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Campus News

Meet our Honorees!

Meet our Honorees!  photo
Chris Anderson, James Curtis, and Fred Whang

Wednesday, May 28, 2014 – Tacoma Community College is proud to introduce its Distinguished Alumni and Honorary Degree Recipient for 2014. Chris Anderson, founder and CEO of Tacoma IT company 2bridges, and James Curtis, Assistant Pierce County Prosecutor, are the 2014 Distinguished Alumni. Former TCC Board Member Fred Whang, JD, is the Honorary Degree Recipient.

Chris Anderson

A graduate of the Student Computing Services and Future Problem Solving programs at Henderson Bay High School in Gig Harbor, Anderson has logged more than 20 years of experience as an IT professional.

Anderson attended Tacoma Community College for both the business program and the IT certificate program. He founded his own company, 2bridges, in 2004.  The company's goal is to "flip IT on its head," approaching IT problems from a customer and business standpoint.

Anderson’s mission is to build micro-solutions that will be able to expand along with small to medium-sized businesses. In the process, he builds customer relationships meant to last for decades.

"We want the industry to change," said Anderson. "There are so many companies that have undermined the trust with the community."

Anderson has supported TCC’s Networking & Cyber Security program by offering internships to more than 15 program students, hiring several of them. He serves on the Advisory Committee for TCC's IT department and also invests volunteer time in the larger community through his work with the Tacoma Sunset Rotary, Tacoma-Pierce Chamber and Connected Tacoma technology think tank.

James Curtis

Growing up in Tacoma’s Hilltop neighborhood, James Curtis struggled in school and held a series of low-wage jobs. He was working as a janitor at Tacoma General Hospital when he decided it was time to enroll at Tacoma Community College to pursue his dream of becoming a lawyer.

Curtis almost didn’t enroll at TCC. Discouraged by his performance on the assessment test, he told an advisor that he wasn’t cut out for college. She told him not to give up, but to study at the library and try the test again in six months.

“TCC wouldn’t let me leave,” Curtis told graduates in his 2011 Commencement speech.

Half a year later, Curtis tested into college-level English and math and enrolled at Tacoma Community College. At TCC, Curtis found faculty mentors who pushed him to excel and won his first scholarship, from the Floyd and Dolores Jones Foundation. He earned his AA degree from TCC in 1999 and transferred to the University of Washington, where he studied sociology, graduating in 2001.

Curtis returned to TCC and worked in outreach while attending UW’s law school, earning his Juris Doctorate in 2005. After two years in private practice, he joined the Pierce County Prosecutor’s office as Deputy Prosecutor in 2007. He currently chairs the office’s Diversity Committee.

Today, Curtis mentors youth from his old neighborhood, Tacoma’s Hilltop. He also serves as a coach and a motivational speaker. In 2012, the Tacoma-Pierce County Bar Association presented Curtis with the Bertha M. Snell award for perseverance through adversity in the practice of law. 

Fred Whang

During the more than ten years he served on the TCC Board of Trustees, Fred Whang’s focus was always on promoting student success.

Born in Hawaii, Whang joined the Air Force right out of high school in 1962. He served in Korea and Vietnam, and the air force sent him to several colleges and training programs. He settled in the area after being stationed at McChord Air Force Base, earning his MA from the University of Washington.

After retiring from the service, Whang enrolled in the University of Puget Sound law school. He earned his JD in 1989 and joined the Pierce County Prosecutor’s office. In 1994 he went into practice in Tacoma’s Korea town, focusing on immigration and family law. Whang currently has offices in Tacoma and Seattle.

As a TCC Board Member, Whang has enjoyed meeting students, hearing their stories and seeing their accomplishments. He’s impressed by the degree of adversity many Tacoma Community College students overcome.

"I've been through several degree programs, but the most impressive to me is the Associate Degree program, because I've seen how much dedication and obstacles students need to overcome to enroll, study and complete their program,” said Whang. 

“I'm not only speaking about the academic hurdles, but also about the very real life hurdles that affect our students' abilities to attend and successfully complete their program for graduation. Tacoma Community College is not just an academic institution for the students, but is also a college comprised of caring and dedicated employees, faculty and staff, truly dedicated to student success."

For additional information, please contact:
Rachel Payne
Communications Consultant
Phone: 253.460.4381
Email: rpayne@tacomacc.edu


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