Explore the employee stories below for firsthand accounts from our dedicated faculty and staff.

Their diverse and unique perspectives make LCC a college like no other.

  • 59% of employees responding to a spring 2024 poll reported that they were the first person in their family to go to college (also called "First Generation" or "First Gen").
  • 69% of employees responding to the same poll reported that they are LCC alums.

Lupe Rodriguez

First Gen and LCC Alum icons

Guadalupe Rodriguez, Running Start Director

Working in the fields at a young age picking berries for hours, in the hot sun, rain, and sometimes late evening, dreaming about being a nurse, a teacher, a career that would allow me to provide for myself and my family someday sometimes seemed like a dream that would be hard to accomplish. Being the eldest of nine children, my motivation for attending and staying in college was not only to make my parents proud but to also be a role model for my younger siblings. I reached the goal that both my parents desired to achieve when growing up, but college wasn’t an option for them at the time. Thanks to my parents’ encouragement, and immense sacrifice and dedication to ensure my success in my education, I was the first in my family to attend college and graduate. Attending college with no guidance was quite the adventure but I learned many things along the way and met many amazing people that inspired me to continue to push forward, has led me to my current position as Lower Columbia College Running Start Director.

Being a first-generation college student means a lot of things to me as this accomplishment not only represents my family, but represents my dreams of having a better life, and giving back to all those who believed in me. My advice to other first-generation students is to never give up on your dreams, even when things seem hard and impossible.

I like working at LCC as it gives me the opportunity to give back to my community and continue to learn and grown, all while supporting students and helping them get closer to their goals.

Learn more about Running Start


Ale Sanchez

First Gen and LCC Alum icons

Alé Sanchez, Health Careers Specialist

I was the first person (in my family) to finish high school, and the first one to go to college - and I did it in another country, and in a different language.

My family back at home are proud, but I did it for my kids here so I could provide a better future for them.

(Attending LCC) meant staying home! Being a single mom of two boys - at that time - it meant that I could spend more time with them instead of traveling to/from places. School, work study, daycare, and later a full-time position were all here.

The sense of belonging has been there since the first day I walked in as a student. There are great people working here that make it home.

Learn more about Health Careers at LCC

Learn more about Advising


Nolan Wheeler

First Gen and LCC Alum icons

Nolan Wheeler, Vice President of Administration

Being a first generation college graduate has been a source of pride for me and my family. I had to navigate uncharted waters and face unfamiliar academic environments and processes. I didn't really understand the challenges that I faced that were unique to my situation until I started working at LCC and saw the advantages that non-first generation students had over first generation students. My college education has allowed me to have a rewarding career here at LCC! 

Going to LCC allowed me to pursue and complete my degree in Business Management. I've been able to have a very rewarding career at LCC due to these opportunities. In turn, I have been able to support students through my work efforts and providing support to the LCC Foundation to better our community.

Working at LCC allows me to support students through my work efforts and provide them support through the LCC Foundation. It's important to me that my work efforts go toward bettering our community.

Learn more about the LCC Foundation


Kailie Drumm

LCC Alum

Kailie Drumm, PhD, RN, Nursing Faculty

I moved to Longview from the greater Los Angeles area to purse my career in Nursing. I chose LCC after a Google search for best community colleges in the PNW. At LCC, both in my prerequisite courses and in the nursing program, I felt truly seen, supported and valued by my instructors. As a single mom with a dream to provide for her child, I had an uphill battle to fight when I started over and moved 1,000 miles away from any support I knew. I was successful at LCC, then went on to get my Bachelor's and PhD in nursing and have since returned to work at LCC in the nursing program to give back and support dreamers as I was supported. There are many avenues a PhD can take, and choosing LCC is the best choice I have ever made. LCC means so much to me; it is truly a second home.

LCC has the most welcoming community-vibe I have ever experienced in a workplace. Everyone is friendly, cooperative, and genuinely wants the best for our students, our faculty and staff, and our community. The support you receive here as an employee is astounding.

Learn more about Nursing


Richard Arquette

First Gen and LCC Alum icons

Richard Arquette, Director of Student Programs

Being the first in my family to go to college was hard (like I didn't know what I was doing at all). But, once I connected with the college resources, started getting involved on campus in clubs and organizations, and developed a plan for myself, I thrived in college. I cannot emphasize enough how impactful getting involved in campus was on my college experience.

I came to LCC as a Running Start student. LCC was an opportunity to get more flexibility in my schedule, save money on college classes, and help figure out what I wanted to do for a career. It was a great way to get a head start on college.

I love working at LCC because there is a clear sense of what the college mission is throughout the work all employees do. Having worked at other colleges, this is a goal all of them work to achieve, but LCC is living it.

Learn more about Student Activities


Natasha Allen

First Gen and LCC Alum icons

Natasha Allen, Welding Instructor

(As the first person in my family to attend college), I had no understanding of all of the opportunities that could be found through schooling.

I found an entire new path in love through LCC. I came in looking at a completely different course plan, before finding what would be my perfect career. Two quarters in, Allan Evald introduced me to welding and I immediately changed my path.

I couldn’t imagine my life any different. LCC gave me so much and I have made an effort through my trades career to give back. Material donations, speaking to classes, trades events and finally teaching. I love welding and without LCC I would have never found it.

My students are the best and the teams we have supporting them are the best. We are a team working towards the same goal, student success.

Learn more about Welding


Steven Boyer

First Gen and LCC Alum icons

Steven Boyer, Workforce Navigator

Forging this new path has broadened the horizons for my children and brought them stability beyond what I could provide in the past.

Coming to LCC brought a sense of community to my life and made me feel like I was part of something. A member to a family I never knew I needed. The support I found at the entry center from Jenny Smith was amazing! She guided me through so many tricky processes that I had never been through before.

The tutors in the learning center were amazing and my instructors held me accountable and taught me the importance of routines and deadlines. All of this helped me find my balance and stability.   

I love being here to support students in the way I needed support when I came here. I love seeing our students succeed in the face of adversity and overcome insurmountable obstacles to persevere and graduate. I haven't missed a graduation ceremony since I have been working here.

Learn more about Workforce Education


Sue Orchard

First Generation icon

Sue Orchard, Vice President of Students

As a first generation college student, I was missing a lot of information about how to be successful in college and didn’t have family to turn to for help.  I initially struggled with learning how to navigate and find a career path.

Through mentorship, advising and peer support, I built confidence and knowledge to achieve my educational and personal goals. A college degree opened up so many doors for me and my family, and inspired me to help others who are also first generation students.

I value the innovation of our faculty and staff and the college's deep commitment to student success.

Learn more about Student Resources and Services


Nathan Shepherd

First Gen and LCC Alum icons

Nathan Shepherd, Machine Trades Instructor

Earning a degree from LCC has allowed me to do work that I truly love.

Right out of school I found employment out in industry ranging from maintenance machinist to CNC programmer.

Now I am back as an instructor passing on my knowledge to the next generation of skilled professionals.

Lower Columbia College strengthens the local community. I feel fortunate to be able to help others along their journey of self-improvement.

Learn more about Machine Trades

Learn more about Computer Numerical Control

Learn more about Manufacturing, Trades and Transportation


Jonna Mallery

First Gen and LCC Alum icons

Jonna Mallery, Student Success Specialist

I was an older student when I decided to begin my college education. Neither of my parents attended college. As terrifying as this was, I found connections on campus. Other students taking the same classes and instructors that were more than willing to work with me and offered support during the most uncertain of times. I felt welcomed and encouraged every step of the way.

Attending Lower Columbia College offered flexibility to myself and my family. Relocation or long commutes were eliminated by seeking education close to home. The flexibility of in person or online classes offered further flexibility allowing for family time along with studying and attending classes. Due to school/work conflicts, I sought a position on campus as work study. The work study position evolved into a permanent position. With a degree, I was able to improve my employment to better support my family.

The best aspect of my position is being an advocate for students stepping into the unknown world of higher education. I can walk students through processes foreign to them and help find supports as needed through Financial Aid, Advising, Tutoring, Employment Services, and many more obstacles encountered.

Learn more about the One-Stop Center


Matt Seimears

First Generation icon

Matt Seimears, PhD, President

I entered the workforce as a MIG/TIG Welder after graduating from high school because my high school guidance counselor told me that college wasn't for me.

I became the first person in my family to attend college when I enrolled at Butler Community College in Kansas. I later transferred to Pittsburgh State University, where I earned a Bachelor's Degree. I subsequently earned a Master's Degree from Wichita State University, a second Bachelor's Degree from Newman University, and a Ph.D. from Kansas State University.

I've worked as a K-12 teacher, a community college adjunct faculty member, an instructor/academic advisor, professor, associate department chair, dean and provost of a university.

I was overjoyed to become President of LCC in January 2024. It is the culmination of everything I've done and want to do in higher education. I'm excited about the opportunities, collaboration, innovation and partnerships that we're building for the greater good of Longview and beyond.

Learn more about College Leadership


Kim Beebe

First Generation icon

Kimberly Beebe, Communication Studies Faculty

Being a first generation college student means that I had more opportunities than my parents did. My parents taught me the value of education from a young age, and they encouraged me to pursue higher education. My own children have now watched me complete graduate school, and my husband and I are also teaching them the value of education. I'm grateful that my parents encouraged me to attend college and for the opportunities given to me because of higher education.

I love the friendly, supportive community at LCC. Everyone I've worked with seems to genuinely love their job and wants to see students succeed.

Learn more about Arts, Communication and Humanities


Lucas Myers

LCC Alum

Lucas Myers, Science Faculty, Head Women's Basketball Coach

LCC was a great opportunity for me to be able to complete my two year degree while in High School. The Running Start program made college more affordable.

I enjoy making a difference in my own community. It is amazing to be able to see LCC transform lives of people that we see each and everyday throughout our community.

Learn more about Science, Technology, Enginnering and Math

Learn more about LCC Athletics


Connie Ramos

First Gen and LCC Alum icons

Connie Ramos, Nursing Faculty

Being a first generation college student can be difficult because your family doesn't comprehend what college entails. Your success as a college grad gives confidence to your siblings and cousins that college is possible and to go for their dreams.

I took my prerequisites for my Bachelor of Science in nursing at LCC as the first step of becoming a nurse educator. Being able to take classes close to home made the educational process easier. You can still find me playing in the bands from time to time.

I love to watch the growth in students as they realize their capabilities. It is gratifying to see students from lower socioeconomic statuses realize they have the ability to accomplish their dreams. Watching nursing students go from "what am I doing" to "I know what I am doing" brings a smile to my heart and soul.  I love helping students who are first generation realize that they are capable of achieving their dreams. We can make a difference in our community by helping others believe in themselves.

Learn more about Nursing


Read more employee stories here!


Human Resource Services

 Sam Orth, Director of Human Resources

  (360) 442-2124
Fax: (360) 442-2129
  sorth@lowercolumbia.edu

 Jennifer Lucas, Talent Acquisition Specialist

  (360) 442-2122
  jlucas@lowercolumbia.edu

 Administration Building, 1st Floor

 Hours

Mon-Fri: 8 am - 5 pm