Transforming Lives Awards

The Washington State Association of College Trustees (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.

Each year, the Board of Trustees nominate one LWTech student for the ACT Transforming Lives Award. The student receives a $500 scholarship from the Trustees, provided by the LWTech Foundation. The nominee is then entered into the pool of nominees from the state’s community and technical colleges. The ACT Awards Committee then choose five to six statewide awardees. The awardees receive $500 from ACT and share their stories during the Transforming Lives Awards dinner held during the ACT winter conference in January. In addition to the awardees, all student nominees are recognized during the ceremony and are invited to the dinner. In 2021, the event was canceled due to COVID-19, and all nominees received a scholarship from the ACT Awards Committee.

2021 Transforming Lives Nominee

Monica Shoemaker smiling selfieMonica Shoemaker

Monica originally came to LWTech after an injury ended her career in cosmetology. As an individual who struggled with substance abuse before coming to LWTech, she was motivated to help others by working in the addiction recovery field. When another student in her Associate’s Degree cohort committed suicide, Monica channeled her trauma and grief into supporting her fellow students and advocating for more student supports at the college; in fact, her advocating inspired the college to become involved with a JED Campus and Forefront event leading to the college’s involvement as a Washington JED Campus institution.

While a student at the college she was involved in the college’s suicide prevention committee, participated on the tenure committee for Dr. Sharon Raz, was a published artist in the Lion’s Pride magazine, founded the art therapy club, and served in a leadership role for Phi Theta Kappa (the college’s honor society). She was also recognized nationally as an all-USA scholar and participated in the Undergraduate Research Symposium at the University of Washington where she presented her research on The Power of Art: A Mental Health Therapy. For her internships Monica selected working at crisis clinics and recovery centers where she experienced both tragedy and redemption of the patients she serves.

Past LWTech Transforming Lives Nominees