2018 Western Nevada College graduates come from all walks of life | NevadaAppeal.com

2018 Western Nevada College graduates come from all walks of life

Taylor Pettaway | tpettaway@nevadaappeal.com

Western Nevada College made history Monday morning with more than 300 students in attendance for graduation.

The sun shone through grey clouds Monday morning as the students received their Associate Degrees and Certificates of Achievement in front of their classmates, families and friends. This year, 539 students from Carson City, Fallon, Gardnerville, Fernley, Reno, Dayton and more took home 571 degrees and certificates from the Northern Nevada College.

"We have graduates here from all walks of life," said WNC acting president P. Mark Ghan. "From ages 17 to 68 and from all over Nevada. We have single parents, veterans, first generation college graduates, high school students and senior citizens."

From the graduating class, 84 were high school students from across the state who participated in the Jumpstart program. Jumpstart is for students to attend dual-credit classes to work towards obtaining their Associate's Degree while still in high school.

"Graduating from high school and college at the same time? That is an accomplishment," said Ghan.

For many of the students, participating in the Jumpstart program provided them with an extra advantage in their post-secondary endeavors.

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"It feels amazing, since I have two years of college under my belt before I even graduate high school," said Dayton High senior Timothy Brown. "It allows me to be prepared for the life ahead of me, I would do it all again in a heartbeat."

Several of the commencement speakers talked about the importance of having that degree in their hands.

"I am honored to congratulate you and watch you go on, because your story will keep getting better," said Chancellor Dr. Thom Reilly. "The next chapter with your degree will open more doors than ever before… research shows that you are happier and healthier with a degree."

The main theme from the speakers was what a degree can do for them. NSHE Board of Regents Kevin Page mirrored the sentiment, adding the degree should feel even more important due to the struggles and work it took to achieve it.

"Each of you has stories or experiences that speak to the sacrifices you made to lead you to this day," Page said. "…Use this crowning achievement to go onto bigger things."

Gov. Brian Sandoval shared his experiences towards obtaining his degree, telling the graduates he came from a working class family and had to work hard and how that paid off to make the opportunities he earned even better.

"Opportunity is a word that is thrown around all the time and you may hear it all the time, but I want you to think about what it means to you," Sandoval said. "…I learned that the opportunity to succeed is more rewarding when you earned it through struggle and sacrifice."

He told the graduates he hoped they seized every opportunity that came their way and to never discontinue their thirst to learn, even pointing out his mother in the front row of the graduates who earned her PhD at 70.

For the WNC graduates, the day was filled with smiles, laughter, love and pride as they marched across the stage to take their diplomas.

"You each have a personal story," Sandoval said. "And it makes me proud to stand here before each of you, in front of your family and friends and say you did it, job well done and congrats."