Shelly Hoffman would be the first to tell you that she didn’t have an easy time as a young student. To use her own words, she “went down the wrong road” and dropped out of school when she was fifteen. She only earned her GED because it was hard to get a job without one.
Now, Shelly is in her first year of GHC’s Bachelor of Applied Science – Organizational Management program, and is president of the Associated Students of GHC, a big change for the shy kid who avoided giving speeches in class whenever possible.
Shelly took a layoff in 2019 as a sign that she should go back to college. GHC immediately came to mind.
Shelly had taken a few classes at GHC over the years, and absolutely loved everything about the college. She felt that she knew GHC. It was safe, it was affordable, and as a non-traditional student with a young daughter in her care, it was also close to home. Every single instructor and staff member that she had taken classes from or worked with had taught her something new. “They made me feel like there are no obstacles they’re not willing to help me overcome,” Shelly said. “I have, through the process of being in college, felt a personal empowerment that I’ve never felt before. My confidence has quadrupled from what I imagined it could be, in just a year and a half of schooling.”
This newfound confidence has changed Shelly’s life for the better. It began with a Speech class; one of the first classes that Shelly took at GHC. She had to face a longtime fear of public speaking. But listening to herself just get up there and do it made her realize that this was something she could do. Shelly soon began volunteering as a senator for the Student Government, and in 2019-20 moved into the Vice Presidential position. As of Summer 2020, she was elected President, and now giving speeches is part of her everyday life.
For Shelly, going back to college was a lesson in confidence and empowerment. “All those years that I didn’t believe in myself,” she began. “If I had only realized all that I had to offer. College is a self-empowering connection that I don’t think you get anywhere else. I think it teaches you that you can overcome your past. You can overcome things that you think are in your way. There are people that will help you get there. Finding yourself is so empowering and beautiful. I just want people to know that they can do it; they can make it and succeed, and they can then reach out to pay it forward to someone else.”
She couldn’t have imagined that a girl who was once afraid of speaking in front of others would be where she is now. “I no longer turn away things that I’m afraid to fail at, because failure is a part of me becoming the better me that I can be.” Not only is Shelly the ASGHC President, she is also a liaison for the HB1355 task force – a counseling and mental health task force for the Washington Community and Technical College system. She’s also the campus liaison for the Washington Student Engagement Network (WA-SEN), who mobilize student voices and speak directly to Legislators on their behalf. Shelley hasn’t yet decided her career path, but she knows that it lies somewhere in helping people. In helping the community. In helping Grays Harbor grow and become vibrant and prosperous. Going to college helped her have that confidence to work toward a future that empowers everyone.
She’d like to leave prospective students with one notion: “Take every opportunity that comes across your path, because you never know what is coming. Don’t be afraid to take that opportunity. You may find that you create a life for yourself that you never expected.”