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(Many Paths)
An Online Newsletter Celebrating Native America
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Setting A Higher Bar
by Leann Bjerken - The (Colville) Tribal Tribune
Taima Carden, 19, graduated from Washington State University this year.

June 11, 2015 — Tribal member graduates WSU ahead of peers after pushing herself through Running Start.

Tribal member Taima Carden graduated from Washington State University with her Bachelor of Arts degree in social sciences with a concentration in psychology, sociology and criminal justice, May 9.

She is only nineteen years old.

"I see having gotten my bachelor's degree as just the start of a long haul," said Carden, reflecting on the achievement.

Now, the recent college graduate is considering law school.

Carden grew up in the Coulee Dam area. The daughter of Tribal Prosecutor Sabrina Desautel and Gene Fenton, she attended Lake Roosevelt High School until her junior year when she realized she could do more.

"I liked school from day one," Carden said. "I just seemed to breeze through assignments and high school work just wasn't challenging me much."

Her mother pushed for her to become the first Lake Roosevelt High School student to begin the Washington State Running Start program at Wenatchee Valley College, and Carden did, taking on a larger challenge her junior and senior years of high school by earning college credits in university level courses.

"I raised Taima to be dependent on no one but herself, to speak her mind, to be strong willed and determined no matter how many obstacles get in the way," said Desautel.

The advanced program was a perfect fit for Carden, allowing her to complete an Associate of the Art's degree by the time she graduated from Lake Roosevelt in 2013 and enrolled at WSU for the fall of 2014.

"She opened doors for other Lake Roosevelt students to achieve their goal of going WVC at Omak under the Running Start program," said WVC Advisor Livia Millard, who thanked Carden as a "bright and shining star and a wonderful role model for all students."

"The experience of running start prepares students to be more successful by promoting independence and building confidence," said Wenatchee Valley College Concurrent Enrollment Programs Coordinator Holly Brigman. "It gives them an early insight into college life and campus living."

This year a total of 580 students participated in the WVC's Running Start program between the two campuses Omak and Wenatchee, and next year they're expecting over 600.

Many of the most successful students embody the same qualities Millard admired about Carden: "intelligent, goal driven, focused, motivated, well-organized."

"My mom and my stepfather were really my biggest supporters through all of this, particularly my mom," says Carden.

A Washington State University media contact said the average age of undergraduates for the May 9 graduation was 23 years old, adding, when asked about the significance of a 19 year old graduate, "With Running Start, students graduating before they're 21 is becoming more prevalent."

Meanwhile a report from Complete College America, cited in the New York Times in 2014, stated that graduates seem to be taking longer than four years to earn their bachelor's degree. Various factors were blamed for this phenomenon, among them financial hardship, inability to take required courses in time and the need for remedial coursework in certain areas.

Taima's ultimate goal is to become a lawyer. Currently she is taking a year off to relax and prepare for that next challenge.

"I'm looking into the program at University of Idaho, but I'm still kind of thinking things through. A year will give me some time to get organized, change residency, things like that," said Carden

Her advice to students considering higher education is to slow down and think about it.

"If it's something you're 100 percent sure you want, something you're going to work for, then I'd say do it. But if you're not invested, it's a lot of time and money to put into something you're not interested in working for."

Desautel said of her daughter's accomplishments, "She has done everything I instilled in her, but it was all her choice, her accomplishments are her own and I am very proud of her. I have no doubt that she will do whatever she sets her mind to."

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