Walla Walla Community College — one of the state's small, rural two-year-schools in the heart of Washington wine country — was named one of the top five community colleges in the nation Monday and received $100,000 in prize money at an event in the nation's capital.
The school was one of four "finalists with distinction" for the inaugural Aspen Prize, created to highlight two-year colleges that do exceptional work in educating students and training them for good jobs. The prize was awarded by the nonprofit Aspen Institute.
"I think what this does is really shine a spotlight on community colleges, as a game changer for really strengthening the economy," said Walla Walla President Steve VanAusdle, who flew to Washington, D.C., to accept the award.
The top prize winner was Valencia Community College in Florida, which received $600,000.