chemeketa students

Meet alumna Fabiola Regla Ramos

By Chemeketa Public Affairs

When you think of reasons that might prohibit one from reaching their educational potential, what comes to mind? Do language barriers, domestic violence, family obligations or homelessness make your list?

For Fabiola Regla Ramos, it wasn’t one but all of these setbacks that slowed her progress—but she refused to let them break her spirit. Now Fabiola is a role model for those experiencing similar obstacles and, perhaps more importantly, for her son and daughter.

Born and raised in Comala, Colima Mexico, Fabiola was brought to the U.S. against her wishes at the age of 14. Though she spoke no English, she was placed into mainstream classes due to a lack of school resources. It wasn’t long before she failed her classes, dropped out of high school and ran away to elope with her boyfriend.

But life didn’t turn out how she had hoped. “I suffered domestic violence for many years,” Fabiola recalls. “First at the hands of my own father, then in foster care and finally at the hands of my husband.” When her ex-husband turned his physical abuse to her son, Fabiola gained the courage to leave and take a chance at a better life for her children and herself.

For nine months, Fabiola and her kids were homeless, living in a shelter while her divorce was finalized. She took this time to find a job and a place to live, finding work as a waitress. While she enjoyed the job, she quickly discovered it couldn’t support the needs of her family.

“I started thinking of ways in which I could improve my opportunities,” says Fabiola. “I wanted something more, but I wasn’t sure what exactly. I only knew I wanted a job that had a purpose. My drive was to create a better future for my kids.”

Her local Worksource office changed her life, helping her build a resume and connecting her with a program that paid for her GED classes and a CNA certification at Chemeketa. She took the leap and returned to school 10 years after she had dropped out.

“When I started taking GED classes I had the choice of taking them in Spanish, but I wanted to challenge myself and took the classes and the exams in English,”says Fabiola. “I knew that learning how to write and read in English was essential in order to provide my kids with a better future.”

It took nine months for Fabiola to obtain her GED and CNA through Chemeketa. She credits the support of counselors, staff, tutors and teachers for helping her change her life.

“I had a wonderful experience and felt like I was a part of something big for the first time,” Fabiola recalls. “I had tasted knowledge and I was hungry for more.”

She went on to earn her associate degree and is now enrolled at Western Oregon University planning to earn her bachelor’s degree in psychology in the spring of 2016.

“I was once an adolescent who felt out of place and had no hope or dreams for the future,” Fabiola recalls. “Now I have become a better parent and I have a job that serves a purpose, a job that allows me to help people in a position I once was.”

Fabiola works as a teacher assistant for the Spanish GED for Chemeketa’s Dallas center and volunteers as an advocate for equality and human rights at Voz Hispana and she was selected as a guest speaker for Oregon’s 2015 GED Summit. Her five-year plan includes getting a master’s degree in Social work, buying a home and starting a savings account for her kids’ college education.

“I am thankful and proud of the opportunities I seized and I look forward many more to come,” she says. “I will never forget that all it took was to take a chance, a chance to go back to school to obtain a GED. Knowledge set me free—and there’s no stopping me now.”

Meet Caleb: Part-time custodian, part-time poet

By Chemeketa Public Affairs

To Caleb Stratemeyer, poetry is a way of leading by example.

“Everybody wants to learn,” he says, “but at the same time, how does someone learn if they’re too embarrassed to ask questions or if they don’t have someone they trust enough to give them the right answer?”

That’s where Caleb believes he can make a difference. “My poetry is a way of teaching us all how to get along better without pointing fingers.”

Caleb discovered his talents during his seventh grade LRC class where a poetry assignment and a helpful teacher gave him confidence as a writer.

Pairing poetry with his interest in listening to and helping others, Caleb found the topic he was most passionate about: treating women with respect.

“I’ve had a lot of female friends give me advice on the world. Without them I would be 100% lost,” he says.

But as his friends opened up to him about their experiences with physical, mental and emotional abuse, Caleb turned to poetry as an outlet. “I’ve always tried to do what is right, but it was my friends who taught me how to do it with heart.”

Now he uses his words as a tool for presenting different perspectives, inspiring change of hearts, focusing on solutions and ending the cycle of abuse.

“I can show people how to be gentle and compassionate,” he says.

Caleb has had the opportunity to share his poetry at open mics at his church, Chemeketa’s Multicultural Center and most recently at the HVAC exhibit. Naturally one to shy away from the spotlight, Caleb has appreciated the support and feedback of his friends and colleagues.

“I don’t want to come off as some perfect person. I’ve been stubborn, overprotective and controlling, but I’ve learned from mistakes,” Caleb reflects. “And something tells me I’m not quite done learning.”

While he knows reducing divorce rates and ending abuse, rape and human trafficking is a large task to undertake, Caleb is steadfast in his calling of being a male role model.

He meets regularly with other like-missioned men as part of the group “Men for Hope and Safety” to take action and raise awareness.

“I don’t know how to go about it but I think if I get there some day that’s great,“ he says. “What I’m doing now is a good start.”

Read a selection of his poetry

Eyes into the negative

The Wings that shall Sparkle

Veterans recognized at event

By Chemeketa Public Affairs

Veterans Day 2015A message of the community stepping up to take care of war veterans was the key takeaway from Chemeketa Community College’s annual Veterans Day observance event on Nov. 5.

In his keynote address, Oregon Rep. Paul Evans, a veteran and Chemeketa communications instructor, said every person has a stake in how veterans are treated in America.

“Every time a veteran is dishonored, all of us are dishonored,” Evans said.

America is currently a nation with five distinct generations of war veterans, from World War II to the current conflict in Iraq and Afghanistan, Evans said. Many veterans have not received suitable post-war assistance to adjust back to civilian life, with 22 veterans a day committing suicide.

“We need systems and support in place if veterans are to go to war,” Evans said.

The event also included the presentation of colors by the All-Nations Native American Color Guard. The singing of the Star Spangled Banner and additional music was provided by Chemeketa student Anthony Dixon.

The annual event is sponsored by the Chemeketa Veterans Club and Multicultural Student Services.

Meet Selina: Helping students and families

By Chemeketa Public Affairs

Chemeketa advisor Julio Cortez gave a small bit of advice to a struggling CAMP student seven years ago that ended up making a big difference.

The CAMP student was Selina Ramon Sanchez. She was part of the first Chemeketa Scholars cohort in 2008, and she was dismayed to find herself struggling in a Chemeketa math class. Math and science had always been Selina’s strength as student at North Marion High. She even considered becoming a doctor until she realized the burden that years of medical school would place on her family. She came to Chemeketa looking for other ways to help her community and that tough math class caused her to question whether she even belonged here.

“I was afraid and didn’t think anyone would help me,” she recalled. “Julio told me to speak up and be my own advocate. So I talked with the instructor and he was really helpful.”

Ramon Sanchez transferred to Western Oregon University where she earned an interdisciplinary studies degree combining studies in everything that interested her: Spanish, accounting and psychology. Her intent for her education was to help members of the Latino community improve how they manage their personal finances. While at WOU she kept a part-time job as a registration assistant at Chemeketa Woodburn where she advocated for the economic benefits of education.

She started work for the Oregon Department of Human Services but kept an eye on job openings at Chemeketa.

“I feel like I belong to Chemeketa,” she says.

Her chance to act on that sentiment came when Chemeketa opened a position in financial aid to help with the workload anticipated from implementing the Oregon Promise. Selina was hired to help students and families navigate the complexities of paying for college. She is currently the only Spanish-fluent employee in Chemeketa’s financial aid department.

“The Oregon Promise is totally going to open the doors for so many students,’ she exclaims.

Many of them will have some idea of how Selina helped them. Maybe they’ll get some advice from Julio along the way too. What they may never appreciate is how their conversation seven years ago created an advocate for college access.


“Drawing Deeper” featured at art gallery

By Chemeketa Public Affairs

Drawing Deeper at art galleryWhile most Gretchen Schuette Art Gallery exhibits feature a single artist, the latest presentation will instead focus on a specific medium to draw you in.

“Drawing Deeper” will run from Nov. 4 to Dec. 4 in the gallery. The exhibit will featuring five different artists focused on the artistic discipline of drawing. The pieces were curated by Laura Mack, chair of Chemeketa’s art department.

“The work is rich because the way the marks are made is as forceful as the subject matter,” Mack wrote in her statement. “The quality of their approaches reflects the quality of their observations as they question, explain, or simply present.”

The artists featured in the drawing exhibit are Debra Beers, Elaine Green, April Coppini, Megan Vossler and Samantha Wall.

A reception will be held on Nov. 4 from 12:30 to 2:30 pm at the gallery, located on the first floor of Building 3 on the Salem campus.

The gallery is open from 9:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Monday through Thursday, 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Fridays, or by appointment.

Grand opening of Applied Tech complex celebrated

By Chemeketa Public Affairs

Applied Tech Grand OpeningIt began seven years ago when Mid-Willamette Valley voters approved $92 million in general obligation bonds for Chemeketa Community College.

It culminated on the evening of Oct. 8, with the official ribbon cutting of a state-of-the-art complex for Chemeketa’s applied technology programs on the Salem campus.

“We’re committed to providing skilled technicians for our regional workforce,” President Julie Huckestein told a gathered crowd of hundreds at the ceremony. “Chemeketa will meet with employers, anticipate their needs and provide students with the skills to step into a job and produce.

“We see these projects as symbols of community support,” Huckestein said.

Betsy Earls, chairperson of Chemeketa’s Board of Education, said the buildings were constructed with vision and collaboration.

“They represent places where students bring their dreams of becoming professionals,” Earls said. “The resources we provide in these buildings, along with the dedication of faculty and staff, will turn all of these students into skilled technicians who are able to contribute productively to all the industries of our region.”

Student Meghan Fleming also spoke to the crowd about what the new construction means to her. Fleming was once homeless, and is now studying at Chemeketa with the goal of building high-tolerance airplane parts.

“I believe (the new construction) will help me thrive in today’s industries…all the graduates I believe will be well-prepared for the next workforce, and I will be one of them,” Fleming said.

The applied technology complex incorporates two new buildings and a major renovation of another. Building 20 houses the college’s computer-assisted drafting, engineering and machining technology programs. Building 21 houses the lab space for welding. A renovated Building 4 is home to the automotive technology, electronics, robotics and visual communication programs.

The complex is the fourth and final major project from the bond. The previous three – the Building 8 health science complex on the Salem campus, a new Yamhill Valley campus, and new classroom buildings at the Brooks Regional Training Center – all opened in 2011.

Events planned for National Campus Sustainability Month

By Chemeketa Public Affairs

Chemeketa sustainability

While the leaves may be brilliant shades of orange, there’s lots of reasons to be green this October as staff and students collaborate with community organizations to celebrate National Campus Sustainability Month.


Upcycle Drag Show
Wednesday, October 21, 12-2 pm
Building 6, Auditorium

Chemeketa’s Facilities department, Sustainability and Triangle Clubs and ASC team up to host the Upcycle Drag Show. Dresses made from upcycled materials by art students and local artists will be on the catwalk. Come for the fashion, stay for the pizza and cake.

Repair Fair and Share
Wednesday, October 21, 5-7 pm
Building 2, Student Center

Chemeketa will host local repair gurus during the Repair Fair and Share. Bring in your bike, small appliance, instrument or fabric item to learn how to troubleshoot basic repairs.

Click here for the event flyer.

Make a Difference Day
Thursday, October 22

Chemeketa students will hit the parking lots to paint storm drains with “No Dumping, Drains to River” stencils, which promote watershed health.

College and career fair Oct. 26

By Chemeketa Public Affairs

Student at college and career fairSalem area students and their families are invited to attend the annual college and career fair held at Chemeketa Community College on Monday, October 26. This event is presented by The Inspire Foundation.

To be held from 6 -8 pm in Building 7 on the Salem campus, the college and career fair is a free event with free parking.

This event, which has taken place for more than 25 years, welcomed more than 2,000 visitors in 2015. Chemeketa and more than 80 other colleges and industries will be on display to showcase their offerings to students and their families.

Workshops on applying for college, searching for scholarships and applying for financial aid will be offered. The Inspire Foundation, Salem-Keizer Public Schools and Chemeketa will offer door prizes for elementary, middle and high school students. Currently enrolled Salem-Keizer high school seniors will have a chance to win one of several scholarships toward college tuition.

To learn more about the event, contact Kathy Moore of The Inspire Foundation, at or 503.581.1466 ext. 316.

Chemeketa hosts vigils supporting UCC on Oct.7

By Chemeketa Public Affairs

Vigil for Umpqua Community CollegeCommunity colleges statewide are holding vigils in support of Umpqua Community College students, faculty and staff on Wednesday, October 7 starting at 5 pm.

Chemeketa will gather at 5 pm at each location below. The program will start at 5:05 and end at approximately 5:30 pm.

The ceremonies will include lighting of candles, reading the names of those who perished and a moment of silence. There will also be time for individuals to write cards and sentiments to be sent to Umpqua.

Vigil locations (All vigils start at 5:05 and end at approximately 5:30 pm)

  • Salem: Native American Healing Garden (between Buildings 8 and 9–watch for signs)
  • Brooks: Outside Building 1 by flagpole
  • Dallas: Outside front entrance, under the overhang
  • Woodburn: Grassy area off of the Commons/Dining Room
  • Yahmill: Outside

This program is intended for the Chemeketa community of students, faculty, staff, board members and supporters; all are welcome to join in honoring and supporting Umpqua.

President Julie Huckestein says, “I realize that this may be a difficult time for all of us as we continue to hear stories of the victims, their loved ones and the Roseburg community. It is unsettling and sad. Please seek out support through our advising and counseling department or through human resources. Please continue to be in support of each other. That is how we are at Chemeketa.”


“Objects of Wonder” in gallery through Oct. 30

By Chemeketa Public Affairs

When calling artworks “Objects of Wonder”, an artist had better be able to back up their work.

Silverton artist Josh Kinsey does just that.

“I believe that creating a bespoke object that is uncompromising in both quality and timeless design is a noble pursuit,” Kinsey said in his artist’s statement.

Many of those works are now on display in J.W. Kinsey’s Objects of Wonder, now showing in the Gretchen Schuette Art Gallery through Oct. 30.

Kinsey’s background includes time as a Silicon Valley interface designer and digital artist. That was followed by owning and operating a high-end custom cabinet shop. where he nurtured his wood- and metal-working skills.

The pieces in the exhibit have hand-made parts and convey a steampunk feel, a style Kinsey has used since the mid-1990s. He also eschews the use of adhesives to put the pieces together.

“Every sculpture can be disassembled in its entirety with a screwdriver, Allen wrench, and socket set,” Kinsey said.

An artist’s reception will be held on Oct. 7. Two sessions will take place, the first from 12:30 to 2:30 pm and the second from 5 to 7 pm.

The gallery is open from 8 am to 5 pm Monday through Friday in Building 3 on the Salem campus.