By Western Nevada College
Wednesday, March 9, 2022
Dedication, excellence and commitment are all reasons why second-year Western Nevada College nursing student Ki’Hana Garcia has been selected to receive the 2022 Sam Lieberman Regents’ Scholar Award, announced by the Nevada System of Higher Education on March 3.
“I am incredibly humbled at this news and am at a loss for words at the current moment,” Garcia said. “This award is an incredible honor that I hope to embody the meaning of.”
Garcia, a mother of two children and a member of the Army National Guard, is one of WNC’s exemplary students. A great support system, maturity and momentous time management skills are some of the reasons she holds it all together to meet all of her responsibilities.
“Ki’Hana is a master juggler — balancing a family, having her second baby during her first year of the program, working as a National Guardsman and carrying a difficult academic and clinical load as a nursing student,” said Kathy Cocking, a member of WNC’s nursing faculty.
Added WNC Nursing Instructor Robert Ciminski, “Seeing Ki’Hana’s performance in the nursing program while carrying a pregnancy, taking care of her family, serving our country, and putting in the time and hard work toward professional development has been quite inspiring.”
Cocking said you’d never know Garcia has so much going on in her hectic life by her consistent, pleasant and kind demeanor.
“She demonstrates kindness, a sense of humor and a maturity level that will serve her well in her career as a healthcare hero,” Cocking said.
Surely, Garcia has some secrets to pass along about how to accomplish more than most each day.
“Honestly, somedays I am unsure how I balance everything and feel that I’m being pulled in a million different directions. Time management and mental flexibility are the biggest components of making everything work and allowing myself grace,” she said. “I think my military experience has helped the most in this because it’s a constantly changing environment that I am used to.”
But it also helps that she isn’t alone and has a great support system at home.
“I am incredibly blessed to have a supportive husband and family that support my goals and help me balance the load. Without my support system I never would have made it,” she said. “I was lucky enough to have my husband return from his deployment two weeks prior to the start of the nursing program.”
Garcia became enamored with nursing during her deployment as a combat medic in Afghanistan in 2012.
“Initially, nursing hadn’t even crossed my mind as a career field,” Garcia said. “As a combat medic you are the first line for the unit and some soldiers come to you for anything from mental to physical ailments. Nursing is a career field that relies on a holistic approach to medicine that aligns with the role I had during this deployment.”
She heard about WNC’s nursing program from a co-worker who raved about an instructor, then decided to enroll at WNC.
“My first semester included just a couple of classes and I knew that this was the institution for me,” she said. “WNC is military friendly, which allowed me to use my education benefits while incorporating classes that worked with my demanding schedule, and the advisement office laid out a clear pathway to the nursing program. When I reached out to friends within the nursing career most mentioned WNC being an amazing program that properly prepares you for the field and gives the greatest amount of clinical experience throughout Northern Nevada to experience many of the hospitals. Clinicals are the best part of the WNC nursing program because the instructors are so knowledgeable and have applicable experience that elevates the experience. Clinicals take the classroom instruction and make it applicable and digestible, which is what I love with my learning style.”
It’s not a stretch to presume that Garcia has also performed well in her classes and clinicals. But she has contributed much more to the nursing program than a superb academic record.
“She has performed very well academically and practically, and has demonstrated a strong commitment to herself, her classmates, and to the nursing program,” Ciminski said. “Her resiliency really shines when we consider that she is not only performing well and setting the example in the nursing program, but she is also serving as a treasurer for the Second Year Nursing Club, is an active member of the National Student Nurse Association, and consistently fulfills her active duty requirements for the Army National Guard, while maintaining a can-do, keep-your-chin-up attitude.”
When Garcia graduates in May she knows many people will share in her outstanding accomplishment and she’ll have many to thank.
“The nursing program has just a plethora of experience and knowledge and are so approachable that really make the WNC nursing program the best in the West,” she said. “WNC Nursing and Allied Health really has some of the greatest staff that make students successful.”
The Nevada System of Higher Education provides each regents’ scholar award winner with a $5,000 scholarship. Garcia said this generous scholarship gift will help her pursue her bachelor’s degree at Nevada State College.
“This incredible honor and financial award will make this next step accessible without creating a financial burden on my family,” she said. “My husband has been an incredible supporter to help with the financial obligation that nursing school requires, but this award will make this that much easier for our family.”
Formerly known as the Regents' Scholar Award, the award was renamed for Regent Sam Lieberman who passed away in 2020, in commemoration of his service and dedication to public higher education in Nevada.
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