Western Nevada College graduates returned to familiar formalities Monday at Marv Teixeira Pavilion in Mills Park, marching up the stage for their diploma.
Dr. Kyle Dalpe celebrated his first opportunity to lead the college commencement as president since his appointment in March by taking a selfie with the graduates.
“There’s lot of sitting and waiting and formalities that go into (a traditional ceremony), but it’s expected,” Dalpe told the Appeal before Monday. “We’re happy to do it.”
WNC celebrated the accomplishments of approximately 529 graduates. Most ranged from 16 to 65 in age and come from all areas of Nevada but several also come from nine other states.
The lineup welcomed Western Nevada Musical Theatre Company guests Melanie Bratsch leading the National Anthem and a musical presentation from the Disney musical “Newsies.”
Maj. Gen. Ondra Berry, Nevada State Adjutant General for the Nevada National Guard, encouraged graduates to remember the “great people” sitting among their peers, and to cheer each other on by grabbing each other’s hands, being lighthearted in his comment that COVID-19 wasn’t a concern anymore.
He told WNC’s newest graduates not to let anyone take away from their accomplishments after their pursuits.
“Don’t let nothing, no one, no situation, no person stop you,” Berry said. “This is your life, this is your opportunity. Go for it. … That hand you’re grabbing right now, there’s greatness, there’s potential, there’s fortitude, there’s passion, there’s dreams, there’s accomplishment. Squeeze (those hands) a little tighter.”
Berry told the crowd sitting in cap and gown, “You should feel pride and joy … the tassel is worth the hassle.”
For at least one student, it was her first time wearing her tassel and shaking hands upon receiving her diploma.
Pamela DeWitt, 63, of Gardnerville never graduated from high school. She struggled with a drug addiction when she was younger but has been clean for the past 18 years. To celebrate her achievement now, two of her best friends from high school traveled in to surprise her, she said.
The choice to attend WNC began when DeWitt’s daughter told her she would be going for her degree, and she decided to look into it for herself. She only had three requirements and worked in the college’s admissions and records office, which wasn’t very demanding. She would be graduating with a general studies degree to help increase her pay. She said she was surprised to learn she also achieved honors status.
“I learned a lot here and I will be looking for a state job afterwards … I got to work in the office with the ‘everything graduation’ lady and got to hear about everything that was happening,” DeWitt said with a laugh. “I’ve enjoyed my time here, meeting the teachers and students and working with them. It’s been quite the experience. … Other than that, I’ve got to get a job ASAP and get good and solid feet on my house.”
DeWitt said she looked forward to having a double graduation celebration with her granddaughter, 18, who graduates from high school.
Christian Vargas of Carson City said he was a last-minute addition in submitting his graduation application but with help from WNC staff, he was able to cross the stage and receive his bachelor of applied science in construction management. He hopes to find a job in framing in construction in Reno or Sparks and has been applying for jobs.
“Just the thought of looking at a building going up slowly amazes me,” he said. “It’s in big demand.”
Lyon County School District Superintendent Wayne Workman said graduation day at WNC is exciting to be a part for his students because of the collaboration it allows for with Nevada’s school districts.
“We absolutely love the partnership we have with WNC because it allows for this opportunity,” Workman said. “I’m just excited that we get to be here and enjoy the time with the graduates and their families. It’s such a special day that we get to celebrate with them and all of their accomplishments. And that’s my favorite part. This (partnership) now has such momentum that it’ll keep going long after I’m gone.”
Carson City School District Superintendent Andrew Feuling, in attendance with Carson High School Principal Bob Chambers, agreed.
“I would say it’s a pretty exciting day … and it’s a pretty great partnership with WNC,” Feuling said. “It’s a great place for students to be prepared for their future dreams.”
Chambers, greeting Carson High’s students as they walked off the platform having completed their associate’s degree from the college thanks to JumpStart.
“It’s a super proud moment for these students and families to not only graduate from college with an associate’s degree but then to also fulfill their high school requirements because it’s a lot of hard work and dedication in academics, and it shows what they’re made of,” Chambers said.
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