• Skagit Valley College graduate honored by the Washington Association of College Trustees, receives 2021 Transforming Lives Award

    February 20, 2021
    Skagit Valley College (SVC) is proud to announce that SVC graduate, Jessica Lonergan, of Mount Vernon, was honored by the Washington Association of College Trustees (ACT) and received the 2021 Transforming Lives award.
    The annual award
    recognizes students whose lives have been transformed by attending one of Washington’s 34 community and technical colleges. Each college’s board of trustees selects an individual from its current and former student body to be recognized. As SVC’s honoree this year, Jessica received a $250 scholarship from ACT, as did each of the winners from around the state.  
    Jessica Lonergan, describes herself as a walking, talking miracle. When she was born with multiple disabilities, doctors told her family not to expect Jessica to ever walk or talk, read or write. Although she was born with Down syndrome, a heart defect, cerebral palsy, and scoliosis, Jessica didn’t let those challenges create a barrier to her success.
    When her oldest sister started college, Jessica decided that she wanted to attend college, too. Most young adults with disabilities stay in a high school transition program until they are 21, but Jessica wanted to go to college, so she added that to her list of goals.
    Jessica’s family started looking for a program that would provide her with a college experience during her last three years. They were happy to find SVC’s INVEST (Individualized Next Step Vocational Education Social Skills Training) program, a comprehensive Post-Secondary TransitionProgram for individuals with intellectual disabilities, currently enrolled in local high school until 21 years of age.
    Jessica began her studies at SVC in 2017. “This was a big deal for me and helped me to become more confident,” she said. “I was proud to be a Skagit Valley College student. It helped others to see me as more of an equal and as an adult. At SVC, I learned more about myself and how to apply my strengths and interests to work opportunities. I enjoyed meeting new people and making friends on the campus.”
    The future is a bright one for Jessica Lonergan. “I am glad that Skagit Valley College has an INVEST program so students with disabilities can experience college, too. Proudly wearing my red cap and gown, I graduated from SVC via Zoom in June 2020, achieving an INVEST Two-Year Employment Readiness Certificate,” she said. “Now that I have graduated from college, I really enjoy greeting guests and earning money as a restaurant hostess. Doctors said I would never walk or talk, but look at me now: I’m a walking, talking, college graduate, and that’s a miracle!”
    For more information about SVC’s INVEST program, visit www.skagit.edu/invest

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