Alumni Spotlight - Katrina Koontz, Russ Larson, and Gabrielle Gould

Katrina Koontz, Russ Larson, and Gabrielle Gould

Following in the footsteps of their father, Russ, sisters Katrina and Gabrielle made EvCC a family tradition. Now Assistant Director of Community Relations for Trinity Lutheran College, Katrina says, “So much of my role is building connections and, 20 years later, I am still connected to the people I met during my time at EvCC.” Russ is retired from a career in banking and now works part-time for Washington State University. “I had some great instructors while at EvCC; it was a great choice for me,” he says. Gabrielle, now working as a medical assistant, agrees, “My instructors used unique, creative, and personal lesson plans that made learning fun and exciting. I truly feel I had a hands-on, one-on-one learning experience at EvCC.”

What is your current occupation/career?

Katrina:  Assistant Director of Community Relations and Events for Trinity Lutheran College.

Gabrielle:  Certified Medical Assistant.

Russ:  I retired from a career in banking and mortgage lending and now work part-time for Washington State University.

How did you choose EvCC? Was there a selection process involved in your decision making?

Katrina:  It was close to home. I had also received some community service type scholarships - they were for EvCC, so that influenced my decision.  I also worked three jobs to save to transfer, so staying close made good financial sense. 

Gabrielle:  At the time, EvCC was the only school in the Puget Sound area that had an accredited medical assistant program with the opportunity to earn a AA degree at the same time. I didn't want to just get a certificate to work as a medical assistant, I wanted an AA degree as well - and I did!

Russ:  I grew up in Snohomish and EvCC was my choice of schools because it was close to home and I wasn't sure what my career would be.

Do you think your time at EvCC helped you pursue your current career? How?

Katrina: Many of the contacts and relationships I have now started at EvCC.  So much of my role is building connections and now, over 20 years later, I am still connected or can reach out to the friends I had.

Gabrielle: Yes!  The MA program was packed with the tools I would need to work as a medical assistant. The classes and labs were taught by instructors who were experienced in the medical field. They shared their experiences, knowledge and skills to educate and prepare me to work as a medical assistant. They used unique, creative and personal lesson plans that made learning fun and exciting.  I truly feel I had a hands on, one-on-one learning experience.   Upon graduation, I felt prepared and confident to work in a clinic setting.

Russ:  I took a very diverse selection of classes before concentrating on business.  At EvCC, I had the opportunity to take classes in math, literature, business and art.

What did you do after you left (or graduated from) EvCC?

Katrina:  Transferred to WWU to obtain a Bachelor of Arts in Liberal Studies with majors in English and psychology and minor in communications.

Gabrielle: Began working as a medical assistant for a large local clinic. I was hired based on my performance during my externship. The externship was the final quarter in the medical assisting program. In fact, I interviewed for a position even before I graduated and was hired upon receipt of my degree! I have been working as a medical assistant for the most part of 13 years. 

Russ:  After graduating from EvCC, I went on to get my Bachelor of Arts degree from Washington State University.

Was there anyone during your time at EvCC who acted as a mentor for you? Tell me about that relationship and why it was valuable.

John Olson taught Speech and Communications classes. I enjoyed his teaching style, dedication and enthusiasm. I think I took every class he taught! It led to my deciding on a minor in Communications. 

Gabrielle Gould:  I know the most influential person was Beth--I believe at the time she was Beth Clark. Since then, I believe she has married and possibly changed her last name. Anyway, at the time, she was the head of the program. She  worked as medical assistant for many years in quite a few different clinical settings. At the time, she volunteered at a local clinic just to keep her skills up. She was packed with knowledge of medical assisting and unique ways to learn. I do feel it was because of her teaching that I had a truly positive learning and training experience at EvCC. Of course, I had other instructors as well, but she stands out in my mind the most over the years. I can still remember her saying 'good, better, best' and 'sometimes it's not always the right answer, but the best answer.' She was there to teach us to be the very best and to practice the very best skills with the up most detail and accuracy.

Russ:   I had some great instructors and while there, I developed a lifelong love of literature.

What words of advice would you give to current EvCC students?

Gabrielle:  Have fun! Enjoy the learning experience. Based on my experience, know you are not a numbered student, you are a student with a name and a future and the instructors are there to show you the path forward.
Even though I went to EvCC later--I wasn’t right out of high school; it was a few years after--I never felt out of place. I didn’t feel like I was the oldest one around nor the youngest. It was fun to be mixed with a varying age group who were together to learn and to accomplish a goal, whether that be training or higher education.
Russ:  My advice to anyone entering EvCC would be to take advantage of the wide selection of courses to help discover what motivates you.  The basics that you learn at this level of education will stay with you the rest of your life.  Enjoy your time here.