend time creating the cranes. “I left materials, instructions, and a collection bin at each station,” said Parkinson. “I even created a YouTube video of myself making a crane that people could watch if they were more visual learners.” (Stations were housed in the Visual Arts Center, International Education, the Counseling Center, Advising, and the makerspace in the library.)

Setting up such an involved crowdsourced art project taught Parkinson some valuable lessons about what it takes to be a working artist. “I had never done anything so big like this before,” said Parkinson. “I learned a lot about how to organize, hold meetings, approach people, create proposals, and manage time. It was an invaluable learning experience, and I feel better prepared to tackle even bigger challenges in the future.”

The learning curve was steep, but Parkinson’s organizational efforts paid off. “I was very nervous I wasn’t going to get anyone to participate, but the first day I went to pick up the cranes I was pleasantly surprised. About 100 cranes were made in just that first day, and by the end of seven days I had about 500 cranes. We reached the goal of 1,000 cranes in just three weeks. It was amazing how fast it all went.”

While completing the project on time was always the goal, the swift completion was a bit bittersweet for Parkinson. “One of the main things I loved about this project was going around to the various stations around campus and just sitting with the students making the cranes and talking to them about what the project meant to them. Everyone wanted to contribute good, and that was really heartening to know we have such a caring community here that seeks unity.”

“It was also really wonderful to see people who were hesitant to even attempt to make a crane because they’d never done it before walk through the process, figure out it was something they could do, and be excited to make their next one,” said Parkinson.

“And I was surprised by how unique each crane was,” Parkinson continued. “I thought there was only one way to make a crane and that they’d all look the same, but people’s individuality definitely came through in how they created their cranes. It added to the depth of the project and served as a reminder that our uniqueness is what makes our community beautiful.”

There is currently no set end date for the installation, so the campus is encouraged to go enjoy it while they can. “I really want the people who contributed to come see it and know they were a part of this little bit of positivity. Because cranes are like that, you see them and you just brighten up and smile.”

Parkinson, who has a year left at Shoreline, hopes to transfer to a 4-year university after completing her AFA. She also hopes to find a way to continue making the cranes as a means to connect with people.

Learn more about areas of study in Shoreline’s AFA program.

Seattle PI reporter learned to write his story in Shoreline’s honors program

Daniel DeMay. Photo credit: Lisa Baumann.

When Daniel DeMay started at Shoreline in 2009, he had little expectation of navigating college with success. Eight years later, DeMay is now a culture, business, and transportation reporter for the Seattle PI. He’s also a graduate of Shoreline’s Honors Program.

DeMay describes his past as “checkered” revealing that, after dropping out of high school, his 20s were largely spent drifting from one thing to the next taking on jobs in such varied industries as auto repair, theater production, and construction. At the age of 27, DeMay decided it was time to stop hopping jobs and find a career he could stick with.

“One day my coworker and I were on our way to a construction site and we just looked at each other and said ‘I don’t know why we’re doing this’. We turned the car around,” said DeMay, “and I spent the next several months deciding I wanted to go to college and figuring out how to make that happen.”

DeMay’s stepsister had gone to Shoreline and “always raved about it in her efforts to get me to go to college,” DeMay explained, so choosing the school was easy. But he still wasn’t positive college was for him. “I entered with no expectations of success,” he said. “Going back to school after working for almost a decade, I wasn’t entirely sure what I was in for.”

Once on campus, however, the pieces started to fall together. With aspirations of becoming a journalist, DeMay started writing for the award-winning student newspaper The Ebbtide, working his way up from reporter to editor-in-chief.

“I’d always been into writing as a kid,” said DeMay, “and I saw journalism as a way to learn to become an efficient writer and saw it as a valuable thing for the community at large. I wanted to use writing to give back, whether to entertain or inform.”

Joining the Honors Program was the second piece of the puzzle for DeMay. He was in his second quarter at Shoreline and taking an International Political Economy class when one of the professors, Kenny Lawson, pulled him aside and suggested he apply for the Honors Program. (The class was co-taught at the time by Kenny Lawson, Chip Dodd, and Tim Payne.)

Not knowing exactly what he was getting into, DeMay admitted: “the Honors Program was daunting at first.”

“The idea that I was going to produce a 20-30 page research paper was unfathomable at first,” said DeMay. “But the program is set up to teach you to be a writer, researcher, and a critical thinker and reader, and by the end you’ve learned the skills you need to produce a high level of academic work.”

DeMay’s final thesis paper examining the history of the changing relationship between the press and the public ended up spanning 37 pages.

“It made any research project I undertook after that seem pretty easy,” said DeMay. “Any 5-page papers I was assigned suddenly became a piece of cake. But more important, it made me think deeply about my choice of study and really dive into the history of my chosen topic and master those necessary research skills I may not have developed during a regular course of study.”

DeMay went on to be the commencement speaker for his graduating class (2011) and transfer to Western Washington University with confidence in his ability to be a successful college student.

“The Honors Program was the first example of me learning what I was really capable of producing,” said DeMay. “To have successfully produced that thesis project, knowing that I was capable of something of that magnitude, was eye opening. There’s a confidence level you get that, hand-in-hand with learning academic skills, is invaluable.”

So what’s his advice to students considering joining the Honors College at Shoreline?

“Be prepared to make a big commitment, because I don’t think you’re going to find another honors program at a community college that’s that high level and far-reaching and undertaking a program like that is a big commitment,” said DeMay. “But if you really want to succeed, the commitment is worth it.”

“It was a great experience and I’m glad I did it,” DeMay continued. “I’m glad Kenny Lawson tapped me on the shoulder and got me involved, and I’m glad for the other instructors who urged me along and gave me support. It was certainly a life-changing experience.”

Learn more about the Honors College at Shoreline. The priority application deadline for admission into the Honors College for Fall 2017 is May 19!

Look for DeMay’s work at www.seattlepi.com

Mark McVeety passes away

Mark McVeety, a staff and faculty member at Shoreline Community College, passed away Sunday, Dec. 27, 2015.

Mark McVeety

Mark McVeety

McVeety, 46, came to the college in November, 2007, as Director of the Small Business Accelerator. The project is an innovative collaboration between the college and the City of Shoreline. He also taught a class on entrepreneurship as part of the college business department. He served on the Shoreline Community College Foundation Board and was past president of the foundation.  His background in business and the software industry, along with an upbeat attitude and high level of energy, was an asset to the college and the community.

A celebration of life is planned for 11 a.m., Thursday, Dec. 31, 2015 at the college theater, 16101 Greenwood Ave. N., Shoreline, WA 98133. More information and remembrances are at www.facebook.com/mark.mcveety.

Shoreline’s Nursing students break fundraising record for students in need

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The 10-quarter nursing student cohort raised $980 for nursing students in need.


Each year, the Shoreline Community College Association of Nursing Students (SCCANS) raises money to help one student with financial need. Funds are distributed anonymously and can be used for tuition or to help with living expenses that may be barriers to a student’s success. This year SCCANS raised a record amount and was able to distribute funds to several students.

The students held a competition to see which of the nursing cohorts could raise the most funds, with the winning cohort earning a pizza party. The part-time student group (attending for 10 quarters instead of the 6 that full-time students attend) won the competition, raising $980 between just 19 students. Together, all the cohorts raised over $1800. In past years, SCCANS has raised an average of $5-600 for the fund.

“The 10-quarter cohort is really a phenomenal group this year,” Nursing professor and advisor Corinne (Corki) Budnick said. “While they’re juggling so much – work, family, school – and coming to campus at night after most everyone else is gone, it can be harder for part-time students to bond with the campus community. But these students dove right in and really rose to the occasion to show that they care about their fellow students and the program.”

The SCCANS club contributes to a variety of events on campus each year, including helping plan nursing graduation ceremonies and nurses’ day celebrations and organizing blood drives. The club also runs a winter clothing drive that collects warm clothes for the community at large.

“Our students knock our socks off every year,” said Budnick. “And this year’s group is no exception. We’re so proud of them and how they’ve rallied around each other and the program. Part of nursing is about caring for the community, and these students are truly caring for theirs. It’s great to see.”

Some of the objectives of the club are to contribute to nursing education; provide programs of social, educational and political import; provide an opportunity for students to participate in leadership roles and to provide a supportive network to students enrolled in the nursing program.