Southwestern’s STEAM Pathways Presents “Pros & Cons of Living with a Star” 2024 Annual Student Art Exhibit

Southwestern’s STEAM Pathways Presents “Pros & Cons of Living with a Star” 2024 Annual Student Art Exhibit

COOS BAY, OR – Southwestern Oregon Community College’s STEAM Pathways Presents “Pros & Cons of Living with a Star” the 2024 Annual Student Art Exhibit. The exhibit will be on display from Friday, March 22, 2024 until Earth Day, Monday, April 22, 2024 in the Eden Hall Gallery of Southwestern’s Coos Campus (1988 Newmark Ave., Coos Bay). The gallery will be open 9 am to 4 pm, Monday through Friday, and 9 am to 8 pm on Saturdays and Sundays.

Science faculty encouraged students to investigate the many impacts the Sun has on aspects of our academic and non-academic life. From eclipses and solar activity in astronomy, the impacts on biological cycles, facilitation of chemical reactions, involvement in geologic processes, solar power, weather patterns, clothing design, even space propulsion. The Sun impacts lives across all fields and at all levels. Enjoy a wide range of artistic views on our closest stellar companion.

For more information contact Krystal Hopper Meyers, STEAM Pathways Assistant, at 541-888-7416, or krystal.hopper@socc.edu.

For more information regarding science programs at Southwestern visit the STEM Pathways & Degrees page of our website.  (https://www.socc.edu/programs-classes/stem/).

Culinary students excel on USA Olympic team

Culinary students excel on USA Olympic team

From Coos Bay USA to Stuttgart Germany, eight student chefs and Executive Chef Randy Torres brought the award-winning spirit of Southwestern’s Oregon Coast Culinary Institute to the IKA/Culinary Olympics in February.

OCCI students joined other aspiring chefs from across the country on the USA Junior National Team. The excitement was intense with this being the first major competition for most students. “This event is amazing! It connects young chefs with people who can help further their careers for the rest of their lives,” OCCI student chef Brooklyn Hansen said. 

image of a plate of desserts

The 26th international culinary sport competition featured teams from 55 nations and more than 1,200 participants. It’s the oldest, largest, and most international culinary competition in the industry. 

The USA National Team, comprising professional chefs from across the nation and coached by OCCI Executive Chef Randy Torres, brought home an overall Silver Medal.

“It’s wonderful being involved in the camaraderie that IKA fosters. This competition is a unique adventure for students and SWOCC is proud to be a part of it. It’s a pivotal experience that changed the direction of my life when I participated on a team in 2008.”  – Chef Torres

image of three chefs working in a commercial kitchen with plates on a counter in front of them

The USA Junior Team, all 25 or younger, participated in two competitions. They earned a Bronze Medal in the “Restaurant of Nations,” a three-course menu for 110 people, and brought home Silver in the “Junior Chef’s Table,” a five-course menu for ten people.

OCCI hosted both teams’ practice sessions as they prepared for Stuttgart. It was extremely valuable training for our students to work alongside and learn from the finest professional chefs from around the country.

Congratulations Chef Torres and OCCI students!




Pictured front row: Elena Smith, Liam T. O’ Brien, Jesone Khantikone, Brooklyn Hansen, Oliver Cowan, Chef Randy Torres

Back row: Maxwell R. Smith, Maddison Valdez, Paige Hoene

Southwestern hosts 23-24 Student Athlete Awards and Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony – June 1, 2024

Southwestern hosts 23-24 Student Athlete Awards and Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony – June 1, 2024

Coos Bay, OR – Southwestern Oregon Community College’s Hall of Fame Committee honors former athletes, teams, coaches, and those that have had a large impact on the school and its athletic program. One team and two individuals covering a wide range of Laker history will make up the Southwestern Oregon Community College Hall of Fame’s Class of 2024.

This year’s inductees are:

  • First Softball Team (1994-95) including players: Sara Anderson*, Kylleen Campbell (Nipp), Kelly Chestnut (Coleman), Sandi Corum (Wayman), Katy Gibson*, Beccy Grenz (King), Casey Howard, Misty Ferry (Howerton), Shanen “Keg” Koegler, Jennifer “Bug” Mahan (Franklin), Cheri “Pumba” Spillman (Anderson) and Coach Charlie Christiansen
  • First Softball All-Americans: Jennifer “Bug” Mahan (Franklin) and Dannett Johnson.

The Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony will take place on Saturday, June 1, 2024 at 3:00 pm in Prosper Hall on the Coos Campus (1988 Newmark Ave., Coos Bay) during the annual sports awards. There will be food available following the ceremony. This event is free and open to the public.

The Hall of Fame Committee is seeking help in locating some of the team members. Anyone having information on the inductees marked with an asterisk (*) or have any other questions, please contact the Hall of Fame Committee at hof@socc.edu or 541-888-7452.


Southwestern student Cameron Miller selected for the Oregon NASA Space Grant Consortium Student Academic Research Review Award

Southwestern student Cameron Miller selected for the Oregon NASA Space Grant Consortium Student Academic Research Review Award

Coos Bay, OR – Southwestern Oregon Community College wishes to congratulate our S.P.E.A.R. (STEAM Pathways Experimental & Academic Research) Team Member Cameron Miller for being selected for a 2023-24 Oregon NASA Space Grant Consortium (OSGC) Student Academic Research Review (STARR) award in the amount of $3,000 for Nuclear Propulsion research. Cameron is currently a sophomore Mechanical Engineering student at Southwestern and plans to transfer into the Nuclear Engineering program at Oregon State University (OSU) after he graduates. For his research project, Cameron will be investigating the current state of research into nuclear propulsion systems with particular applications to aerospace.

About the research, Cameron says, “As a nuclear engineering student, gaining experience within my discipline can be challenging. Many professional opportunities are out of reach for undergraduates and are location exclusive. As for personal projects, things that combine “homemade” and “nuclear” are typically frowned upon by the government. To study within my discipline for an award backed by NASA is such an exceptional opportunity, and I’m incredibly thankful for it.”

The Oregon NASA Space Grant Consortium opens the Student Academic Research Review (STARR) program to give undergraduate STEM students the opportunity to familiarize themselves with ongoing research in their field of interest. Program participants are asked to create a 6-8 page research paper on the topic of their choice working with a faculty mentor. These papers will become a published document and will be made available to all the space grants across the U.S. The student research must be related to the research goals of NASA.

“Cameron will write a paper explaining what the current research is on his chosen topic. It’s literally a student academic review of research being conducted by NASA, and it’s counted as a published scientific article for NASA,” says Dr. Aaron Coyner, Associate Professor, Engineering and Physics at Southwestern, and Cameron’s instructor.

Students will be invited to present their findings at the spring OSGC student symposium held at Oregon State University. Southwestern will also present a symposium of student work during spring term.

“OSGC is pleased to support this unique opportunity to develop a more comprehensive understanding of the research review process to help students be better prepared for future hands-on research opportunities,” Catherine Lanier, OSGC Director shared.


About the Oregon Space Grant Consortium (OSGC)

The Oregon Space Grant Consortium, part of the National Space Grant College and Fellowship Program, is a state-wide network of universities, colleges, museums, educators, researchers, students, and science professionals. OSGC promotes STEM education through cooperative and interdisciplinary programs while recruiting and training NASA’s next diverse workforce.


For the last seven years, Dr. Aaron Coyner, Associate Professor of Physics, and Krystal Hopper-Meyers, Oregon NASA Space Grant Consortium PRISMS Project Coordinator, have been Southwestern’s OSGC Affiliate Representatives. OSGC has been an incredible supporter and resource for the College.

For more information about the Oregon NASA Space Grand Consortium or physics and engineering degrees at Southwestern contact Krystal Hopper-Meyers at 541-888-7416, or krystal.hopper@socc.edu.



A Heartfelt Career

A Heartfelt Career

Southwestern Nurses Making a Difference

The year was 1963, two years after the college opened. The college’s first Practical Nursing degree graduate Carole Matson completed her studies. She soon went to work serving her community. She helped deliver babies. She worked with veterans at a hospital during the Vietnam War, and she assisted others in foster care.

Along with Matson, through the years, nearly 9,000 individuals have completed nursing degrees and certificates at Southwestern. Many of these graduates work locally in hospitals and medical clinics. Others in schools, home visit programs, and senior living facilities.

Still, others fan out across the world in careers contributing to the sustainability of their families and improving their communities.

Where can a nursing degree from Southwestern lead you? Wherever you can imagine. Many travel. Like Carole Matson did throughout her life, some serve as nurses helping people in areas of conflict or, in developing countries. Some go into fitness and nutrition fields, disease prevention and surgery. Others go into spiritual wellness, pediatrics and research.

If you want to care for others, if you want a job that pays well and supports a family, a job that challenges you to constantly learn, nursing may be for you.


Nursing Career Outlook



  • Southwest Region: 47 on average monthly
  • Oregon: 2,505


Southwest Region average: $102,820

  • Starting $81,889
  • Experienced $133,744

Oregon average: $110,710

  • Starting $84,614
  • Experienced $136,240


  • Retirement outlook is high-risk on the south Oregon coast with 179 employees age 55 or older retiring soon. 
  • As of November 2023, there are 2,809 job postings for registered nurses in Oregon and 34 for Coos and Curry counties.
  • Employment in the field is expected to grow statewide 8.2% by 2029.

Sources: Oregon Employment Department and Lightcast


For more information call or text 541-240-8227; email SWOCCbound@socc.edu.


Nursing career paths are as unique as you

Nursing career paths are as unique as you

A career as a professional nurse can take you anywhere you want. Meet four examples.


Jackie Hummel

Jackie Hummel’s journey was not easy. It took her a decade to reach the place she is in now, but she would do it all over again.

Jackie had spent fifteen years as a medical assistant most recently at Bay Clinic. But she wanted to do more. While working part-time, she entered the nursing program at Southwestern, and is now a Pediatric nurse, specializing in caring for infants and children, and providing phone triage, becoming the bridge between medical care and emotional support. As a mom of three herself, she understands what’s going on at the other end of the phone.

Along the way, Jackie had support from fellow students and her family. Scholarships from the SWOCC Foundation and programs like STEP helped alleviate some of the financial burden. Regularly meeting with former nursing students provided guidance and boosted her self-esteem. Surrounding herself with people who had walked a similar path gave her the strength to keep going.

Jackie says, “Stay determined and refuse to give up. Don’t let setbacks discourage you from pursuing your dreams.” Now she has new goals. Starting next year, she will be going back to school to earn her bachelor of science in nursing at OHSU with a plan to become a Family Nurse Practitioner.


Heather Aldrich

Heather Aldrich thought she would like to be a nurse educator after she retired from nursing. But a short text four years ago made her think about it sooner. “I didn’t leave nursing because I didn’t love it (because I did, and I still do patient care), I just got an opportunity I couldn’t pass up. I love explaining complicated concepts, watching the light go on in someone’s eyes, and taking the ‘terror’ out of a potentially intimidating situation.”

Heather started at Southwestern as a student after toying with the idea of medical school. Feeling at loose ends and visiting a friend in Coos Bay, on a whim she decided to try nursing. Eventually that lead to a bachelor’s degree from OHSU, then various kinds of nursing work from oncology, ICU, recovery, creating education programs for Bay Area Hospital, and teaching -clinicals for the college. 

Considering a nursing career but you’ve heard nursing school is hard? Heather says, “Nursing is for people with the right intent. Even if you’re not a “good student,” if you are a caring person, we want you.”


photo of Lori Shott

Lori Shott’s career path reflects the diverse opportunities available in nursing. 

Lori has a lot of advice for students and anyone considering a nursing career. “Start with a solid foundation in the science of nursing assessment and hone those nursing instincts. Keep an eye on your nursing goal but balance it with an open mind too. Be willing to change, adapt and see where life takes you. You will be able to apply the nursing process to whatever type of nursing career you end up doing.”

For Lori that has meant working in assisted living facilities, labor and delivery, clinical informatics (specializing in data related to clinics and hospitals), care management, at the Waterfall Clinic, and now in private practice as a Family Nurse Practitioner. And she teaches nursing labs at Southwestern.

Reflecting back to when she was a nursing student 20 years ago she says, “We had to do a lot of pretending. Not anymore! Nursing education looks so much different now with the new technology. And the instructors at Southwestern have been (and some still are) nurses in the community which adds a practical dimension to the education they provide.”


Chaz Davis

Chaz Davis believes that being a nurse is not just a job, but a calling. It goes beyond the routine tasks and medical procedures; it involves a sense of purpose and dedication to helping others in their most vulnerable moments. For Chaz, being a patient advocate is at the core of nursing. 

After a ten-year career as a paramedic, Chaz was looking for a more structured lifestyle. Nursing fit the bill and now he’s part of the surgery department at Curry General Hospital. He likes to point out that being a nurse is recession-proof. In times of economic uncertainty, healthcare remains an essential industry, ensuring job security for those in the field. Unlike other professions that can be outsourced or automated, the human touch and compassion provided by nurses cannot be replaced by technology.

About Southwestern Chaz says “It’s the best kept secret! It’s such an asset to this community, and the campus is beautiful. I never had a negative interaction, not just with Judy (Instructor Dr. Judith Dornbach) but with all the staff at the Curry Campus.” Chaz’s advice? “If you can invest some time, some money, and some focus, you’ll come out with a secure, sustainable career. It’s worth every minute.”


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