June 12, 2000
Raymond Assaf sips a tall mocha at Woodinville II Starbuck's, and it seems as if he's lived here all his life. But he hasn't.
He's lived in the United States just twelve years, eight of those in Washington and the other four in California and Michigan. Assaf grew up in Lebanon, a country, he says, that has a green landscape and the four seasons.
He remembers when Lebanon was at war and attending a lot of funerals when he was a kid. Still, this didn't give him a tough attitude about life. Instead, he's warm, engaging, positive, and ambitious. And the latter quality might explain why a post card arriving in his mailbox last April caught his eye.
"It read something like, 'If you want to go where no one has gone before,'" he says. Upon reading further, Assaf realized a new college was being built in Bothell and that he could have the opportunity to attend the new classes beginning in September.
The idea of a new college with brand new equipment and the latest technology appealed to Assaf. "That made me very interested in the college," he says.
A Bothell resident, Raymond Assaf decided to register for classes at Cascadia Community College, now under construction along Beardslee Boulevard. It never occurred to Assaf, that in doing so, he would earn a unique distinction.
At the temporary admissions office across from the Seattle Times building in Bothell where he registered, Assaf learned that he was the "first student to register." Now, a month later, his "first" status has brought him to Starbuck's for an interview, and he's feeling a little like a celebrity.
But soon after the interview begins, Starbuck's fills up with Sunday morning caffeine addicts and the noise level rises. He agrees to move outside to an outdoor table to seek quiet. Once outside, Assaf talks of his class schedule at Cascadia.
"I'm taking C ++ Computer Programming and Nutrition," he says over the inescapable roar of cars and trucks on the busy street behind him. "Definitely, my long-term goal is to become a teacher," he adds.
Currently a senior test technician for Metal Wave in Redmond, Assaf explains, "We make equipment for cellular phone providers. I'm in manufacturing and I do some engineering work."
A gust of wind attempts to whisk his coffee cup off the table and land it in his lap, but he catches it and continues talking, "I work more than full time, sixty hours a week." But even with so much of his time devoted to work, Assaf manages to have time for recreation.
A bachelor, Assaf loves to hike, rollerblade, and go to the movies. "I like outdoor stuff. I also like dancing," he said.
Then making sure that his love for dancing is mentioned in print, Assaf smiles and says, "Put that in for the ladies out there." He goes on, "I'm trying to learn Salsa. But mainly I do regular dancing."
However, this fall, his dancing will have to be in-between studying. According to Assaf, Cascadia Community College was helpful in course selection and counseling.
"They have been very helpful. I really like how Maria (Guevara-Lee, student success facilitator) helped me and answered all my questions. I like the fact it's a new college. And when a new college comes up, everything's new. And they take a lot of time in hiring new teachers. They are picky, which is good."
He also likes the fact that the University of Washington Bothell campus will share the same location. Since he plans to transfer to the UW campus after completing courses at Cascadia, he'll have a pretty good idea of what the UW requirements will be.
Does he know anyone else who will attend the college? "No," he answers. Then, grinning ear to ear, he adds, "Not yet."