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Campus News

Meet TCC’s All-Washington Scholars

Meet TCC’s All-Washington Scholars  photo
Jamie Johnson and Georges Camille Motchoffo Simo

Wednesday, February 28, 2018 – Every March, we celebrate two outstanding students from each of Washington’s community and technical colleges at the All Washington Scholars Event at South Puget Sound Community College in Olympia. This year, Jamie Johnson and Georges Camille Motchoffo Simo will represent TCC at the March 22 event.  

Jamie Johnson                                                     

Jamie Johnson’s dad taught her to love science, and the two spent hours studying the stars through a telescope and the molecular world through a microscope. Though her dad passed away three years ago, she still remembers him telling her she could be anyone she wanted to be.

“The things he said became the voice in the back of my head to keep me going when things seem impossible,” said Johnson.

Johnson wants the privilege of being part of the team that paves the way for future space exploration, and she decided that becoming an engineer would put her on the path to achieving that goal. She quickly found out that it’s a challenging path – especially when you’re also working long hours and raising a family.

“Last year may have been the hardest year of my life,” said Johnson. “Not only was it my first year of college, but I was working a taxing job had to find time to also be a wife and mother.”

Realizing she was on the road to burnout, Johnson made the decision to quit her job despite the financial hardship. It’s been tough, she says, but worth it.

“I am committed to my goals and dreams, one day they will be reality,” said Johnson. “College is the most challenging thing I have ever done, but I love every moment of it.”

In addition to school and family, Johnson volunteers in animal shelters. Her tradition of volunteerism started in middle school, after she learned that her best friend was homeless and hungry. Her friend moved in with her family, and they all started volunteering together. She’s continuing the tradition with the next generation.

“It is such a great joy when on Christmas my son wants to give to others more than to receive,” said Johnson.

This habit of service led to success to her current position as president of the TCC Engineering Club. She didn’t think she had enough experience to be vice president when a fellow club member encouraged her to run for office last spring – much become less president when the elected president stepped down this fall. But she’s succeeding and excited to see what the team will accomplish this year. She credits this success to a willingness to recognize other people’s abilities and empower them to use those abilities to achieve a team goal.

“Everyone has a strength, and success can often depend on placing the right person in the right position,” said Johnson.   

For now, Johnson is enjoying life at TCC, where she feels welcome, at home, and supported. She plans to transfer to St. Martin’s for her 4-year degree, go on to obtain her Master’s, and then find a way to start tackling the technical challenges of space exploration.

“To be an engineer is to be a dreamer and a problem-solver,” said Johnson. “Many people notice problems in the world or dream of new technologies or endeavors to tackle but typically reach a point of not knowing how to go about doing it. Engineering provides us with the knowledge of math and science in order to design solutions.”

Georges Camille Motchoffo Simo

Georges Camille Motchoffo Simo came to the United States from Cameroon for the opportunity to become a doctor. He stayed because he’s not welcome to go home.

When Motchoffo Simo arrived in America on an F-1 student visa at the age of 18 in 2014, he didn’t know a word of English. He quickly taught himself the language, adjusted to the culture, and was on the road to success when a family rift cut off his support. F-1 students aren’t allowed to work. During the time it took to process his Temporary Resident Employment Authorization Card, Motchoffo Simo lost his apartment and spent four months as a homeless student.

During that time, he somehow managed to complete three classes and apply for refugee status. When his employment authorization came through, he got a job working nights at Western State Hospital. During the day, he took some of the most challenging courses Tacoma Community College has to offer. When his professors found out that he was working full-time in addition to school, they were astonished.

“He has been able to achieve so much while having so little time!” said Biology professor Dr. Anna M. Cunningham. “While so many students struggle to find time to study for this class, Georges was able to work a demanding overnight job while taking a large class load and completing those classes successfully. I was shocked, to be honest.”

Since taking a job in TCC’s Microbiology lab, Motchoffo Simo has been able to spend more time on campus. He’s the Vice President of the TCC’s Science Pre-Professionals Club, a group of students completing pre-medical, pre-dental and pre-pharmacy studies. He even makes time to volunteer, working with kids at his church and a local library.

Still waiting for his refugee status to be confirmed, Motchoffo Simo hopes for more stability in his future. But he won’t settle for a pathway that’s short on challenge. He wants to be researcher in the field of neurosurgery and has his eye on a MD/PhD, a degree earned after completing an eight-year program designed for students who hope to combine medical practice and research.

“I want to be involved in research regarding the brain and the way it works,” said Motchoffo Simo. “I would love to help in healing Alzheimer’s.”      

When he finally finishes his schooling, Motchoffo Simo plans to travel the world with Doctors without Borders. Meanwhile, he’s happy he started at TCC, where he says he found not only knowledge and employment, but a family.

“My teachers are my pillars and my support through my struggles. They see potential in me, and they are doing everything in their power to lead me to success at different levels. Starting at TCC was honestly the best choice I have made for my education thus far.”

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

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