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By Brian Stimson of The Skanner News
Published: 03 June 2010

Adrian Thompson (left) and PCC Cascade President Algie Gatewood. photo by Brian Stimson

What would you do if you were president of your college for a day? Portland Community College student and Phi Theta Kappa honor society member Adrian Thompson had just that opportunity on Tuesday, June 1 when (former for a day) Cascade Campus President Algie Gatewood stepped aside to let the young man step forward.
On the verge of obtaining his associate's degree and transferring to Howard University to pursue a career as a dentist, Thompson held a roundtable discussion about student success and retention with faculty as part of his day on the job. With little to no money available, Thompson and others explored ways to help students and the college better achieve their goals.
"The learning center is a great way to get involved," Thompson said.
Not the typical student, Thompson got heavily involved with different aspects of the PCC college community during his freshman year. He attended a number of different social events, visited his academic advisors regularly, and spent over one hundred hours in the learning center.
Before attending PCC, Thompson attended Jefferson High School briefly before enrolling in the alternative Open Meadows High School. At Open Meadows, he excelled and eventually began taking classes at Cascade Campus as part of an optional career and education exploration class.
Penny Thompson, coordinator for the student resource center, asked Adrian Thompson how advisors and counselors might be more visible to students.
The president for a day said he liked it when counselors stopped and talked with him when he was studying. He also thought establishing an incentive system for spending time in the learning center would encourage students to study.
Some faculty members asked Thompson if communication lines between the college and students were clear.
Another student who was present, Phi Theta Kappa member Danielle Dalbok, said word of mouth, as well as what instructors pass on to students in class, is more powerful than emails or televisions stationed around campus.
As Thompson moves on to Howard University, he says high school students should take advantage of PCC's partnership with Portland Public Schools. Getting to know the way around campus and the pace of college life made him far more prepared than some of his other classmates.
"Getting exposure in high school is very important," he said.

Phi Theta Kappa honor society members Danielle Dalbok,  Thompson and PCC's Gatewood

With his staff meeting out of the way, Thompson then went to have lunch with Portland Mayor Sam Adams. After lunch, Gatewood said they'd be doing some of the more mundane aspects of the job – answering emails and going over the budget.
Ah, the life of a college president.

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