WALLA WALLA, WASH. – Walla Walla Community College (WWCC) student Kody Rooper was selected as the college’s nomination for the statewide Transforming Lives Award during the Board of Trustees November meeting held Monday.
Created in 2012, the Transforming Lives Awards program recognizes current and former students whose lives have been changed by pursuing higher education at a community or technical college. Each college board of trustees names one recipient, whose story and picture is included in a booklet shared with state legislators and the broader higher education community.
In materials considered by the Board, Rooper, of Waitsburg, said he was very unsure about whether he could succeed at college, describing a lifetime of barriers and challenges. He was born two months premature, and grew up in a house where drug use was prevalent. Both of his parents were in prison by the time he was four years old. Rooper says that he struggled with school, relationships, emotions, and cognitive function.
“I believed for a long time that my shortcomings were essentially out of my control,” Rooper said. “It was my destiny to fail.”
He says that gaining custody of his four-year-old daughter was a key turning point in his life. His significant other had two children, and he felt compelled to do more with his future—and serve as a role model for their futures. When visiting with people at WWCC, he says he encountered faculty and staff who believed in him, even when he was having trouble believing in himself.
Today, Rooper is a student in WWCC’s Nursing program.
“I love how the human body works, as well as the psychology of being human,” Rooper said. “I intend to finish my RN, get my BSN, and continue to a graduate-level program in nursing. Long-term, my goal is to become a certified nurse anesthetist.”
In discussing the nominations, WWCC Board of Trustees Vice Chair Michelle Liberty said that she believes that Rooper’s inspiring story and transformation at WWCC makes him a great candidate to win the statewide award.
The ACT Awards Committee will select six keynote speakers from the nominations submitted by Washington community and technical colleges. All nominees are invited to attend the Transforming Lives Awards Dinner on January 24, 2022, at the RL Hotel in Olympia. Each award winner receives a $500 cash award.
“Kody is one of many examples of how WWCC transforms lives every year,” WWCC President Dr. Chad Hickox said. “We celebrate Kody’s success, and look forward every day to helping each of our students achieve their fullest potential.”
Those who are interested in learning more about WWCC are encouraged to visit www.wwcc.edu. Winter Quarter classes begin January 3.
Partner of the Year Award presented to Providence St. Mary Medical Center
Providence St. Mary Medical Center was presented with the Partner of the Year Award at the Washington State Association of College Trustees Fall Conference, held virtually on Friday, November 19. WWCC had nominated Providence St. Mary for the award, first announced in May.
Providence St. Mary Medical Center has been a critical partner to WWCC’s Nursing program since the program was founded in 1969. It serves as the primary acute care medical center providing clinical education for 130 first- and second-year WWCC Nursing students and facilitates clinical education for Emergency Medical Technician (EMT), Phlebotomy and Health Information Systems programs.
During the recent COVID-19 pandemic, Providence St. Mary made sure that WWCC Nursing students had access to clinical training they are required to complete before graduating. They also worked to provide COVID-19 vaccines to WWCC Nursing, Nursing Assistant, and EMT students as soon as it became available to these groups, and made sure that they were fit-tested for N-95 respirators, ensuring their safety and ability to complete clinical requirements. The medical center provided all personal protective equipment for 130 nursing students free of charge.
“Providence and their leadership allowed our Nursing program to graduate our students on time,” WWCC Dean of Nursing Education Kathleen Adamski said when the award was first announced in May. “While many programs across the state were unable to facilitate clinical education during COVID, Providence St. Mary Medical Center found a way to keep our program on track this year.”