A record number of graduates from both the Carson City and Fallon campuses of Western Nevada College received their degrees and certificates this week in ceremonies conducted in the two cities.
Interim President Chester “Chet” Burton praised the Fallon graduates on Tuesday at the Barkley Theater at the 43rd annual commencement exercise and said 543 students graduated with 581 degrees and certificates.
“Each year at Western, we continue to grow and I am proud to say this is the largest graduating class ever for Western Nevada College,” he said.
Although the majority of graduates took part in the Carson City ceremony, about 15 graduates received their two-year diplomas in Fallon.
Speakers commended students on their accomplishments.
Rick Trachok, vice chair for the Board of Regents, said the ceremony marked the culmination of hard work. He referred to Apple founder Steve Jobs‘s commencement address at Stanford in 2005 when he told students to follow their passion and discover what they love.
“What you learned and the knowledge gained can and will be applied for the rest of your life in ways unseen,” Trachok said.
Trachok also said the greatest success stories were when students failed, but they became better individuals for the experience.
Crystal Abba, vice chancellor for Academic and Student Affairs, talked about her Nevada roots of growing up and attending school in Elko. After leaving Elko, she attended the University of Nevada, Reno, and afterward, received a Masters in Business Administration in Delaware.
“Today, I feel lucky. I’m here today because of my education perseverance,” she said, leading into her address.
Alba said she was proud to remain in the state and be a part of the Nevada workforce, a point she encouraged the graduates to follow. The vice chancellor also said data is the ultimate storyteller.
“I know who you are,” she said, explaining how the information shows that many students are the first from their families to attend college.
She said the students have already made I a difference in their lives.
“You’ll have better employment opportunities and bigger paychecks,” she said. “Your economic resilience is better than those without degrees.”
Alba said since the graduates have a degree, it is now time for them to entice other students to earn their degrees.
Alejandra Leon, the 2013-14 president of the Associated Students of Western Nevada College, kept her remarks light but meaningful in telling her fellow graduates that they have learned a field of study to apply in real life.
“We are now more valuable to the world, (and) we hold the education to change the world in science, business, technology …. Walk across the stage, look at the audience, faculty, administration and take it all in. Take a mental picture,” she said.