Each year, the Trustees Association of Community and Technical Colleges (TACTC) looks for the most compelling stories from students about how attending a Washington state community or technical college has transformed their lives.
This year, Clark College alumna Inva Begolli’s tale of fleeing the violence of war-torn Albania for a chance at the American dream earned her TACTC’s Transforming Lives Award. Begolli received the award at a special evening ceremony during the association’s annual Legislative Contact Conference in Olympia on Jan. 29.
Begolli grew up in Albania and when the country erupted into civil war in 1997, her family became caught in the violence - her 8-year-old brother was shot seven times in the leg. Begolli, who at the time was 7 years old, began to dream of a better life. A decade later, she traveled to the U.S. to continue her education.
Now a resident of Woodland, Begolli enrolled at Clark College and quickly proved to be an exemplary student. She served as a Student Ambassador at the college and joined Phi Theta Kappa, the honor society for two-year colleges. Additionally, Begolli volunteered with the American Red Cross, the Word of Life Church and the Woodland Community Center. When she graduated with an Associate of Arts transfer degree in 2011, she received the coveted President’s Award, which provides one Clark College graduate each year with a full two-year scholarship to Washington State University Vancouver. Begolli is currently working to complete her bachelor’s degree and fulfill her dream of becoming a pharmacist who can help heal others.
“The support and encouragement ... at Clark College gave me the financial means to continue my education and the inspiration and added commitment to achieve my long-term goal,” Begolli said.
“Inva Begolli exemplifies how high education - and community colleges in particular - can transform lives,” wrote Clark College Trustee Jada Rupley in her nomination of Begolli for the Transforming Lives Award.
Begolli was one of five students to receive a Transforming Lives Award, which includes a $500 cash award. The five recipients were chosen from a pool of 35 nominations from the state’s two-year colleges. This year, the Transforming Lives Award honors students and graduates who overcame barriers to pursue degrees and certificates in STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) or other high-demand occupations.
“Winning this award gives me more confidence and encouragement to continue to believe that dreams do come true when you work hard,” Begolli said. “It was a once-in-a-lifetime experience that I will treasure for years to come.”
About the Trustees Association of Community and Technical Colleges
The Washington Trustees Association of Community and Technical Colleges (TACTC) is composed of all 151 trustees of the 30 two-year college districts in Washington and is the “trade association” for trustees.
The vision of TACTC is to ensure quality, affordable and life-long educational opportunities for all the people of Washington state. The mission of TACTC is to support, educate and unite Washington state community and technical college trustees in fulfilling their duties and responsibilities.