Different Paths, Same Standard
Sachie Shiba and Ryan Doll exemplify the best of SCCC
Seward County Community College students Ryan Doll and Sachie Shiba could not seem more different, but they are alike in one key way: their pursuit of excellence in the classroom. The Phi Theta Kappa honor society members have been selected as SCCC’s All-Kansas Academic Team representatives, and will be honored at a banquet and ceremony in Topeka early in 2017.
Shiba, who was born and raised in Japan, came to the United States in 2014, hoping to get a college education that would move her toward her goal of becoming a pediatric nurse.
“I wanted to come to the U.S. to improve my English, and because I’m fascinated by diverse ideas about healthcare,” Shiba said. When she presented the idea to her parents, they were dubious.
However, Shiba, who had worked as a clerical officer with a tutoring service for five years and interacted with children who needed extra help with school work, was set on her course.
“Through those interactions with children, I become sure that I wanted to become a pediatric nurse. I could help children who are sick and dying, even as I cared for my tutoring students. This is the one thing I love the most, and am willing to dedicate all my time to achieve,” Shiba said. “I feel children deserve to be happy and healthy, and I want to do my part to make it so.”
Shiba told her parents, “I will pay my own fees, I will find a way, I just really want to do this,’” she recalled. “I saved my own money for years even before coming to the United States to work on my goal.” An academic advisor in Japan suggested Shiba research community colleges in the Midwest, “because people are friendlier there, and more willing to help,” Shiba said.
Despite the warm reception she found in Liberal, Shiba had to overcome significant obstacles.
As an international student, the law limited Shiba to no more than 10 hours of paid work per week. When she arrived in Liberal, she found she needed to hone her English skills before she could take core classes like English Comp — so she did.
“I have dedicated myself to my studies for the last two years, and keep my GPA above 3.7,” Shiba said. “I proved to myself, peers and professors that I will work hard and not quit.”
Shiba won a spot in the limited-enrollment nursing program at SCCC, where she has completed her first year of nursing study. Along the way, she’s gained fans.
“To come here alone and learn English language while coping up with being homesick, coupled with adjusting oneself to culture is hard enough,” said PTK sponsor Dr. Maria Fe Laguitan, “but to be able to still wear a delightful, sincere smile is what makes Sachie a beautiful person.”
English instructor Bill McGlothing concurred.
“Sachie Shiba is one of the hardest-working students I’ve had at SCCC. Couple that with the Japanese/English English/Japanese barrier, and I’d say she is also one of the most accomplished, an A in Comp II with perhaps the most delightfully self-deprecating sense of humor I’ve come across.”
As an international student, it’s possible Shiba will need to take time off to work and earn money after she completes her associate degree in nursing. However, she is determined to keep going, and eventually earn a four-year nursing degree, and perhaps even a masters.
Ryan Doll’s journey to SCCC was more direct, though no less impressive. A Liberal, Kansas, native, Doll started classes at SCCC during high school, accumulating more than 30 credits before he’d even earned his high school diploma.
“I grew up in a stable home with two parents, and have always known I would go to college,” Doll said. At age 14, Doll’s budding interest in computers was fanned into a passion by his older brother.
“I had always looked up to him, and he had said he was coming home from college for my birthday that year,” Doll wrote. “He brought two fully disassembled computers, and for a whole afternoon, my brother taught me how to build a computer from the ground up, and how everything worked together. From that moment on, I was hooked on anything that related to computers, and since then, that is what I have wanted to do.”
Doll, who chose SCCC as a way to trim the ever-growing costs of college, plans to complete his associate degree, then transfer to Kansas State University to work on a bachelor’s and masters degree in software engineering.
Computer science instructor Rusty Tuman says Doll brings energy and humor to class, along with a reliable sense of curiosity about material that prompted Doll to go further.
“He goes beyond the basic assignment, nearly every time,” Tuman said. “With Ryan’s interest in computer programming and engineering, it’s been kind of triumph for us to offer him what he needs at this level. Now, if we can just manage to help him find that first pair of boots (part of a class game-design project), I’ll know we have done right by him.”
Derric Moore, director of the SCCC Math Resource Center, knows Doll as one of the center’s peer tutors.
“Ryan is able to find common ground with the students who come for tutoring, and that can be a difficult skill to learn,” Moore said. “Often, we see high-performing students struggle to connect with peers who are still trying to learn material. Ryan is a hard-working, driven student who is also committed to the academic success of others. That’s a rare quality.”
Vice President of Student Services Celeste Donovan appreciates the blend of interpersonal and academic strengths both students exemplify.
“It is always an honor to be selected as the PTK Academic All-American nominee for Seward County Community College, and it’s even better when the students selected are genuinely nice people,” she said. “We know they are conscientious people, and both Sachie and Ryan are very deserving of this honor.”
In addition to receiving a medal, meeting with other All-Kansas Academic Team scholars and state legislators, the two SCCC students will be in the running for additional scholarship funding administered by the national arm of Phi Theta Kappa. If they are selected as national finalists, Shiba and Doll will be invited to attend the American Association of Community Colleges convention in New Orleans, in April.