Western Nevada College Latino Leadership Academy founder named new school board member of the year

Lupe Ramirez

Lupe Ramirez

Whether she is advising first-generation college students to better their lives through higher education or serving as a trustee for K-12 students in the Carson City School District, there are two common denominators in Lupe Ramirez’s education roles: The Western Nevada College Latino Leadership Academy founder and adviser will definitely make a difference and, without a doubt, she will stand out.

Last month, the Nevada Association of School Boards selected Ramirez as the 2020 New School Board Member of the Year.

“Mrs. Ramirez joined the Carson City School Board with the understanding that her voice alone would not instigate change but to become a part of the governance team to guide the district,” said NASB Executive Director Debb Oliver. “Her dedication to the students of the district in this role was exemplified by her commitment to training and preparation for each meeting. She passionately advocates for the importance of education and culture within the Hispanic community, which ultimately has a positive effect on the school community. This is a well-deserved honor for Mrs. Ramirez.”

The award acknowledges the dedicated service of Nevada’s newest school trustees.

“Words cannot express my gratitude for this prestigious recognition. I am humbly honored to have the opportunity to be part of the CCSB and to continue learning from a group of knowledgeable and respectful individuals who are focused on the best interests of all students in the school district,” Ramirez said. “I am also very fortunate to have the opportunity to continue working with Superintendent Richard Stokes and his staff in a different capacity. They have been very supportive and receptive with the initiative presented by the Board of introducing an agenda item bilingually in English and Spanish to include all parents in the district to participate in critical discussions affecting everyone.”

There were many reasons why Ramirez was selected as the New School Board Member of the Year: her dedication to public education and Carson City School District, attendance for trainings and school board meetings. She was also applauded for serving on the Student Attendance Review Board, being a member of Partnership Carson City and passionately advocating for the importance of education and culture within the Hispanic community and within the school community.

The CCSD’s glowing report on Ramirez also went on to say that Ramirez is an important liaison and role model to the Latino students and community. With her assistance, Carson City School District held its first bilingual board meeting. An agenda item included a presentation of the English Learner program that was given in Spanish and then translated into English. Additionally, Mrs. Ramirez — on her own initiative — coordinated for the school board meeting on school reopening to be translated into Spanish in real time. She ensured that Spanish-speaking families knew about and provided feedback regarding school reopening.”

The NASB award is the latest in a string of honors for Ramirez.

In 2018, WNC’s Latino Outreach coordinator was selected as the Nevada ACT College and Career Readiness Postsecondary Champion, which celebrates individuals who make a positive impact on their communities through their efforts to advance college and career readiness. Two years earlier, WNC selected Ramirez as the Administrative Faculty of the Year Award winner.

“These accomplishments would not have been possible without the leadership and mentorship of my previous supervisor, John Kinkella,” Ramirez said.

Ramirez knew very early in life that she wanted to pursue a career in education and help students.

“Being around educated individuals in my professional roles, it's a dream come true,” she said. “Since I was in grade school in Mexico, my teachers were my role models. I always dreamed of being like them when I grew up. Even though I do not have the teaching credentials, I am working with students in a different capacity to empower them through their educational journey.

“One of the things that inspires me in both roles, as a WNC program coordinator and as a Carson City School District trustee, are the students. I see a potential in every student! All they need, in my opinion, is someone who believes in them and who is willing to help them navigate the educational system. Whenever I see our former students working in their profession, it gives me an abundance of gratification for the work done at all levels of education. I feel truly blessed to be part of both worlds! I am also extremely grateful for the support I have from my husband and my daughter.”

All it took for Ramirez to pursue the school board seat was completion of a bachelor’s degree and someone who believed in her ability to make a difference. She received encouragement from a community leader because of what she had accomplished with WNC’s Latino Cohort (now the LLA). She also wanted an opportunity to help more students facing barriers preventing them from pursuing their educational dreams.

“The idea of making a greater impact to approximately 45 percent of the student population in the district seemed like the right thing to do,” Ramirez said. “However, I gave it some serious thought due to the level of responsibility involved in this role so I met with a couple of individuals who I consider as my mentors, seeking their guidance. At this point, I felt the courage to go file my application and hoped for the best. After the elections closed, I was visiting my home village in Mexico when I was informed I had won unopposed. All I could think of was, ‘This truly is part of my journey!’”

Ramirez was tasked with improving WNC’s college graduation rate for the area’s Latino population in 2010, leading to the creation of the Latino Cohort (now the Latino Leadership Academy). The academy eases students’ transition from high school to college by helping them make this a full-time commitment as well as helping them overcome cultural obstacles. Additionally, the academy provides them with a structured two-year academic plan and helps then access financials aid to make this possible. If the students need remedial English and math classes, students are able to take those courses during the summer. Whatever need may arise, the academy is there for them. The students take classes together and they receive many levels of support beyond their professors. The support team consists of the program coordinator, an academic counselor, cohort coaches (former students from the academy) and their current academy classmates. The graduation rate of the students in the academy is above the college’s overall graduation rate.

“This could not be accomplished without the assistance of a committed team,” Ramirez said.

Through presentations at local high schools and churches, Ramirez has convinced many families to send their children to WNC. But Ramirez promotes more than enrollment. She follows the students through graduation and beyond. Many of the students in the academy continue their education at UNR.

For more information about the Latino Leadership Academy, go to wnc.edu/latino-outreach/ or email lupe.ramirez@wnc.edu.

WNC Foundation holds Virtual Trivia Night Fundraiser in Support of Emergency Funding for Students

Maybe your computer stopped working or you’ve lost your job.

And you don’t know who to turn to for financial help.

Western Nevada College students may be eligible for help through emergency funding provided from WNC Foundation.

“Our hope is that this fund helps students stay in school, finish their education and go on to pursue meaningful, well-paying positions that allow them to support their families and succeed financially,” said WNC Foundation Executive Director Niki Gladys.

To be considered for an emergency, students must receive a recommendation from one of their professors or a WNC administrator.

A typical award is usually about $250 and is funded through a student’s college account to help him or her through financial emergencies. However, some awards have been higher depending on the unique circumstance of each student. This fund was created through the WNC Foundation from generous donations made by community members who believe in education. The fund has also been supplemented from fundraising events.

One of those fundraisers was held on Dec. 10 — It’s A No-Brainer Virtual Trivia Night Special Holiday Challenge. Nearly 30 teams participated in the event, which was held virtually over Zoom. Participants included Carson City Mayor-Elect Lori Bagwell, Carson Tahoe Hospital COO Michelle Joy, WNC President Dr. Vincent Solis, and Nevada System of High Education Regents Amy Carvalho and Carol Del Carlo. The event’s host and emcee for the evening was Nate Mackinnon, Vice Chancellor of Community Colleges.

“Aside from being a really good cause, the event was super entertaining and fun!” said Dr. Jennifer Verive, WNC instructor of psychology.

“You can’t overstate the importance of this cause. The pandemic has put a financial strain on so many and WNC students need our help more than ever. We are incredibly grateful to everyone who showed up to support WNC students tonight,” said Dr. Solis as he welcomed more than 80 trivia players to the event. Dr. Solis’ team, which included Professor Emily Howarth, Technology Supervisor Troy Wadsworth and Regent Del Carlo took first place, followed by Susan Trist’s Disability Services team.

To learn more about emergency funding through the foundation or to participate in the next virtual fundraiser, email foundation@wnc.edu or phone 775-445-3240.

WNC Foundation Has More Than $600K Available in Scholarships

The past year has been hard on many, especially students, and the Western Nevada College Foundation is here to help.

More than $600,000 in scholarship funding is available for the 2021-22 academic year because of the generosity of donors and the Foundation’s various fundraising efforts. Students will be considered for several hundred scholarships with one, easy application.

The WNC Foundation 2021-22 scholarship application is available online at http://wnc.edu/scholarships. The deadline to apply is April 1, 2021.

“The application usually takes about 30 minutes to fill out and includes questions that help the scholarship committee determine which students qualify for each scholarship,” said WNC Foundation Executive Director Niki Gladys.

WNC Foundation provides academic scholarships in partnership with WNC employees, community members, corporations and private foundations. All students are encouraged to apply.

To qualify for a foundation scholarship, students need to enroll in a minimum of six units and have earned a minimum grade point average of 2.0. Some scholarships require financial need, which means that students should make sure to complete their Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). However, there are many scholarships that do not require a financial need and are awarded based on other factors including community service, military service, academic achievement and career plans. For this reason, all students are encouraged to apply regardless of financial need or past academic performance.

Scholarships are also available for the spring 2021 semester for students pursuing an education in Healthcare, Professional and Applied Technology (PAT) or career and technical education fields, thanks to the William N. Pennington Foundation. This scholarship has been created to improve the well-being of the community by supporting students who are pursuing careers in fields that are in high demand with local employers, including welding, automotive mechanics, machine tool technology, manufacturing, construction, building/home inspection, truck driving, phlebotomy, nursing assistant and emergency medical services.

To apply, go to wnc.edu/scholarships. For more information on applying for a scholarship or to start your own scholarship, contact the WNC Foundation at 775-445-3240.


Use the comment form below to begin a discussion about this content.

Sign in to comment