Brionna Mimier feels like she lost 10 years of her life as she struggled through homelessness and addiction, but she has found a renewed passion for life.

The now-32-year-old moved to Spokane shortly after graduating from Clarkston High School in 2008, where Mimier says she fell into the wrong crowd. Her life entered “a downward spiral” until she decided to change course.

“I realized how old I was, I think, and how wasteful my life had been,” Mimier said about her decision to get clean. “I was so depressed and my sister had gotten pregnant, so I wanted to be there for that experience and I wanted to be in a healthy state of mind, be a better person and a better family member.”

The Clarkston native decided to check herself into treatment before moving back to the Lewiston-Clarkston Valley. She later enrolled into the nursing program at the Clarkston branch of Walla Walla Community College.

Mimier has already received her associate degree and recently started her second quarter in the nursing program as she works toward her goal of becoming a registered nurse.

“I wanted to do something where I could care for others because that’s one of my passions,” Mimier said. “I always wanted to be able to take care of other people and once I could take care of myself, I knew I needed to move forward with that.”

The WWCC Board of Trustees recently selected Mimier to be a recipient of the Transforming Lives Award, which is given annually by the Washington State Association of College Trustees.

The award recognizes current and former students whose lives have been impacted by the pursuit of higher education at a community or technical college.

The news of the award surprised Mimier, who said the recognition shows how far she’s come from her decade of struggles.

“I was overwhelmed because I was told it was a very competitive award to get, so I wasn’t expecting to actually be nominated as the winner,” Mimier said. “When that happened I was filled with joy and excitement and felt like it was a huge accomplishment. I had to call every family member and let them know I won.”

Her time at WWCC has so far been “the greatest experience of her life,” Mimier said. The staff at the Clarkston campus have helped her emotionally and academically, while the other students in the nursing program have also become

her close allies.

Mimier, who moved back to the L-C Valley about six years ago, is expected to graduate next year. She wants to work as an ER nurse before she becomes a nurse in the operating room. She also has some interest in later becoming a neonatal nurse, although she’s still looking into her options.

Mimier plans to stay in the area, which she now once again considers home.

She encourages others who may be struggling to take the steps needed to get out of their own personal “dark spots.”

“I want those people to know they are good enough, that there are plenty of opportunities and such great support systems out there and people who are willing to help,” Mimier said. “As soon as you get your foot in the door in one place, you just have to have that determination to keep going forward because it gets easier.”

Along with the award, Mimier was also given a $250 scholarship. The recipients will have their stories shared in an awards booklet that will be shared with legislators and the higher education community.

Tomtas may be contacted at jtomtas@lmtribune.com or at (208) 848-2294. Follow her on Twitter @jtomtas.