Listening to Susie and Anthony Sanders talk about Peninsula College’s Bachelors of Applied Science in Applied Management (BAS) Program, it’s hard not to get excited with them. The mother and son graduated from the program a year apart, and are perfectly suited to be ambassadors for the program which launched in 2010.
Anthony graduated first in 2013, but not before becoming well acquainted with Peninsula College (PC) through the Upward Bound and Running Start programs. The high school environment was not particularly stimulating for Anthony as a teen. A self-described “over achiever” he zipped through his high school work and found himself with a lot of time on his hands. He took to the college environment as soon as he started at PC.
“I loved being on campus and the flexibility of only having to be there for two or three hours a day, rather than seven or eight,” he said. “It felt like a better fit.”
He began in the Upward Bound Program, a federally funded college preparatory program that offers assistance to low-income and first-generation, college-bound high school students. The focus of the program is to develop skills needed for postsecondary education and to help its graduates enter and stay in college while working toward a four-year degree.
“I became a whole lot more social,” Anthony said. “I didn’t have a huge group of friends at the high school, and going to college sort of got me out of my comfort zone.” The diverse group of students in the Upward Bound Program voted him “Most Likely to be the Next President.” Entering the Running Start Program afterward was a logical choice, as he did not have money set aside for college, but knew he wanted to go. As he approached completion of his high school diploma and AA degree, his cousin Tammy Napiontek, who works for the college, told him about the BAS Program, and he decided to look into it.
“A business degree seemed pretty general and was very appealing,” he said.
A life-long resident of Clallam County, Susie, Anthony’s mother, married at 17, adding two children to her family several years later. Working full time, caring for two small children and taking a full course load, she graduated with her AA degree from PC in 2006. She signed up to take courses for an online bachelor’s program through City University, but discovered that style of learning didn’t work for her and she dropped out of the program.
Six years later, divorced with a family to support, and working as an office manager, she decided to visit with Ed Jaramilllo, director of the Bachelor of Applied Science in Applied Management Program at PC. He worked with her to transfer her credits from City U to PC, and she joined the face-to-face program at the Port Angeles campus.
Susie and Anthony spoke highly of Jaramillo and his approach to teaching, calling his courses their favorite part of the program.
“He really related to us as a class,” Anthony said. “He was hip enough to get student jokes, but he was also very professional. He would integrate his stories and life experiences into our lessons. He was just very personable.” Anthony lists Strategic Management as his favorite course in the program. In the class students create a business plan for an area business and work in the field for 11 weeks.
“We still remember examples Ed gave us in class,” Susie said. “He took his experiences and applied them to what he told us. His naval experiences translated really well.” She also spoke highly of the talents of Reference Librarian Tim Williams.
“That man is amazing. He is very nice and always gets back to you,” she said. Anthony also found value in a course on the jazz era taught by English Instructor Matt Teorey. “It was fun. It grew on me,” he said.
Another feature of the BAS Program that the Sanders’ appreciated were the strong bonds established with their cohort groups. Meeting with six or seven classmates on a regular basis created camaraderie through shared coursework and car rides. One of Anthony’s cohorts became one of his best friends and served as a groomsman at his wedding last August.
Through the program, and ping pong games in the PUB, the Sanders also had the opportunity to become better acquainted with PC’s international student population. Susie said the experience of working with students from other countries was an eye opener, allowing her to form friendships and gain greater understanding of other cultures.
“I met some pretty amazing international students while I was in the program,” she said, “and I thought, ‘if they can do this, so can I.’”
Susie, who was working as an office manager for Edward Jones, did her BAS internship with the company before graduating and becoming a financial adviser in Sequim. In this role, she works with people from all walks of life, at all stages of financial planning.
“I get to help people with huge financial life decisions,” she said. “It’s like putting a big puzzle together and figuring it out.” Along with a significant wage increase, she was also afforded greater flexibility in her schedule and the potential to increase her earnings.
Both Susie and Anthony have represented the college speaking at the Port Angeles Chamber of Commerce and at a PC Board of Trustees meeting respectively. When it comes to singing the college’s praises, they don’t hold back.
“I would say to folks who are considering college that they have a great opportunity available in their own backyard,” Susie said. “Amazing professors, great campus- sometimes online courses aren’t the best option, and most people our age can’t just pack up and move. It’s all right there. We both loved it. Don’t even hesitate to get started toward a degree.”