GHC nomination announced for Transforming Lives Award

A Grays Harbor College student has been nominated for a Transforming Lives Award.

The college tells KXRO that Alondra Diaz Merino is up for the honor.

Each year, the Washington State Association of College Trustees (ACT) Awards Committee recognizes the accomplishments of nominees from each of the state’s community and technical colleges for this award.  

The first in her family to receive a high school and college education, Diaz Merino is Grays Harbor College’s nominee.

When selecting Diaz Merino as GHC’s nominee, Dr. Cal Erwin-Svoboda, GHC Vice President of Student Services, stated “I cannot think of a better candidate to represent Grays Harbor College and the community and technical college system. Ms. Diaz Merino exemplifies the College’s vision of inspiring students and enriching our community by providing positive growth through learning.”

ACT created the Transforming Lives Awards program in 2012 to recognize current or former students whose lives have been transformed by pursuing higher education at a community or technical college. 

The ACT Awards Committee will select five awardees from a pool of nominations from the state’s community and technical colleges to receive $500.

The college says that in her application for the award, Diaz Merino shared that going to college after high school had been a long-term goal. 

“When I thought about my future, I always thought I wanted to go to a four-year university. My senior year made me realize that I wanted to stay close to home,” said Diaz Merino, adding “The local community college was going to be my best option as it would provide me with smaller class sizes, affordable tuition, keep me close to home so that I could continue to see my family and support them financially, and I was already familiar with the GHC campus.”

Diaz Merino was a Running Start student and graduated with honors with both her Associate of Arts Degree from GHC and her High School Diploma from Raymond High School.

Following high school, she earned a CNA after completing GHC’s Nursing Assistant-Certified course over the summer. 

“Because this was always in the back of my head, I started working part-time at McDonalds at the age of 16. I knew it wasn’t going to be easy to find a balance between being a full-time student while working a part-time job, but it was necessary for me to save money.”

This fall, she began her second AA degree at GHC with the goal of entering GHC’s nursing program before returning to her community to serve as a Pediatric Intensive Care Unit nurse. 

The college said, “We are proud of Ms. Diaz Merino’s accomplishments and we are excited to share this good news.”

Diaz Merino also credited the TRIO Educational Opportunity Center at GHC for helping to make her dreams of college a reality. 

“Throughout my academic journey I have turned to GHC’s TRIO Educational Opportunity (EOC) program whenever I needed help,” stated Diaz Merino.

Prior GHC Nominees:

Year GHC Nominee
2022 Shelly Hoffman 
2021 Lesly Duran
2020 Kristi Maldonado
2019 Roina Maafala
2018 Amanda Deubert
2017 Phillip Slep
2016 Joseph Gillette
2015 Deidre Pearson  
2014 Stephanie Becker