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Campus News

Meet TCC’s 2013 All-Washington Scholars!

Meet TCC’s 2013 All-Washington Scholars!  photo
Pictured: Chun Hei (Felix) Tam and Onias Kaunda

Tuesday, March 19, 2013 – Each year, two outstanding scholars from each of the state’s community and technical colleges are honored at the All-Washington event at South Puget Sound Community College, scheduled this year for March 21 at noon. Thanks to sponsorship from Key Bank, each student will be presented with a $500 scholarship.

Onias Kaunda                                  

Onias Kaunda is majoring in Business at Tacoma Community College. He plans to transfer to the University of Washington, eventually obtain his Master of Science in Accounting, and become a college accounting instructor.

Born in Zimbabwe, Kaunda completed his high school education in that country but was forced to drop out of college due to rising tuition costs. He moved to South Africa and began a tradition of volunteerism that he continues in America.  

Kuanda met his wife in South Africa, a Tacoma native who participated in TCC’s Running Start program ten years ago. He enrolled at the college a month after the couple moved to Tacoma.

“One thing that I fell in love with when I first came here is the community college system,” said Kaunda. “I grew up in Zimbabwe and grew up in South Africa, and we have nothing like it. If I could work in this kind of system, where you have a Running Start student and a second-chance 60 year old in the same classroom – I would love to make that kind of contribution.”

 In April of 2012, Kaunda was hired as Facilities Manager at Tacoma’s Urban Grace Church, where he also volunteers. His thoughtful approach to problem-solving has helped the facility become self-sustaining.

“With the help of the Facilities’ team, I drew up a marketing plan that would bring more paid events to Urban Grace,” wrote Kaunda in an application essay. “This has kept the church afloat, ensuring that hundreds of Tacoma’s vulnerable continue to receive the helpful services that the church provides.”

Victoria Ball, Director of the Annie Wright Day School where Kaunda works as an Extended Day Assistant, wrote in her letter of recommendation,  “It is good to know that he is pursuing his studies as he has a great deal to contribute. Mr. Kaunda has an impact on our community in a positive and quietly profound way.”

Chun Hei Tam

Chun Hei Tam, who goes by “Felix,” is obtaining his business transfer degree at Tacoma Community College. He plans to earn a four-year degree in accounting, obtain a PhD, and return to higher education as a college professor. Tam’s excellent academic performance at TCC represents a turnaround for a student whose grades did not allow him to enter the higher education system in Hong Kong.  

“My immaturity in the past has helped me to understand the importance of an education,” wrote Tam in his biographical essay. “Without a college degree, I realize firsthand how difficult it is to secure a job. Without a college degree, I realize how society categorizes you as a failure.”

Tam currently serves as Treasurer of the TCC Chapter of the community college honors society Phi Theta Kappa. He is also Secretary of the International Student Organization, works as a tutor in the TCC Learning Centers, and volunteers for the local tutoring organization Write@253.

“As an international student, I understand thoroughly the anxiety of writing in a foreign language; even native English speakers encounter pressure with writing,” wrote Tam. “I help students to gain skills, address their writing anxiety, and inculcate the belief that everyone can be a good writer if motivated.”

Business Education Center Program Specialist Jonathan Gibbon says that Tam has been an exemplary tutor:

“I have seen Felix sit down with a disheartened student and, within moments, induce laughter from the same student.”   

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

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