Commentary: WNC is a treasure to our community

I took a class last year, "Advanced Memoir Writing," from Dr. Ursula Carlson. Dr. Carlson is a gifted teacher who gently guides her students through the rigors of telling their life stories.

She punctuates her students' tales with her own life experiences from Latvia. The stories weave a colorful tapestry of life.

Some students have been taking Dr. Carlson's class every semester for many years. They are "family."

Marilyn and Gerald Brandvold are long time class members. Gerald is a former Bureau of Land Management executive whose stories express love of the land-lean and powerful stories about mountain forests, deserts, huge back-hoes, and wild horses.

Marilyn, Gerald's wife and a nurse, has spent her life in the west. Her observations are earthy, insightful and fashioned with loving care. She reminds us of the humor and pathos of life and death in our space and time. Her stories are beautiful.

Judy Brandt comes from Alaska every year to share with us a free spirit singing the poetry of remote Alaskan life and solo bicycling in Europe.

All the students " too many to note here " are gift givers. They provide invaluable insights, gifts to our community.

Marilee Swirczek teaches English 299; and like her colleague, Dr. Carlson, Ms Swirczek is a teacher of exceptional ability. Her class this semester is focused on the experiences of war.

There are a number of veterans in the class, including me. There are vets from the Korean Conflict, Viet Nam, the Gulf War, Iraq, and Afghanistan.

I'm struck by the power of their writing, the intensity of their observations. War, in addition to its horror, is a sanctifying, redemptive experience.

There will be a display of Ms Swirczek's class projects in the Western Nevada College gallery this spring. Watch for it.

Two of my classmates in Ms Swirczek's class were with me in Dr. Carlson's class: Dr. Robert Priest and Mr. Ron Sutton.

Dr. Priest is an accomplished scholar, writing with a scholar's eye for clarity and meaning; and his humorous pieces bring all to their knees with laughter. We laugh because he captures life's absurdity with gentle humor. He helps us understand why life can be both inexplicable and crystal clear, simultaneously.

Mr. Sutton is a pilot and has great passion for flying. He takes writing classes to complete his book about aviation. He wants us better to understand his love, his passion for flying. When he completes his work, it will be a gift for all of us.

Western Nevada College is a small institution, peopled by those who have creative spirit and engaging minds, both faculty and students. It is a treasure, a gift to our community.

- Dr. Eugene T. Paslov, former Nevada Superintendent of Schools, is a board member for Silver State Charter School.

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