Peninsula Daily News
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“This is such an amazing and unexpected blessing,” Kristina Sullivan, a Peninsula College student, said at Wednesday's ceremony at the college campus in Port Angeles, according to Phyllis van Holland, Peninsula College public information director.
Sullivan, 27, who has two young sons — Darren, 7, and Isaiah, 5 — thanked the anonymous donor of the van and the Peninsula College Foundation “for enabling me to better the future of my family,” van Holland said.
Although Sullivan is now taking all of her classes at Peninsula College's Forks Extension site, she eventually will need to travel to the main campus in Port Angeles for more training, and as a mother of two boys, she said, she couldn't rely only on the Clallam Transit bus.
“Having a vehicle will help us in every aspect of our daily lives,” Sullivan said. “Not only will it get us to and from places we need to go and in a timely fashion, but it also opens up opportunities to travel further for school, allowing me to broaden my education.”
New life in Washington
Sullivan and her sons moved to Washington from Texas after fleeing domestic violence, van Holland said.
Since Sullivan grew up in foster care, she didn't have family to help, so “I decided, after taking into consideration all of the ways in which life was just spiraling downhill for us, to come here to start a new and better life in a whole new place,” Sullivan said.
Starting college was a struggle. Not only did she lack a high school diploma, she said, but she also had to solve problems connected with child care, living expenses and transportation.
But in only five months of study at the Forks branch, she earned her General Educational Development — or GED — certificate.
Her next goal is to earn an associate degree, followed by a bachelor's degree and ultimately a master's in social work.
“I want to help people who are going through things that I did,” she said.
Now in her third quarter of college, Sullivan has some advice for others in similar circumstances: “With perseverance, anyone can do anything,” she said. “No matter how tough things are or impossible things may seem, if there is a will, there really is a way.”
The vehicle donation is the second this year, noted Mary Hunchberger, executive director of the Peninsula College Foundation and College Advancement.
Nahdia Blanchard of Port Angeles, a Peninsula College student with an infant daughter, was given the keys in February to a 1984 Ford Thunderbird that was donated anonymously to the Peninsula College Foundation.
“The role of the college foundation is to help change student lives,” Hunchberger said. “Thanks to two very generous donors from our local community, this is the second vehicle we've been able to give to a student this year, and there are so many more that need one.”
Donated vehicles first serve as teaching tools for college automotive students, who repair them if possible, so they can be donated to students in need.
For more information on donating vehicles, phone the Peninsula College Foundation at 360-417-6535.