Worker retraining enrollment at Tacoma Community College is up more than 20 percent from last year’s numbers. I decided to drop by the campus and talk to a few students about why they’re attending classes.
Glenda Smith-Stewart was a student at TCC in 1973 but left when he was presented with an opportunity to pursue her dream – to sing lead vocals for a seven-piece traveling band.
For the next eight years, she traveled the country seeing rhythm and blues and country music. She eventually returned to Tacoma and worked at a doctor’s office as a receptionist and referral coordinator – until last year, when she was laid off.
And now, at 54, she’s back at TCC to earn her associate degree in accounting.
"When I worked at the office, everything was structured," she said Wednesday. "We just used specialized software. When I stopped working there, I needed to brush up on my technology. I felt like I was in the Dark Ages."
Kathy Kelley, a 48-year-old Tacoma resident, worked as an escrow officer until July 2007. She’s at TCC to earn an accounting degree.
"I’m reevaluating what I have to do to get into a job where I won’t get laid off again," she said.
Raymond Quichocho managed a warehouse in Puyallup but was laid off. He studying for a degree in radiology – he wants to be an X-ray technician – so he can support his four kids.
"There’s a big demand in that," he said. "At the old job, they just let people go when it got slow. This should be more stable."
Ryan Fudge worked at The News Tribune until June. He’s studying to be a paraeducator.
"People are always going to need kids," the 29-year-old Tacoma resident said, "and they’re going to need someone to help teach them."