Thomas Harrington Bellevue Community College Associate of arts and sciences degree, BCC, 2007. Began at American University in Washington...

Thomas Harrington

Bellevue Community College

Associate of arts and sciences degree, BCC, 2007. Began at American University in Washington, D.C., this fall to complete his four-year degree.

High school: Edmonds-Woodway, Edmonds

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Why BCC?: When I was looking to get out of the Navy, on leave I toured Edmonds, Seattle and Bellevue community colleges; BCC ended up having a lot more campus resources and programs I was interested in. Like, they fund their Model United Nations program. … I also got along real good with their veterans’ counselor.

Was it the right choice? I really feel like I lucked out. Our honor society Phi Theta Kappa (Harrington’s a member) is the only honor society of the two-year college system of the entire nation. I’m trying to specialize in poly sci and econ. Last year, I got to go to the U.N.for the Model U.N. conference. We were only one of a handful of community colleges [there] — not even the University of Washington funds their Model U.N. I got to do a congressional internship for Representative Dave Reichert (R-Auburn).

Career goal: To work in the Department of State or represent the United States in other ways — or maybe other forms of public service.

Malaelupe Samifua

University of Washington

B.A. American ethnic studies, UW, 2007. Taking a year off, then plans to get a master’s degree in education at UW.

High school: Evergreen High in the Highline School District

Why UW? The school kind of chose me. Pacific Islander students that were part of the outreach program came to our high school and encouraged me to apply. I wasn’t even planning to apply to college. I didn’t know what college was.

Was it the right choice? Yes. I have a lot of support here. … We have a Pacific Islander Student Commission that I’m the director of now. There are also a lot of courses on Pacific Islander history and culture that aren’t available in a lot of states besides Hawaii.

Career goal: Go back to my high school to teach history, social studies, maybe English. There’s a lack of Pacific Islander role models in education.

Melissa Plummer

Seattle University

B.A. in political science, SU, 2007. Recently began a job as a political fundraiser for Newman Partners, an organization that raises money for Gov. Christine Gregoire, presidential candidate John Edwards, Sen. Patty Murray and Planned Parenthood.

High school: Holy Names Academy, Seattle

Why Seattle U? A lot of it was based on financial aid; they are extremely generous.

Was it the right choice? Definitely. My original first choice had been the University of San Francisco (because she wanted to go out of state), but the faculty and staff at SU have done a lot to help me throughout my college career. … I’ve gotten a lot of personal coaching and advising that I don’t think I would have gotten at a bigger school.

Career goal: I hope to get involved in politics — hopefully one day national politics — but I’m going to try starting at the state level. I did an internship with Senator Cantwell’s campaign this past year, and I really enjoyed everything about it. I would like to work in the Senate, whether I one day am a senator or just working on legislative staff.

Serena Dusz

Washington State University

B.A. in criminal justice, WSU, 2006; now working toward a master’s degree there.

High school: Skyview High, Vancouver, Wash.

Why WSU? I was already interested in criminal justice so there wasn’t any question that I would go to Washington State, because it’s close and has one of the best criminal-justice departments in the country. Most people who graduate out of WSU with a criminal-justice degree have no problems finding jobs. …

Also, the in-state tuition.

Career goal: I want to find a job in offender rehabilitation.