Western Nevada College graduates largest class | NevadaAppeal.com

Western Nevada College graduates largest class

Teri Vance
Cathleen Allison/Nevada Appeal

When Caren Witt watched her oldest son graduate from the University of Nevada, Reno two and a half years ago, she made a promise to herself.

“As I watched him walk across that stage, I thought to myself, ‘it’s my turn,'” she said.

On Tuesday night, she fulfilled that promise as she marched across the stage of the Carson City Community Center to receive her associate’s of art degree from Western Nevada College.

Witt, 50, joined Western’s largest graduating class of 451 students from the Carson City and Fallon campuses, which included students ranging in age from 16 to 85.

Fellow graduate Kim Baker, 46, said the college made it possible for her to return four years ago to pursue her degree while raising her three daughters and bar tending full-time at nights.

“WNC really helps you,” she said. “The teachers are so relatable. They make you want to succeed.”

In the time she has been attending school, two of her daughters graduated from high school and attended WNC with her.

“It’s surreal,” she said. “But it makes you proud.”

Professor of college success Susan Priest and library support specialist Ron Belbin were selected by students to offer commencement addresses.

Honorary associate degrees were awarded to Bryan Samudio, KRNV News 4 TV sports director and Betty Kopfhammer, a Carson City resident.

“Samudio has volunteered his time to serve as master of ceremonies at all the Wildcats athletics major fundraising events,” said WNC spokeswoman Anne Hansen, “while Kopfhammer has continually helped youth to excel, financially assisting WNC and many other local organizations.”

Six students earned a bachelor of technology degree in construction management, the second class to do so.

Chris Barredo, 26, said he hopes to find a construction management job, but isn’t as confident as he once was.

“It was booming when we first started out,” he said.

Aileen Lumbao, 33, was more optimistic that her nursing degree would translate into work.

“With our economy right now, it’s the only job that’s secure I would say,” she said.

The struggling economy, however, turned to an opportunity for Scott Etchison, 47.

“I’ve wanted to (go to school) for years and years,” he said. “When the economy slowed, I jumped on it.”

He received his associates in construction management and plans to go on to get his bachelor’s in the same subject.

“I love to build,” he said. “I’ve done it most of my life.”

Despite the sacrifices that come with school, Yanita Carson, 36, said it is well worth the effort.

“It gives me knowledge,” said Carson, who said she has had to give up her social life in order to care for her son and attend classes. “I want to get higher up. I’ll never give up.”