Head shot of Carolyn Thompson

Southwestern honors Carolyn Thompson as 2022 Distinguished Alum

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Coos Bay, OR – Southwestern Oregon Community College is pleased to announce the selection of Carolyn Thompson of North Bend as the 2022 Distinguished Alum. The Distinguished Alumni award recognizes individuals who have demonstrated significant contributions to their professions, communities, or academia. 

“Carolyn has been a terrific ambassador for the college for many years. Her dedication to helping students is inspiring. Her story exemplifies the journey many of our students have taken to reach their goals,” said President Patty Scott, in announcing the honor. “SWOCC changes lives, and Carolyn is an example of this.” 

Thompson grew up in Coos Bay. As a young person, she moved through the foster care system with a desire to succeed, dedicating her energy to excelling in studies and graduating high school.

“The one thing I could always count on in my life was school. It started at 8:30 in morning. It fed me. It nurtured my spirit and my soul,” Thompson said. 

After high school, she began attending SWOCC, working with instructors who encouraged her to explore and push her limits in learning. “I could have gone a lot of places, but my money went furthest at SWOCC. It was just what I needed, a personalized education that challenged me.” 

After earning an Associate of Arts Degree in Business Administration and Management in 1984 from Southwestern, she moved on to Oregon State University graduating with a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration in 1986. 

She went to work as a certified public accountant, eventually returning to practice in Coos Bay. From here, she has dedicated her personal life and career to improving her profession, community, and educational opportunities for others.  At 57, Thompson serves on the Southwestern Oregon Community College Foundation board of trustees, working to increase scholarships for students and empower donors in giving back in ways that create lasting impacts.

Thompson has taught at Southwestern at times and been actively involved for many years as a volunteer in government and service clubs. This included work with North Bend School Board, Coos Bay Schools Foundation, Zonta Club of the Coos Bay Area, Dance Umbrella for South Coast Oregon, Bay Area Chamber of Commerce and Ford Family Leadership Institute. 

This is the 31st year Southwestern has honored alumni who have demonstrated significant contributions to their professions, communities, or academia.