Hard work, compassion rewarded

Role models – the people children and adults look up to as examples of how to live and interact with others – come in all forms.

Studies show time and again that the strongest examples, particularly in children’s lives, is not the Academy Award winner who appeared in the latest summer blockbuster. It’s not the athlete who just won the Super Bowl or the NBA championship. While these accomplishments are often incredible, and these folks are to be admired, they aren’t the ones who matter most.

The real role models are the people in the community – our schools, businesses, and maybe most importantly in each of our families – who are making good choices and setting those positive examples when it comes to citizenship, pursuit of education, volunteerism, business acumen and devotion to community.

Holly Varner is one of those role models whose first desire was to be an example to her family. The 40-year-old mother of three sons spent most of her adult life devoted to raising and caring for her family. Then, the Washougal resident who had previously attained a GED decided to put the focus on her formal education.

On June 16 Varner graduated with honors from Clark College, sitting right next to her son who was graduating as a Running Start student. Varner attained a 3.98 GPA and earned membership in the Phi Theta Kappa National Honor Society. But her time at the Vancouver community college was not simply spent studying. Instead, Varner also dedicated herself to reaching out to help others.

For this devotion to her studies and to others she was rewarded with the prestigious Community College Presidents’ Award in Honor of Val Ogden. It is given to a Clark College graduate who demonstrates leadership potential, a commitment to community service, and academic achievement. As part of the scholarship, Varner will receive full-time tuition and fees for two years to complete a bachelor’s degree at Washington State University-Vancouver.

It’s an incredible achievement and a shining example of how the people in the local community provide the most striking examples of who to look up to and admire.