She’s walking proof that a college degree can take you places

As director of Everett Community College in Monroe, Ciera Graham now serves as role model for students.

Ciera Graham, an administrator at Everett Community College, is one of 12 finalists for the Herald Business Journal’s Emerging Leaders award. (Kevin Clark / The Herald)

Ciera Graham, an administrator at Everett Community College, is one of 12 finalists for the Herald Business Journal’s Emerging Leaders award. (Kevin Clark / The Herald)

This is one of 12 finalists for the Herald Business Journal’s Emerging Leaders award, which seeks to highlight and celebrate people who are doing good work in Snohomish County. The winner will be named at an event on April 11. Meet the other finalists.

Name: Ciera Graham

Age: 32

Profession: Director, Everett Community College East County Campus in Monroe

Ciera Graham knew that a college education — her parents preached its value — could take her places.

When Graham was attending Chief Sealth International High School in West Seattle, she visited Washington State University in Pullman.

“I wanted to stay local for my undergrad, but I found a very supportive community there,” Graham said.

At WSU Pullman, she earned a bachelor’s degree in sociology and set her sights on a career in education.

Her thirst for knowledge and natural curiosity drove her to continue her studies.

“I never anticipated getting an advanced degree,” Graham said. In 2015 she received a doctorate in sociology from the University of Cincinnati.

“As a person of color, I believe that the value of pursuing a college education is immeasurable and helps uplift and improve the socioeconomic standing of my own community,” Graham said.

“With a college education, I am able to serve as a role model to students who may not see college as a viable option,” she said.

She’s been that role model as a student and, for the past eight years, as a college and university administrator.

A little over a month ago, Graham was named the new director of Everett Community College East County Campus in Monroe.

She took over from Mostafa Ghous, who left the position to become a dean at Hartnell College in Salinas, California.

The Monroe campus, which enrolled more than 400 students last fall, offers higher education opportunities to those with limited travel options.

Students can earn an associate’s degree, complete high school, get job training and learn English, among other disciplines, she said.

Graham was previously associate director of student affairs at Washington State University in Everett. There she established a food pantry, launched a chapter of the Society of Women Engineers and started a CARE team, an outreach group aimed at helping university students in distress.

“When I first started at WSU Everett, there was no plan or infrastructure in place for reporting concerns about a student’s well being,” Graham wrote in her nomination statement.

Because WSU Everett is a campus that supports non-traditional, commuter and under-served students, it was imperative, she said, to create a system that would allow students and faculty to report concerns about another student’s personal, academic or psychological health.

Graham created a CARE team manual of procedures, policies and responses.

She currently serves on the board for Domestic Violence Services of Snohomish County.

She was selected by then-Everett Mayor Ray Stephanson and the City Council to serve on the Envision Everett Committee 2017. The group provided recommendations on education, housing, economic development, homelessness, substance abuse and arts and culture.

A nominator described Graham as having “a passion for the advancement of women and people of color. She is dedicated, smart, and works hard to make a difference in all that she does.”

Janice Podsada;; 425-339-3097; Twitter: JanicePods

Talk to us

More in Herald Business Journal owner Tom Harrison at his brick and mortar storefront on Tuesday, Sept. 6, 2022 in Everett, Washington. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
Near-death experience planted seeds for downtown Everett toy store

Former attorney Tom Harrison survived 9/11. It caused him to ask what’s important in life. Today, he runs MyMyToyStore.

Sean Jones, membership executive of Everett's Freedom Boat Club, helps club member Carolyn Duncan load equipment onto her boat before she and a friend head out crabbing onThursday, Aug. 11, 2022, at the Port of Everett in Everett, Washington. (Ryan Berry / The Herald)
New Everett franchise offers boats at Everett Marina

Freedom Boat Club’s newest Washington location is in Everett, with six boats available to its members.

Devin Ryan, left to right, talks with Donald Whitley and Drew Yager before a test ride at Bicycle Centres Wednesday in Everett, Washington on August 24, 2022.  (Kevin Clark / The Herald)
New hands take the handlebars for Bicycle Centres

Longtime employees Devin Ryan, Aron Chaudiere and Ryan Brown bought the business that’s been around since 1976.

A truck drives past a sign displaying fuel prices on Friday, Sept. 2, 2022 in Arlington, Washington. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
Diesel prices stay high for truckers, farmers

Gas prices have fallen steadily this summer, but diesel costs have started to climb again.

FILE - Test engineer Jacob Wilcox pulls his arm out of a glove box used for processing sodium at TerraPower, a company developing and building small nuclear reactors, Jan. 13, 2022, in Everett, Wash. A major economic bill headed to the president has “game-changing” incentives for the nuclear energy industry, experts say, and those tax credits are even more substantial if a facility is sited in a community where a coal plant is closing. Bill Gates' company, TerraPower, plans to build an advanced, nontraditional nuclear reactor and employ workers from a local coal-fired power plant scheduled to close soon. (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson, File)
Everett nuclear research facility gets $750 million infusion

Bellevue’s TerraPower, which operates an Everett facility, got a hefty investment to fund research.

Logo for news use featuring Snohomish County, Washington. 220118
Business briefs: Leadership Snohomish County names new executive director

Plus a new short-term, career programs at Edmonds College, state grants for small businesses and more.

Tim Leonard, owner of the Machine Shop, is closing the arcade this fall. (Photo by David Welton)
Arcade owner to pull plug on beloved Whidbey Island business

Tim Leonard, owner of the Machine Shop in Langley, recently decided he’ll call it quits this fall.

Jennifer Sadinsky is the owner of Grayhorse Mercantile, one of Langley’s newest stores. (David Welton)
Shopkeeper brings taste of Europe to Whidbey Island

A first-time business owner’s dream of opening a cheese shop became a reality this year.

Eviation's all-electric plane in flight Tuesday morning in Moses Lake, Washington, on Sept. 27, 2022. (Eviation)
Arlington’s all-electric plane, Alice, takes first test flight

Eviation Aircraft’s battery-powered plane logs successful first flight from Grant County International Airport in Moses Lake.

At two stores – in Edmonds and Renton – Wide Shoes Only store owner Dominic Ahn offers more than 600 styles of shoes for people with wide feet. (Kevin Clark / The Herald)
These Edmonds and Renton shoe stores could change your life

Wide Shoes Only: Huge selection, expert fitting and superior customer service

Amber Weaver, who has worked at the Lakewood Crossing Starbucks for 5 years, with her daughter Melody, outside of her workplace on Thursday, Sept. 22, 2022 in Marysville, Washington. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
Complaint accuses Starbucks of anti-union threats in Marysville

Meanwhile, a mother of two said Thursday that Starbucks refused to accommodate her schedule when she returned from maternity leave.

Snoop Dogg in a video announces the opening of 'Tha Dogg House' in January 2023. (Screenshot).
Dogg toyz: Funko, rapper Snoop Dogg greenlight new retail venture

“Tha Dogg House” opening next year in Inglewood, California, will be Funko’s third U.S. retail store.