GHC Nominates Alondra Diaz Merino for Transforming Lives Award

Posted on: Nov, 16, 2022

GHC Nominates Alondra Diaz Merino for Transforming Lives Award

The first in her family to receive a high school and college education, Alondra Diaz Merino is Grays Harbor College’s nominee for Washington state’s Transforming Lives Award.

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 the Transforming Lives Award.  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.

In her application for the award, Ms. Diaz Merino shared that going to college after high school had been a long-term goal. “Going to college and continuing my education after high school was important, but not being able to afford it was one of my biggest fears,” she stated. “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.” 

After attending GHC as a Running Start Student in her junior and senior years of high school, Alondra graduated with honors with both her Associate of Arts Degree from GHC and her High School Diploma from Raymond High School.

“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,” Ms. Diaz Merino reflected in her application. “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.”

Through the support of a Grays Harbor College Foundation Scholarship, Ms. Diaz Merino completed GHC’s Nursing Assistant-Certified program and earned a CNA certification this summer. This fall, she began her second associate’s degree with plans to apply for admittance into GHC’s nursing program. Her ultimate goal is to complete a bachelor’s degree in nursing and serve her community as a Pediatric Intensive Care Unit nurse.

“I was originally going to take a few years off school so that I could save more money for college, but because GHC offered so much financial help and guided me through every step of the process, I was able to enroll in college right after high school,” Ms. Diaz Merino stated.

Ms. Diaz Merino also credits 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 Ms. Diaz Merino.

When selecting Ms. 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.”