Class of 2010: Ready for the next chapter of success in their lives

By Jess Kusak

Nevada State College recently turned out its largest class of graduates. With degrees in hand, they will begin careers in education, nursing, business, social services and various other professions. The class of 2010 comes from diverse backgrounds.

Marijke Blokker, who majored in English, came to NSC at a time when most people in her shoes would have not even considered college. Having just been diagnosed with a brain lesion and seizure disorder, she was forced to quit her job. After about a month of trying to adjust to living with her condition, she decided to return to college after a two-year hiatus. Because the seizures and brain lesion were impacting her memory and cognitive functioning, Marijke thought that getting through any college-level courses would be next to impossible. Each seizure forced me to basically start over again. Sometimes it was a matter of relearning words, pronunciation, or even speaking all together, she said. Faced with such a debilitating condition, Marijke questioned her decision to pursue an English degree. I wondered how I would ever get my degree in English when at any moment a seizure could temporarily take away my very ability to read and write, she continued.

After only a few days, Marijke quickly discovered that NSC was the place for her. The administration and faculty worked with her to build a schedule that accommodated her personal needs. If I didn't have the professors I ve had at NSC the ones who were always willing to take the extra time with me, find creative ways to teach their classes, and be so willing to go above and beyond what most teachers I ve encountered in my life did -- I would not have finished my degree and would not be going on to continue my education, she shared.

Despite the odds, Marijke's perseverance and, in part, stubbornness paid off. She sums up her NSC experience in one powerful thought, NSC gave me the opportunity to prove to myself that I can be successful and push through rough times.

As a teenage mom juggling a handful of responsibilities, Maria Burgess knew her quest for a nursing degree would not be an easy one. Having worked as a registered nurse for eight years, she always felt that a bachelor's degree in nursing would give her the extra skills needed to make a difference. I wanted to further my career and make a difference in my community and the lives of my patients as well as my own, Maria said. Maria found a program at NSC that seamlessly built upon her previous course work.

During her time at NSC, Maria's professors pushed her to go the extra mile in her studies. Inspired by their commitment to her, she decided to take her educational goals to the next level, and was recently accepted into the Family Nurse Practitioners Masters program at UNLV. I believe that without the counsel of my advisors and the assistance and patience of my instructors, my education would not have been possible, Maria shared. Maria is now eagerly waiting to start her program and is also excited about what lies ahead for her professionally. I m looking forward to being a part of many lives in my community as a Nurse Practitioner through caring, education, prevention and treatment. I m excited about my future and am proud of what I ve been able to accomplish!

A self-proclaimed home-body, Bo Walker, a true native of Henderson, loved having the opportunity to attend a college like NSC so close to home. As a student in the Elementary Education Program, Bo was able to draw from her own unique experiences as a student growing up with special needs. I believed my first-hand experiences of having a learning disability would allow me to connect well with children and offer them a nurturing, safe environment to learn and grow, said Bo.

Bo's recent graduation is a testament to her determination and that of her parents. Bo's doctors, early on, told her parents that their daughter would not succeed in college and that obtaining a degree would be next to impossible. From that point on, my parents have been such a great support system, and with the help of tutors and some remarkable teachers, I ve been able to get to where I am today she said.

Bo cites NSC's smaller class size and one-on-one attention from her professors as being invaluable to her success. Inspired by the creative reading strategies she learned from one of her professors, Roxanne Stansbury, Bo is now considering becoming a reading specialist. She plans to return to college as a post-graduate to obtain certification in the field of special education, and then go on to graduate school for a Master's in Education.

Even though she cannot wait to have her own classroom of elementary school students, Bo is one day hoping to become a professor of education at the college level. I d really want to teach the teachers just like Professor Stansbury. The way in which she integrates creativity into her classes and provides opportunities to implement what we actually learn is what I want to do for my students, she said.

As a single mother, Shannon Teague knew it would be a struggle to balance college studies work and a home life. Education was always very important in my family, but I thought with everything I was trying to manage in my life, my degree would take a backseat to everything else, said Shannon. Given all of the evening and online classes NSC offers, Shannon was able to stay on track to finish her degree on schedule. I always knew I would obtain my degree, but if I hadn't found NSC, I certainly wouldn't have graduated on time, said Shannon.

Shannon believes being a student at NSC helped her achieve what she thought may not have been possible and is ready to take on an exciting new chapter in her education. She has much to look forward to following graduation, as she was recently accepted into the Masters of Social Work program at UNLV. Once finished, she plans to work as a case manager in the child welfare profession, and possibly continue on to a Doctoral program.

Shannon's passion for helping and giving back to others has personal significance to her. As she explained, being a domestic violence survivor, I want to be an advocate for families in need. There would be nothing more rewarding than helping children that are in foster care or unstable home environments get a chance to survive and become successful members of society, she said.
Moving into this new chapter of her life, Shannon pulls strength from the adversities she has faced in the past. The past few years have been a struggle at times, but with some self-determination, no matter what obstacles I may face in life, I know I can push through.

Nevada State College is proud to graduate a diverse group of students who all have personal stories of struggles and triumphs. As they each receive their diplomas on commencement day, they each know that they have reached a major milestone on the road to success..

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