5 community and technical college students selected for Transforming Lives award
OLYMPIA, Wash. — The Trustees Association of Community and Technical Colleges (TACTC) will honor Wednesday five community and technical college students as 2015 Transforming Lives award winners. The annual award recognizes current students and alumni who overcome barriers to their academic goals.
The winners are: Raymond Power, Bates Technical College (Tacoma); Chester Curtis, Edmonds Community College; Angela Gates, Lower Columbia College (Longview); Yadira Rosales, Skagit Valley College (Mount Vernon); and Sukhdip Singh, Whatcom Community College (Bellingham). The boards of trustees for each of the state’s 34 community and technical colleges nominated a student or alumnus to be considered for the Transforming Lives awards.
“It’s a tremendous honor to recognize these outstanding students,” said Greg Bever, TACTC president and a Community Colleges of Spokane trustee. “Each of these students has an incredible story to tell. We should all be proud to have this system of community and technical colleges, where these and many other students have found a supportive place to learn.”
TACTC will recognize the Transforming Lives award winners and nominees Wednesday, Jan. 28 at 6 p.m. at a recognition dinner. Each winner will also receive $500. The 2015 Transforming Lives award winners are:
- Raymond Power: Power started at Bates Technical College as part of the Goodwill community jobs program. He and his sister were raised by their single mother, who was also disabled, in a poor household. Power joined a gang, but ended up in prison. After his release, he married and they had a child together. “Right then I knew I had to change,” Power said in an essay. “BTC has changed my life in so many ways. I went from not knowing what I want in life to thinking a whole new way.”
- Chester Curtis: Curtis is a U.S. Army veteran, serving as a combat engineer including a 12-month deployment to Afghanistan. After his time in the military, Curtis used his educational benefits to enroll in the Energy Management program at Edmonds Community College. He graduated with an Associate of Applied Science Transfer degree in Energy Management and a certificate in project management. During his time at Edmonds, he got involved in student clubs and worked to help other veterans returning to school. He helped improve the college’s Veterans Resource Center and encouraged the college to implement gap funding to support student veterans between quarters.“Edmonds Community College not only gave me stability and camaraderie, it gave me an outlet where I could serve, lead and make an impact,” Curtis said.
- Angela Gates: Gates moved out of her abusive childhood home at the age of 17. She married and had four daughters. Gates and her husband separated years later after he admitted to a methamphetamine addiction. She will graduate from Lower Columbia College’s nursing program in March. She used her medical training on global health efforts traveling to Honduras and Nicaragua as a member of Global Medical Brigades. “My success has everything to do with coming to Lower Columbia College and being accepted for who I am,” Gates said. “I know I am in charge of my future.”
- Yadira Rosales: Rosales, at the age of nine moved with her family to Mount Vernon from Mexicali, Mexico. Her parents had only an elementary education, and she had no vision of what “college” meant. In high school, Rosales met a Skagit Valley College counselor who encouraged her to pursue a college education. She attended and graduated from SVC with the help of a Champions of Diversity scholarship. Rosales went on to earn her bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Western Washington University, also with financial help from SVC. She now works at SVC as an educational planner in Multicultural Student Services and plans to earn a Doctorate in Leadership, Education and Administration. “My experiences at Skagit Valley College were the foundation to the success I have had over the years,” Rosales said.
- Sukhdip Singh: Singh’s experiences growing up in Greece and Australia before coming to the United States have shaped him into the person he is today. He faced prejudice in Greece, where people would stare and make inappropriate comments because of the color of his skin and his turban. Now at Whatcom Community College, Singh holds a 4.0 GPA and is involved in campus activities on diversity and social justice, including organizing “Turban Awareness Day.” Despite financial constraints, Singh acknowledges Whatcom’s staff and faculty for their help and supportiveness as he pursues his education. “Whatcom has enabled and encouraged me to grow, learn and become stronger by using my past experiences as fuel to help me accomplish what many others fail to accomplish,” Singh said.
TACTC is the statewide association of trustees of the 30 community and technical college districts. It supports and coordinates trustee efforts in education, communication and advocacy. Trustees serve five-year terms and are appointed by the governor with consent of the Washington state Senate. The Transforming Lives awards recognition begins at 6 p.m. at the Red Lion Hotel, 2300 Evergreen Park Drive SW in Olympia.