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AACC logo

AACC Recognition

OLS® at Bellevue College has been recognized by the American Association of Community Colleges (AACC) and was selected as one of four finalist for the annual Awards of Excellence; more specifically the Student Success Award.  Once again Bellevue College takes a leadership role in innovative pedagogical approaches, particularly for non-traditional students!  


For over the past 8 years, Bellevue College has offered an innovative associate degree in occupational and life skills (OLS) for adults with cognitive disabilities. Since its inception, OLSBC has successfully graduated more than 82% of its enrolled students. Approximately 85% of the program alumni are successfully employed in their career pathway, compared to the national average of 26% employment for adults in this same disability category.


“As part of the OLS program, I interned for six months as a para educator in the transition program of a local school district. Upon graduation, I was hired as a full-time employee as a para educator in an 18-21 transition program for young adults with disabilities. This job was made possible because of my associate degree,” says Christina, a 2014 graduate of OLS at Bellevue College.


The success of OLS graduates led Bellevue College to create a model that other colleges could replicate.  To support these replications the OLS® National Network was created and has initiated partnerships with other like-minded institutions to offer the OLS degree across the nation.


The OLS associate degree is an opportunity for colleges to increase the student success rate for this underserved population.


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Save the Date evite

Senior Presentations Night

Save the Date! Please join us in celebrating OLS® at Bellevue College student success! Click HERE to RSVP

Senior Presentations will take place on Thursday, June 16th at 6:30PM 

Bellevue High School Performing Arts Center

10416 SE Wolverine Way, Bellevue, WA 98004

Commencement will take place on Friday, June 17th at 7:00PM 

Key Arena, Seattle Center

305 Harrison Street, Seattle, WA

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Tempest Poster

Sensory-Friendly Performance of The Tempest for Families with Autism

As part of its effort to make Shakespeare’s plays accessible and enjoyable for everyone, the Seattle Shakespeare Company will offer an autism-friendly performance of the company’s touring production of The Tempest, directed by Annie Lareau.  

See Shakespeare’s fantastical play of magic, love, and forgiveness on Sunday, April 17th at 2:00 PM at the Center Theatre in the Seattle Center Armory building.Click HERE to learn more about this event. 
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AACC logo

OLS Receives Annual Award of Excellence

OLS® at Bellevue College has been selected as one of four finalist for the American Association of Community Colleges (AACC) annual Awards of Excellence; more specifically the Student Success Award.  


Once again Bellevue College will take a leadership role in innovative pedagogical approaches, particularly for non-traditional students!  


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OLS at BC group pic

OLS Program Receives Innovation of the Year Award

Bellevue College’s innovative OLS (Occupational Life Skills) program continues to receive national recognition, being named one of the 2015 Innovation of the Year Award winners by The League for Innovation in the Community College. Awards were granted for outstanding innovations that serve community colleges and students.  Bellevue College’s OLS program was recognized in the category for Workforce Preparation and Development.

“Established over 30 years ago, the League’s Innovation of the Year competition was devised as a way to recognize significant innovations at Alliance member colleges,” according to the League’s website. “These innovations reflect capstone achievements and the continuing renewal of the spirit of innovation and experimentation upon which the League was founded. The award is designed to recognize faculty, staff, and administrators at member colleges who have created and implemented innovative programs, practices, partnerships, policies, and activities that improve the institution’s ability to serve students and the community.”


Click HERE to continue reading.

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Bellwether awards

Bellwether Award Finalist

The Community College Futures Assembly has announced ten outstanding community college programs as finalists  to compete for the 2016 Bellwether Awards. The field of Bellwether nominations was very competitive this year with nearly 300 Bellwether applications. Prior to the application process, over 1,000 community college programs were nominated from a wide range of agencies including peer institutions, conferences, and the media.  Congratulations to OLS at Bellevue College on being selected as one of the top ten 2016 Bellwether Award Finalists. 

Continue reading HERE.
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Happy Holidays from Bellevue College

Happy Holidays from Bellevue College

Five of our fourth year OLS at Bellevue College students are featured in this holiday video. Click HERE to view.  
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Autism Speaks logo

Scholarship Opportunity

Autism Speaks’ third annual Brian & Patricia Kelly Postsecondary Scholarship Fund applications have opened! The Brian and Patricia Kelly Postsecondary Scholarship Fund selects eligible colleges, vocational/technical schools and transition programs in the United States to identify qualified students or clients with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) and offer scholarship funds for these individuals to attend a college, vocational/technical schools or transition program.  Autism Speaks encourages individuals with ASD to contact colleges, vocational/technical schools and transition programs in order to take advantage of this unique opportunity.


This program accepts applications from two- and four-year colleges as well as vocational/technical schools and transition programs to provide scholarship funding to individuals with autism and to ultimately increase the number of participants with ASD. There will be a strong focus on how the college or program conducts outreach to potential scholarship recipients and how the college or program prepares participants for post-college life, i.e. employability skills, inclusion, job placement, and transition to the workforce

Click HERE to learn more. 
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BC Bookstore

Fall Quarter Textbook List

It is time to get ready for fall quarter 2015!  The book store located at North Campus is no longer selling textbooks. 


OLS Students will be required to get their textbooks at the BC Bookstore in person or online. You will need the textbook for the first day of class.


All textbooks will be available for purchase at the book store on Main Campus beginning August 31st or you can buy them online.  Below is a list of the courses that require the student to buy a text book. We have provided the BC online link for each textbook.



Class Title




Personal Finance I

Right on the Money

Financial Basics: Money Management Guide



Cultural Awareness

America Street a Multicultural Anthology of Stories (paperback)



Workplace Readiness

Job Search Handbook for People with Disabilities





First Year Students: You will be receiving information during the New Student Orientation regarding the textbooks for your courses.


Main Campus Bookstore Info:


Opens Monday, August 31st.


Regular Summer Hours:

Monday:              8:00am – 5:00pm

Tuesday:              8:00am – 5:00pm

Wednesday:      8:00am – 5:00pm

Thursday:            8:00am – 5:00pm

Friday:                  8:00am – 12:00pm

Regular School Operation Hours will be posted on the website at a later date: http://bcc.collegestoreonline.com/



Bellevue College Main Campus

3000 Landerholm Circle CE

Bellevue, WA 98007

Building B, 1st Floor, Room B127

BC Bookstore has red arrow pointed to it on the map. Click HERE to download

(425) 564-2285

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celebrating OLS

Celebrating OLS

Please join us as we celebrate the legacy of OLS at Bellevue College. Light hors d'oeuvres, wine, and beverages will be served. 
Your RSVP is requested by Wednesday, September 2nd via foundation@bellevuecollege.edu or (425) 564-2945.  Click HERE to RSVP
Complimentary parking is available in lots #10 and 12


Bellevue College - Room A265
3000 Landerholm Circle SE 
Bellevue, WA 98007


September 9th, 2015, 5:30pm - 7:30pm

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OLS Graduation

OLS at BC in the News!

More than 150 family members, friends and advisers filled the Carlson Theater last month to watch 13 jovial students give their senior presentations. The group, a smattering of students from around Puget Sound, had traveled long and hard to make it to this point.

They were graduating from the Occupational and Life Skills (OLS) program at Bellevue College, an educational enterprise that teaches students with mild disabilities the qualities that make them successful in college and afterwards.


This was the first graduating class both Program Manager Cheryl Porter and Internship Coordinator Pilar Lopez had worked with, having joined the OLS team within the last year.

“It’s been an adventure. It’s just amazing to see the growth that we see in the students,” said Lopez.

Click HERE to continue reading.

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senior presentation night

Senior Presentations 2015

 Our graduated 4th Years and 3rd Year students did an amazing job on their presentations. Thank you to our Internship business partners and alumni for all of their support! 

Photography by Lawrence Villasin

OLS 2015 Seniors

OLS Class of 2015 Senior Presentations

OLS® Bellevue College would like to invite you to our 7th Annual Senior Presentation Celebration. Our graduating seniors have completed 200 hours of internships with different business partners who will be recognized and presented with their graduate’s senior project. 

Please join us and celebrate our 2015 OLS® graduates, as they move toward a successful career and embrace the many adventures ahead of them.

Date & Time:  Thursday, June 18, 2015 at 6:30pm

Location:  Carlson Theatre, Bellevue College Main Campus

RSVP: OLSsenior2015.eventbrite.com

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Save the Date

Senior Presentations & Commencement

Please join us in celebrating our OLS at Bellevue College student success. 

Senior Presentations will take place on Thursday, June 18th at 6:30PM 

Carison Theatre, Bellevue College Main Campus

3000 Landerholm Circle, Bellevue WA

Commencement will take place on Friday, June 19th at 7:00PM 

Key Arena, Seattle Center

305 Harrison Street, Seattle, WA
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Soccer Team Wins

BC Unified Soccer Team Wins Big!

Please join us in congratulating the Bellevue College Unified Soccer team (consisting of our own OLS students!) for winning the 1st College Unified Soccer Invitational! We are so proud of what this team has accomplished. 
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grocery store

Personal Finance 2 Community Activity

In small groups the Personal Finance 2 OLS students practiced their smart shopping skills at a local grocery store.

There was first a guided tour of the store by the instructor, stopping numerous times for students to determine the unit of measure and unit price of various items. Students discovered the price for a carton of orange juice is figured by the cost per “pints” while the price for a roll of paper towels is calculated by its “square yards.”

Following the tour, students completed a worksheet that had them participating in a simulated grocery shopping experience. For this activity students were given a grocery list of 15 items. Students first categorized the items by whether they were a “want” or a “need” and ranked the items by “highest priority” to “lowest priority.” This became important when students realized they had a budget of $50.00, not nearly enough to get everything on the list—would you have passed on getting blueberries in order to buy the Ghirardelli brownie mix?

In reflection, students talked about a few ways to help avoid impulse buying at the grocery store: use a list; have a budget; and not grocery shopping when you’re hungry. 

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425 Magazine

OLS Featured in 425 Magazine

Click HERE to read about OLS in the March 2015 issue of 425 magazine. 

Bellevue OLS Program Goes National

Bellevue College’s Occupational Life Skills program offers training and an associate’s degree for students with learning disabilities. Since December of 2006, BC has been offering the OLS program to students in the Bellevue community. The program helps students develop their pathway, expand their interpersonal skills, volunteer in their community and participate in internships.

Recently two other schools, the Lone Star College in Houston, Texas, and the Northwest Arkansas Community College in Bentonville have explored creating OLS programs of their own to provide opportunities for education to more people within their community. Both schools will be running pilot programs in the fall.

BC’s OLS National Director Marci Muhlestein said “we are giving other colleges an opportunity to replicate this program and have the same successes, which means more adults employed around the nation."

Continue reading HERE

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Share Night 2014

OLS students and families came together on November 19th for the fall quarter Share Night. Students had the opportunity to share the learning outcomes for each of their courses. Their work was highlighted through displays, stage presentations, and personal engagement. Thank you to all who participated in this fun evening!

Check out the photos from Share Night on our Facebook page.

American Radio Theater Visits OLS

For the third year in a row the American Radio Theater (ART) came to Bellevue College North Campus and performed for the OLS Radio Theatre class on November 12, 2014. ART is a non-profit group dedicated to the preservation and promotion of old time radio.

The OLS students were given a behind the scenes look at how a radio play is produced. ART, led by Joy Jackson, setup their microphones, recording equipment, and props needed to create live sound effects. The group talked about what they do and how happy they are for opportunities to expose others to old time radio. They then performed and recorded “Will You Walk Into My Parlor”, a mystery written by John Dickson Carr.

The recording will be edited and added to ART’s podcast page at www.americanradiotheater.org.

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Northwest Arkansas Community College to be the first college to replicate OLS!

Northwest Arkansas Community College will be the first college to replicate OLS.  Their biggest hurdle yet, differential tuition, was approved unanimously by the Board of Trustees on November 10. Dr. Gates stated, “The Board expressed great interest in the program and any reservations about the cost were outweighed by the compelling need in the community.  At the same time, we remain aware of the very real challenges the tuition rate may present to some families.  To that end, we will be working to make sure all interested students and parents know that admitted students who meet federal financial aid criteria (need) will be eligible for federal financial aid because they are “degree seeking” students. We will continue exploring other options to make sure cost is not a prohibitive factor for students in the program.”
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Coffee Social w/Communications Class

Coffee Social with Intro to Communications Class

Our first year students' Intro to Communication class hosted a coffee social on October 8th, 2014 at Bellevue College North Campus. This event was a great opportunity for North Campus staff and first year students of OLS to get to know one another.  The students were excited to have the opportunity to practice skills they are learning in the classroom (greeting visitors, making them feel welcomed, and engaging in conversations) while having a good time socializing with other students and staff. A good time was had by all!

OLS Alumni Represent at Eastside Pathways College & Career Panel

OLS alumni (Jode - Genie, Katie - Federal Way School District, Evan - Compass Group, & Michael - Skills Inc.) represented OLS Bellevue College at the Eastside Pathways College & Career Open House at the Bellevue Square Microsoft Store on Sept 29 & 30, 2014. They sat on the College & Career panel and spoke about their past experiences and how they achieved their goals.

You can watch them tell their stories on the OLS YouTube channel.

Ricky & Cheryl take the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge!

Ricky & Cheryl accepted Marci's challenge and took the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge at the end of the OLS All Student Orientation. The staff chose two students from each year to dump water buckets onto Ricky & Cheryl, causing much excitement amongst the students. Ricky & Cheryl in turn challenged all the 4th Year students!


Watch all the excitement on OLS' YouTube channel!

OLS All Student Orientation

On Sept 15th, OLS introduced the 26 new students and their parents and welcomed back all returning students and their parents at the All Student Orientation. Students got a chance to mingle and did group presentations on one of their Performance Indicators. First year parents got to meet and receive great advice from current students' parents. Fun was had by all and to end the event, 8 students received the privilege of dumping water onto Ricky and Cheryl during their ALS Ice Bucket Challenge!


Visit OLS' Facebook page (www.facebook.com/OLSbellevuecollege) to view all the photos from our All Student Orientation.

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OLS Summer Volunteering at Ronald McDonald House

All OLS students are encouraged to volunteer during the summer.  Committing to a summer volunteer experience teaches students valuable real-life work skills as well as promotes community involvement.


Some OLS students volunteered at Ronald McDonald House on August 29th, 2014. They helped clean up the building while still having fun. Way to go, guys!

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Marci takes the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge!

OLS Director Marci Muhlestein takes the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge at Bellevue College Continuing Education's All Hands Meeting. She also challenged Ricky and Cheryl to take the ice bucket challenge at the OLS All Student Orientation on September 15th!


Watch the full video on OLS YouTube.

OLS Student Leadership Training

OLS Student Leadership Training

The OLS student leadership team and student mentors had an all-day training on August 19th on the Bellevue College main campus. With the aid of their facilitators (Skip Sampelayo, Nora Lance, and Jerry Bunce) from the Student Programs department at Bellevue College, the students explored their leadership styles, including how to use this information when working as a team. The OLS student mentors lead the first day of the new student orientation and now have been supporting the first year students during the beginning of the fall quarter.
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OLS on the Radio (Education Talk Radio)

OLS National Director, Marci Muhlestein, was recently interviewed by internet radio talk show host Larry Jacobs from Education Talk Radio. The interview included information about OLS on the Bellevue College campus and the replication of OLS on other college campuses. Stories of past students were told, plans for replicating on NWACC campus were discussed, and opportunities for other colleges to get involved were shared.


Way to represent OLS, Marci!


Listen to the full interview here: Marci's Education Talk Radio blog

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OLS Presenting at AHEAD Conference July 2014

On July 16, 2014 Marci Muhlestein, OLS National Director, will be presenting at the National AHEAD Conference in Sacramento, CA. The conference will highlight best practices for disability resource administrators at colleges all around the United States. She will be sharing the success of OLS alumni, the specifics about the associate degree, and the process on how to collaborate to result in replication of OLS on other college campuses. This event is important because it will provide OLS with the opportunity to share information about the OLS program with professionals that are at the forefront of providing services to adults with disabilities on college campuses. It will provide them the opportunity to become involved at the ground level of replication. 


"I am excited to share OLS and our replication model with AHEAD conference attendees. I am hoping for multiple colleges to be inspired to begin their process of replication so that more adults with cognitive disabilities can benefit from an OLS college education." - Marci Muhlestein

MORE info on AHEAD

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Congrats to graduating OLS class of 2014!

Congratulations to the graduating OLS class of 2014!!! The staff and faculty at OLS at Bellevue College is proud of these outstanding students and wish them success in their future endeavors.

Sarah Paulson Customer Service Award Winner: Karen Riley!

The OLS Customer Service and Office Procedures class presented the Sarah Paulson Exceptional Customer Service Award to Karen Riley, manager of Poppinjay’s Café on March 25, 2014. Throughout the quarter, the students in the Customer Service and Office Procedures class observed Bellevue College North Campus staff for Exceptional Customer Service Skills in the following areas: Creating a First Impression, Having the Right Attitude, Establishing a Rapport, and Making a Customer Feel Valued.

This award is named after a former OLS student, Sarah Paulson, who epitomized exceptional customer service by having a positive attitude and making everyone around her feel valued and respected.

Congratulations to Karen!

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Office Procedures Class Visits The Marriott Hotel

Office Procedures and Customer Service Class toured the Marriott Hotel -Redmond Town Center on March 19, 2014. The Marriott staff did an outstanding job of explaining and demonstrating how to deliver Exceptional Customer Service. The students were able to observe and ask questions to the employees working in the various departments in the hotel such as Front Desk, Operator, Housekeeping, Laundry, Engineering, Kitchen, and Restaurants. In addition, the Management Staff met with the students to give them an overview of the Hospitality Industry and answer specific employment questions regarding benefits and employment opportunities through the Marriott.  Two current OLS students are completing a 200 hour internship at the Marriott in the engineering/maintenance department and in the restaurant.

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OLS Visits Sizzleworks!

The OLS students in the Nutrition II visited Sizzleworks, a local cooking school in Bellevue.  There, they learned valuable skills with regard to preparing and cooking nutritious food and kitchen safety.  After preparation, they were able to sample their work! 

OLS Visits Microsoft!

On the 26th of February, the Computer Fundamentals class visited the Microsoft Visitors Center and learned how technology can be used to enhance the education process.

Honoring Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

In the spirit of serving others and giving back to our local community, the OLS students were busy doing a service project in celebration of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. They were reminded of Dr. King's vision and mission and of the importance of giving back to their communities. They made about 20 fleece blankets to be donated to Seattle Children's Hospital. A group of OLS students delivered the semi-handmade blankets to Children's Hospital and the patients and volunteer staff were thrilled!


The OLS program emphasizes the importance of serving others in our community. There are many opportunities throughout our program for students to do service projects such as the blanket making project.



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