Ambassadors and Alumni Chair Suzy Williams, left, presents Lori Nicholas with the college’s first Distinguished Alumni Award.

2010 Distinguished Alumni, Lori Nicholas

Math and Adult Basic Education Adjunct Instructor Lori Nicholas is the first recipient to receive Flathead Valley Community College’s Distinguished Alumni Award.  Nicholas was presented the award by FVCC Ambassadors and Alumni Chair Suzy Williams at the college’s monthly Board of Trustees meeting May 24.

The annual award honors graduates of FVCC for their contributions and service to their communities and/or achievements in their careers.

Nicholas was a TRIO student at FVCC and was the first recipient of the college’s TRIO student award, and annual award presented to an outstanding TRIO student who was nominated by the college’s TRIO staff.  After graduating with honors from FVCC in 1986, she transferred to The University of Montana where she graduated with honors in 1989, earning a Bachelor of Arts degree in education.

After graduating from The University of Montana, Nicholas taught in the public high school system, in alternative schools and in adult basic education in Montana and Idaho before joining the adjunct faculty at FVCC.

In Williams’ remarks, she recognized Nicholas’ accepting attitude and assistance within the prison system and with veterans and underprepared students for having changed more lives than she may know.  She acknowledged Nicholas as a giver who wants to help people better their lives by helping them find their own answers, both to math and to life.

“Lori provides energy and encouragement and sets a positive example for students trying to complete high school by helping them build their skills for college or overcome their fears of math,” she said.

According to Williams, Nicholas began at FVCC as a non-traditional student with typical insecurities.  As a self-proclaimed math-phobic, she was unsure of what she was going to do and uncertain about her abilities to achieve success.

“Lori had a desire to overcome her personal life challenges and seek a better life,” Williams said.  “Her bravery, determination and desire to help others gave her the drive to achieve her goals.”

Nicholas remains an active advocate of the TRIO program by regularly attending the college’s annual National TRIO Day celebration where she presents her story and shares her experiences to inspire others.  This spring, she was honored at the Montana state TRIO meeting in April as an outstanding TRIO Achiever, an award recognizing former TRIO students who have gone on to make a difference in the lives of students with disabilities or first generation, low income students.

“The recipient of this award has made a full circle at FVCC from her start as a student to her return as an instructor,” Williams concluded.  “The students, staff and college are extremely privileged to have her.”