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Tacoma Community College » Alumni & Friends » Distinguished Alumni

Distinguished Alumni

Each year the Tacoma Community College Foundation celebrates the accomplishments of Alumni who have demonstrated the highest level of professional achievement and service to the community.  

If you would like to nominate someone for the Distinguished Alumni award, fill out the nomination form. You may also submit any additional materials such as a resume, news articles, brief letters of support from a nominee’s colleagues, and other materials.

2014 Distinguished Alumnus: James Curtis and Chris Anderson


2014 distinguished alumnus james curtisJames Curtis

The third of five children, James Curtis experienced early childhood on the south side of Chicago, raised by a single mother who suffered from post-polio syndrome. Inspired at an early age by their mother, who moved the family to Tacoma in pursuit of a better life, he and his siblings planned to achieve great things in life.

But growing up in Tacoma's Hilltop neighborhood in the late 80s and early 90s, Curtis struggled in school and lost sight of his earlier vision. He graduated from Stadium High School and took a series of low-wage jobs, ending up as a janitor at Tacoma General Hospital. One day, he decided it was time to go to Tacoma Community College and 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 to study at the library and try the test again in six months. "TCC wouldn't let me leave," said Curtis in his 2011 Commencement speech.

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

Curtis came back 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.

Curtis challenges graduates to help someone else achieve success.
"There's going to be someone around you who lacks in confidence, someone around you who doesn't have hopes for their future. It is your job to rekindle their torch, because your torch is burning bright right now." Curtis told the Class of 2011 graduates.

2014 distinguished alumnus chris andersonChris Anderson

Chris Anderson, CEO of the Tacoma IT company 2bridges, is a 2014 Tacoma Community College Distinguished Alumnus.

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 founded his own company, 2bridges, in 2004. He says the company's goal is to "flip IT on its head," approaching IT problems from a customer and business standpoint.

"People constantly ask me what I do, and what we do at 2bridges, and it's really hard to define, other than we listen," said Anderson in a video posted on the 2bridges website.

Instead of offering off-the-shelf, one-size-fits-all IT solutions for business IT needs, 2bridges creates customized solutions based on what customers say they need. Anderson says the goal isn't to roll out a product that will need to be upgraded after a 3-5 year life span. Instead, the company builds micro-solutions that will be able to expand along with small to medium-sized businesses - and builds 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."

In addition to providing IT solutions and support, Anderson believes that IT professionals should be customer advocates and educators. He wants customers to be comfortable with technology, and not to feel like they're constantly fighting their IT systems. And he keeps that in mind when hiring.

"We try to pick people who can work with other people, who actually care about the problems," said Anderson.

Since attending Tacoma Community College for both business and IT certificate programs, Anderson has supported the school's Networking & Cyber Security program by offering internships to more than 15 students in the program, 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.


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