Alamance Community College student Lillia Diez has been named the winner of the 2024 Dallas Herring Achievement Award by the North Carolina Community College System (NCCCS).


Diez was one of 58 nominees representing each of the state’s community colleges. The award was established by the NCCCS in 2010 to honor the late Dr. Dallas Herring, one of North Carolina’s earliest champions of community colleges. It is awarded annually to a current or former student who best embodies Herring's philosophy of “taking people where they are and carrying them as far as they can go.”


Diez enrolled at ACC while homeless and struggling daily to afford food. Despite tremendous odds, she persevered to earn her GED and excel in the College’s Automotive Systems Technology program. Even before completing her studies, Diez was hired as the first female automotive technician at Cox Dodge in Burlington. While working toward her Associate in Applied Science degree, Diez will concurrently qualify for the Automotive Service Excellence (ASE) certification and Master Technician status. Diez’s career ambitions also include studying for a degree in Fire Protection as a second career option.


“It feels so strange to be acknowledged and congratulated for overcoming adversity. When you’re the one living through hard times, it’s just life,” said Diez. “I didn’t realize working hard to make a better life was something to be proud of until I started to share more of my story with other people, who found inspiration in my perseverance. I feel incredibly fortunate to have made the choice to attend Alamance Community College. I am grateful to have the support of my instructors, the support of my employer Cox Dodge, and especially the support and love of my family. I know this award is for personal achievement, but I can’t help but feel I wouldn’t be where I am today if it weren’t for everyone who held out a hand to help.”


ACC President Dr. Ken Ingle said he is proud to be a part of a system that provides hope and opportunity for students like Lillia Diez.


“Lillia represents the best of what we can do for students at the community college level. Those who enter our doors receive hope and a pathway to future opportunity through jobs and additional education. What Lillia has achieved at Alamance Community College is a meaningful real-life example of how inspiration and perseverance can literally change the life journey for our students. She is one of ACC’s shining stars who overcome adversity and challenges that most of us cannot imagine," said Dr. Ingle.


Lillia Diez will be honored by the NC Community College System at an awards recognition dinner in Raleigh on April 17.