Southwestern celebrates 58th graduating class

COOS BAY, OR – The Southwestern Oregon Community College (SWOCC) hosts its 58th annual commencement on Friday, June 14, 2019.

The 2019 Class includes 359 graduates from 17 states and 5 countries. Graduates will leave Southwestern with a variety of degrees and certificates in science, business, arts and other fields. One-hundred-seventy-three graduates have earned Associates of Arts Oregon Transfer and 17 earned Associates of Science Oregon Transfer degrees. These students will move on to bachelor’s degree programs; 119 will receive Associate of Applied Science degrees; 133 will receive Associate of General Studies degrees; 105 Associate of Science degrees. In addition, 85 students also earned Certificates of Completion in specialized career technical areas.

Eighteen students have obtained bachelor’s degrees and one earned a master’s degree through the college’s University Center in partnership with the Oregon University System. Some students will receive more than one degree.

“Today’s college graduates are motivated and hardworking. This year, our graduating class even includes 16 co-enrolled high school students,” said President Dr. Patty Scott. “Our graduates come from all over Oregon, the Northwest and the world. They are leaving our college well prepared for additional university training and to go to work in high-skill, high-demand industries. We’re pleased to be celebrating their achievement with families and our community,” said Southwestern President Dr. Patty Scott.

Graduates List

Southwestern’s President Dr. Patty Scott will provide the welcoming remarks and introductions. Board of Education Chair David Bridgham and Faculty Senate Chair Ron Metzger will offer greetings. Student Lakota Robison-Sanada will be giving the Commencement Address to fellow students.
Dr. Scott will present the 2019 Distinguished Alumni award to LaMont Swinson, Class of 2000. Dr. Ali Mageehon and David Bridgham will present and confer the Southwestern graduates. Presentation of the University Center Degrees will be made by Dr. Patty Scott and she will then conclude the evening with the tassel ceremony and the presentation of the Class of 2019.

Sign language interpretation will be provided for the ceremony, which is a ticketed event beginning at 12 p.m. in the Coos Campus Prosper Hall gymnasium, 1988 Newmark Ave. Overflow seating is available in the Hales Center for the Performing Arts, where the event will be shown live on the theater screen. The event will also be streamed live on by clicking on the red “Event Streaming” icon on the lower right side of SWOCC’s home webpage. 

Students and families can commemorate their college experience or special individuals by purchasing an engraved Legacy Brick that will be permanently placed in the Henry Hansen Union Square on the Coos Bay Campus. Minimum donations for a 4x8-inch and 8x8-inch brick are $100 and $200, respectively. Proceeds of the Legacy Brick project support the Laker Alumni Association annual scholarship. For details, go to

Coos Bay, OR – Two Southwestern students, Bailee McMahon and Isabella Trifilo-Miley completed their term-long journey in the world of solar physics research last Friday with presentations at the Oregon NASA Space Grant Consortium (OSGC) SCORE Symposium hosted by Oregon State University. Both students presented research summary talks and posters at the event, completing their projects. Upon completion, they along with other participating students for OSGC member institutions statewide received their $800 stipend checks in an awards ceremony.

Isabella Trifilo-Miley presented work on the effects of solar magnetic field structure on solar X-ray emission. Her analysis included modeling the solar magnetic field before and after large flare events to locate observational signatures of magnetic field changes and flare energy release. Isabella used a combination of X-ray data from the RHESSI spacecraft, magnetic field data from the Solar Dynamics Observatory HMI instrument, and magnetic field modeling.

Bailee McMahon presented her work on the analysis of spatial and temporal relationships between hard X-ray and ultraviolet emission in solar flares observed by RHESSI and SDO/AIA. Her analysis included comparative time history for X-ray and UV emission for the duration of individual flare events alongside spatial comparisons of flare images in each wavelength. To accomplish her work, Bailee analysis X-ray data from the RHESSI spacecraft in tandem with high resolution UV images taken from Solar Dynamics Observatory’s AIA instrument.

The research opportunities were funded by the Oregon NASA Space Grant Consortium. The consortium consists of 21 affiliate members from 18 colleges and universities in Oregon along with three informal education affiliates. The consortium is headquartered at Oregon State University, but the affiliates cover much of the state.

For more information, contact Dr. Aaron Coyner at (541) 888-7244 or via email at [email protected].

Coos Bay, OR – Dr. Scott Fisher of the University of Oregon Department of Physics and Pine Mountain Observatory returns to Southwestern to shed more light on the wonders of our universe.  His talk “What’s Up Up There? Recent Discoveries in Astronomy” will take place Thursday, June 6, 2019 at 7:00 pm on the Coos campus of Southwestern, 1988 Newmark Ave., Coos Bay, in the Hales Center for the Performing Arts.

In this presentation Dr. Fisher will describe and speak about recent discoveries from some of the largest telescopes in the world. In particular the discovery of Exoplanets – planets that orbit stars that are not the Sun. Along the way he will talk about what it is like to work as a staff scientist at a modern, large-aperture telescope, and how astronomy is taught at a large public university like the University of Oregon. This presentation is full of images and videos that will be presented at a level that is appropriate for all ages and all levels of astronomy knowledge. During the presentation and afterwards, Dr. Fisher will be happy to answer questions from the audience.

Dr. Scott Fisher is a faculty member in the University of Oregon Department of Physics where he teaches introductory-level astronomy courses, runs an astronomical observatory, and serves as the Director for Undergraduate Studies. Scott previously worked at the National Science Foundation in Washington, DC where he was responsible for selecting and funding astronomy programs across the United States. Before his time in Washington, Scott was based in Hilo, Hawaii where he worked as a staff scientist of the Gemini Observatory. At Gemini, he worked as an instrument scientist and as a member of the Gemini Outreach team. Scott's main areas of research is searching for and studying planet-forming disks around young stars and more recently, the evolution of galaxy clusters at high redshift.

For more information please contact Dr. Aaron Coyner, Physics Instructor at Southwestern, at 541-888-7244.

LaMont Swinson

COOS BAY, Ore. – How do you honor a person who “is continuously helping young people navigate the world” and who “always gives back to Southwestern students in a positive and uplifting way”? Someone who’s volunteered for more than a decade mentoring college students and coaching K-12 and college athletes?

Here’s how: Southwestern Oregon Community College is very pleased to announce 2000 graduate LaMont Swinson of Coos Bay as our 2019 Distinguished Alumnus.

“LaMont has overcome much adversity in his life. He never gave up on his dream and is a great example of the success that comes from resiliency and determination,” said Dr. Patty Scott, president. “He is a great role model for our students today.”

Swinson is an assistant vice president and branch manager for First Community Credit Union in North Bend and a lot more. He has spent a big chunk of his life at SWOCC. Swinson started with the college in 1997, competing in basketball and eventually graduating with an Associate of Arts Oregon Transfer degree. During that time, Swinson earned honors as a Northwest Athletic Conference First Team member in 1999, and in 2000 led the Lakers to a NWAC Southern Regional Championship. He moved the following year to the Oregon Institute of Technology in Klamath Falls and was 2001 Cascade Conference Player of the Year, leading OIT’s team to the Elite Eight national tournament in its league.

Upon graduating from OIT with a business management and marketing degree, Swinson returned to Coos Bay and soon found his way back onto SWOCC’s campus. Now, he is a longtime member of the Laker Alumni Association. He’s the assistant men’s basketball coach and coaches youth sports team in the community. He also mentors young people, listening to them and encouraging them to take advantage of school and go on for college education. He makes time to meet with first-generation college students, and is a perennial volunteer teaching students about credit and managing their money.

“The leadership skills LaMont exhibits working with the young men and women as well as his staff at the credit union is commendable,” said Tom Nicholls, SWOCC’s Dean of Enrollment, who recruited Swinson to play for the college. “He is encouraging to both students and his staff in furthering their education through post-secondary educational opportunities and/or advanced training, serving as a terrific role model for young people and adults alike.”

Swinson came from Wasilla, Alaska. He was the first in his family to graduate from college, and it wasn’t easy getting here.

“It’s one of those situations where at some point, you have to make a decision to connect and better your life,” Swinson said.

Instead, he focused on school. Teachers and coaches recognized his potential, and opened their homes to give him a safe, stable place to live and a supportive environment to graduate.

“Living with these other families, even though they didn’t have everything in the world, they made good choices,” he said. “Sometimes it’s harder to make those good choices.”

After OIT, like many young people Swinson had the dream to compete professionally in sports, but priorities changed when his first child was born with a heart problem. He moved his family back to Coos Bay, focused on family and went to work. In 2007, he became branch manager at the credit union and he’s become more involved with students ever since.

“I express to them it might not have been part of the plan to be at SWOCC, but believe me that everyone here wants you to succeed,” Swinson said. “All in all, SWOCC allows young people a great opportunity to start their foundation and start learning in a positive environment on what they might want to become.”

The Distinguished Alumni award recognizes individuals who have demonstrated significant contributions to their professions, communities or academia. The college will host a celebration to honor Swinson at 6 p.m., Thursday, June 13. He also will be the keynote speaker at SWOCC’s 58th graduation at noon, Friday, June, 14.

For more information, those interested can contact Deb Nicholls at 541-888-7400, [email protected]; or Foundation Director Elise Hamner at 541-888-7211, [email protected].