[SPOKANE, Wash.] Isabelle Folgner moved to Spokane from Dusseldorf, Germany in 2021 to attend Spokane Falls Community College. At the time, she anticipated getting a two-year transfer degree. While at the college, she also learned valuable life lessons.
“It gave me more understanding on how the US and different societies work. I’m also more aware of social problems and how we can improve society,” Folgner said. “Community college taught me about bigger thinking.”
Folgner decided to attend college at SFCC after an internship at Pacific Keep Church. In order to get accredited to attend a university, she registered at SFCC. Once she was accepted, the CCS Foundation awarded Folgner $1,000 for the 2021-2022 school year to help pay her tuition.
“It was the best decision I could have made,” she said.
In June, Folgner graduated with an Associate of Arts in Sociology. She will transfer to Whitworth to pursue a Bachelor of Arts in Theology. Her faith is very important to her and, she said, guided her to study in Spokane.
She also hopes to get a Master of Arts in Marriage and Family Counseling. She said that her time at SFCC guided her to an interest in counseling, including a novel idea of opening a coffee shop that doubles as a counseling practice.
“People relax in a coffee shop, and I want to give them the chance and ability to talk to someone, like therapy or counseling,” Folgner said. “Sometimes we have these situations where we calm down, which opens up our mind to letting the hurt and pain go. I think this would be super helpful to people to have closer access to therapy.”
Folgner would also incorporate aspects of her faith into the sessions.
“The basics of how God sees us – that he has a purpose for us, and we’re sharing his love to people – would be so beneficial for either marriage counseling or individual therapy counseling,” she said.
Guiding people comes more naturally now for Folgner. She joined SFCC’s International Club and was the lead student ambassador for two years, giving campus tours and onboarding students.
“I love my job. I just grew in leadership here,” she said. “The club and classes helped my understanding of social issues. We’re working with so many diverse people, like adults being in their 40s or single moms or students who have just come from high school and are trying to figure out where they should go in life.”
Folgner credits SFCC staff and faculty members – particularly JoAnne Connolly, Stephanie Elie-Martin and Amber McKenzie – for helping her integrate to college life as an international student. She is a big proponent of community college, especially SFCC.
“I love SFCC because it’s so community-oriented. It gives, literally, everyone from every age access to a higher education degree, and it makes it financially more possible to go to college,” she said.
Community Colleges of Spokane is a dynamic, 12,300-square-mile state community college district that includes Spokane Community College, Spokane Falls Community College and five rural education sites, serving residents in Pend Oreille, Stevens, Whitman, Ferry and parts of Lincoln counties.