A Hillsboro resident is one of five people being honored as a Portland Community College “Diamond Alum” award winner.

Peggy Halley of Hillsboro will receive the Diamond Alum award as a part of the college’s “Founder’s Week,” when the school celebrates its history and COURTESY PHOTO - Hillsboros Peggy Halley served as a career firefighter and became the first female battalion chief in Oregon.

Each year, PCC salutes alumnae who have become community leaders since attending PCC.

Halley took classes at PCC in the early 1980s to study fire science. But school was not all she had on her plate.

Halley’s mother died unexpectedly in 1980, prompting her to become surrogate mother to her younger siblings — ages 11, 13 and 16 at the time. While their father was supportive emotionally and financially, he lived out of state.

Halley juggled being “mom” while seeking an associate’s degree at PCC.

She put her degree to work beginning in 1983 as a career firefighter in Lake Oswego. Ten years later, Halley was promoted to lieutenant, which made her the first female career fire officer in Oregon. She was promoted again in 1998, this time to battalion chief — another first for a woman in Oregon.

Since her retirement in 2012, Halley has volunteered as the vice president for the Washington County Fire District 2 Board of Directors, an elected position she’s held for four years.

The other 2014 winners include Abel Ahumada Alaniz of Garden Home, Cheryl Burgermeister of southwest Portland, state Rep. Chris Gorsek of Troutdale and Hung “Lee” Nguyen of Beaverton.

“These five graduates exhibit the qualities of which the college is so proud,” said PCC president Jeremy Brown.

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