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Graduates Transfer and Thrive in UNR Honors Program

Posted: May 27, 2014

Picture of Tiffany Kleinhans

Tiffany Kleinhans accepts a student honor at the awards ceremony on May 23, 2013. She graduates this academic year with a second associate degree.

Four extraordinary Truckee Meadows Community College scholars who have transferred to the University of Nevada, Reno Honors Program exemplify the many talented students industriously studying at tables and labs and stages throughout TMCC’s five campuses.

Transforming difficulties into super abilities for time and studies; Tiffany Kleinhans

Tiffany Kleinhans carefully rolls a case of heavy books around a corner and around a broad door in the Red Mountain Building, allowing herself a quick pause between classes and work to share with an observer a glimpse of what determination looks like.

She has an Associate of Applied Science degree in Paralegal/Law from Truckee Meadows Community College and just earned an Associate of Arts, English Emphasis. Kleinhans has just been accepted into the Honors Program at the University of Nevada, Reno.

“Have in mind what you really want to do; keep it in your thoughts and focus on it,” Kleinhans said. “You’ll find it’s worth the work it takes to get there.”

Kleinhans will begin the Honors Program at UNR for the Fall semester. She is double-majoring in English Writing and International Affairs, en route to the Honors Diploma.

She has not let her mental focus waver from this goal, despite being nearly blind in one eye and enduring migraines that sometimes arise from the visual fatigue of two eyes not quite in sync. But she looks past the baccalaureate degree, toward a Juris Doctor, and then one day to aid the world community.

“Ideally speaking, I’d like to work in the field of international human rights or international charities; possibly to work for a world organization or the United Nations,” Kleinhans said.

Balancing work and studies has not affected her 4.0 grade point average. Kleinhans works as a paralegal and writing tutor in the Tutoring and Learning Center at TMCC. She has some good advice for other students when assignments seem too huge and complicated.

“If things seem overwhelming, they can be broken into small pieces – that’s what I do,” Kleinhans advised. “A big essay is just a series of paragraphs, for instance.”

A professor of literature has inspired a young computer scientist; Nathan Navarro Griffin

Nathan Navarro Griffin is a tall and lean young guy who has a serious expression; but with a bright shirt and baseball cap, not at all the stereotypical look of a computer scientist. A well-spoken computer scientist, in fact, he will give the senior speech at the TMCC High School graduation ceremony on June 4th.

TMCC high school teachers Launie Gardner and Carlos Hatfield, and an English professor, Jim Roderick, wrote letters nominating the thoughtful academic to the UNR Honors Program.

“Professor Roderick is one of the best teachers I’ve ever had,” Navarro Griffin said. “He takes an interest in his students and relates literature very well to the truths about life. That facilitates growth academically and personally.”

Navarro Griffin plans to complete the accelerated BS/MS program in computer science and engineering in about four years, since he has already completed many of his core classes at TMCC. He credits TMCC with both a meaningful and impartial learning atmosphere.

“It’s not just to write down, study and take the test — here at TMCC, it’s about applying the lessons learned to life and also learning to be more empathetic to those around you,” Navarro Griffin said. “Here, people derive who you are by your actions. I’ve never felt preconceived notions about me here.”

Honors classes enrich scientific study for TMCC alumnus; Darrin McCarthy

With a strong stride and sure bearing, Darrin McCarthy, carrying his colossal backpack and bright motorcycle helmet, lights up when he talks about learning.

“The pleasure and honor was mine to study with Professors Kurt Ehlers, Bridgett Blaque, Anne Flesher and Bill Gallegos,” says McCarthy, UNR honors student. “On a bad day, they are inspiring … on a good day, they are electrifying. I looked forward to calculus; it was sick. Kurt Ehlers kindles a fire inside of you for math, teaching everything from 126 to calculus.”

McCarthy transferred from TMCC to UNR last Fall, and was admitted to the Honors Program for the Spring semester. He says that the thorough approach employed in Honors Program coursework has helped to direct him to specialized subject areas he wants to pursue.

“In genetics, I worked more closely with my professor and understood better the reasons for her focus on particular topics; I understood the ‘why’ of the course,” McCarthy said. “It led me to a very specific topic that I’m interested in for future personal in-depth work. In organic chemistry, my work with another professor will probably lead to a research job in the lab.”

Honors classes are smaller, with 18-20 in a classroom, as opposed to 200, McCarthy said. He thinks that the reduced class size creates more opportunities for students, and highly recommends the program.

“This is a transition from the life you have here now, to a life you can have in the future,” McCarthy said.

A scholar with a love of learning, devotion to humanity, and a plan; Amanda Buell

Amanda Buell is a striking figure; a tall woman with jet-black hair and vibrant tessellation tattoos adorning her expressive arms. Buell is dedicated and serious about her self-expression, her education, and her contributions toward helping people.

She graduated from TMCC in Spring 2011 with an Associate of Arts-History Emphasis, and will graduate from University of Nevada, Reno in December with her bachelor’s degree in history. Buell plans to continue into the master’s program, study for a Ph.D. in history or religious studies, and seek ordination in the Presbyterian Church.

She is interested in being an activist and teacher; focused on women’s studies, and gay and transgender rights. She feels that there is a culture of poverty for women that results, in part, from a low minimum wage, and would like to work towards raising more women out of poverty.

Buell agrees with McCarthy that honors classes are not harder; instead, they go deeper into the subject under study.

“I presented at a conference on a panel examining the integration of honors studies with other serious commitments,” Buell said. “At another conference, I presented my own personal research on the turn of the 20th century Russian avant-garde art movement.”

When asked if Buell has any advice for TMCC students transferring to UNR, she says to get involved in class and on campus.

“Maintain a clear focus on where you want to be,” Buell said. “Get very involved in student groups like clubs for science, history, sociology, or women’s studies. There are hundreds of clubs. Making those friends that have similar interests will keep you centered.”

Note: If you know of a superior achievement by a remarkable TMCC community member, please let the Public Information Office know so that the stories can be shared.



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Email: pio@tmcc.edu

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