Largest graduating class at WNC receives diplomas
Denise Ann Real, 52, was among the record 463 graduates to receive their degrees Monday from Western Nevada College during a ceremony in the Pony Express Pavilion in Mills Park.
The joyous occasion, however, was marked with a bit of a somber mood.
“WNC has been amazing,” she said. “They have awesome instructors. Sadly, some of them are leaving because of budget cuts and other reasons. Some of the art classes I was going to take are no longer being offered.”
WNC spokeswoman Anne Hansen said this year’s class is aware of looming budget cuts, along with the possibility of being consolidated with other community colleges and losing satellite campuses.
“They’re serious-minded,” Hansen said. “It’s been very clear to them that these are tough times, and they’re very focused. It’s going to be a challenge for them out there, but they’re determined.”
The graduates earned a combined 510 degrees and certificates, a 19 percent increase during the past two years.
Hansen said more high school graduates than ever before enrolled at WNC, along with a growing number of adults seeking updated job skills.
Bryan Forster, 27, was one of those who returned looking for a better opportunity. After 10 years in the construction industry he lost his job. On Monday, he graduated with a degree in construction management.
Cedric Williams, 50, had a more personal reason.
“I always wanted to be like my brother,” he said. “He told me to go back to school and get my degree.”
His brother died Wednesday.
“This is for him,” Williams said through his tears. “For him.”
The day was made more special for best friends Lindsey Lepire, 20, and Ashley Cruz, 20, “especially because we did it together,” Lepire said.
“We’ve been counting down forever,” she said. “We’re finally starting our new lives.”
Both women plan to continue their education at the University of Nevada, Reno.
To accommodate the largest class, the commencement exercises were moved from inside the Carson City Community Center to the outdoor Pony Express Pavilion.
“We just outgrew the community center,” Hansen said. “For the last several years we have put up screens in the gym for the overflow. We wanted everyone to be together.”
While the ceremony marked the end for many students, for others it was just the beginning.
“I’m going to school until I die,” said Angela Galgano, 22, who received her associate of arts degree Monday. “There’s always stuff to learn. I love the community here and the professors are amazing. I would be very sad to see it go.”