KLAMATH FALLS — A family that studies together graduates together, at least this is the case for the Gardners this Friday at Klamath Community College’s commencement ceremony.
Tricia Gardner will not only collect her associate degree Friday afternoon in business management, but so too will her daughter, Brittany, who is also earning her KCC degree. Two weeks later, Tricia’s sons, Mateo and Adrian, will collect their GED certificates in a separate Klamath Center for Education and Training (KCET) graduation ceremony. The family relocated from Corvallis to the Klamath Basin for work and to be closer to family, Tricia taking a job with iQor; but when the customer service center closed in 2019, she chose to use a dislocated worker program through KCC to return to school. In fall 2020 Tricia began coursework in business management, while Brittany also began attending KCC to study criminal justice. Not long after, the entire family joined the KCC cohort, when Mateo and Adrian began pursuing GEDs.
“It was great, all of us being in classes,” said Tricia of the familial educational experience. “I had a wonderful advisor, and we approached it as teamwork. We were always there for each other; my daughter and I were even in some of the same classes. I just told them it’s about baby steps, but here we are finally accomplishing all of our goals.”
It wasn’t Tricia’s first attempt at higher education, previously studying criminal justice when Brittany was a baby, but falling short of graduating. Through support from advisors, instructors and family, come Friday she will not only receive her Associate of Applied Science degree in Business Management, but also has accumulated enough credits to receive her criminal justice pathway certificate.
“For the most part we had our online classes together,” said Brittany. “We didn’t have the exact same classes, but it was fun being able to ride to school together.”
Tricia noted how important support received from KCC staff and faculty was in assisting the entire family to reach their respective goals. She called her advisor, Linda Williamson, an inspirational and encouraging figure helping her reach her goals. Brittany’s advisor, Jim Gravely, was also noted for always taking extra time to answer questions and provide guidance on career options.
Brittany plans to transfer to Southern Oregon University to pursue her bachelor’s degree. For Mateo and Adrian their education will continue at KCC, utilizing the Oregon Promise grant to pursue associate degrees in the fall, studying diesel technology, and advanced manufacturing engineering technology respectively. Tricia’s youngest daughter will also start at KCC in the fall.
“I feel very blessed and it’s all a huge sense of happiness – it’s real,” said Tricia. “I started school when she (Brittany) was a baby, and I left years ago, so to finally accomplish this and get my business degree, and a week later my boys will graduate too … it shows our teamwork, our strength, goals, and how strong of a family we are.”
The KCC commencement ceremony will take place on the campus lawn at 6 p.m. Friday, June 10. The event is open to the public and fully in-person for the first time since 2019. It will also be live-streamed at www.klamathcc.edu/ watch-commencement.
For more information visit www.klamathcc.ed