Spokane Community College student Aaron Miller will be honored with a Transforming Lives Award from the Washington State Association of College Trustees (ACT) on Jan. 23 in Olympia. Only five students, out of 388,000 students across 34 colleges, are awarded each year.
Coordinated through ACT, the sixth annual Transforming Lives Awards recognize current or former students who have had their lives transformed by attending a community or technical college. The honor also comes with a $500 scholarship.
Miller’s life has completely changed through education. He began abusing drugs while still in high school. He dropped out and eventually ended up serving five years in prison for a robbing a pharmacy. But he earned his GED in prison and took other classes as well, which led him to pursue higher education upon his release. “I attribute much of my success to enrolling in college, and it is at SCC where I learned to think, question and communicate in a way that helped me reintegrate into society,” Miller said.
He is now in his second year at SCC pursuing an associate of arts transfer degree, and his goal is to eventually get a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering. He is a work study student in the SCC Multicultural Student Services and Outreach Center. He works with his community custody officer to help others who face some of the same challenges he has overcome. He acts as a guide to help them enroll and stay in school at SCC.
“Mr. Miller epitomizes the TACTC Transforming Lives Award. He has changed his life and is an inspiration to his fellow students, staff and instructors,” said Mike Wilson, chairman of the Community Colleges of Spokane Board of Trustees.
Spokane Falls Community College’s nominee Anne Korp will also be honored at the ceremony. Korp started at SFCC’s Pullman campus at age 42 in the adult education program and is now a full-time student. A single mother, Korp is working toward an associate of arts transfer degree with the goal of earning her master’s degree in social work. She is active in student government and currently serves as the vice chair.