It’s a homecoming of sorts for Olga Inglebretson, who takes over this week as dean of the Gig Harbor campus of Tacoma Community College.
Dr. Inglebretson, who lives in Fox Island and raised her children on the Key Peninsula, was herself a late-starting student at the Gig Harbor branch campus in its early years. At the time, she had only a high-school equivalency diploma.
“I took English 100 right here,” she said in an interview Monday. “Like many community college students, I was a late-in-life starter.”
She graduated with an associate degree in paralegal studies in 2006, then went on to earn bachelor’s and master’s degrees from The Evergreen State College in Tacoma. Recently, she completed her doctorate in Educational Leadership from the University of Washington, Tacoma.
Dr. Inglebritson noted that nearly her entire higher education has been at branch or second campuses, which gives her a special insight into her new job.
“I understand the needs of a whole community of people like me,” she said. “Not everybody can commute, not everybody can be a 9-to-5 student. Many people start their education late in life, as I did, and many people come back to it after many years.”
TCC opened its Gig Harbor branch in 1992 and moved to its current campus on Hunt Street Northwest in 1995.
Dr. Inglebritson will preside over a campus with 359 general education students — students pursuing credits toward an associate’s degree — and 299 enrolled in continuing education classes. She will also oversee continuing education program at TCC’s main campus, which has about 104 students.
She succeeds Janine Mott, who retired this spring after 12 years as dean.
Fall classes at TCC Gig Harbor begin Sept. 23, “and there’s still time to enroll,” Dr. Inglebritson said
“I’m really excited about finding out more about what the community wants from its college, and what kind of partnerships we can form,” Dr. Inglebritson said. “Everyone knows how Gig Harbor is growing like crazy, and we want to make sure we grow along with it. I’m going to be talking to a lot of people, asking “What do you want from us? What can we do for you.”
Before joining TCC, Dr. Inglebritson served as associate director of development at Evergreen State., where she was responsible for fundraising, planned giving, and campaigns. Before that, she served as managing director of Evergreen’s Tacoma Campus.
Dr. Inglebritson came to the Key Peninsula from New York about 20 years ago. Her late husband, Jim, taught at Evergreen Elementary School. Her daughter, Justine, graduated from Peninsula High School, and her two sons, Jeremy and Alexander, from Gig Harbor High School. She has a step-daughter, Alia, in Maple Valley, and three grandchildren.
She credits her rise in education. to a beloved mentor, Janet Olejar, the now-retired director of the paralegal program at TCC.
“Every time I earned a degree, she would say, “Well, you can’t just quit now!’” Dr. Inglebritson said. “So I didn’t.”