Student Nominated for Transforming Lives Award

February  6, 2013

Contact: Jen Boyer, Media Relations
Lake Washington Institute of Technology
(425) 739-8236,


Tiara Martinez

Tiara Martinez

Each year the Trustees Association of Community and Technical Colleges awards five community and technical college students $500 in their Transforming Lives award banquet.

This year, the Transforming Lives award honored students and graduates who overcame barriers to pursue degrees and certificates in STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) or other high-demand occupations. Each of the state's 35 community and technical colleges nominated a single student for consideration of this honor.

For consideration of the 2013 Transforming Lives honor, LWIT nominated Tiara Martinez.

Martinez graduated Magna Cum Laude in June 2011 with an associate degree in Business Administration Support and is currently enrolled in the Business DTA/MRP program. The path to her degree and future was bumpy and while she wasn't one of the finalists for a scholarship, her story certainly deserves to be told.

Tiara came to Washington from Florida in 2009 after her 13-year marriage dissolved and she gained custody of her 6-year-old nephew, whose mother was murdered by an ex-boyfriend.

Struggling with both her grief and that of her nephew, she decided to take charge of her future and enrolled in LWIT's Business Administration Support Program. She credits her instructors, classmates, and LWIT social activities for families with helping her navigate exceptional personal challenges while putting herself through school.

"Through my own determination and support from my LWIT family and my family, I graduated in June 2011 with honors," she says.

In September 2011 she enrolled in the Business DTA/MRP program, but was thrown another of life's curve balls at the end of her first year when her dad suffered a brain aneurysm. She left for Florida and upon returning in the fall was thrilled to learn her schooling and former work study job were still waiting for her. A month later she landed a full-time job with the Lake Washington Technical Academy (LWTA) on the LWIT campus.

"LWIT transformed my life in ways I didn't think was possible," she says.

Tiara plans to finish her degree this year and stay on with LWTA.