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News Releases
Lilly Boone studying with the Electrical Diagnostic Trainer
Lilly Boone studying with the Electrical Diagnostic Trainer
Have automotive certification, will travel: Student wants to help those on the move (Photo) - 12/11/18

SOUTHWEST PORTLAND, Ore. – Lilly Boone’s dream is simple. Well, at least, to her it is.

When she earns her associate degree from the Automotive Service Technology Program at the Sylvania Campus in Southwest Portland, the first-year college student wants to convert a school bus into a mobile auto shop and home for herself (a trend known as “skoolies”). Her aim is to repair vehicles for families who choose to live as nomads (think tiny home dwellers, RV enthusiasts…etc), but cannot make it to a traditional repair shop when their home, or vehicle, needs fixing.

“I want to travel the world as a ‘Nomadic Mechanic’ and help those who are stranded because they cannot get to an auto shop,” said Boone, who, for now, lives in Tigard. “By watching YouTube I’ve learned that many ‘nomads’ have been stranded, in the middle of nowhere, because they don’t have the knowledge to fix their vehicles. My interest in helping these people is what sparked my idea.

“I’ll be able to travel anywhere,” she added. “I’ll use solar to power my living space completely, minus heating, since I’ll be using a wood stove. I’ll also convert the school bus to run off veggie oil. Unfortunately, the amount of power needed to run an auto shop is greater than a solar system can handle at this time. I’ll use a generator for that.”

As she works through her required classes at Portland Community College, Boone continues to shape her future grand plans. In addition to the converted school bus, she wants to use YouTube as an educational tool like other nomadic-themed how-to channels. On her particular channel Boone wants to provide video lessons where she’ll cover the basics of auto repair, all the way to engine fixes and rebuilds, as well as market her services worldwide.

Rough Road in Rearview Mirror

Despite the 20-something’s lofty dreams, she’s traversed some rough roads to get to PCC: from being homeless to moving to Oregon with only $200 in her pocket.

The Wyoming native came to Oregon to restart her life. She had first moved to Denver for a relationship, but it ended up not working out after a few months. The experience of chasing other people’s dreams inspired Boone to take control of her future. She called her aunt, Dee Wilson (PCC’s longtime bursar), for advice, packed her Toyota Rav4 with her belongings (including her cat, dog and that $200), and moved to Portland in fall of 2016.

In 2017, Boone found work with the college’s Facilities Management Services as a custodian. Her route included servicing the AM Building shop at the Sylvania Campus where automotive servicing classes are held. The constant work inside the shop helped nurture her interest in auto repair. That motivated her to explore its offerings firsthand, as well as talk to instructors about the training required.

“It gave me an advantage as I got to know all of the instructors and see a little bit behind the scenes of what they are doing for students,” she said.

Resources Fuel Boone’s Success

PCC’s wrap-around student support services really made a difference in giving Boone the chance to succeed at college once she decided to enroll in the program. She was able to access the Panther Pantry, which is the college’s free food resource for low-income or hungry students and staff, and utilize counseling services. She then was directed to apply for financial help with the PCC Foundation, eventually earning a career-technical scholarship to pay for tuition and tools.

“People shouldn’t feel bad about taking advantage of the resources at hand,” Boone said. “Having a counselor available to talk to and get the proper advice about what is happening in their lives, helps students focus on their classes. Stuff happens in students’ personal lives and they need someplace to go to get help so they can focus on succeeding. This is why I am passionate about helping my fellow students realize the resources that are available at PCC because it provides so much for them to excel.”

Providing robust student support services is a priority for the college.

PCC is lobbying the state legislature to fully fund community colleges for the 2019-21 biennium at $787 million. About $70 million of the total would go toward expanding programs with proven success like Career Pathways and Future Connect, along with improving counselor-to-student ratios, which has shown to double completion rates. And, another $70 million would be used to double the amount of career-technical graduates in the state.

However, Gov. Kate Brown recently released her recommended budget of community colleges of $543 million, which would be 4.7 percent less than the current biennium budget level of $570 million. The recommended budget is a starting point for funding discussions during the legislature’s session, which begins Jan. 22.

Auto Program Providing In-Demand Skills

But right now, Boone has access to plenty of wrap-around services to help her succeed in automotive service. The support services have given her the confidence to grow her determination and passion, which has impressed her instructors.

“Lilly is a hard-working student who is learning a new set of skills,” said Russ Jones, auto service instructor. “And, she helps out other students when she can. She is going to school full time and working a full-time job on swing shift. This means she has to use all of her free time wisely so she can get her homework done on time and study for tests.”

Jones’ program focuses on training students in the latest automotive technology, and is equipped with 40 test vehicles, numerous above ground hoists, computerized four-wheel alignment racks, a chassis dynamometer, and many other specialized tools. He said PCC is playing a critical role in providing qualified workers for the industry in Oregon.

“The automotive job market is very good for our students,” Jones continued. “There is a large need within the industry, and every shop owner I know is looking to hire at least one technician. Of course, they would like to hire journeyman technicians, but there are none to be found. Many employers are knocking down our doors to recruit our students to come to work as an entry-level technician. Our students have a bright future in front of them if they stay in the automotive repair industry.”

Boone is on board with that sentiment. She said the program’s lab modules are preparing her to take the Automotive Service Excellence (ASE) certification exams, which will help her and her classmates transition into well-paid and in-demand careers as automotive service technicians. And, they’re perfect for someone who wants to convert a large school bus into a kick-ass mobile automotive shop.

“It has been a dream come true for me,” Boone said of PCC. “The teachers here show endless support and true drive to help students reach their life goals. I hope that my story can inspire others to realize they do not need much to start chasing their dreams. They just need the passion and determination to take them all the way.”

 

About Portland Community College: Portland Community College is the largest post-secondary institution in Oregon and provides training, degree and certificate completion, and lifelong learning to more than 71,000 full- and part-time students in Multnomah, Washington, Yamhill, Clackamas, and Columbia counties. PCC has four comprehensive campuses, eight education centers or areas served, and approximately 200 community locations in the Portland metropolitan area. The PCC district encompasses a 1,500-square-mile area in northwest Oregon and offers two-year degrees, one-year certificate programs, short-term training, alternative education, pre-college courses and life-long learning.

Visit PCC news on the web at http://news.pcc.edu/

Governor releases budget recommendations, cuts funding for community colleges - 12/04/18

PORTLAND, Ore. – On Nov. 28 Gov. Kate Brown revealed her recommended budget for the 2019-21 biennium. The Governor’s recommended budget is usually the starting point for negotiations during the legislative session, which will begin in early 2019.

The Governor’s Recommended Budget (GRB) proposes two budget scenarios, both of which have major implications for Oregon’s community colleges. The Governor’s “base budget” recommendation for the GRB is $543 million for the Community College Support Fund (CCSF), which would result in deep cuts at community colleges. The “investment budget” part of the GRB is pegged at $646.7 for community colleges, contingent on the state raising new revenue by $2 billion for the biennium.

Of deep concern is the lack of a guarantee that the state will be able to raise revenue to support the Governor’s proposed investment budget. And both budget scenarios are significantly lower than the level being requested by the Oregon Community College Association’s (OCCA) Board of Directors, in partnership with the Higher Education Coordinating Commission (HECC).

Oregon’s 17 community colleges have three budget objectives: maintaining current service levels, focusing on career and technical education (CTE), and increasing student support services. OCCA and the state’s community colleges are advocating for CCSF funding at $787 million for the biennium budget based on needs of students, employers and industry partners, as well as the Governor’s priorities.

“While the ‘Investment Budget’ puts colleges on a solid footing and invests in expanding Career and Technical programs, the ‘Base Budget’ funding level would be devastating to Oregon’s Community colleges and the Oregonians we serve,” said Cam Preus, OCCA’s Executive Director. “Colleges would have no choice but to make deep program cuts along with double digit tuition increases.”

PCC President Mark Mitsui is heavily focused on creating career technical education avenues for students, as well as student success initiatives to close the opportunity gap and improve access to higher education. If the base budget becomes reality, thousands of underrepresented and first-generation college students would suffer.

“Those most affected by the proposed budget would be our students, whose access to higher education would be limited because of the funding shortfall,” Mitsui said. “Such limitations run counter to our mission and commitment to opportunity and equitable student success.”

What the Base Budget ($543 million) Means to Community Colleges:

  • Imposes a 4.7 cut percent, bringing down the CCSF from $570 million (2017-19 biennium) to $543 million (2019-21 biennium).
  • Requires a tuition hike of 17.5 percent each year of the 2019-2021 biennium to bridge the funding deficit.
  • Does not deliver on community college requests of $70 million in new funding for CTE Programs and $70 million to expand student support services for first-generation and underrepresented students.
  • Eliminates the Oregon Promise Program after the first year of the biennium, removing a successful onramp to post-secondary education used by thousands of high school and GED graduates annually.

What the Investment Budget ($646.7 million) Means to Community Colleges:

  • Increases the CCSF to $646.7 million, the amount necessary to maintain current programs and services and keep tuition increases to approximately 3.5 percent statewide each year of the biennium.
  • Adds $70 million more to expand CTE programs, doubling the number of CTE graduates each year statewide (an additional 7,900 graduates per year).
  • Does not deliver on $70 million in new funding for student support services targeted at first-generation and underrepresented students.
  • Adds $121 million to the Oregon Opportunity Grant, nearly doubling funding for Oregon’s only statewide need-based financial aid program.
  • Fully funds the Oregon Promise Program.

What the HECC Budget ($787 million) Means for Community Colleges:

  • Allots $70 million to add capacity in CTE programs, like in healthcare and STEM fields, and double the number of graduates, enabling community colleges to swiftly respond to industry needs in such fields as micro-electronics, manufacturing, computer technology, and business and management.
  • Tags another $70 million for student support and student success efforts like Career Pathways and Future Connect, and improve counselor-to-student ratios for an additional 36,000 first-generation and underrepresented students across the state.
  • Adds $121 million to the Oregon Opportunity Grant, the state’s only statewide, need-based financial aid program. These grants are critical to community college students who typically face the greatest financial barriers of those in any sector of higher education.
  • Fully funds the Oregon Promise Program.
  • Keeps tuition increases to approximately 3.5 percent statewide each year of the biennium.

The Governor’s proposed budget affects not only future programming and services but the prioritization, or lack thereof, for current efforts to address the needs of students and employer partners. For instance, PCC and the state’s other 16 community colleges, along with Oregon’s Department of Human Services, already are collaborating on Pathway to Opportunity (PTO), a statewide effort to address the students they serve and needs that they have as they try to better their lives through higher education. At a recent PTO summit, John B. King, former U.S. Secretary of Education under President Obama, was the keynote speaker and addressed how community colleges must better support students to ensure their success. In a climate of reduced fiscal resources, the long-term continuation of efforts like this might be in question.

And yet the value of community colleges should not be in question. Data compiled and evaluated by the national labor analytics firm, Emsi, verifies that Oregon community colleges are critical to the state’s future. For every $1 invested in Oregon community colleges at the state and local level, taxpayers receive $3.30 in benefits -- and the number shoots up to a $5.31 return for PCC students. When the benefit to the student over their career and to the local community is included, the return on investment reaches $8.40 for every dollar spent. For PCC students, the return to Oregon’s economy in added state revenue and social savings is $12.50.

“As Portland’s economy grows, so does demand for highly skilled employees,” Mitsui added. “Community colleges are a fundamental part of our educational pipeline, with proven programs to problem solve many of our region’s needs -- if properly and realistically funded by the state legislature.”

 

About Portland Community College: Portland Community College is the largest post-secondary institution in Oregon and provides training, degree and certificate completion, and lifelong learning to more than 73,000 full- and part-time students in Multnomah, Washington, Yamhill, Clackamas, and Columbia counties. PCC has four comprehensive campuses, eight education centers or areas served, and approximately 200 community locations in the Portland metropolitan area. The PCC district encompasses a 1,500-square-mile area in northwest Oregon and offers two-year degrees, one-year certificate programs, short-term training, alternative education, pre-college courses and life-long learning.

Visit PCC news on the web at http://news.pcc.edu/