Students' lives transformed by education


Two students from Bellingham Technical College and Whatcom Community College were nominees for the 2014 Transforming Lives Awards from the Trustees Association of Community and Technical Colleges, according to a press release.

The awards recognize students who have overcome significant barriers to achieve their higher education goals, according to the press release. Here's what they wrote about the honorees:

"Fidelis Eze, Bellingham Technical College: After he was laid off from his job as a plumber, Eze was encouraged to pursue training and education by BTC director and counselor Malcolm Oliver. He is now pursuing a certificate in heating, ventilation and air conditioning. Eze credits his success to BTC's outstanding faculty and staff and the support of financial aid. He enjoys the hands-on learning and believes his background coupled with the new skills he is gaining will lead to a steady job. 'What I've learned is to know what you want and go for it,' he says. 'There will always be challenges in life, but knowing what you want and opening yourself up for advice will help. Keep focused and think of a better tomorrow.'

"Rodrigo Garcia-Berguecio, Whatcom Community College: A 20-year veteran of construction work, Garcia-Berguecio had to change direction following an irreversible injury. At the age of 40, he started with entry-level college classes at Whatcom, earned his associate degree in paralegal studies, and is now working toward his transfer degree so he may earn a bachelor's degree. Originally from Chile, Garcia-Berguecio had to overcome language barriers and the stress of returning to college later in life. 'The one and only way I can become valuable to my family and community is with higher schooling,' he says."


Nancy Ivarinen was recently awarded the Joseph T. Pemberton Award for her longstanding commitment to civil legal aid in the community, according to a press release from Whatcom Community College. The Whatcom County LAW Advocates' board of directors presented the award at its annual meeting Feb. 5.

Nancy, coordinator and instructor for WCC's paralegal studies program since 2003, has been an attorney in private practice and for legal aid programs since 1988. During her time at the college, she developed the volunteer-based Street Law program, which provides free, confidential legal advice to students and their families.

Out and About is published Mondays in The Bellingham Herald.

Reach JULIE SHIRLEY at or call 715-2261.

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