Science instructor helps students achieve their dreams
“My dream as a teacher is for my student’s dreams to come true,” says Jim Van Brunt, head of RCC’s Science Department. “I love teaching, and I love my time in the classroom.”
Van Brunt joined the college’s faculty in 1998. Before joining the RCC faculty, he taught at a high school and a community college in California.
His high standards in the classroom and supportive teaching approach have helped prepare many of the region’s current and future nurses and health care providers.
Karah Croucher, who graduates in June and is pursuing a career in health care, has taken anatomy and physiology classes with Van Brunt. She appreciates his dedication to the students and say his interest and support have helped her decide to train for diagnostic medical imaging.
“He cares about students, and he wants us to succeed in the medical field. He’s asked us to let him know, once we’re working in the field, to let him know what he could have done better.”
Van Brunt earned his bachelor’s degree in science from California State Polytechnic University, Pomona, a master’s in education from California State University, San Bernardino, and a master’s in biology from CSUB.
RCC is ‘all for the students,’ says Karah Croucher
Karah Croucher wanted to be a teacher for as long as she can remember. Born and raised in Grants Pass in a family that values education highly, Croucher’s mother teaches high school, her sister Jill is completing her master’s in education at Southern Oregon University, and several other family members have taught school as well.
“Education was the first thing while we were growing up,” she recalled. So upon graduating from Grants Pass High School in 2009, Croucher enrolled at SOU with the intent of pursuing a teaching degree. But to her great surprise, she quickly discovered the atmosphere at a larger school wasn’t a good fit for her.
“I wasn’t enjoying it, and I realized it was just not for me,” she said. After one term at SOU, she transferred to Rogue Community College.
“I’d heard a lot of good things from friends about RCC and how students get more individualized attention,” she said. And it’s way more affordable,” she added. While in high school, Croucher earned 35 Early College 2+2 credits, which meant she didn’t have to take as many prerequisite classes at RCC.
Then she discovered an interest in the healthcare field and began taking “Introduction to Medical Terminology,” which “sealed the deal” for pursuing a career other than teaching.
“My parents commented they saw me enjoying school more,” Croucher said. Now she’s focusing on a career in diagnostic medical imaging. She researched the field, found job forecasts are strong, and did a job shadow at a Portland trauma center.
“It’s a job where you would never get bored!” Croucher exclaimed. She will graduate from RCC in June with an Associate of General Studies degree and a 3.8 grade point average, and she has applied to radiologic technology programs at Oregon Institute of Technology and Portland Community College.
The individualized attention she heard about at Rogue, which translates to a helpful atmosphere, is the best thing about RCC, she says.
“I’m always able to email instructors or counselors, and amazingly they get back to me within a day.” RCC Science instructor Jim Van Brunt has been especially important in her education, she adds.
“He cares about students, and he wants us to succeed in the medical field,” she explains. “He’s asked us to let him know, once we’re working in the field, what he could have done better.”
RCC also offered Croucher student employment, which gave her the chance to help other students. She’s a Student Services Assistant (SSA) with the Counseling Department on the RCC Riverside Camus and also works for the RCC Foundation on the Redwood Campus.
“It’s amazing to see how many scholarships go out to help students and the amount of work it takes to get them in place. For me, foundation scholarships mean a lot less debt,” she said.
“The great part is getting to see behind the scenes how hard everyone works to provide our education,” she added. “At RCC, it really is all for the students. That goes for the instructors, counselors, and foundation staff and for the janitors.”
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