From the very start, Adelina Delao faced incredible odds for overcoming the drug addicted world into which she was born. She received little nurturing as a child, and was regularly neglected in addition to serving as a pawn in a protracted custody battle.
Due to her mother's battles with addiction, Adelina and her brother were frequently left home alone without any food, running water or electricity. Although she was very young, hunger drove Adelina to beg for food at a convenience store near her home. At one point, she and her younger sibling were even abandoned at a local meth house.
Forced by her circumstances to focus on survival, Adelina's educational progress fell behind. She was placed in many special classes to help with reading and math at school, but life was a constant struggle. She bounced between relatives' homes, and even attended three different middle schools one year.
A few days before she was supposed to start high school, Adelina was thrown out of her stepfather’s home. She went to live with her father's mother, who took Adelina in with literally nothing more than borrowed clothing on her back. It was an improvement of sorts, but Adelina was suspended for four months during her ninth grade year due to ongoing family drama. Once she was allowed to return to school, Adelina made up her mind to break the cycle of negativity and defeat in her life. She resolved that she would not fail herself like her mother had failed her.
Standing at a crossroads in her life, Adelina took the brave step of enrolling in the Career Education Options (CEO) program at Lower Columbia College. The program, designed for students ages 16 to 21 who are behind in credits, don't have a high school diploma, and have conditions that interfere with success in the traditional high school setting, was a perfect fit for her.
Adelina began to excel in the program immediately. With support from former CEO Director Tuan Dang, Director Heidi Patrick and other program faculty and staff, Adelina soon received her diploma (well ahead of schedule).
2017 Transforming Lives Award Winner
Spurred on by her success in CEO, Adelina immediately began an associate degree program at LCC. She continued to excel in her studies, and shortly before receiving her associate degree in June 2016 was named the Outstanding Art Student of the Year by LCC faculty.
Adelina was accepted as a transfer student at The Evergreen State College in Olympia and began her studies there in fall 2016. Her future plans include continuing on to a master's degree program, and finding a rewarding career that will allow her to help others find their way out of the darkness.
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.
Career Education Options (CEO) is an educational recovery program for young adults who left high school without a diploma. Eligible students get a second chance at their education and the opportunity to expand their career opportunities.
Many students complete an associate degree at a community college, then transfer to a four-year college or university to complete their bachelor's degree. Students complete lower-level coursework during the first two years at a lower cost, because community college tuition is generally less expensive. Upon transferring they complete upper level coursework in their chosen field.