Alumni Spotlight - Hunsakers

Gayle, Jennifer, and Doug Hunsaker:
Making EvCC a Family Tradition

By Dana Chrysler
Everett Community College Alumni Outreach Specialist

Valley Electric foreman Doug Hunsaker, along with his wife Jennifer and daughter Gayle, are proud to have attended EvCC. Gayle took advantage of the Running Start program to graduate from Snohomish High School while earning her associate’s degree from EvCC. And later, Gayle offered her red EvCC graduation cap and gown to her mother, saying she would be the next to wear it. Indeed, Jennifer enrolled at EvCC, graduating from the Certified Medical Assistant program, and currently works at The Everett Clinic. In this interview, the Hunsakers discuss what brought them to EvCC and share their advice for current EvCC students.

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

Daughter Gayle: I wasn't loving high school. I felt like I knew what I wanted and didn't want to waste time; I wanted the fast track. I heard about Running Start and began the testing for it in the spring of my sophomore year. My parents went to an information night and found Ardi Kveven and were inspired by her passion and drive. Because of the Running Start structure, the almost guaranteed associates degree at the end of high school was exciting. I qualified for the English portion, but worked on the math camp the summer before and got in based on my "incredible work ethic." It all fell into place and felt right, even though I was nervous about it.

Dad Doug: EvCC was known for great nursing and engineering programs and I wanted to pursue engineering at the time. Who knows, maybe I will finish someday and start working as an engineer again.

Mom Jennifer:  I chose EVCC because my husband graduated with his associates degree in pre-engineering many years ago and my oldest daughter graduated in 2008 from ORCA and the Running Start programs through Snohomish High School. One day, Gayle and I were cleaning out her room not long after she graduated from EvCC and she gave me her red cap and gown saying that I would be the one to wear it next!

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

Gayle: I applied to colleges and attended Brigham Young University-Idaho. I completed my program in December of 2010 and taught as a substitute until I became a kindergarten teacher in June of 2011 and taught at Excelsior Academy in Erda, Utah for two years.

Doug: I had a year of catch-up classes, then I was able to start the engineering transfer program. I graduated from EvCC in 1991. I was worked in the Engineering Department at Tramco for one year and decided it wasn’t what I wanted to do, so I started the electrical apprenticeship in 1992. Since then, I have worked as an electrician for 21 years.

Jennifer: After I finished my regular classes, the medical assisting program offered a 160-hour externship to finalize the program. I was placed at The Everett Clinic in the General Surgery Department. I loved the experience and the staff. They were very gracious and I received wonderful recommendations though my externship and was hired at the Occupational Medicine Department at The Everett Clinic in December of 2012. 

Tell me about your family: Where did you grow up, and did you have brothers or sisters?

Gayle: I am the oldest of three girls. I was born in Everett and lived there until I was 13 when we moved to Lake Stevens.

Doug:  I grew up in Colville, Washington and graduated from high school there.

Jennifer:. I am the second child in a large family of seven children, three girls and four boys.

Did your parents go to college and did they encourage you to attend college?

Gayle: My parents always told me that my dad got his two year certificate in engineering and that my mom just took some typing courses. They always knew I wanted to be a teacher and supported me in that. They were the ones who told me about the ORCA (Ocean Research College Academy) program. I always knew that my mom wanted to go back and get a degree as well.

Doug: My parents separated when I was 15. I joined the Navy because they couldn’t afford college.  My dad attended Spokane Community College, but I don’t think he ever got a degree. My mother has had no formal education.

Jennifer: My father struggled with his education, yet almost made it through a four-year college, but did not ever graduate. My mother was busy raising seven children and finally got her four-year degree in her late 50s at Washington State University.

When and where did you graduate from high school?

Gayle: I graduated from Snohomish High School a week after I walked with my associates degree--both at Comcast Arena. I've always been proud of that.

Jennifer: I graduated in 1986 from Colville High School, in Colville, Washington.

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

Gayle: Absolutely! I graduated from high school with my associates and my diploma and have now taught for two full years.

Jennifer: I was laid off from my job in 2010 and realized that I had a wonderful opportunity to go back to school to get a two-year degree. I checked out all the local colleges and programs and was excited to find that EvCC had a two-year medical assistant program. I tested and was enrolled at EvCC by winter quarter of 2011 in the Health Sciences Medical Assistant Program.

Did you ever envision your current career while in college?

Gayle: Always! I knew in my 7th grade science class that I wanted to teach elementary school. I've always wanted to know where I would be going and once I knew that I wanted to be a teacher, nothing could stop me.
Jennifer: While in college, the EvCC core medical assistant skills classes gave me a wonderful insight into just what I would be doing as a medical assistant. This gave me confidence that I was going to love my new career. The smaller class sizes and the personality of the professors and instructors made my experience at EvCC very enjoyable.

What courses or activities did you find to be most valuable and how did they help prepare you for your professional career or success in life?

Gayle: I focused on the classes I needed to take in ORCA and then took some fun classes. I feel like my work ethic was greatly reinforced and strengthened in ORCA: it taught me how to find success and work harder than I ever thought I could.

Doug: Studying and learning with others in the program helped the most.

Jennifer: I loved so many of my classes at EVCC. Most of all, I loved all of the medical assistant classes and also took three electives to earn my Associates in Technical Arts degree. One of my favorite classes was the digital photography class.

Any moments that stood out as especially memorable while at EvCC?

Gayle: The day I graduated. I was so proud and excited--I couldn't believe I did it. I stood next to my friends who were right there with me through the whole process. I just loved the feeling.

Doug: I was enrolled in a really hard chemistry class, and, with the help of another student, we studied together almost all night before a test. Both of us got the highest scores.

Jennifer: Many of the instructors acted as mentors. During my first quarter, Mattie Davis-Wolfe taught my medical terminology class. She did not just teach us the material; she taught us how to study and make the best use of our time. During spring quarter, I had Beth Adolphsen for anatomy and physiology, Beth was a crucial part of my success at EvCC and made me realize that I was capable of even more than I thought I could do and learn. Some other very important instructors I had were: Christine Malone, Chris Clark, and Francie Mooney.

What is your lasting impression of EvCC?

Gayle: The teachers were amazing; it's an awesome place that gives so many fresh starts. Quality education and staff!

Doug: I love EVCC. I was there right as the library was being completed and was able to study there a little before graduation.

Jennifer: My lasting impression is that it is a wonderful atmosphere in which to learn, for people of any age and background. The staff truly gives you all the tools and help needed to succeed.

What has helped you stay motivated, both in school, and in your career?

Gayle: Knowing the end game: that I wanted to be a teacher.

Doug: My wife . . . and bills.

Jennifer: The instructors and my fellow classmates helped me stay motivated. In each class, I developed friendships and/or study groups that were vital in helping me to be successful.

Please tell me about your current position or career.

Gayle: Currently, I'm on the job hunt. Fun, fun, fun . . . not. But I absolutely LOVED teaching kindergarten!

Doug: I am a foreman for Valley Electric.

Jennifer: I am currently working as a Certified Medical Assistant (CMA) at The Everett Clinic. I love the variety of tasks I perform--my days go by so quickly and I am always learning new things.

What do/did you find rewarding about it?

Gayle: The kids have so much love to give and are eager to learn about everything!

Doug: Good pay and benefits and I enjoy the challenge to complete a job--I like working with my hands.

Jennifer: I find helping patients, physicians and my co-workers very rewarding. Each day brings a different variety of people to help and things to do. 

Would you do anything differently if you had the chance to do it all over again?

Gayle: In ORCA, I wish I had stressed more about my GPA, but it was hard and I pushed myself as hard as I could. I've appreciated every challenge and turn along the way. It's been amazing.

Doug: Nothing, I have had a wonderful life with my wife and kids.

Jennifer: I do not think I would change anything about my experience the past two and a half years at EvCC. I loved my experience and hope to be able to attend classes again soon. However, if I could rewind time, I would have started taking classes one at a time years ago to get my pre-requesites done so I could go into the RN program at EvCC.  I wish I had believed in myself back then and invested in myself little by little. 

What were your keys to success?

Gayle: A supportive family, teachers who believed in me, and a strong work ethic.

Doug: Positive attitude, hard work, and sacrifice.

Jennifer: The keys to my success were: studying hard, making sure to take time to have a little fun with family and friends, and just never giving up--being willing to learn from my mistakes and ask others for help when I needed it.

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

Gayle: Work as hard as you can and enjoy it. You'll never get this time back. Take time for fun classes; it makes it awesome!

Doug: Reach for what you want and enjoy the friendships made at school.

Jennifer: If I could give any advice to current EvCC students, it would be this: be patient each time you start new classes--it takes about two weeks to feel like your head is above water. Just keep swimming!

Is there anything else you would like to add?

Jennifer: I truly enjoyed my experience at EvCC, I have stories and memories that will enrich my life and the lives of others for years to come