Learning has never been as much fun for Edward Stahi as during his time at Western Nevada College in Fallon.
After dropping out of high school as a 13-year-old freshman and eventually earning his GED, Stahi sampled classes at WNC periodically before finally immersing himself in a rigorous educational track over the past several years.
When Stahi graduates with an Associate of Science Degree on Monday, it will mark the culmination of a nontraditional education route with more starts and stops than a Greyhound bus. But it was the advent of his next adventure in higher education.
“Once I started classes, I couldn’t get enough of school,” Stahi said. “I liked learning, relearning things and getting good grades. I was definitely ready for it this time. It’s kind of sad to be moving on. I’ve had a great time at WNC.”
Friends, family and school officials encouraged and eventually convinced Stahi to resume classes at WNC. He’ll forever appreciate the encouragement from Ruthie Graham, James Morris and Janet Wooner to return to school. Several professors in particular made him stay this time.
“When I began here at WNC, I started slowly. I did not want to take the chance of burning out on school,” Stahi said. “After I finished (some remedial classes), I started on my general studies. This is when school became important. “I was introduced to history by Dr. (Doris) Dwyer, and the way that she teaches her classes made me want to learn more. I have taken several history classes with her because she is so passionate and knowledgeable about so many places.
“At this time, I was also taking math classes, and this is where I met Mr. (Jeff) Downs. He made the math classes fun, interesting and challenging. I looked forward to going to class, not only because I enjoy math, but because Mr. Downs explains the subject in a way that made perfect sense to me.”
While discovering his passion for learning, Stahi has taken a leadership role outside of his classes. He was president of the Fallon chapter of Phi Theta Kappa Honor Society for two terms, and was active with the Associated Students of Western Nevada College in 2013-14. He has also thrived in the college’s work-study program, becoming a dedicated member of the Fallon Campus front office team.
“He has been an ideal student. I am so proud to know him,” said Dwyer of Stahi, who earned an award for excellence in Liberal Arts at the 2015 WNC Awards Banquet 18 at the Governor’s Mansion in Carson City.
“Ed is intellectually curious, eager to learn and has taken advantage of all that WNC has to offer,” Dwyer said. “He is goal-oriented and is pursuing his educational goals without the distractions that sometimes sidetrack younger students.”
With a career goal of working in environmental science, particularly volcanism and plate tectonics, Stahi now must make the transition from WNC to the University of Nevada, Reno to further his studies.
“I’m excited about going, but it will be a little bit intimidating with bigger classes and a whole new school,” Stahi said.
He’ll look back fondly at his time at WNC and miss the fellowship the community college classes have provided.
“You get to know the students more than as a classmate,” Stahi said. “In every single class I’ve made good friends, we’ve had good study groups and you interact.”
As a role model to other students who are considering returning to school, Stahi said that a community college is an ideal setting to re-launch an education.
“There will be more people your age, the classes are more diverse, there are people who are there for you and school is fun,” he said. “School is what you make of it, and I wish I knew this when I was younger.”
GRADUATION IN CARSON CITY
Commencement exercises for all WNC students including those from Fallon will be conducted in Carson City on Monday at 11 a.m. at the Marv Teixieira Pavilion in Mills Park.