Western Nevada College offers new programs to Latino community | NevadaAppeal.com

Western Nevada College offers new programs to Latino community

Andrew Pridgen
Appeal Staff Writer

Where in Northern Nevada can you find more than 20 languages spoken, a bilingual student body president who grew up in a missionary family in Mexico and a faculty president who earned a Ph.D. in theoretical physics from Brown University?

Give up?

Right in Carson’s back yard at Western Nevada College.

The school, which this year dropped the “community” from its moniker, is offering several new programs, including its first bachelor’s degree and several new classes specifically geared toward the Latino community.

“Our goal is to do a better job of getting the word out about WNC to the Latino community,” said Anne Hansen, the school’s director of information and marketing. “We’ve hired some new Latino outreach liaisons – and we feel they’re really approachable.”

The school will also host Latino Community Day from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 10 to showcase curriculum geared specifically for native Spanish speakers.

“I think what’s happening is that we realize the Latino population is the fastest-growing segment of the Carson City population and fastest-growing in Northern Nevada,” said John Kinkella, the school’s dean of student services. “We would like to do outreach and let them know we have a lot to offer.”

School officials said 445 of its 6,000 enrolled students last year were Latino – about 9 percent.

“It’s a growing number,” said Hansen. “But obviously not in line with the community as a whole.”

According to a 2006 U.S. Census Bureau report, about 18.5 percent of Carson City residents were Latino.

The school’s other outreach emphasis as the fall semester gets underway is to “bridge the understanding gap for high schoolers – to let them see how continuing education can lead to a higher-paying job,” Kinkella said.

As a direct result, school officials said, WNC is offering its first bachelor’s degree. Students can now earn a BS in construction technology.

“That department is really strong, especially with local business,” Kinkella said. “It’s been a nice collaboration between the construction industry and high schools to get (students) into the program.

“It’s a good feeling to see the light go on that this is a a booming industry here, this is a field where they can get a good-paying job – and they can get the degree they need right here.”

Kinkella said the school, which met with area high school counselors last week and “opened their eyes to the programs we offer,” still relies on its “bread and butter” – preparing students for transfer to a four-year university or college.

“Students who transfer from WNC to UNR have a higher GPA than the ‘native’ UNR student,” he said. “That’s typical of many community colleges – but we take pride in preparing students to achieve at the next level.”

If you go

WHAT: WNC Latino Community Day

WHEN: 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 6

WHERE: Western Nevada College Campus, 2201 West College Parkway

WHAT IT OFFERS: New and continuation courses in welding, computer basics, automotive and ESL

CALL: 445-4459

On the Net: http://www.wnc.edu

• Contact staff writer Andrew Pridgen at apridgen@nevadaappeal.com or 881-1219.