What stands out for you as highlights of the 2014–15 academic year? At Highline College, there was much to celebrate and recognize. Here are the top 10 highlights of the year on Highline’s campus (listed in no particular order):

1. Students shine
The list is long of the number of students who excelled in numerous ways during the year at Highline. Here is a sample of their success with links to read more about their stories:

2. Nursing graduates celebrate 50 years of success
Congratulations to all of Highline’s nursing students and instructors, both past and present. This year marked the 50th anniversary of Highline’s Nursing program. While the uniforms have changed, the caliber of instruction has remained consistently high. The college has long been recognized for producing high quality nursing graduates who go on to work in hospitals, clinics and offices throughout the area.

3. New Unified Soccer team takes gold
Highline’s new Unified Soccer team competed against 15 other Washington teams in the first college invitational held on April 18 at Seattle University. Highline’s players won it all, earning gold medals and bragging rights. The Unified Soccer team is made up of students with and without disabilities, ages 18 to 25. The students with disabilities are part of Highline’s ACHIEVE program. Sponsored by Special Olympics of Washington State, Unified Soccer seeks to integrate all students on campus and to develop relationships beyond the classroom. The team was coached by Fawzi Belal, who played for the Seattle Sounders and Highline College. He now works for Highline as its Sports Diplomacy and Outreach coordinator.

4. Campus turns 50
Highline College’s permanent campus in Des Moines opened in fall of 1964 with 16 buildings, but due to a variety of delays, not all were complete in time for the start of classes. For its first three academic years—1961–62, 1962–63 and 1963–64—the college was housed on a temporary basis at Glacier High School, about 100 blocks north of the present-day Des Moines campus. Highline’s campus now includes 30 buildings on its 80-acre site.

5. T-Bird teams soar over the competition
The Men’s Soccer team took it all this year, winning the Northwest Athletic Conference (NWAC) Championship. Highline also claimed the top individual player honor with Vinnie Nguyen being named Most Valuable Player.

Highline’s Wrestling team earned national honors with the 2015 Academic Wrestling Team of the Year award. Highline’s team, with a 3.31 cumulative GPA, was the first to win the award in consecutive years and the only four-time winner of the award (2015, 2014, 2009 and 1998). No other wrestling program has won it more than twice.

Also this year, all of Highline’s teams went to the playoffs. The Wrestling team competed in the NJCAA (National Junior College Athletic Association) and sent four wrestlers to the National Tournament. Like the Men’s Soccer team, Highline’s other teams competed in the NWAC with outstanding results:

  • Men’s Basketball: West Region Champions
  • Women’s Basketball: third place in West Region
  • Women’s Soccer: West Region Champions
  • Women’s Softball: third place in West Region
  • Women’s Volleyball: second place in West Region

6. New four-year degrees give students more options
For the first time, Highline began offering bachelor’s degrees in four applied fields for students who have two-year technical degrees. Students can now earn a four-year degree close to home in these programs: Cybersecurity and Forensics, Global Trade and Logistics, Respiratory Care, and Youth Development. The goal is to help students build on their education to be more valuable to a current or prospective employer.

7. Thunderbirds celebrate the Seahawks
For the second straight year, the 12s came out in force to support our beloved Super Bowl–bound Seattle Seahawks. Highline students, staff and faculty celebrated and raised the 12th Fan flag during the college’s Super Bowl Rally on the plaza outside the Highline Student Union. Here’s hoping we have another reasons to celebrate next year.

8. New ways of reaching out
Through its Sports Outreach program, Highline promotes cultural understanding between students and diverse communities through sport-based services. On June 20, Highline hosted a dozen teams from the Pacific Northwest in its second Multicultural Soccer Event. Teams from as far away as Spokane and Portland joined teams from in and around King County for cultural activities, food and a soccer tournament. More than 320 people participated, representing the diverse cultures and ethnicities found in the area including Burma, Ecuador, Mexico and Namibia.

In another outreach effort, the Latin@ Summit debuted at Highline in February 2015 with more than 350 people attending the two-day event. The summit featured interactive and inspiring workshops and presentations targeted for Latino students who attend area high schools. The summit joins other successful events at Highline College—such as the Y.E.L.L. Female Summit and Black and Brown Male Summit—all in an effort to reach out to diverse student groups, giving them a chance to visit Highline’s campus and learn why college should be in their future.

9. Highline earns excellence in diversity honors
For the second straight year, Highline received the Higher Education Excellence in Diversity (HEED) Award, a national honor recognizing U.S. colleges and universities that demonstrate an outstanding commitment to diversity and inclusion. Given by Insight into Diversity, the largest and oldest diversity magazine and website in higher education, the 2014 HEED Award was presented to only 82 institutions across the nation. Highline was the only community college recipient from Washington state and one of the very few from the West Coast.

10. New graduates celebrate at Commencement 2015
Class of 2015 graduates came out in droves with approximately 600 walking during the Commencement 2015 ceremony. Those attending the ceremony represent just a fraction of the 1,501 students who earned credentials during the 2014–15 academic year. All told, the students earned 1,673 credentials (some students earned more than one), which were awarded as follows: 1,088 associate degrees, 512 certificates and 73 high school diplomas.