Tag Archives: Whatcom

A spin on thespian

By: Max Singer


Whatcom students Sean Romond (left) and Christopher Bowman (right) performing the play “The Apple” in Whatcom’s annual One -Act Play Festival. Photo by Max Singer.
Whatcom students Sean Romond (left) and Christopher Bowman (right) performing the play “The Apple” in Whatcom’s annual One -Act Play Festival. Photo by Max Singer.

Whatcom Community College’s drama classes are teaming up with the Drama Club again this year to produce both full-length productions and shorter segment plays. This spring quarter, Whatcom’s annual One-Act Play Festival was held June 5 through June 7. Continue reading

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Campus smoking policies to change

By: Lynette Martinez


Whatcom students Ashley MacDonald, 25, and Joshua Osterhaus, 38, will be among the many students affected by new smoking policies on campus that may be implemented during the summer of 2014.  Photo by Lynette Martinez.
Whatcom students Ashley MacDonald, 25, and Joshua Osterhaus, 38, will be among the many students affected by new smoking policies on campus that may be implemented during the summer of 2014. Photo by Lynette Martinez.

The Associated Students of Whatcom Community College (ASWCC) recently approved a position statement that recommends creating a smoke-free zone on Whatcom’s campus.

Whatcom’s Vice President for Administrative Services Nate Langstraat said, “Because this was a student proposed recommendation all voices need to be heard.Faculty and staff members smoke as well so their voices need to be heard as well.”

“At the time, college leadership is requesting feedback before continuing our work with the ASWCC to finalize a plan that can be implemented during summer 2014,” said Whatcom’s President Kathi Hiyane-Brown in a memo released May 8 related to these recommendations.

Whatcom’s campus, however, does not currently have designated areas that are smoke-free zones, said ASWCC Student Senate President Lucas Nydam. The position statement recommends the courtyard area between Syre Student Center, Laidlaw, Heiner, and Baker Hall become a smoke-free zone.

Nydam said that he thinks the administration is “in-favor” and “supportive” of creating a smoke-free zone on campus. “Whatcom’s campus is one of the few community college campuses around Whatcom County that still allows smoking on campus,” he said.

This decision was arrived at after the ASWCC surveyed 300 students and discovered that 65 percent of those students were in favor of designating the Syre courtyard as a smoke-free zone, said Nydam. He also said that the survey discovered 70 percent of students surveyed were either “bothered” or “very bothered” by smoke on campus.

The survey asked students,”Do you believe that the Syre Courtyard and area surrounding the Heiner Fountain should be smoke-free?” The survey also asked, “Of the choices below which best describes how you feel about secondhand smoke on campus?” with the possible answer of, “not bothered,” “bothered,” or “very bothered.”

“Creating a sense of community on campus is hard to do at a community college, but by offering students a smoke-free area in the courtyard, they might be more inclined to use the courtyard,” Nydam said.

Whatcom student Sonja Haehnel, 22, said, “I am all for making the courtyard smoke-free, I personally don’t have an issue with the smell of smoke but my sister who has asthma said that when she is hanging out in the courtyard the smoke triggers her asthma.”

Determining where a new smoking shelter can and cannot be placed is an issue, Nydam added, because new buildings and the area around them have to be smoke-free zones in order to comply with the Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design (LEED) certification requirements.

The Bellingham Herald reported that these new buildings will be the Learning Commons, which construction is set to begin on in late summer 2015, and the 22,725 square-foot expansion to Pavilion which is set to begin summer 2014.

In order to accommodate students, the Student Senate has proposed the construction of a new smoking shelter on the south west side of Syre, Nydam said. He added that Syre is an older building so does not have to maintain LEED requirements.

Langstraat said that meeting LEED requirements is common practice for construction of new buildings on campus, adding that meeting these requirements is what has forced the conversation about creating a smoke-free area on campus to move forward. Whatcom’s Auxilary Services building was the first to gain LEED certification and since then the conversation about smoking on campus has progressed.

“There has been talk about relocating the smoking shelter outside Heiner, to co-exist with the newly proposed shelter outside Syre. This would double the smoking shelter size,” said Langstraat. “There will not be ticketing for smoking in the courtyard but if someone is caught smoking in the courtyard they will be asked by a faculty or staff member or even by another student to go over to the designated smoking area instead.”

May 22 the College Council, which is made up of administrators, faculty, staff, and students, metto discuss if the Syre courtyard will be smoke-free, said Langstraat. He said he believes that the administration is in general support of the recommendation and if the decision to move forward is made then signage will be placed in in the courtyard over summer 2014.The signs will state that the courtyard area is smoke-free and that smoking is only allowed in smoking shelters.

Whatcom student Jack Johnson, 19, said, “I smoke and I am not bothered by having to walk to a designated smoking shelter so I would not mind if the courtyard area in front of Syre became a smoke-free zone.”

However, Whatcom student Marlo F., 18, said, “I don’t think that making the courtyard smoke-free will work. My friends smoke all the time in the courtyard and choose not to use the smoking shelter outside Heiner because it is just too isolated.”

Whatcom student Maya Cunningham, 23, said, “I am for making the courtyard smoke-free. If the smoking shelter is just around the corner it would not be too much of an interruption to walk over to it.”

Currently Syre, Laidlaw, Heiner, and Baker Hall, the four buildings that surround the courtyard, abide by the Washington Clean Air Act which states, “Smoking is prohibited within 25 feet of all building entrances,” as reads the sign posted on every entrance in all four buildings.




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She’s got the beat

By: Tyler Kirk

Head of Whatcom’s music department Melanie Sehman joined Whatcom’s faculty this fall. She currently teaches three music classes and is the advisor for the Music Club as well. Photo courtesty of Melanie Sehman.
Head of Whatcom’s music department Melanie Sehman joined Whatcom’s faculty this fall. She currently teaches three music classes and is the advisor for the Music Club as well. Photo courtesty of Melanie Sehman.

Last fall, Whatcom Community College hired new music instructor Melanie Sehman: professional percussionist, mother, wife, and Washington state native.

After only three quarters at Whatcom, Sehman says she is staying busy as the music department’s discipline lead, advisor for the Music Club, teaching three courses, and staying active as a performing musician.

Sehman, 37, completed her undergraduate studies at Central Washington University. After finishing a bachelor’s degree in percussion performance, Sehman said she moved to Phoenix to get a master’s degree in music performance from Arizona State University.

She then moved to the East coast upon gaining admission to the Eastman School of Music, a professional school of the University of Rochester in New York. There, Sehman completed a Doctor of Musical Arts degree in performance and literature.

After graduating from Eastman in 2006, Sehman moved to Queens in New York City to pursue percussion performance and music education, beginning her teaching career at City University of New York in Queens.

She said that after teaching in Queens from 2006 until 2013, she packed up to move back to Washington state.

Since she began teaching at Whatcom last fall, Sehman has become deeply integrated in Whatcom’s music education, teaching a variety of music courses.

This quarter, she is teaching American Music Survey, World Music, and Music Theory III, which is the last in a three-course music theory series that Sehman has taught since fall quarter.

Sehman said she plans on “using music as a way to connect with the community.” She recently has made connections with the Bellingham Chamber Music Society, a collective of professional musicians in the Bellingham area that formed last year.

The group performs once a month in the community and Sehman says she wants to bring them to Whatcom to perform for the school sometime next year.

Sehman also said she hopes to start a Class Piano course, where students with varying levels of musical experience and backgrounds can come together in a semi-guided piano session.

She said that Whatcom already has upwards of 15 Yamaha keyboards and the only necessary thing to start the course is a room in which to store them and hold the class.

“The class would be open to anybody,” Sehman said, explaining that the class would mainly emphasize “getting your fingers going” rather than music theory or any other formal training.

Aside from her educational career, Sehman is a performing percussionist. She says that while she focused on classical music in college, she started “gravitating toward new music” after college, such as contemporary chamber music, or as she puts it, “weird music.”

Sehman says that although she plays some piano and does some singing, her love is for percussion. “The variety inherent in percussion will keep anybody,” she said.

Sehman is also the advisor of the recently-formed Music Club at Whatcom. The club meets weekly in Heiner 210 from 4-5:30 pm for student-led improvised musical sessions with a variety of instrumentation and musical training.

Sehman said the club is organizing a record sale due to a large donation of vinyl records the club received from a community member, which span many eras and genres.

She said the sale will involve the club setting up tables with the records, allowing anyone on campus to flip through them.

The records will be sold for 50 cents each and all proceeds will go to the Music Club to help fund club activities. More information on the club is available at Student Life.

Outside of her educational and musical careers, Sehman and her husband, Steven, have two boys, a 4-month-old and a 2-year-old.

Steven is a fellow percussionist and music instructor who teaches in Western Washington University’s music department, alongside Western’s Fairhaven College.

She said her husband also took over her classes at Whatcom while she was on maternity leave last winter.

Sehman said that outside of her professional career, playing with her sons, hiking and reading murder mysteries are among the things she loves to do most.

She plans to continue broadening Whatcom’s music department, focusing on “diversifying course offerings [and] responding to student demands,” she said.

She added that she hopes that in the future Whatcom could offer more varied musical courses, such as a History of Jazz or a 20th Century Music class.

“[I want to] have music be a bigger presence on campus,” Sehman said. “That’s probably my biggest goal.”

More information on Melanie Sehman including her current and past projects, recorded music, and video-recorded performances can be found on her website, www.melaniesehman.com.


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The touch of success

By: Dylan Nelson

Alumni and faculty members of the PTA Program at Whatcom gathered to celebrate the program’s 20th anniversary in early May. Photo by Dylan Nelson.
Alumni and faculty members of the PTA Program at Whatcom gathered to celebrate the program’s 20th anniversary in early May. Photo by Dylan Nelson.

20 Years of Physical Therapy Assistant Degrees Celebrated

Alumni and faculty of Whatcom Community College’s Physical Therapy Assistant (PTA) Program celebrated its 20th anniversary May 3 of this year at Syre Student Center.

The celebration was an opportunity for old friends, classmates and faculty to share their experiences and reflect on the time they spent working with a program that has continued to grow since their involvement.

“When I went to take my first test I burst out in tears and told my teacher that I couldn’t do it. She looked at me and said ‘Yes you can. I believe in you.’ That changed me,” said Jaime Van Beek, a PTA faculty member and Whatcom graduate of the program.

The event was attended by dozens of alumni, former faculty members and their families. The graduating classes represented by the alumni in attendance ranged from the class of 1994 to the class of 2013.

A wide variety of ages and demographics are represented in the program, said Heather Greig, 24, who graduated from the program in December 2013. “Our youngest student turned 21 during the class,” she said.

The program gives a lot of opportunities for graduates, Greig said. “If you don’t want to be a nurse but still want to help people physical therapy is a good alternative,” she said.

“It’s definitely a challenging program,” she said. Despite the intensive course load “it was worth it. It was so much fun,” she added. “In the end we all became friends and it became more personal.”

“I spent three hours a night studying and came in for labs on the weekend,” saidTaylor Richardson, 36, who is graduating from the online program in June.

Other than test grades, students are graded on how much of a caseload they can carry, saidRichardson. “A PTA student can see six to eight patients a day,” he said.

The program first began at Whatcom in 1993 and at the time took two years to complete before the curriculum changed in 1996 and became what the program is now, said Margaret Anderson, program coordinator.

It changed again in 2005 when Whatcom gave students the opportunity to complete the program online. “It is the exact same curriculum but was set up as a part-time program so it takes 9 quarters to complete,” Anderson said.

“The program has an 85-95 percent retention rate. It is important to us that our students not just get into the program but that they stay through graduation,” she said.

After commencement, PTA graduates have one more test pass, Anderson said. “When students graduate they have to take a national licensing test. Both our online and on campus students hit about a 94 to 96 percent pass rate,” she said.

Anderson said during a tour of the Health Professions Education Center (HPEC) that in an orientation speech at the beginning of the program students were told “they cannot get married, they cannot get pregnant, they cannot get divorced, they cannot buy a house, they cannot sell a house, they shouldn’t move, they can get a cat but they can’t get a puppy.” She later explained that it was “of course, all ‘tongue in cheek’” advice, but that there was some wisdom to it as the program is very competitive to get into and extremely time consuming once it starts.

The HPEC, which was opened to students in fall 2013, is not actually owned by Whatcom yet, Anderson said. According to a press release from the Whatcom Community College Foundation, the college was aware of the lack of state funding to finance a building for the new college and came to an agreement with the developers of the building.

Under the agreement the project developers lease the building to the Foundation, who subsequently leases building to the college.

“By working locally to find a funding solution, the college was able to immediately address capacity and equipment issues,” explained the press release.

Richardson advised students to drink a lot of coffee and read every page of every book they are given. “You learn a lot from patients, from the people you work with, and you will be unable to learn everything about physical therapy from a book,” he said.


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