Southwestern Oregon Community College announces Dr. Eric Gleason as the 2023 Distinguished Alumnus

Southwestern Oregon Community College announces Dr. Eric Gleason as the 2023 Distinguished Alumnus

Coos Bay, OR – Southwestern Oregon Community College is pleased to announce Dr. Eric Gleason of Winston is the 2023 Distinguished Alumnus. Gleason is a 2012 Southwestern graduate and professionally serves as Deputy Director of Coos Health & Wellness.

The Distinguished Alumni award recognizes individuals who demonstrate significant contributions to their professions, communities, or academia.

“We are excited to recognize a former student who served his country as well as his communities,” said college President Patty Scott. “Eric Gleason demonstrates Southwestern’s mission and validates our hope that students and graduates will contribute positively to our global society.”

Gleason grew up in North Bend. He joined the U.S. Navy, serving his country for eight years. He returned to the south Oregon coast in 2006 and soon found he wanted to be involved in improving the community.

“Trying to give back to the community in a way to saves lives is a big deal. I never thought I’d be doing that. And, I never thought I’d graduate from college either,” Gleason said while discussing the Distinguished Alumni award.

After becoming injured during a welding career, Gleason set out in a new direction in life. Enrolling at Southwestern, he used GI BILL® benefits to study and earn an Associate of Arts degree in 2012.

“Without SWOCC, I wouldn’t be where I am today,” he said. “If it wasn’t for people believing in me and the faculty being so supportive, I don’t know that I would have continued.”

Gleason did keep learning. After Southwestern, he went on to earn a bachelor’s degree in human development and family science in 2013 from Oregon State University.

While he continued pursuing his education, Gleason worked from 2011-13 as a U.S. Postal Service mail carrier. From 2013-15, he served as the Coos County veterans service officer.

“I knew education was a way forward. I kept pursuing it, always trying to give back to community, always trying to improve my community,” Gleason said.

In 2015, he earned a master’s degree from Arizona State University, and a doctoral degree in behavioral health management from ASU in 2018.

Since becoming a member of Coos Health & Wellness in 2015, Gleason has continued his work to support others in improving their lives. He guided the department’s public communication efforts throughout the pandemic and has maintained connections with veterans’ efforts.

He also served previously in elected local government positions, including North Bend City Council and North Bend School Board. He remains involved in local theater and activities involving his children.

Since 1992, Southwestern has celebrated former students who have distinguished themselves in professions and innovative efforts to build friendships around the globe. Past recipients have included leaders in education, the arts, Native American tribes, business and finance, research, medicine, and the military.

Southwestern Oregon Community College celebrates its 2023 graduates

Southwestern Oregon Community College celebrates its 2023 graduates

Coos Bay, OR – Southwestern Oregon Community College’s 2023 Commencement Ceremony will take place on Friday, June 9, 2023, at noon in Prosper Hall on the Coos Campus, 1988 Newmark Ave., Coos Bay.

Southwestern is proud of the 2023 graduates! This year the College is pleased to honor a total of 364 graduates, from 20 states and 15 countries.

Degrees being awarded are:

141 Associate of Arts Oregon Transfer

103 Associate of Applied Science

37 Associate of General Studies

40 Associate of Science

118 Certificates of Completion (one year)

Southwestern also congratulates seven local high school students who acquired their associate degrees at the same time they were completing their high school diplomas.

Guest attendance at the ceremony is by ticket only. The celebration can be viewed live via the College’s Livestream channel at

Additional information for graduates and their families can be found on the Graduation webpage located at

GH = Graduating with Honors, 3.75 GPA   |   V = Valedictorian, 4.00 GPA   |   PK = Member Phi Theta Kappa


Southwestern Offers Free GED® Classes Summer Term 2023

Southwestern Offers Free GED® Classes Summer Term 2023

Coos Bay, OR – Southwestern Oregon Community College is offering FREE GED® and Adult Basic Education classes summer term 2023. These classes prepare individuals to take the GED® exam and update skills to enroll in college or career training programs. Students enrolled in these classes can build a pipeline to enter college, training programs, and jobs in high-demand career areas.

We will have two options for GED® and Adult Basic Education classes next term:

1. Morning GED® Class – Tuesday through Thursday from 9am-12pm (Coos & Curry campuses)

2. Evening GED® Class – Tuesday through Thursday from 5pm – 8pm (Coos campus)

All classes will be live and in-person on the Coos Campus (1988 Newmark Ave., Coos Bay). The morning class will also be live and in-person at the Curry Campus (96082 Lone Ranch Parkway, Brookings).

For students who cannot make it to either campus, the classes will also be offered via Zoom during all sessions.

Summer Term starts June 19, 2023 and ends August 10, 2023. To register for orientation and classes, please email Adult & Pre-College Education at or call 541-888-1593.

One Man’s Scholarship Mission

One Man’s Scholarship Mission

When you walk into Randolph Hall on SWOCC’s Coos Campus, you can hear laughter. It is hard not to follow the sound right into the Veterans Center to be a part of something good.

One tall, blond-haired man is always right in the middle of conversations there. To folks who do not know Ryan DeVore, he appears to be just another Vet Center work study student. Quiet-spoken. Smiling. 

To those who know him, he’s much more. 

“I’ve become a better person because of Ryan,” Shana Brazil said, as she watched him chatting with two students. “Ryan is so open to everything. Veterans can tell him anything, and he never looks down on them – ever. He never has anything negative to say.” 

Shana is SWOCC’s Veteran Services Coordinator. She’s worked with vets at the college for years. She got to know Ryan a couple years ago. He was one of many disabled veterans coming to school to use GI Bill benefits to learn. Ryan found his way to her office. Shana liked him immediately. She asked if he would be her work-study student. Disappointingly, he said no. Three weeks later, Ryan returned. He asked if the job was still open. 

Ryan and his wife, Jessie Courtright, grew up here and have family here. Ryan felt a connection to the college. Jessie graduated from SWOCC 18 years ago, he said, adding proudly she was the first woman to graduate in welding. Ryan applied to SWOCC in 2022 and got a Foundation scholarship. He is pursuing a science degree, but is working on a bigger mission. He believes his mission will improve the world in small, incremental ways long after he’s gone. 

“I’m dying, you know. Slowly,” Ryan said, as he started telling his story. “I have organ failure.”

It is an autoimmune disorder that manifested as diabetes and Grave’s disease. Slowly, it has overcome his pancreas and now is destroying his liver and spleen. He’s waiting for it to attack his heart or his brain. 

A person could let that eat away at him. That’s not Ryan’s story.  

When he started his work study job, he learned that veterans club students tried to create a permanent scholarship for vets and their families. They made good progress in 2020 fundraising, until COVID killed the effort. 

Ryan picked up the mission. 

“It’s really important to help the soldiers and their dependents. They may be running out of benefits or needing a little extra help,” he said. 

There’s a perception that if you serve in the military, you get free college, free job training. Some do. For others it is more complicated. Many older veterans’ benefits may have expired, or run out just short of the end of their schooling. For veterans with families, the monthly aid often does not stretch far enough. 

Ryan knows personally, the value of a scholarship. It covers the bits and pieces. It eases worry. It helps to know someone cares. 

His goal is to raise the scholarship fund to $50,000. The Vet Center is selling T-shirts. Ryan says he’s hoping to win the lottery. He launched a GoFundMe effort. Donations are trickling in.

“I’m trying to make the world a smarter place. It’s how I deal with my PTSD and ailments. If I’m going to be around, I’m going to try to make everybody’s day better,” Ryan said.

Ryan developed the mindset serving in the U.S. Army from 2002-16, until being medically discharged. He served at Fort Benning, Fort Stewart and Fort Hood. He also did two deployments to Iraq and one to Afghanistan. As a staff sergeant, Ryan watched over his soldiers. He cared for them not only at work, but in their home life and everything. If they needed something, he made sure they were taken care of. 

“He’s brought that into the Vet Center a thousand times more than we ever had,” Shana said. “He just cares about the students. I appreciate it so much.”

Every day, Ryan keeps a candy jar ready for anyone who walks through the Vet Center door. He gets to know each veteran, their spouses, their children. He listens. When they need help, food or a friend, Ryan finds it for them. He connects them with things to do in the community. When some veterans’ car broke down recently, he picked them up and drove them to school. 

“I’m just trying to live forward. I need as much good karma as I can find,” Ryan said, which is why this 42-year-old man’s mission is to finish creating the scholarship fund for veterans. 

“This work-study money I get, it’s going to go to this project.  I am working for free today for kids,” he said.

Now you have met Ryan DeVore. No, he is not just another work-study student. To those who know him, he is a hero.


If you would like to contribute to a permanent scholarship for veterans and their families click ‘Give’ to donate online. Put ‘Veterans Scholarship’ in the notes.


For more information about the veterans program at Southwestern visit, call 541-888-7236 or email

Southwestern honors Rayonier as Industry Partner of the Year

Southwestern honors Rayonier as Industry Partner of the Year

Pictured left to right are Southwestern Associate Professor, Forestry/Natural Resources Tasha Davison;  Ian Thompson, Senior Timber Marketing Manager Rayonier; President Patty Scott; Vice President of Instruction and Student Services Ali Mageehon; and CTE Dean Dan Koopman.


Coos Bay, OR – Southwestern Oregon Community College is pleased to honor Rayonier with the 2023 Career Technical Education (CTE) Industry Partner of the Year award.

Southwestern recognizes our forestry and natural resources CTE partner, Rayonier, whose steadfast support of our programs has been integral to our students these past eight years. As a forestry organization specializing in timber resources, Rayonier’s mission is to provide industry-leading financial returns to their shareholders while serving as a responsible steward of the environment and a beneficial partner to the communities in which they operate. Not only does Rayonier serve on our forestry and natural resources advisory committee, but their local employees have provided guest lectures, field trips, and internship opportunities for our students. It is with great pleasure that we present them with our CTE Partner of the Year Award.

To learn more about Southwestern’s career technical training programs visit, or call 541-888-7405 to make an appointment with an advisor. You can learn more about Rayonier at



Southwestern offering courses in Basic and Intermediate ArcGIS Pro

Southwestern offering courses in Basic and Intermediate ArcGIS Pro

Coos Bay, OR – Southwestern Oregon Community College will be offering two ArcGIS Pro (a commonly used mapping software) training courses. Community members looking to learn the basics or advance their skills for map making can register for Introduction to ArcGIS Pro and Intermediate ArcGIS Pro.

Both classes take place in-person on the Coos Campus (1988 Newmark Ave., Coos Bay) in Tioga Hall, room 410.

Introduction to ArcGIS Pro (WKFC 0501 01)

Thursday, June 1, 2023, 12:00 pm-5:00 pm

This course will cover basic aspects of ArcGIS Pro, including, creating a base map, adding existing shapefiles, importing XY data from different sources, and creating meaningful clear maps.

Intermediate ArcGIS Pro (WKFC 0502 01)

Tuesday, June 6, 2023, 12:00 pm-5:00 pm

This course will cover intermediate aspects of ArcGIS Pro, including, editing existing shapefiles, creating new shapefiles, generating geometery, and basic tools in Arc, i.e. buffer, intersect, merge, and union.

The courses are $50 each. For more information about the course content contact To register, first fill out the Community Education and Personal Enrichment Application that can be found at:

For registered Southwestern students call or email the Student Success Center to enroll at 541-888-7352, or



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