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Green River alum honored with state Transforming Lives award


Donald Fleming

The Washington state Trustees Association of Community and Technical Colleges recognized Green River Community College alumnus Donald Fleming as one of the 2013 Transforming Lives Award winners Tuesday at its winter conference in Olympia. Fleming was one of five award winners selected by the trustees from among nominees submitted by the state's 34 community and technical colleges.

A Navy veteran, Fleming was a first-generation, low-income student. He overcame a disability to graduate in 2007 with an Associates of Science in Pre-Engineering before completing a bachelor's degree at the University of Washington. Fleming now works as an Industrial Engineer for The Boeing Company in Renton.

"We are proud of the thousands of graduates who have earned degrees at Green River Community College," said Tom Campbell, Green River Board of Trustees Chair. "Donald stands out, however, because of the hardships he faced - he persisted until he achieved his educational goals."

Fleming started at Green River three times with the goal of earning a degree. He had to leave twice because of lack of funding. He joined the Navy, but was diagnosed with bipolar disorder and discharged shortly after joining. He returned to Green River for the third time, received a scholarship and got involved in college activities and TRiO, a student services group.

"I never missed a quarter and continued that streak through to graduation at the University of Washington," Fleming said. "Green River and TRiO gave me the support that I needed so badly which set me on the right path to finally achieve my goal."

The TACTC Transforming Lives awards recognize current and former community and technical college students. The students must have completed or nearly completed a degree or certificate to prepare for success in the workforce.