Nevada State College well-represented at NSHE's first-ever Status of Women event

On March 11, 2015, the Nevada System of Higher Education (NSHE) held its first-ever Status of Women event from 5:30 to 8:30 p.m. at UNLV's Boyd School of Law.

The Status of Women event was a way for us to celebrate the achievements of women, system-wide, Dr. Edith Fernandez, Vice President of NSC's Office of Community Engagement and Diversity Initiatives (CEDI), said. Also, [to] take a pulse of the state of women in terms of where they are in their careers, their economic mobility, the challenges they may face but continually looping back to celebrating their successes too, and finding a way to unite and keep encouraging women to make advances.

Dr. Fernandez and CEDI staff member Amey Esparza were instrumental in planning this inaugural event. It was a fantastic event. There were over 100 attendees; a solid 40 percent of those or more were from Nevada State College, Esparza said. Even though we re one of the smaller NSHE institutions, we had the highest representation. And we had the most men, which is important, because when you re talking about women's issues, men need to be at the table too.

Planning committee members say Former Attorney General Catherine Cortez-Masto was selected as the program's Keynote Speaker due to her tireless work in the community giving voice to the voiceless, and her role as Vice Chancellor of the Nevada System of Higher Education. "More than half of the students enrolled in #NSHE institutions are women...55.8 percent," Cortez-Masto said. NSC's female population is even higher, at 76 percent.

I don't think NSC set out to attract female students, but it's reflective of the demographics and probably the educational setting that we offer students, where we ve attracted women, Dr. Fernandez explained. So let's be intentional about serving these women, retaining them, and making sure they graduate.

Nevada State Student Alliance (NSSA) Vice President, Yesenia Cuevas, is one of three students from UNLV, CSN and NSC who presented at the event.

I am a first generation college student; a minority; a Pell Grant recipient; Student Body Vice-President. I will be the first doctor in my family and I will be just another female to earn a bachelor's degree from Nevada State College, Cuevas proclaimed.

I think it's so important that students, who we all know are our future leaders, are in the conversation when we re talking about things that affect them, Esparza conveyed. And we had a great turnout of students at this event today.

As they reflect on the Status of Women event, key organizers all insist on one thing: the need to keep the momentum going.

It came together rather quickly, and we re excited about just building on it from year to year, Dr. Fernandez exclaimed. It's one day, but it matters what do we do with the rest of the year, in continuing to be intentional about addressing the needs of women.

Echoing her thoughts was Cortez-Masto, a life-long advocate for women, the under-privileged and human rights in Nevada. "There is so much we can do for our community, Cortez-Masto emphasized, if we just care to get involved."