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Inside Olympia – Jan Yoshiwara, WA Community and Technical Colleges

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This week on Inside Olympia, an in-depth interview with a guest who has an in-depth understanding of Washington’s community and technical colleges: Jan Yoshiwara, the current executive director of the State Board for Community and Technical Colleges (SBCTC). Yoshiwara is soon to retire, after spending 44 years in the state’s community and technical college system, 38 of those years at the SBCTC and the past 5 as executive director.

Washington’s system of 34 community and technical colleges serves nearly 300,000 people a year. This system is designed to be flexible and meet students where they’re at, whether that’s a high school student earning college credit, a college student preparing to transfer to a four-year university, a high school graduate seeking training and certification in a trade or a mid-career person making a transition to a new career.

That mission, making education accessible, is what Yoshiwara says attracted her when she was a college student herself. On a pre-med path, she decided to transition to a career where she could make it possible for more people to attend higher ed, and the community and technical colleges offered that opportunity.

Like all institutions and entities, Washington’s community and technical college system has been challenged by COVID. The system has lost enrollment, and Yoshiwara says she’s heard from many potential students that in the aftermath of the pandemic, they’re focused on working and deferring college.

Yoshiwara says the system has other challenges as well: making it easier for people to both work and go to college (half of community and technical college students also work); addressing equity in college accessibility, affordability and attendance; potentially changing high school graduation requirements so that high school students can more easily access technical college coursework through Running Start; and raising faculty pay, which lags behind other educational systems including K-12.

That and much more regarding Washington’s community and technical colleges, this week on Inside Olympia.

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