Alumni feature- Colin McCann

Colin McCann_photoColin McCann came to UW Tacoma in the fall of 2011 as a transfer student from TCC. After taking advantage of the Running Start program in his high school, he was only 19 when he first arrived on campus. A self-professed “political junkie,” McCann chose to major in PPE (Law & Policy track), with a Human Rights minor. He was also a member of the Global Honors Program.

McCann attributes a great deal of his intellectual, personal, and academic growth to his experiences at UWT,  noting that nearly everyone he encountered—from professors to fellow students—challenged him “intellectually, and encouraged me to broaden my perspectives.” He claims that he can’t speak highly enough of UWT’s culture of learning and encouragement of academic discourse. “It helped me develop into the person I am today.”

Asked about specific professors who had an impact on him, he mentioned Chuck Rowling (now with the University of Nebraska), noting that “he was the first person to encourage me to apply for the Washington State Legislative internship, and I very much attribute my professional trajectory to his guidance my first quarter on campus.”  Turan Kayoaglu also played a large role in McCann’s education. “I took an international relations course from him,” McCann said, “and subsequently asked him to serve as mentor for my Global Honors thesis on the Arab League. He is a brilliant man, and the students at UWT are extremely fortunate to have him.”

McCann also took Lisa Hoffman’s Cities and Citizenship course—which was dedicated to working with the Tacoma Housing Authority, as well as with students from McCarver Elementary. The goal of the course was to understand how kids viewed themselves as members of the Tacoma community, what future they saw for themselves, and how their housing/home situation affected their views on education. “I’d be lying if I said it didn’t change the way I viewed my own position in the community. It helped me realize that it is incumbent upon all of us to give back and make Tacoma a great place to live, and I really think that is the beauty of what UWT is doing in the Tacoma community.”

McCann believes that the heart of the school is service, and that administration and faculty work hard to instill that heart in students. “As an alumnus,” he says, “I feel that I have an obligation to take action and give back to my community instead of sitting on the sidelines.”

“I can’t speak highly enough about what UWT is doing. I rave about the school to anyone who will listen,” he said. “It allowed me to broaden my horizons and explore my interests. I’ll forever be grateful to the UWT community.”

After spending the last three years working  for various state legislators—and living in Snohomish County for the last year, running a campaign for a Democratic Senator from Lake Stevens—McCann is back in Tacoma, working for Governor Jay Inslee as a Constituent Services Representative.

Calling it “the perfect position for me,” McCann claimed his position in the governor’s office melds his interest in policy with his desire to help others. “I have the tendency to be an idealist, and I want to show people that government can—and does—work for the people. My current role allows me to do just that by helping folks who are having trouble navigating various agencies get the help they need while assisting the Governor’s office in advocating for good policies that will help our state.”

In the future, McCann hopes to find ways to use his interest in policy to help strengthen the social safety net by finding ways to build a mental health infrastructure to service those who have traditionally fallen through the cracks. “I know that’s not very specific,” he said, “but, I’m 22. I have some time to decide specifics. Right now, I see my role as affecting positive change by working within our state government.”

When he’s not “nerding out about policy,” McCann can be found either writing music (he sings and plays guitar), hiking, or watching film “at the Grand Cinema—the best theater out there.” In typical UWT alum fashion, he’s also trying to get involved with local advocacy groups and nonprofits. He’s also been doing a lot of reading about the factors that led to the economic downturn in 2008, and studying the budgetary realities for the upcoming legislative session.

Asked if there was anything else he’d like PPPA to know about him, McCann answered, “I’m just a person who likes to learn. So, if you have any suggestions, let me know!”