The editorial board met this week with the presidents of the local two-year colleges – Tacoma Community College, Pierce College (Fort Steilacoom and Puyallup), Bates Technical College and Clover Park Technical College. Their schools have already absorbed big budget hits, and they wanted to convey their concerns about what yet more cuts could mean for the students they serve.
They were preaching to the choir; we’re well aware of the impact these schools can have in turning around the lives of people who might otherwise languish in low-wage jobs – if they can find work at all.
The presidents told us about a project of the Trustees Association of Community and Technical Colleges, “Transforming Lives,” recognizing 34 people who have benefited from their education at one of the state’s two-year institutions. Click here to read their compelling self-written profiles.
Five of those students and former students were selected to receive “Transforming Lives” awards and $500. One of the winners is Chi Choi, a TCC alumnus who now works as a design engineer at Genie Industries in Moses Lake. In his profile, he writes of a childhood “plagued with crime and drugs.” He dropped out of school and spent 14 months in prison. He writes:
While incarcerated I made a spiritual and conscious
decision to turn my life around. With the help and support of
my mother, I enrolled at Tacoma Community College, and
from the day I started my first class I never looked back.
According to the TCC Board of Trustess, which nominated Choi:
Chi’s story is the very essence of what TACTC is looking for in the transformative power of a community college education. His story is compelling on so many levels, and his achievements are worthy of recognition, particularly given his background and the obstacles he has faced. Crime, poverty and drugs are usually powerful deterrents to an education, but Chi proved that with determination and an education, all dreams are possible.