Bellevue College is celebrating its 50th anniversary this year and to commemorate this, faculty and staff are organizing events to get students and the community involved. Students and faculty will be invited to the majority of these events which will occur over the 2015-2016 school year.
Heather Komac is the project manager for BC’s Department of Institutional Advancement. She explained that the events aim to engage current students as well as celebrate and honor the achievements of alumni. “We are using this anniversary as a way to begin a formal Alumni Association,” said Komac.
BC has changed significantly, including going from a 2-year community college to offering a few 4-year bachelor’s degrees. Komac described this as “a defining moment in the school’s history.” More recently, the new Health Sciences building was opened.
Faisal Jaswal is the Assistant Dean of Student Programs. To him, BC is a “large campus with a small campus feel.” He has been a student, instructor and administrator at BC, and since his first arrival to BC as an international student, Student Programs has grown.
“The college has maintained generational and contextual relevance,” said Jaswal. Compared to his first year at BC in 1982, the number of student organizations has grown from 17 to over 130 different programs and clubs.
Jaswal wanted to make BC an inclusive community that evolved with the needs of the surrounding community. He believes that one of the ways to encourage students to be more involved is by giving them the autonomy to plan their own events rather than have one student activity board that planned all campus activities.
Jaswal recalled BC in its early days as a small campus surrounded by trees. “It was almost like a best-kept secret,” described Jaswal. “It was the intellectual hub, and it is the intellectual hub of the Bellevue community.”
He said that the forefathers of the college saw a need to intellectually support the community that Bellevue would grow to become. “What is quite unique is that somebody planned that out,” said Jaswal.
“It’s important to note that somebody had the foresight to know, in the future, [Bellevue College] might grow and there would need to be a trained workforce,” explained Jaswal, “there needs to be an intellectual capital of that.”
Jaswal said that students and the events and activities offered to them are “the thread that holds the fabric of the community together.”
“We have evolved, we have tried to keep pace with the speed of our community, with the intellectual needs of our community and with the cultural needs of the community,” added Jaswal. Since people from all different cultures attend BC, Jaswal said that there was a need for a more sophisticated way to create an inclusive student community.
Jaswal said that BC was built on the backs of former students and that this year, honoring alumni is a priority. “What makes me really proud is that students will go places I will never be able to go.”