Every year, each of Washington’s 34 community and technical colleges selects two outstanding scholars to represent the school as All Washington Scholars. The students receive medallions from their school presidents and the Governor at South Puget Sound Community College in Olympia, March 27, 2014 at noon.
An international student from Senegal, Pape Samba maintains a 3.96 GPA at TCC while studying Business, volunteering and working as a tutor. His long-term goals include obtaining a PhD in economics, becoming a financial analyst and statistician, and moving back to Senegal to improve his country’s financial situation.
Pape is used to long-term planning. His current life in Washington State is the fulfillment of his dream to travel and see the world, especially the United States. But he knows it’s not always easy to follow through on your plans. When he was younger, Pape struggled in school and had to repeat a class, which is considered shameful in his family. With the support of his mother he rallied, becoming one of the top students in his high school and even getting involved in politics.
“I remember her telling me that a person is always responsible for his own destiny, and that hard work and determination determine everything,” said Pape.
Pape chose Tacoma Community College in part because his family, already supporting four of his older brothers and sisters at universities in Senegal and France, couldn’t afford to send him to a four-year school. At TCC he joined Phi Theta Kappa and started working as a tutor in the Business Education Center. He was designated Lead Mentor during the orientation period for incoming international students.
Pape also volunteers at Henry Foss High School, where he tutors students in math and French, and at the Goodwill, where he helps with the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) program. He hopes to transfer to an Ivy League school.
“Pape is the kind of student who immediately stands out from a crowd,” wrote instructor Tomas Ramos in his recommendation letter. “He is what I consider to be a model student. He is internally motivated, he likes to ask questions, he enjoys participating, and he is never absent.”
As a high school student who wanted a more challenging educational experience, Edward Vlasenko knew that TCC’s Running Start program was right for him.
“I wanted to take charge of my own education,” said Edward. “Balancing a part time job, high school commitments, and college classes proved to be much more difficult than I could have ever expected, but the experience has been worth it.”
Taking up to 20 credits per quarter, Edward maintains a 3.91 GPA and is on track to graduate with both a high school diploma from Curtis High School and an Associate of Science degree with a biology specialization from TCC this June. His ultimate goal is to become a doctor.
Edward’s family immigrated to the United States from Belarus when he was a toddler.
“My parents worked any job they could find, while also studying at Tacoma Community College in order to support the family,” said Edward. “They wanted my sister and I to have the best possible future we could. Their determination to succeed ten years ago is what inspires me today.”
Edward grew up translating English into Russian for his parents. Now he does the same for his fellow TCC students as the only Russian-speaking tutor in the Writing and Tutoring Center. He’s currently working on a project to make the Center more accessible for ESL students.
In addition to his tutoring job, Edward serves as Treasurer of his high school National Honors Society and Vice President of the Medical Explorers Club, a program monitored by the Pierce County Medical Reserve Corps.
“While Edward has an exceptional scientific mind, he also has a pleasant personality and works well with others,” wrote instructor Brandy Eastman in a letter of recommendation. “He has an extraordinary drive for educational excellence, paired with great self-motivation.”