South Puget Sound Community College hosted the 22nd annual All-Washington Academic Team ceremony on Thursday, March 23, and honored two of its most distinguished students. Marina Bae Graham and Gyanna Lam were recognized for their outstanding academic achievements, extracurricular experiences, and their roles within the Phi Theta Kappa international honor society.
About Marina Bae Graham
A Washington State native, Marina has always had a strong love for reading, academics, and spending time outdoors. Marina was homeschooled by her encouraging parents for her entire life until she decided to attend SPSCC through Running Start. Marina shared that, “During that year before Running Start, I made up my mind what area of higher education I wanted to pursue: psychology. The mind is fascinating, and I hope to go complete my doctorate in clinical developmental psychology and set up my own practice as a counselor for children and adolescents.”
In addition to academics, Marina has a long list of extracurricular roles and achievements. She is a mentor in her church community and in Big Brothers Big Sisters, and was also the president of her 4-H club for 2014-2015. She’s running again for president this year. “Through this wonderful program, I have gained invaluable leadership experience, public speaking skills, community service opportunities, and hands-on experience in teaching other members how to work with their dogs and be a team player,” said Marina. “I don't just seek excellence in my studies; I seek it in my ability to help others reach their potential, too.”
About Gyanna Lam
Gyanna is the oldest daughter of a Vietnamese refugee father and an immigrant mother. Despite health and financial challenges in her family, Gyanna has soared academically with an impressive aptitude for the STEM field. Gyanna is currently a high school student who is also completing an associate degree through the Running Start program. “I’d like to transfer to Saint Martin’s University to pursue my bachelor’s education in biology. I also plan to become a pediatrician or child therapist.”
Gyanna has an active and community-based life, as well. She is involved with a number of organizations including her local library, the Olympia Free Clinic, the WET Science Center, and the YWCA Girls Without Limits STEM camp program. Gyanna strongly believes that being successful in science, technology, engineering, and math will bring her a successful education path and career. "Being one of the few girls in male-dominated STEM classes can decrease my confidence, but pushing through and attaining high grades is a huge accomplishment I'm proud of."
The two were joined at the ceremony by President Tim Stokes, four members of the Board of Trustees, and members of their families. Marina and Gyanna were each awarded a Phi Theta Kappa medallion and a $250 scholarship from KeyBank at the ceremony.
This year, the ceremony honored 63 students from 34 community and technical colleges in Washington State. Keynote speaker Marty Brown, Executive Director of the Washington State Board for Community and Technical Colleges, uplifted students and left them with a challenge: “Do something that scares you every single day. After all, that’s how you made it this far.”