As a parent and high school graduate, Daren Kight wanted more for himself and his family. He wanted a career. More than a decade later, Kight is on course to reach his goal as a Western Nevada College graduate. In addition, he has been awarded the 2013 Nevada System of Higher Education Regents’ Scholar Award.
Each year, the Board of Regents recognizes the state’s top college students for their service contributions, leadership and academic achievements. Kight’s academic record and the assistance he has provided to students while working in WNC’s counseling office are, in part, why the WNC sophomore was selected as a Regents’ Scholar. He will receive a $5,000 stipend to use toward his future education costs, and he is one of nine top scholars being honored at an awards ceremony in Reno.
“It means a lot and greatly helps my family and me,” said Kight, who has two children with his wife, Kaysha. “I know that one’s hard work pays off in the end, and it is very nice to know that people around me do see how much I have worked to achieve my goals thus far.”
The 1996 Carson High School graduate enrolled part time at WNC in 2009 while working full time, then became a full-time student the following year. Since resuming his education, Kight has been highly successful in the classroom and discovered a career ambition while working at the college. In his role as a peer mentor in the counseling office, Kight gives nervous prospective students a comforting perspective and helps them understand that their anxiety isn’t uncommon.
“Daren contributes a wonderful presence of maturity, competence and dedication to serving students to our peer-mentoring team,” said Deborah Case, WNC Counseling Services director. “As a nontraditional student himself, Daren recognizes the fear and intimidation that most nontraditional students experience when beginning their college experience.”
“I wasn’t big on high school,” Kight said. “I had a lot of fears when I started part time here with one class. At the same time, I have children, I was working and my wife was working … I didn’t know how it was all going to work out. Every semester I realized I could do more. I wanted to be able to provide for my family. I knew my heart was set on helping people.”
In hindsight, Kight said, perseverance pays off.
Kight is on track to receive his Associate of Arts degree next fall. He has compiled a 3.668 grade-point average through 48 classes. His academic excellence led to his induction into Phi Theta Kappa Honor Society in 2011 and his current role as an executive officer for WNC’s chapter of Phi Theta Kappa. Kight also serves as an ambassador for the Associated Students of Western Nevada. After graduating, Kight plans to enroll at the University of Nevada, Reno, where he will work toward a bachelor’s degree in social work.
Counselor GETS Regents Award
Helping students who have disabilities to succeed in college is what makes Susan Trist smile. Her passion for assisting her Western Nevada College students has also been noticed by others. WNC’s coordinator of Disability Support Services is being recognized for her efforts by being named the Nevada System of High Education’s Board of Regents’ academic adviser for 2013.
“I am so thankful to those who recommended me for this award and humbled to receive it,” Trist said. “It is an honor to work at WNC and to be recognized for the work I do.” During her nine years at the college, Trist has assisted hundreds of students who have documented disabilities. She provides guidance with regards to disability issues to students, faculty and staffers, as well as academic advising, career counseling and personal counseling.
“Susan is a valued and trusted colleague, and a real asset to the college and the community,” said John Kinkella, dean of Student Services at WNC. “She has also developed and has chaired the college’s Behavioral Intervention Team, and in this role, she has been instrumental in providing assistance to distressed and distressing students.”
Trist also has helped WNC receive grants through the Department of Education and the National Science Foundation. The grants were organized and coordinated by Trist to help students with disabilities receive quality higher education.
She has served on several of the college’s committees, including the Administrative Faculty Senate, Financial Aid Appeals, Refund Exceptions, Student Development and Support, and Technical Services Oversight, and currently serves as the co-chair of the Disability Awareness Coalition on a regional level. In addition, Trist is a “Reach to Recovery” volunteer for the American Cancer Society, helping women who are newly diagnosed with breast cancer. She received a Bachelor of Arts degree in psychology from Bloomsburg University of Pennsylvania in 1985 and a master’s degree in clinical psychology from West Chester University of Pennsylvania in 1987.