This content was published: March 9, 2015. Phone numbers, email addresses, and other information may have changed.

College unveils its five Diamond Alumni for 2015

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Five graduates of Portland Community College are now diamonds.

PCC has announced its annual Diamond Alumni Awards for 2015. This honor is bestowed upon PCC graduates who have become successful in their chosen field or who are community leaders, making a difference in the lives of many. This year’s winners include author Mitchell Jackson of New York City, Joshua Fegles of Corvallis, Barbara Gladue of Portland, Larry O’Dea of Portland and Carmen Thompson of Northeast Portland. The award winners will be honored at a luncheon in Salem’s Convention Center on Thursday, March 12. The honors are part of PCC’s Day at the Capitol where college leaders, faculty and students advocate to legislators about the college’s value to the community and the state.

2015 Diamond Alumni:

Joshua Fegles: Owner of Jude’s Foods

View More: Fegles of Corvallis has grown his food business, Jude’s Foods, into one of Portland’s fastest growing companies that specialize in gluten- and dairy-free products. Fegles got his business start by taking the “Getting Your Recipe to Market” class at Portland Community College’s Small Business Development Center. The SBDC provided him with ongoing business advising that has given Fegles guidance and direction at every stage of his company’s development. In addition to his business, he has spent time mentoring traditional and nontraditional students in higher education to build their skills, attitudes, and beliefs necessary to being successful in college.

“That class was exactly what I needed when I was starting out,” Fegles said. “‘Getting Your Recipe to Market’ and ongoing business advising from the SBDC have been critical pillars in the creation of my business. I’ve always had a heart for service and a genuine care for others; these values have directed me in my career. My hope is that what I do in my life is a blessing to others, and this is central to the mission of Jude’s Foods.”

Joshua’s Story:

Carmen Thompson: PCC History instructor

CarmenThompsonCarmen Thompson of Northeast Portland is a PCC history instructor at the Sylvania Campus who teaches the classes “African-American History” and “Race and Racism.” She began her educational career at PCC and went on to get her master’s degree in African-American Studies from Columbia University and a doctorate in U.S. History from the University of Illinois. Her research interests include the history of slavery, the slave trade in early America and pre-colonial West Africa, early African American history, race and racism in America, and the Great Migration.

“I am honored to be named a PCC Diamond and to be included in such august company,” Thompson said. “(The opportunity to attend PCC) showed me what was possible through hard work and perseverance regardless of where you begin your journey, and that there are support systems there to assist you if you are willing to reach out and be reached.”

Carmen’s Story:

Larry O’Dea: Portland Police Bureau Chief

ChiefLarry O'DeaIn January, Larry O’Dea was sworn in as Portland’s new police chief, capping a 29-year career with a bureau that has 1,170 employees and a budget of $165 million. He earned an associate degree in criminal justice from PCC and a bachelor’s degree in social science from Portland State University. At PCC, his focus was on criminal justice, psychology, and sociology, with his favorite class taught by retired Portland Police Captain Norm Reiter. After college, Chief O’Dea was hired on as a patrolman in 1986 with Portland Police.

“I believe strongly in PCC as it provided me a gateway into the career that I always wanted,” Chief O’Dea said. “I am confident that had I not attended PCC, I would not be where I am today. I truly was just a regular guy and PCC gave me the knowledge to enter my profession and become very successful.”

Larry’s Story:

Barbara Gladue: Parent Involvement Advocate, Native American Youth and Family Center

BarbaraGladueBarbara Gladue, a mother of three, obtained her GED and associate degree in philosophy from PCC. While at the college, she was a student coordinator in the Multicultural Center and Native American Student Association at the Sylvania Campus, providing scholarship, job and tutoring information for other Native students. She went on to get her philosophy degree from Portland State University and now works at NAYA, where she is a parent involvement advocate who helps Native families. Her personal and professional work has impacted hundreds of Native people in the region, and she has accomplished all of this as a single mother.

“The opportunities I was given at PCC changed me in every way; academically, spiritually, mentally, physically, and socially,” Gladue said. “I owe all my educational aspiration to the strong foundation I was able to build at PCC.”

Barbara’s Story:

Mitchell Jackson: Author and Professor at New York and Columbia universities

MitchellJacksonMitchell Jackson is a novelist and essayist as well as writing professor at New York and Columbia universities. He is the author of the autobiographical novel “The Residue Years,” which he started in prison while serving time for possession of a gun and crack cocaine. The book was featured in this year’s co-sponsored Everybody Reads Program through the Multnomah County Library. He began his college career and eventually earned an associate degree, taking math, science and history courses at both the Cascade and Sylvania campuses.

“This feels wonderful to be acknowledged by PCC,” Jackson said. “I consider it my hometown school. At PCC, I felt like I was being granted a second opportunity to succeed. I consider my time at PCC very much instrumental in whatever successes I’ve accomplished.”

Mitchell’s Story:

About James Hill

James G. Hill, an award-winning journalist and public relations writer, is the Public Relations Manager at Portland Community College. A graduate of Portland State University, James has worked as a section editor for the Newberg Graphic, Wo... more »

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x by Cynthia Golledge 4 years ago

Well-done and well-deserved, Carmen! :)

x by Deborah Hall 4 years ago

“SHINE ON!, You Crazy Diamonds!”

x by Deborah Hall 4 years ago

“SHINE ON!, You Crazy Diamonds!”

x by Ayasha Shamsud-Din 4 years ago

Congrats, to all of the 2015 Diamond Alumni! A special shout out to Mitchell Jackson from a former Demo and PSU Viking! Much love, Ayasha

x by Zac 4 years ago

More success stories like this! This is motivating!

x by Rochell 4 years ago

I hear a unanimous herald for the resources at pcc. You rock, Diamonds

x by Feature: PCC hopes investment in Day at the Capitol returns dividends | PCC News 4 years ago

[…] attendees traveled to the Salem Conference Center for the PCC Diamond Alumni Awards Luncheon. The five outstanding PCC alumni, Mitchell Jackson, Joshua Fegles, Barbara Gladue, Larry O’Dea and Carmen Thompson, were […]

x by The Bridge : Proudly Looking Back, Boldly Looking Forward: PCC at the Capitol 4 years ago

[…] to the Salem Conference Center for the PCC Diamond Alumni Luncheon. Each year, PCC celebrates five alumni. At the luncheon, each Diamond Alumnus spoke of his or her experience at PCC. Across the board was […]