GHC student honored with Transforming Lives award

A Grays Harbor College student was honored for transforming her life through college.

On Monday, The Washington State Association of College Trustees (ACT) honored 34 community and technical college students at its annual Transforming Lives awards ceremony.

The awards recognize current and former students of community and technical colleges whose lives were transformed by attending college.

Roina Ma’afala. Photo from GHC

Among those honored was Roina Ma’afala of Grays Harbor College.

According to GHC, Roina is a sophomore who came to the college on a volleyball scholarship from Hawaii.  

In a statement on the GHC website, Roina says that higher education was always in her sights.

“I have always planned on going to college. My parents raised myself and my four younger siblings to strive for more.  I am the first to go to college in my immediate family and I see myself as setting an example for my siblings. I hope to play volleyball at a 4-year institution in Hawaii, next year, while I earn my bachelors in pharmacy,”

In addition to being being Captain of the Grays Harbor College Volleyball team, Roina is the Executive Officer of Community Relations of the Associated Students of Grays Harbor College Executive Board and volunteers locally for the Montesano Senior Center and Coaches Club Volleyball.

“I don’t want to just stay at home and do nothing.  I prefer to be busy and productive,” says Roina.

Roina is inspired by their parents and siblings to continue working towards their goals.

“I had a really hard time leaving Hawaii to come to GHC.  I knew it was a great opportunity, but my family is very close.  However, my family are physical reminders of my goals and where I want to be in life,” describes Roina.

On the GHC website, Roina gave advice to other students, saying “Ask for help. When you come to college many think that the expectation is that we are all adults, so we don’t need help, but adults need help too.  So we need to ask for it. Additionally, be self-motivated. Go out and get what you want and work hard for it.”

Roina was nominated by Head Women’s Volleyball Coach and Assistant Athletic Director, Christine Nelson.

From the winners, ACT selected five as keynote speakers. Each also received $500 from the association. This year’s winners are:

  • Arma Carneh, Bates Technical College
  • Esmeralda “Vita” Blanco, Clark College
  • Michelle Grunder, Edmonds Community College
  • Joseph Barboza, Olympic College
  • Rachelle Himmelman, Skagit Valley College

“Students overcome life’s obstacles every day, and we’re proud to support them,” said Jim Page, ACT president and trustee at Olympic College in Bremerton. “Transforming Lives is a way we can recognize 34 outstanding current and former students as they achieve their goals.”

Other Transforming Lives winners are:

  • Esther Iiyambo, Bellevue College
  • Jaylyn Boydon, Bellingham Technical College
  • Jim Leland, Big Bend Community College
  • Jordan Barde, Cascadia College
  • Jaima Kortlever, Centralia College
  • Heather Morgan, Clover Park Technical College
  • Maria Mayorquin, Columbia Basin College
  • Marwa Alwattar, Everett Community College
  • Roina Ma’afala, Grays Harbor College
  • Danielle Kies, Green River College
  • Cynthia Wambui, Highline College
  • Naira Harutyunyan, Lake Washington Institute of Technology
  • Gordon Bolar, Lower Columbia College
  • Fernanda Jardim de Souza, North Seattle College
  • Leo Gonzales, Peninsula College
  • Anna “Christa” Hanson, Pierce College Fort Steilacoom
  • Randy Simpson, Pierce College Puyallup
  • Anna White, Renton Technical College
  • Oloth Insyxiengmay, Seattle Central College
  • Jake Powell, Shoreline Community College
  • Eliab Cortes, South Puget Sound Community College
  • Kaylin Clarke, South Seattle College
  • Randy McReynolds, Spokane Community College
  • Eryn Smith, Spokane Falls Community College
  • Christopher Oliver, Tacoma Community College
  • Juan Gaytan, Walla Walla Community College
  • Maribel Garibay, Wenatchee Valley College
  • Steve Gnyp, Whatcom Community College
  • Gabriela Martinez, Yakima Valley College