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State association honors WCC student

Post Date:01/31/2017

Manny CabreraWhatcom Community College student Emanuel (Manny) Cabrera was the College’s nominee for the 2017 Transforming Lives Award sponsored by the Washington State Association of College Trustees (ACT). Nominees were honored at a Jan. 23 ceremony in Olympia.

The son of migrant farm workers, Cabrera dropped out of high school to help his family and struggled to avoid bad influences. In 2015 at age 24, he decided to return to school to better his life and the life of his family.  “I chose Whatcom because I have read great thing about the campus and how supportive they are to anyone. I decided to stop by and ask what kind of resources they had for drop-out students,” he recalls. Thanks to Whatcom’s High School 21+ program, Cabrera earned his high school diploma and is continuing his studies to become a youth counselor. Cabrera works at Whatcom’s Simpson Intercultural Center.  “I am choosing to continue my education because I want to help youth in their life struggles and to reach their goals,” he says. “I want to encourage and support them for a life of success.”

“Manny’s inspiring story illustrates the importance of access to higher education,” says WCC President Kathi Hiyane-Brown. “We are glad he chose Whatcom to transform his life.”

Cabrera adds: “I encourage all students to keep their heads high, and remember who they are and where they come from. Everyone has a story. It’s important to encourage and be supportive of one another. I know sometimes school may seem hard and scary and can cause us to be nervous, but I encourage students to present themselves at their local colleges and ask questions. It worked for me!”

About the Transforming Lives Award: Each of Washington’s 34 community and technical colleges nominate individuals for the prestigious award, which recognizes students who have overcome significant barriers to achieve their higher education goals and celebrates how two-year colleges help to transform lives through education. For more information, visit

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