MHCC’s Elizabeth Perry: A Real Gem

Posted: March 7, 2013

Elizabeth PerryMt. Hood Community College’s (MHCC) Elizabeth Perry received the Soroptimist club’s Ruby Award March 7 for her professional and personal efforts to make extraordinary differences in the lives of women and girls.

Perry serves as the college’s coordinator for bilingual and culturally diverse student retention and adviser of the Transiciones program. She provides educational planning, career education and case management support to women with culturally diverse or economically challenged backgrounds.

“I nominated Elizabeth because she is this award. She has made it her life’s passion to inspire and encourage women in the community,” says Sunny Klever, MHCC Foundation manager. “Her core values match the Soroptomist belief that all women deserve to lead full and productive lives.”

“This is a very humbling experience. I love my work, and that is the reward I receive each day,” says Perry.

Student Testimonial
Teresa Blanshire, an MHCC graduate and former student of Perry’s, says, “In a tearful embrace, Liz and I celebrated my acceptance into the Nursing program at Linfield College. In addition, she was at my graduation, cheering for me as I graduated with honors with a Bachelor of Science in nursing. I give much of the credit for my overall success to my beloved Liz.”

Blanshire continues, “I would love to tell you that what Liz has done for me is unique, but in reality this is what she is all about. What I have described is Liz’s way of life. I have never met anyone who is more committed and dedicated to serve and make a difference in peoples’ lives.”

For example, she leads Transiciones, which is a college-entry and success program at MHCC for single parents and displaced homemakers who are native Spanish speakers. The program offers bilingual career development classes and services, financial assistance for English classes and help transitioning into college programs.

“We help women follow their dreams,” says Perry. “It is important for them to have cheerleaders who are rooting for them; the MHCC employees are those cheerleaders.”

Matched Education Savings Account (MESA)
In 2008, Perry helped initiate the Matched Education Savings Account (MESA) program at MHCC, one of the most successful academic Individual Development Account (IDA) programs in the U.S. In the past five years, student enrollment has soared from 30 to approximately 300. These students have access to nearly $3 million in resources for their education.

Students are matched five to one for every dollar they contribute to their IDA. They also receive other support resources, including financial literacy education.

“It is important for students to understand what they are spending their money on,” Perry says. “It made me think about what I do with my own money.”

Committed to Helping People
Perry coordinated MHCC’s participation in the Oregon Leadership Institute, a program of the Oregon Council for Hispanic Advancement, created for Hispanic college and high school students.

She serves as the faculty adviser to MEChA, a student club committed to advancing the education of all Chicano/Chicana students. Perry also co-advises the Chako Kum Tux Club, the Native American club at MHCC.

She advocates for immigrant workers to improve their working conditions and wages and has led community organizing efforts for Latino workers.

For years, Perry has volunteered at KBOO radio, where she and her daughter, Cristina, co-produce Mujeres Bravas, a weekly radio show devoted to women’s issues and to opening space for Latina voices.

For more information, please contact the Office of College Advancement, 503-491-7204 or 

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 Last Modified: 3/7/2013 03:54:29 PM