Tatiane Simons: among the first
Tatiane Simons circled the date on her calendar a while back; Saturday, June 11, 2016. A deep breath, then a sigh of mixed relief and anticipation slipping between her lips as she lowered her marker. With a sense of pride, a feeling of humility, and a dash of ambition, she and eight classmates will graduate on this day.
Together, they will share a significant milestone with Western Washington University Center at Olympic College Poulsbo, as the first graduating class from the school’s Business Administration Bachelor’s Degree program.
The collaboration of the two colleges changed the course of her future, Simons said. “From my vantage point, I know the impact of having a university of this caliber here in partnership with Olympic College Poulsbo will equate to success not only for the institutions, but also for the students that make Western their choice.”
Born in Sao Paulo, Brazil, Simons was adopted when she was 10 years old, and subsequently grew up in Centreville, Va., where she attended and graduated from Centreville High School. It was after high school and while serving in the U.S. Navy when she moved to her last duty station at Naval Hospital Bremerton.
The vibrant Kitsap Peninsula community thrives in part from its proximity to Seattle and as Simons says, is surrounded by opportunities from Seattle to Port Angeles. “Furthermore,” she said, “there is a very supportive community in the Peninsula that has embraced the WWU and Olympic College partnership.”
Simon was working two part-time jobs – an office assistant by day and a commercial cleaner by night – when the business program launched. After meeting and discussing possibilities with Extended Education’s Candi Merrill, Director of Western on the Peninsulas, and Kathy Johnson, Manager, Simons felt encouraged and confident that the necessary support was in place to complete the program.
With opportunity at hand she moved forward, with eyes on the future; not only hers, but her children’s, as well. Now a graduate role model, mom hopes Tristan and Gabriella “will see that their dreams are attainable and impactful, and understand the importance of obtaining their education and career goals.”
Simons knows that her graduation is a big deal in other way, too, so it’s no secret that emotions run the gamut as she reflects on the much sought-after and worked-hard-for lifetime achievement.
“Humbled, privileged, scared, happy, joyful,” she says. “And honored to have learned from great instructors and students.”
Today, Simons remains a program coordinator at Olympic College’s Veteran and Military Support Center, where she worked full time during school and now gives her “undivided attention to improve the lives of the students that use the center.” Longer term, however, she has her sights on higher education.
“I will be a dean or director in higher education,” she says with conviction, emphasizing ‘I will.’ “I would like to pursue a master’s degree in higher education.
“Since high school, my ambition has transformed the woman I am today. I’ve learned that when you have great ambition, you remember to set goals and dream bigger.” I am blessed to have two amazing kids that remind me every day.”
So, on June 11, there will be hugs and kisses all around in the Simons household. “I will simply be mom again,” she says with a smile and relief.
For a while, anyway. There will be more dates to circle.