Barbara Eells Web Portrait

Coos Bay, OR – Southwestern Oregon Community College is pleased to announce the selection of Barbara Eells of Gold Beach as the 2018 Distinguished Alumna.

Southwestern’s Distinguished Alumni Award recognizes individuals who have demonstrated significant contributions to their professions, communities, or academia. Eells has distinguished herself in all three categories, starting with her graduation from Southwestern in 1986, with an Associate of Arts degrees in Social Work and Criminal Justice.

Eells enrolled in her first Southwestern class in 1975. Over the next decade, she worked full time in a medical office, raised three children and studied nights for her degrees.

“This is a remarkable accomplishment, considering she drove at night 167 miles on a dark, curvy highway, roundtrip to the Coos Campus to attend classes,” said Dr. Patty Scott, Southwestern president. “Barbara accomplished all of this before there was distance education and e-mail.”
“She persevered to overcome the significant barriers we face in rural communities to gain a good education and meaningful career. Barbara is an inspiration,” Dr. Scott added.

Eells started taking classes as a reserve sheriff’s deputy and continued her studies after graduating from Southwestern. She completed her bachelor’s degree from Eastern Oregon University through Southwestern’s extended campus, and moved into her profession that has spanned more than 30 years in Curry County.

“I believe the answer to a lot of problems is education,” Eells said. “I think the more people are educated and open their minds to new ideas, the more we can make our homes, community and nation a better place to live.”

Eells managed the Victim Assistance Program in Curry County, went on to work in Child Protective Services and co-founded the Oasis Shelter Home. She also mentored and trained others in fields of child abuse and domestic violence prevention. Eells’ educational and professional accomplishment equals the effort she put into community involvement and advocacy over the years. As a member of the Curry County Multi-disciplinary Team, she advocated for treatment for sexually abused youth and founded the first Child Advocacy Center in Gold Beach. She tried to retire, and still spent several years managing the local animal shelter office. Eells continues to volunteer with the Curry County District Attorney’s Office, and in other capacities.

“I believe none of us make it to our goals alone, and I feel when we succeed at our goals, we should pay that forward by advocating in our own communities,” Eells said. “I am an activist for the vulnerable and disenfranchised. Whether that’s abused children, battered women or neglected animals, I try to be a voice for those who have no voice.”

The Southwestern Foundation and Alumni Association will honor Eells at the 2018 Distinguished Alumni Celebration at 6 p.m., Thursday, June 14, 2018, at the Oregon Coast Culinary Institute. Eells also will be the keynote speaker at the 2018 Southwestern Commencement Ceremony at noon, Friday, June 15, 2018.

“I am looking forward to introducing Barbara as our keynote speaker to the 2018 graduating class,” Dr. Scott said. “She exemplifies how a community college education can help people enrich their lives and provide the skills needed to improve a community for generations of families.”

(For more information on the College’s Alumni Association, visit

College offers training for high-demand nurse assistants

Brookings, OR – Are you looking for entry-level training to begin a career in the high-demand health care industry? If so, Southwestern Oregon Community College can help you train on a fast track for work. The college is enrolling students now for Nursing Assistant Level 1 classes during winter term on the Curry Campus in Brookings. This class is an Oregon State Board of Nursing approved course. Upon completing the course successfully, students can take the State Certification Examination to become a Certified Nursing Assistant 1. Individuals with CNA1 certification could qualify for jobs in skilled nursing facilities, long-term care, home health care agencies, assisted living facilities, adult day services, some outpatient surgery centers, and some clinics and hospice centers. The class also is the first step toward the CNA Level 2 class. Southwestern’s Curry Campus will offer CNA Level 2 during spring term, expanding on the CNA Level 1 knowledge, skills and abilities. Individuals with CNA2 certification could qualify for jobs in the facilities previously mentioned, in addition to acute care facilities such as Curry General Hospital, Sutter Coast Hospital, Coquille Valley Hospital and Bay Area Hospital. Scholarship assistance is available for residents of Gold Beach and Port Orford through the Candy Cronberger Memorial Health Fund through the Southwestern Oregon Community College Foundation. These funds can assist with tuition, course and other fees, uniforms and supplies, along with immunizations and licensing fees. For information, please contact Curry Campus First Stop at 541-813-1667 to set up an appointment with Jana King and learn about the application process. Application deadline is Tuesday, Dec. 5.


“Working at the hospital as a CNA2 helped me better understand the patients’ needs and the nurse’s role.”
– Yenifer Santiago-Gonzalez
Southwestern CNA program graduate
Employed at Curry General Hospital
Enrolled in Southwestern Nursing Degree Program

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As our communities continue to face severe smoke and wildfire damage, the Southwestern Oregon Community College’s Small Business Development Center (Southwestern SBDC) is here to assist businesses that have been impacted by these fires.

“Wildfires can seriously impact local businesses in unexpected ways. Early preparation and planning is critical,” said Arlene Soto, director of the Southwestern Small Business Development Center. “We are here to help. We have advisers ready to help work with businesses through supply chain interruptions, personnel issues and fewer customers that can all be impacted by these wildfires.”

Businesses can contact the Southwestern Small Business Development Center by calling 541-888-7026 to schedule an appointment with an adviser.

Advisers work with each business individually and address specific needs. Advising is free to businesses and confidential.

Some specific issues businesses often face during disasters:

- Destruction of property
- Destruction of assets used to secure business financing
- Supply chain interruptions
- Employees unable to get to work
- Cashflow disruptions

“Personal tragedy is often closely linked with business tragedy and interruptions,” said Ms. Soto. “Issues that may not have been a problem in the past can quickly become overwhelming. We are here to help.”

Across the nation, America’s Small Business Development Centers are assisting with major disasters following Hurricane Harvey and the expected landfall of Hurricane Irma. Small Business Development Centers are partially funded through the Small Business Administration and help provide additional local assistance during disasters. Oregon’s Small Business Development Centers are the largest business assistance provider in Oregon and are the only nationally accredited small business assistance provider in the state. Oregon has 19 Small Business Development Centers and more than 40 locations throughout the state.

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The Eden Hall Gallery at Southwestern Oregon Community College is pleased to announce a new exhibit, Back to Sculpture: New and Recent Work by Janet Geib Pretti.
Janet Pretti is the Executive Dean of Southwestern’s Curry county campus in Brookings. A life-long sculptor with a Master’s degree in art, Janet works in her basement studio when not performing her duties as head of the Curry campus.

She says, “I became a sculptor to say things I could not say with words, but more and more I find myself grappling to find the image and the words. Originally I only wrote as part of my sculpture process, but I recognize that sculpture is an oblique way to communicate. I have included the words in this show to give you a starting point, to use as a bridge into my sculpture and into the world of sculpture.

In 2015, I began to transition to a planned retirement in 2017. I had not started a new sculpture in over six years. My life had been overtaken by my day job. I was promoted to Curry Campus Executive Dean just as the dream of building a new campus became a reality. There was money to raise, a building to design and build, and programs to run. There was no time to think about, let alone make art."

This exciting show includes five brand new pieces along with eleven other exquisite pieces completed between 2004 and 2010.
Back to Sculpture: New and Recent Work by Janet Geib Pretti
April 4 – May 5, 2017
Southwestern Oregon Community College
Coos Campus, Eden Hall Gallery
1988 Newmark Ave., Coos Bay Artist’s Reception: Saturday, April 22, 3-5pm Gallery Hours: Monday - Friday, 9am – 5pm
(or by appointment, call James Fritz at 541-888-7322) Gallery is located at the back of the Southwestern’s Coos Campus. Follow East Student Way around the soccer and softball fields. Stay on ring road until Parking Lot 2 or 3. Park in either lot. Eden Hall is the first building from either parking lot. Look for the building with large, roof-mounted windows.

For more information contact James Fritz at 541–888–7322 or