Commentary: Efforts Beyond the Classroom Make a Difference at Centralia College


For many in our community, June is a time of transition.

This is most certainly true for the hundreds of Centralia College students who will graduate June 17. They are amazing individuals and they deserve all the pomp and congratulations we can give them.

The same is true for the people who will be in the crowd cheering on June 17, the amazing instructors who make graduation possible. Every day, the faculty at Centralia College are reaching out to students of all ages and backgrounds, learning about their unique goals and helping them succeed. They are coaching, mentoring and supporting their students, and getting them into careers they love.

For Centralia College graduates, faculty are a professional lifeline.

They help students navigate first jobs and next jobs, and give them strategies to achieve their unique goals. Students often reach out to faculty repeatedly over their life, seeking professional connections, advice and support. And it all begins here at Centralia College, in the classrooms and the Zoom rooms, and in the faculty offices, where students are transformed into skilled, confident professionals in their chosen field.

To help students make this transition, Centralia College faculty cultivate countless connections to employers. In the last month alone, students in the Teacher Education program did mock interviews with the Centralia School District, robotics students visited Columbia Okura in Vancouver to get hands-on experience with specialized equipment and to see firsthand what a job in their chosen field will look like.

Providence Centralia Hospital came to campus to meet our nursing assistant students and interview them for jobs they need filled right now, and faculty members in two different fields (accounting and substance use disorder) met with multiple employers to organize hiring events and advocate for their students.

All of these efforts beyond the classroom make a difference for students.

Grades matter. Quality teaching matters. Degrees and certificates matter. But, so do the phone calls, drop-in visits, emails and networking that brings an employer into a classroom, that connects a hiring manager to a student who needs a job, and that gets a student onto a jobsite to see what’s possible.

This is the hard work of dedicated faculty members who want to see their students land jobs, support themselves and their families and become leaders themselves. This hands-on approach is what distinguishes Centralia College and makes the student experience so personal.

Centralia College likes to say that students are Trailblazers for life, but the same is true for the college faculty, who invest their lives — their time and their energy — to making graduation a very important beginning.


Bob Mohrbacher is president of Centralia College.