Mary Stricker has been chosen as the recipient of the 2009 Distinguished Alumni Award. The award is an honor to recognize a Southwestern Oregon Community College alumnus who has achieved excellence in their professional and personal lives and for touching the lives of others with their contributions.
Stricker was a student at Southwestern from 1984-86. After her graduation, she received a Bachelor's degree at the University of Oregon and Masters degree from the University of Washington. She was first employed by Southwestern in July of 1990, serving originally as a librarian and later as Director of the Library. She retired in November 2003, but still tutors writing students online.
Stricker was an outstanding student, and when she returned to serve Southwestern as an employee, she continued her incredible work ethic, dedication to her job, and passion for quality education and library services at Southwestern.
“Being a student at Southwestern before I came back to work as a librarian gave me valuable insight,” said Stricker. “As a librarian and an advisor, I was able to be more helpful and understanding of the students with which I dealt.”
Stricker still has a role at Southwestern from her new residence in Texas. She serves as an online tutor for the Writing Center. She has held the position since online tutoring started in 2005. Despite the distance, she enjoys tutoring and mentoring the students and this role provides her a way to still contribute back to the institution.
Stricker’s most memorable experience at Southwestern happened when, midway through her second year, she received a C+ on an essay in a literature class. “I was devastated. I feared my perfect GPA had been shattered; I felt my dream of going on to a university was gone; I felt I had lost my instructor’s respect,” she said.
Southwestern gave me confidence to continue my education which ultimately changed my life,” said Stricker.
She learned, of course, that there was no truth to any of her worries. Instead, she found she had learned a valuable lesson while at Southwestern: How to handle adversity. “With that fall from the unrealistic expectation that I had to be perfect occurring early on, my classes after that were less stressful,” she said. “And since then, I have handled the inevitable failures and disappointments that we all experience with more maturity.”
“Southwestern gave me confidence to continue my education which ultimately changed my life,” said Stricker. “My self-confidence was near zero when I first came to Southwestern to take classes. I worked hard, and then began to think I had the stuff to succeed after I made a 4.0 GPA my first year. My AA degree from Southwestern was the solid foundation I built on.”
For over a decade, Southwestern has honored individuals who made use of their educational experience at Southwestern in a variety of meaningful ways. Its exemplary group represents leaders whose time, talents and skills make a difference in the lives of others. They were chosen for achieving excellence in their professional and personal lives and for touching the lives of others with their contributions. Some are living and working on the South Coast and others have pursued endeavors and other communities across the country.
Last year’s Distinguished Alumnus was Fran Worthen, a groundbreaking coach, athlete and model community member. The 2007 award winner, Peggy Goergen, is a former southwestern Curry County Dean. The 2006 recipient Chuck McKay, is President of McKay’s Markets, a staple among South Coast grocery store chains. The 2005 recipient, Cynthia Ball, is Chief Financial Officer and Vice President of Administration for Coos Bay Lumber Company. Peter Ruppe, the 2000 award winner, is Global Product Director for Nike Inc. The winner in 1998, Tsianina Means, was the 1997 ESPN Fitness America champion. Peter Sorenson, an Oregon state senator and attorney in Eugene, earned the award in 1994.
To be considered for next year’s Distinguished Alumni Award, the nomination form and supporting information, such as resume, newspaper clippings, awards, letters of recommendation or any other information that may help the selection committee make its decision, must be submitted by the deadline in early spring. Past nominees are reconsidered each year.
For more information on the award or the Southwestern Foundation in general, please contact Marie Simonds, Executive Foundation Director, at 541-888-7211.