Two Edmonds College students honored with Transforming Lives awards

Jessica Davila and Edmonds College Board Chair Wally Webster
(Photos by Arutyun Sargsyan)

The Edmonds College Board of Trustees has awarded two students Transforming Lives Awards. Jessica Davila is the 2022 Washington State Association of College Trustees (ACT) Transforming Lives Award recipient and Jeanett Quintanilla is the 2022 Edmonds College Board of Trustees Transforming Lives Award recipient.

“The Edmonds College Board of Trustees is deeply committed and inspired by the success of our students, many of whom overcome significant obstacles to achieve their educational goals,” said Board of Trustees Chairman Wally Webster. “Jessica’s story illustrates the many challenges our students face. We are so proud of her and her accomplishments. We are honored to recognize Jessica as this year’s ACT Transforming Lives Award winner. »

Davila has felt the pain of addiction first hand. She was a teenage mother, which kept her from completing high school, although she later received her GED at a community college. Her parents both struggled with addiction, and she eventually followed their path, becoming addicted to alcohol, then to prescription narcotics and heroin. Her addiction landed her in jail, during which time she lost custody of her children.

While incarcerated, Davila had the opportunity to attend college, receiving the help and support she needed to apply for financial aid and admissions to local colleges.

In the six years since his release, Davila has been clean and regained custody of his children. “College was a big part of what helped me stay sober. People in early recovery need to keep busy, and college did that for me,” Davila said. “It also allowed me to obtain a degree that makes sense and that excites me. I used all the resources college had to help me prepare academically for college. I quickly learned that colleges have patient, caring people who want to help.

Davila is in her final term at Edmonds College and is now a Certified Addictions Professional in Training. She is looking forward to graduating and soon after, she will take her state certification exam. Upon passing the exam, she will be a fully certified substance use disorder professional.

“The best advice I would give to other students is to not let your history predict your future,” Davila said. “No matter where you come from or how you were raised, you can control the outcome of your own success.”

Jeanett Quintanilla and Wally Webster, Chairman of the Edmonds College Board of Trustees.

Administrator Wally Webster also paid tribute to Transforming Lives Award recipient Jeanett Quintanilla, saying, “Jeanett’s story of courage and determination is an inspiration to us all. We are very proud of Jeanett, her accomplishments and her commitment to serving her local community.

“With determination and a never-give-up attitude, I was able to continue studying the paralegal program at Edmonds College with various scholarships I received from the Edmonds College Foundation,” Quintanilla said. “Since that time, I’ve made my life in Washington. I’ve channeled considerable energy into ‘giving back’ to my Latino community as a volunteer interpreter at a free Latino Association legal clinic/ a Bar from WA I believe that any student can succeed in this world with determination, discipline and drive and then see results like I did at Edmonds College.

Edmonds College President Dr Amit Singh said the stories of the two winners “remind us of the power of education to change lives. It’s been humbling to have helped them along their journey, and we can’t wait to see where their path leads.

The Washington State Association of College Trustees (ACT) created the Transforming Lives Awards program in 2012 to recognize current or former students whose lives have been transformed by pursuing higher education at a community or technical college. Davila was one of 34 Transforming Lives winners from across the state who were selected by each college’s respective board of trustees and received a $500 prize from the ACT. To see this year’s nominees and their stories, go to

The Edmonds College Board of Trustees’ Transforming Lives Awards program was established in 2021 and serves to augment the ACT award.

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