Spring Catch the Wave

Waverly and Emergency Preparedness Folks

This weekend, hot-off-the-press copies of OCCC’s “Catch the Wave” course schedule will be mailed to every residential address in Lincoln County.

Catch the Wave Spring 2018

The publication’s cover features OCCC’s Disaster Preparedness class, a free workshop held every term for the past three years. The course, taught by Capt. Jim Kusz of the North Lincoln Fire and Rescue District, has become the most-attended workshop in the history of the OCCC Community Education program. This spring’s edition of the two-session class may be the last of this iteration of the course, so if you haven’t caught it yet and have been putting it off — put it off no longer!

This term brings a powerful lineup of non-credit, entertaining, and enriching classes and workshops to brighten your season. From mussel harvesting to Russian history, and from basket weaving to Japanese art and culture, there’s something to appeal to every taste.

Check out the online version of Catch the Wave anytime, here.

Or, click here to peruse the lineup of non-credit Community Education courses on offer this term, or click here to check out the powerful spring slate of Small Business Development offerings, fresh for Spring Term. Registration is open now and, already, some courses are close to filling up, so register soon!


OCCC Student Profile: Brenda Ortiz Cruz

I am from a small town in Oaxaca, Mexico. I was raised by my grandmother and my great-grandmother. They took over for my mother who, as a single mother, moved to Mexico City in order to work and support me. She could not see a future for herself in our village.

Brenda Ortiz Cruz

Brenda Ortiz Cruz

I grew up speaking Mixtec (Saa Savi), and Spanish. Now I continue to improve my pronunciation in English. I came to this country when I was fifteen because my mother wanted me to have a better quality of life. When I got here, however, I did not speak any English. With much hard work and the help of a few key teachers, I managed the language barrier and finished high school. In my immaturity, I decided that life was easy, so I stopped thinking about school.

For years, I thought that the biggest challenge of my life had been moving to the United States, but I was wrong. Three years ago, depression knocked at my door. It destroyed me.

I was alive because I was breathing, but life had no hold on me. I was on the edge of a terrifying abyss. My family helped me keep going, but I had no vision. Nothing motivated me. One day I got the OCCC quarterly mailing in my mail box. I looked at it, and I thought why not?

It was time for me to change my life. It was time to find my passion, to get my life back. I called and made an appointment with Blake Hagan. I’m not sure how I even dreamed of college. I had no money and no plan, but I did not let that stop me. I followed my guts and said this is my time.

“After one year of
being in college,
I look back with a
big smile on my face.
I have taken risks that
I never thought I was capable of … I am so grateful for the
opportunities that
I have had.”

I vividly remember my first day of school. I was intimidated by a classroom full of young, cheerful people. I felt totally lost, but I continued—walking away was not an option. I had already spent money that I did not have, so what else could I lose? I asked myself this question repeatedly and I stayed.

Beyond the course material, each class was a challenge in unexpected ways. I remember people asking me what I was studying. I never knew what to say and, each time for just a moment, I’d think I didn’t belong here, but I did not let my bad thoughts control me.

Time passed and I finished my first term, then my second and my third. Every time it became easier in many ways, but it never felt less challenging. After one year of being in college, I look back with a big smile on my face. I have taken risks that I never thought I was capable of. In January of this year I got an Invitation to Join the College Honor Society something that I never came across to my mind because I never thought it was possible to achieve. I am so grateful for the opportunities that I have had.

Last fall OCCC granted me a scholarship, and I have been working really hard to get good grades. To me having good grades is a way to thank the Foundation for believing in me and giving me that scholarship.

I am a full-time worker, the mother of two young children, and I am full-time student. I strive every day to do my best in everything that I am doing. I want to set an example for my children. I believe that education is the most important value that I can pass on to them.

I have learned so much in this past year; now I have bigger dreams. I want to graduate from our college, then build  my career here serving the people in this community. I love the coast. This is my home  and I want to be able to give back some of what I’ve received—and not in the distant future. I can’t wait for that time, in my near future.

Waves Journal

Waves Journal

OCCC students making ‘Waves’
Waves Journal

WAVES is an annual literary and art journal published each spring. The journal features writings and artwork contributed by Oregon Coast Community College’s students, faculty, and staff. This year’s submission deadline is Friday, March 9th. Please email your writing, photos, or photos of your art to waves@oregoncoastcc.org.

Submission Guidelines

Writing Submissions

We are accepting submissions of literary or visual art work on any subject to include:

  • Short fiction/non-fiction: no longer than 2500 words
  • Poetry: no line limit, but not to exceed 3 typed pages each
  • Experimental forms (for example, mixed genre, graphic stories, microfictions, nanofictions, flashfictions, critical-creative amalgams, creative nonfiction, or other experimental literary forms): no longer than 2500 words or 5 pages each

Previously published works or simultaneous submissions are accepted.

Individual copyright privileges revert to author upon publication.

File types .doc or .docx are preferred. If layout is a concern, please submit an additional .pdf file as well.

Art Submissions

All Artwork is accepted. Because most published art appears in black and white, high contrast artwork is most desired.

Art must be sent as high quality digital submission. Jpeg or Png files are preferred.

Please include caption, title, medium, etc.

File types .jpeg or .png are preferred. Please be sure that the visual is 300 dpi or greater.

All Submissions

Please submit your work as an email attachment sent to waves@oregoncoastcc.org.

Please clearly name all files (last name and title of work).

Be sure to include contact information in the body of your email, as well as the title(s) of your work(s) attached.

For more information about Waves or the submission guidelines, please contact patrick.misiti@oregoncoastcc.org

View More Submission Details


OCCC Welcomes New AQS Program Manager

OCCC Hires Larry Boles to Lead Aquarium Science Program

Larry Boles arrived as the new manager of the Oregon Coast Community College’s Aquarium Sciences program with a clear idea of what he wanted to change: nothing.

“One of the things I’ve made very clear is that I’m not here to mess up an astounding program,” he said. “Everywhere I’ve worked, we knew about it. What’s amazing is not only this facility, but our relationship with the Oregon Coast Aquarium. I feel safe to say that this type of relationship doesn’t exist anywhere else in the world.”

A native of North Carolina, Boles earned his Master’s in Marine Fisheries Science from the Virginia Institute of Marine Science at the College of William & Mary, where he focused on the behavioral ecology of crustaceans, including crabs and lobsters.

“I started out studying marine biology as a graduate student,” he said. “I published papers and was a visiting professor in a variety of biology subjects, then I transitioned to working for a small natural science center that had living exhibits. I was hired to do aquatic things, but I worked with bears, wolves, alligators, among other animals.”

That experience led to a position as Research Associate for Disney’s Animal Programs at the Seas with Nemo and Friends, at Walt Disney World’s Epcot Center.

“I went to Disney specifically to work with a research team to improve the animal care there and to do conservation projects in the wild,” Boles said. “When Disney built the aquarium at Epcot it was the largest aquarium in the world. A lot of people don’t realize how many animals it has and that is is a leader in animal conservation, and that it spends millions of dollars in conservation projects annually.”

In addition to his work in Florida, Boles travelled for Disney to work with a coral reef specialist in the Bahamas.

“One of the things we did was to build a curriculum for the Bahamian kids to learn about reef conservation,” he said. “Then they would go on to work with the Bahamian people and provide education for people who visit on cruise ships.”


A unique program

The OCCC Aquarium Science Program, housed in the Aquarium Science Building on the Central Campus in Newport, began in 2011. “One of the many reasons to be impressed about this program is that students have had over 90 percent placement in the field after graduation,” Boles said. “We have two tracks: a two-year degree and also a one-year certificate program for people that already have a four-year degree in the natural sciences. That again shows you the value of the program – that students who have obtained a four-year degree might still lack the practical experience that we provide. If you look at the required education in many job postings in the animal husbandry or aquarium sciences fields, more and more of them say four-year degree, OR graduation from a recognized Aquarium Sciences program.

Larry Boles“That language is there because of our program. It’s going to be become increasingly harder for people to get into the field without formal training. At one point, we were the only place to get that training, though there’s one on North Carolina now. Another thing I like is that our students are learning from people that are actively working in the field.”

Every year a visiting committee made up of about 10 aquarium professionals from all over the country arrive to do a collective assessment of the OCCC Aquarium Sciences program.

“They come here on their own dime and do a complete review of our staff, curriculum and students,” Boles said. “They do mock interviews, which is both an amazing opportunity for the students and a great check for us, since we get a big written report afterwards to make sure we are up to standards. It’s going to be stressful, but luckily I’ve been through similar situations in other positions.”

This review is another thing that Boles considers an external thumbs-up: “The ongoing willingness of the peer group to continue to do this shows their confidence in what we are doing,” he said. “It reflects how their future and ours are tied together, since we are providing potential future employees, but I also feel confident that we are creating future leaders in the industry.”

During his time in this field, Boles has seen that, as a society, our attitudes toward animal welfare have improved dramatically. He predicts we will see that trend continue. “The fact that this program even exists is an indication that the field has advanced in the last 30 years,” he said. “As an industry, we are thinking more and more about how we house our animals; it used to be just about food and water quality, and that is changing. People used to get into the field who were home aquarists who learned on the job. Now, aquariums and zoos want people with both conceptual and real-world knowledge. Our students will be going to aquariums where their primary position will be to take care of animals, but they will also be working to educate the public and work on conservation for these animals that are threatened and endangered.”

The Association of Zoos and Aquariums is an independent organization that helps to set standards for care for animals in captivity and has an impact on the fields graduates of the OCCC programs will be entering.

“The AZA is a self-regulating system to set a higher standard for care than even the US government requires,” Boles said. “At OCCC, we are well ahead of even their standards, and though the College is not a member, it is a conservation partner, which allows us to work with member institutions like the Oregon Coast Aquarium. I would never transfer an animal from an AZA certified facility to one that is not.”

Boles will be joined soon by Sandra Blake-Boles, his wife of 22 years. “My wife actually went to Reed College,” Larry said. “So she was excited to come back to Oregon. While she was the president of the alumni society we came out here a lot. I actually rode a motorcycle from Portland to Newport once, while she was in boring meetings.”

The rest of the Boles family includes Molly, a Standard poodle, and Fred the cat. When not attending to animal welfare, Larry has a few hobbies to keep him busy. “I like to rebuild and ride old Japanese motorcycles,” he said. “I’m good at the mechanics, not as good with the cosmetic part. I’ve done a lot of scuba diving, and I’ll be getting back into that, but I’m not looking forward to the cold water after having done so much diving in the Bahamas. I used to brew my own beer, but people probably wouldn’t be that impressed by that out here.”

Boles was hired as the Assistant Husbandry Curator at the North Carolina Aquarium at Fort Fisher about two years before the position at the college opened, and he wasn’t really considering making a change until he saw the posting: “It was an awkward time because we had just laid down roots,” he said. “I would not have considered a major move like this for any other job.”

For more information, call Lucinda Taylor at 541-867-8531 or follow OCCC on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram.

Thirty for Thirty

Thirty for Thirty Graphic

Join us in celebrating OCCC’s 30th anniversary.

Your gift of $30 can make a difference!

Established in 1987, OCCC is celebrating its 30th anniversary this year.  If you or someone you know has benefited from OCCC, from a single class or life-changing certificate or degree, please show your appreciation with a gift to the OCCC Foundation.

By supporting the OCCC Foundation, you are helping grow our economy, decrease poverty, and prevent homelessness.  You are helping our local businesses find the skilled labor they need to grow and prosper, helping individual students increase their ability to earn a living wage job to support their families, and helping grow the next generation of leadership for our community organizations.

More from SOAR

SOAR High Altitude Balloon Launch Photo

Check out the latest from OCCC’s SOAR program – which featured OCCC students launching high-altitude balloons last summer, training for (and ultimately accomplishing) an experiment to measure the atmospheric effects of totality.

The SOAR Program Blog, found at this link, has chronicled the program throughout the summer and culminates here with a summary of the eclipse-day launches, and the formal delivery of findings presented by OCCC students at Oregon State University in November

Read the full story.



OCCC, LCSD to “Grow our own” teachers

Oregon Coast Community College with Newport Bridge

College secures grant, creates new opportunities for local students

OCCC, LCSD and others build new track to teaching degree

Oregon Coast Community College (OCCC) has been awarded a major grant to help the region “grow our own” teachers for the K-12 schools that serve communities along the Central Oregon Coast.

In partnership with the Lincoln County School District (LCSD), Tillamook Bay Community College (TBCC) and Western Oregon University (WOU), along with other supporters, OCCC has secured a $250,000 Meyer Memorial Trust Grant to fill the educator workforce gap in Lincoln and Tillamook Counties with culturally responsive and prepared K-12 teachers.

“This grant will open new pathways for local students planning to begin their teaching careers right here in Lincoln County,” said OCCC President Dr. Birgitte Ryslinge. “It will provide our students with a direct path towards a teaching degree, while minimizing the time they are forced to spend away from home. And, it will help the school district add to the diversity of instructors serving Lincoln County’s children.”

The first seeds of the project were planted in February of this year and, with the opportunity to apply for funding from Meyer Memorial Trust, the plan grew to include several other partners.

The school district has been involved in developing the project from the beginning and Superintendent Tom Rinearson has played a key role. “Lincoln County School District is excited about this partnership with OCCC to provide a pathway to grow our own teachers and early childhood educators,” he said. “There is a tremendous need for this labor force and it will be a benefit to the youth of Lincoln County. We thank Meyer Memorial Trust for entrusting us with this grant and we know the results will amazing.”

Western Oregon University has also been on board since the beginning with a goal of providing a seamless transfer from our local community colleges to the university program. TBCC was invited to join the project shortly after the grant proposal entered development. Their participation will help ensure sustainability of the program by increasing the total number of participants who form the WOU cohort. Thought there is no guarantee, with enough participants, some WOU courses could be offered here on the coast, reducing the amount of time students need to spend away from home.

“This program is another of the College’s ongoing efforts to add to the career opportunities available to our students right here in Lincoln County,” said Daniel Lara, OCCC’s Dean of Academics and Workforce.

In a release, the Meyer Memorial Trust stated it strives to “advance equity across Oregon,” and works “to help build wealth in communities that have long experienced income disparities.” Income disparities are the norm here in Lincoln County, as evidenced by the county’s own “10-Year Economic Update” study, whose findings included 2012 median family income totals of $41,996 for Lincoln County as compared to $50,036 for the state.

One of the desired outcomes of the grant is to produce a more diverse teacher workforce and the project will include targeted outreach to underrepresented populations. OCCC is partnering with the Confederated Tribes of Siletz Indians and Centro de Ayuda to provide culturally appropriate outreach and student recruitment. The partnerships will also help support cultural representation on program advisory boards.


The teacher track

Through the program, local students can take core courses at Oregon Coast Community College and then transfer to Western Oregon University’s College of Education to complete a four-year degree and earn a teaching certification. The program also includes placement in student-teaching positions here in Lincoln County.

“Through this program, Lincoln County residents – whether they are new to the area or have deep roots and family ties here – can not only stay here, but can develop successful careers while they share their experience and local expertise in the classroom,” Lara said.

The program has been carefully designed to ensure that the courses taken at OCCC prior to transferring to WOU all apply directly to the eventual teaching degree, with no loss of credit.  As part of the partnership, TBCC will produce the required math courses and OCCC students will participate via videoconference at OCCC’s North County Center in Lincoln City. OCCC will reciprocate by producing the teacher education courses required for the associate’s degree program and TBCC students will participate via videoconference.

The Meyer Memorial Trust grant will help develop the program, and will also fund special advising and student recruitment materials tailored to the program. The grant will also fund improvements in OCCC’s distance-education infrastructure, ensuring smooth and convenient delivery of courses such as those mathematics courses produced by TBCC.

The new program marks an important milestone in Oregon Coast Community College’s growth. The 30-year-old college already presents robust clusters of programs in Business, transfer degrees, Aquarium Science, and Health and Human Services. Education will become OCCC’s newest cluster and will include an early childhood education certificate program. Thanks, in part, to this grant, the college will be able to offer new pathways for local students looking to earn college degrees, and launch their working careers, here at home.

Learn more about the Meyer Memorial Trust at https://mmt.org/. Watch for updates and details about the Lincoln County program at www.oregoncoastcc.org.

Welcome Week: January 2 to 5

Sea Stars

It’s Welcome Week at OCCC. If this is your first term, or if you’re returning after a while, don’t be shy — stop by our front desk at the Central County Campus in Newport or the North County Center in Lincoln City. There, you’ll find friendly OCCC Staff ready to answer your questions and point you in the right direction.

Have a great term, Sharks!

President Ryslinge’s Statement on DACA Announcement

US Capitol

Click to read OCCC President Dr. Birgitte Ryslinge’s statement on the Trump administration’s announcement on the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) policy. {En Español}

Fall Community Ed Lineup Announced


Ready to learn something new? Something fun? There’s no better time than Fall 2017, when Oregon Coast Community College’s Community Education program will roll out nearly 50 classes to brighten our favorite season of the year!

Try Mosaics, Zen Meditation, Poetry Writing, Birdwatching or others — and click here to get the first chance to review the Fall Term lineup of classes, and the first chance to register while the most spaces are available! The Fall Term Schedule is now available online.

Use our handy online form to register any time. Our staff here in Newport or Lincoln City will be in touch soon to verify your enrollment and make payment arrangements.