Two Edmonds College students honored with Transforming Lives awards

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

The Edmonds College Board of Trustees has recognized two students with Transforming Lives awards. Jessica Davila is the 2022 Washington State Association of College Trustees (ACT) Transforming Lives award recipient and Jeanett Quintanilla is the Edmonds College Board of Trustees 2022 Transforming Lives award recipient.

“The Board of Edmonds College is deeply committed to and inspired by the success of our students, many of whom overcome significant obstacles in order to achieve their educational goals,” said Board of Trustees Chair Wally Webster. “Jessica’s story demonstrates 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 recipient.”

Davila felt the pain of addiction first hand. She was a teen mom, which prevented her from completing high school, although she later went on to receive her GED through a community college. Her parents both struggled with addiction, and she eventually followed their path, becoming addicted to alcohol, and later prescription narcotics and heroin. Her addiction landed her in prison, during which time she lost custody of her children.

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

In the intervening six years since her release, Davila has been clean and regained custody of her children. “College was a big part of what helped me stay clean. People in early recovery need to stay busy, and college did that for me,” Davila said. “It also allowed me to pursue a degree that means something, and that I’m passionate about. I used all the resources the college had to help me prepare academically for college. I learned quickly that colleges have patient, compassionate people wanting to help.”

Davila is in her last quarter at Edmonds College and is now a certified substance use disorder professional in training. She is looking forward to graduation and shortly afterward will sit for her state certification exam. Upon successfully passing the exam, she will be a fully certified substance use disorder professional.

“The best advice I would give other students is to not let your history predict your future,” Davila said. “It doesn’t matter where you came from, or how you were raised, you can control the outcome of your own success.”

Jeanett Quintanilla and Edmonds College Board Chair Wally Webster.

Trustee Wally Webster also recognized Transforming Lives award recipient Jeanett Quintanilla, stating that “Jeanett’s story of grit and determination serves as an inspiration to us all. We’re 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 to study the paralegal program at Edmonds College with different scholarships that I received from the Edmonds College Foundation,” Quintanilla said. “Since that time, I have made a life in Washington. I have channeled extensive energy into ‘giving back’ to my Latino community as a volunteer interpreter at a free legal clinic at the Latino/a Bar association of WA. I believe that any student can succeed in this world with determination, discipline, and motivation, and then see the results as I did it at Edmonds College.”

Edmonds College President Dr. Amit Singh said that the two honorees’ stories “remind us of the power of education to change lives. It is a humbling experience to have helped them along their journeys, and we look forward to hearing where their paths lead.”

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 awardees from across the state who were selected by each college’s respective board of trustees and received a $500 award from the ACT. To view 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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