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Caps Off to New Beginnings

By: Kayla Friedrich 

[SPOKANE, Wash.] — On Friday, thousands of students from Community Colleges of Spokane will flaunt blue gowns, decorated caps and the bright smiles across the stage during their graduation. 

This year, we collected a handful of student stories to reflect the diverse backgrounds and interests of our students at Spokane Falls and Spokane Community College

Jefferson Rakotomalala, A.A. Business Administration, Spokane Falls Community College 

Spokane Falls Community College student Tongasoa Jefferson Julianot Rakotomalala has become a force of change in every community he has touched. 
Since he arrived in Spokane in September 2022, Rakotomalala has taken every chance to leave a lasting mark in his Inland Northwestern home.  

In two short years, he has been a semifinalist of the Jack Kent Cooke Undergraduate Transfer Scholarship Award, started a youth group at a local church and served as President of the SFCC International Student Club, all while attending classes to receive his associate’s degree. 
“My success is not for me and me alone,” he said. “It’s for all the people who supported me and for my mom. None of my family graduated high school and my mom never attended middle school so that means they’re living in poverty. My situation is that I fight my way and that’s a blessing for me because despite any hard, challenging trials, I hold up my faith and believe that everything will be okay.” 

Rakotomalala will attend Hope College in Holland, Michigan to receive his bachelor's degree.  


Jessica Murphy, B.A.S. Respiratory Care, Spokane Community College 

In her search to make an impact, Jessica Murphy stumbled upon the Bachelor of Applied Science in Respiratory Care program at Spokane Community College.  

“Most people don’t know what respiratory care is until they need it,” Murphy said. “I liked this because I already had the anatomy of the head figured out, and this wasn’t much more. It’s a specialty and I jumped into it, and we were in the middle of a respiratory pandemic.”   

She knew she was on the right track during her pediatric clinical rotation at Sacred Heart Medical Center where she watched as a group of respiratory nurses surrounded their patient with love during their final moments.  

Since graduating from the program at the end of fall quarter, Murphy works full time in Sacred Heart’s Pediatric and Neonatal Intensive Care Units and serves as Student Engagement Committee Co-Chair for the Respiratory Care Society of Washington. 


Taylor Kuykendall, A.A.S Photography, Spokane Falls Community College  

When Taylor Kuykendall first began her associate of applied science degree in Photography, she was unaware of the impact that it would have on her as an artist and aspiring entrepreneur.  

Returning to school at 33 years-old presented its own set of challenges, but with support from classmates, family members and instructors Kuykendall is graduating with her associate in applied science in Photography in June and is equipped with all the knowledge she’ll need to be a creative business owner someday.   

“Once all the technical aspects came together— the lighting, correct camera settings, and everything else, I saw the photo come up on the computer and I was like ‘I did that’,” she said. “I can make beautiful images.”   

Kuykendall is wrapping up an internship with Dean Davis, one of the largest product photographers in Spokane, before she takes her skills to Seattle where she hopes to enter the big city’s small business market.  


Meagan Eirls, A.A.S. Professional-Technical CAD Design and Drafting, Spokane Community College

Meagan Eirls fell in love with computer aided design and drafting her junior year of high school, but wasn’t sure what opportunities existed in that field until seven years after graduation.  

Eirls is graduating from Spokane Community College with her Associate of Applied Science in Professional-Technical CAD Design and Drafting.  

She fueled this passion by joining the engineering club within her first quarter at SCC. Outside of her interest in design and engineering, Eirls worked with the SCC Community Awareness, Resources and Engagement Services office to help students gain access to necessities.  

“I am really grateful for this program and that it exists,” Eirls said. “I feel like STEM isn’t a very popular kind of subject and it’s definitely very male dominated, so it’s exciting going into this field as a woman.” 

Caps off to the next steps ahead for the class of 2024! 

Posted On

6/11/2024 2:48:51 PM

Posted By

Kayla Friedrich



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