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Alumni Highlights

Photo of Myrton Running Wolf

Myrton Running Wolf

by Stefanie Givens

Award-winning director, writer, scholar—and TMCC alumnus—Myrton Running Wolf has come a long way from when he enrolled in his first course at TMCC in 1992.

At that time, he had just put a college football career behind him, and returned home to attend the University of Nevada, Reno and work at the Minden-based nonprofit, Rite of Passage. Myrton knew he was good with numbers, and was seeking a Bachelor of Science Degree in Mathematics, with a Chemistry minor. However, he found himself in need of a speech class and enrolled in TMCC’s Fundamentals of Acting—a fateful decision that would have lasting impact.

When Myrton describes his experience at TMCC, and with the Theater Arts program, it is with a fond reflection for the welcoming environment he encountered—fostered by then-theater director Carolyn Wray. It was this spirit of inclusivity and collaboration that attracted Myrton to the program, where he ultimately completed several courses, participated in multiple TMCC theater productions, and eventually served as a guest instructor.

The education and mentorship he received in the Theater Arts program inspired his love of theater and the importance of a collaborative approach in all aspects of storytelling, and served as a launch pad into a highly successful career in film, television and theater production.

After receiving his associate degree and bachelor's degrees locally, he was awarded a full-tuition scholarship to The American Musical and Dramatic Academy in New York.

With higher education as a priority, Myrton continued academic studies at the University of Southern California School of Cinematic Arts (MFA, Film/TV Production, '02), New York University (MA, Performance Studies, '08), and Stanford University (PhD, Theater and Performance Studies, '15). His research into the economics and politics of mainstream media production and how it affects America’s race relations culminated in his PhD dissertation, "The Politics of Native American Theater Adaptations". His unique collaborative model focuses on inclusion of minorities into the creative process as a way to transcend cultural, racial, and gender divisions in media production.

Myrton was honored by TMCC as the 2006 Alumnus of the Year, and was the keynote speaker at the 2015 College Heritage Black Tie Celebration, a fundraiser for the Visual and Performing Arts program.

Since then, his career has continued to grow. Most recently, he returned to teach at the UNR Reynolds School of Journalism and has reconnected with TMCC, providing the College with an opportunity to learn more about his career after TMCC.

What was your first impression of TMCC and the Theater and Visual Arts program?
One of my first experiences with TMCC was when I brought up some Rite of Passage kids. The school was incredibly welcoming to them. I saw that TMCC was set up differently, that it was a different perspective on education. It seemed to be available to all, and it was encouraging that it was accessible to kids from groups like Rite of Passage. I saw them opening up doors and thought that was a good thing.

Who was your favorite instructor while attending TMCC?
The entire Theater Department was supportive, but the instructors who stood out to me were Carolyn Wray, Dan Bouweraerts and Brian Wells. They all shared a philosophy that if someone showed up to participate and wanted to put in the work, they would find a place for them. Everyone was welcome, and the performances were at a very high level. Each of these instructors build your confidence through creating almost an apprenticeship type experience.

How did your time at TMCC shape your academic and career goals?
My experience at TMCC really helped to put me on the trajectory towards a career in storytelling. I appreciated the collaborative nature of the department and carried that with me through my higher education studies and into my career and research. As a teacher at UNR, I work to create a collaborative dynamic in my classroom that challenges students to see issues from other peoples' perspectives.

What accomplishment are you most proud of?
Usually I will say I am most proud of my most recent project, because it’s at the forefront of my mind. I enjoy using humor to explore subject material that is sometimes considered controversial or off-limits. My current project, "Black Warrior of Pyramid Lake",  is a Quentin Tarantino-style feature film script that incorporates dark humor to explore violence on Native American reservations. Most recently, I wrote, directed and produced Soldier, a short film about the sibling relationship between two Lakota sisters and their fight to survive after the Wounded Knee Massacre. Soldier breaks down the stereotypes of the typical Native American film. We screened the film at the Reynolds School over three nights to standing ovations and strong emotional reactions, with audience members moved to tears and having to excuse themselves. Right now, we are submitting Soldier to short film festivals nationwide and hoping to be considered for an Academy Award®.

We invite you to learn more about TMCC alumnus Myrton Running Wolf and his latest projects.

Christina Satterwhite Photo

Christina Satterwhite, PhD: Director of Laboratory Sciences, Charles River Laboratories

by Lisa Farmer

Christina Satterwhite, wife, mother of four, and high-level director at an international corporation is "that" person. Tina, as she is known by her friends, is a strong, independent, and determined woman who started her educational career with Truckee Meadows Community College and finished with a PhD from the University of Nevada, Reno School of Medicine. It was a long and sometimes arduous journey, requiring her to work full time while attending night courses, initially, that has ended with her being one of the most knowledgeable and sought after professionals in her field. She’s "the one" people refer to when talking about hard work and perseverance paying off in the long run; she not only climbed the ladder, but tackled it head on.

Christina attended Truckee Meadows Community College in the fall of 1992 after graduating from Reed High School. She transferred to the University of Nevada, Reno where she graduated in 1997 with a Bachelor's of Science Degree in Biology. She went on to study Cellular and Molecular Pharmacology and Physiology at the University’s School of Medicine, receiving her doctorate in 2002.

That same year, Dr. Satterwhite began her career with her present employer, Charles River Laboratories, as an associate research scientist where her area of expertise was in the study of ion channels and their role in cardiovascular disease. During her tenure, Christina’s work at Charles River has allowed her to work with multiple types of compounds such as monoclonal antibodies, bispecific antibodies, antibody drug conjugates, enzymes, peptides, and oligonucleotides. She has direct experience in general toxicology and immunotoxicology studies as well as direct oversight of study design and assay development/validation. Christina has been working on biosimilar and biosuperior biotherapies for the last ten years in her areas of expertise and is the co-chair of the American Association of Pharmaceutical Scientists (AAPS) Biosimilar Focus Group sub-committee on non-clinical and clinical assays.

Don’t let all the scientific terms and jargon lead you astray. Tina is fun-loving and extremely down to earth. She loves golfing, camping, and spending time with her family (which includes a teenager and a set of triplets!) and friends. She’s an avid sports fan who loves the San Francisco 49ers and Giants. She has an adventurous spirit and is not afraid to try new things. We met up with her over sushi recently to ask her about the time she spent at TMCC.

What influenced your decision to start your post-high school education at TMCC?

It was mainly due to financial ability. I couldn’t afford to go to UNR. I was attracted to the smaller class size as well. Coming from high school, it was a good transition, especially with assistance from college staff in the Counseling and Advisement Office. Everyone was so helpful, and I felt like they were truly interested in helping me to succeed and move on to the next step. They kept me on track. One of my favorite things about TMCC was the interactive relationships between students and instructors and the variety in the types of students. Students were so different, many of them were returning students that had varied life experiences and I enjoyed learning about and from them.

Knowing that finances affected your choice in colleges, did you take advantage of financial aid?

I did, and am thankful for the assistance I received from the College. The TMCC Financial Aid Office was extremely helpful and the process was so easy. The best part was once scholarships and grants were awarded, the students were celebrated at a dinner. It was a big deal to get an award. I remember being invited to attend the dinner and sit at the table with Dixie May, the namesake of a scholarship I was given. I was unable to attend, but can still remember writing the thank you note to Mrs. May expressing how grateful I was for the opportunity and telling her how appreciative I was for someone to believe in me enough to invest in my education.

Who was your favorite instructor while attending TMCC?

I had a part-time Physics professor who took a very difficult subject and made it fun. He had a day job and was able to show us how what we were learning in class related to situations in the workplace, or he would turn it into an amusing scenario that everyone could understand. I also really enjoyed taking Political Science with Fred Lokken.

How did what you learned at TMCC help you as you continued your education at the University and later Med School?

TMCC gave me a basic foundation that allowed me to succeed at a university level. The people at TMCC were great at tailoring classes and programs to student needs. I remember there was a "bootcamp" that helped you to understand what was expected as a college student, and informed you about what types of resources were available. It was really helpful, especially since I was utilizing financial aid.

What was the hardest part about going to school?

Balancing work and school, that was always the hardest part. I worked full time the whole time I was going to school, starting out in retail, then spending some time working in a law firm, and eventually at St. Mary’s. I was so grateful that my employers worked with me and allowed some flexibility in my schedule. Having to work also taught me why I needed an education. I luckily benefited from scholarships and grants before having to turn to student loans; but it was still a struggle to make enough money to keep in school.

Tell me about a project or accomplishment that you consider to be the most significant in your career thus far?

I’ve worked on the pre-clinical development of multiple drugs for various autoimmune diseases, including cancer and osteoporosis that are now on the market. It’s exciting to see them go through the pre-clinical development process and get approved and marketed to the point where they are actually helping people.

What do the next five years look like for Tina Satterwhite?

I see the potential for me to advance into more global operations. Continued focus on immuno-therapies for the treatment of cancer; I would like to see some of the new biological drugs become first line. There are so many of this type of drug in development that once introduced, they would replace drugs that are now used first to treat patients, drugs that have been around since the 1960s.

Any parting words for our Alumni Association members?

Going to TMCC allowed me to be able to get an education at an affordable cost. It was a good introduction into college life and what was possible through education. There are great educators at TMCC who keep students interested, most of whom work or have worked in fields that are relevant to the course subject. The affordability, financial aid opportunities, good instructors, and counseling/advisement kept me in school. I tried to take as many classes as possible at TMCC before having to transfer to UNR.

I know some people would be shocked to know that I started at a community college; but to be honest, I can’t remember the last time someone asked me where I went to school. It doesn’t matter what school you start at or graduate from as long as you work hard and are dedicated, you can accomplish anything within your career.

Jim Smith Photo

Jim Smith: Journeyman, HVAC/R Service Technician

by Lisa Farmer

As I got myself organized to conduct this interview, I took a quick glance at Jim and thought his seriousness might indicate a more somber Alumni Highlight.

Once we sat down and started talking about his experiences at TMCC, I saw his sparkle and spirit and knew this was going to be one of those times when I leave an interview smiling ear to ear because the message is so inspirational and genuine.

Jim came to TMCC in 2001, looking to change his life. He was in a job that had become just that: "a job". It wasn’t a career for him. He wasn’t finding it rewarding, and he felt like each day ran into the next. Frankly, he was bored in a field that requires employees to be on their guard at all times.

Jim came to a decision that he wanted something different, so he enrolled in night courses in TMCC's Construction Technologies.

After taking some refresher courses and working his way through all the required credits, Jim graduated in 2003 with a Certificate of Achievement in Heating, Ventilation, Air Conditioning/Refrigeration (HVAC/R).

That jumpstart in a new direction was all Jim needed to live what he felt was a more fulfilling life.

Now, he honestly enjoys his work; you can see it with the pride he shows all over his face when talking about his new profession. Having something tangible, something he can actually see as a result of his hands makes him happy and makes him feel accomplished.

From the grandmother who needs her heater fixed in the middle of winter, to the receptionists in a huge commercial building complaining about the rising heat in their office, he helps them. He helps them all, and I have a feeling, even though it might be hidden just a little bit, he’s smiling as he hops in his truck and drives away.

What brought you to Truckee Meadows Community College?

I had been working as a Correctional Officer for the Nevada Department of Corrections and on contract for private federal security for a number of years, and decided I needed something different. I was already in my 40s, so going back to school was a huge change in my life. After I talked it over with my wife, I found a part time job and started classes at TMCC full time.

Why the sudden career change?

After working so long doing the same thing, I needed a change. My job got to be routine. Driving to the same places, doing the same paperwork, same payroll, etc., I wasn’t satisfied.

What interested you in Construction Technologies?

I liked working with my hands. Every day is different, whether it’s helping an elderly lady to get her heat back on, or standing on a roof performing maintenance on units in a strip mall. Every day is a different view. And the work is year round, heating during the winter, cooling during the summer. There’s always a need for people to be able to repair or install this type of equipment. And the pay is great. Although after I graduated, I did have a “what did I do” minute. I was standing on a roof and walked literally three feet to access a unit that needed repair, it was raining hard. It was a downpour and in those few steps I was soaked. That’s when I realized once you’re on the job, it’s a lot different than being in the classroom. Learning about how to do a repair in a climate controlled classroom was way different than being on a gusty rooftop in a pretty good rainstorm. But this is the trade off, it definitely wasn’t routine!

Starting your college education after having an established career must have been difficult. Did you encounter any hardships?

Starting over wasn’t easy. All that stuff I learned as a kid was put on a shelf and not used that much. I had to take the math proficiency tests and realized I had forgotten a lot of what I learned in high school. I needed to take some lower level math courses just to get up to speed in order to take my math requirements. I also had to learn how to be disciplined and keep on top of everything. When you’re fresh out of high school, missing something or not doing your homework right away was not a big deal, because you would make it up. Now I was working part time, balancing a home life, and basically starting over. I gave my classes my full attention and needed to make sure my homework was done. I felt like I took my courses more seriously than some of the younger students.

It’s so easy to get distracted or discouraged, what kept you on track?

The desire to change how I was earning a living kept me motivated. And my wife. She kept me going. We had made some big changes for me to go back to college. I promised her that for all the sacrifice and support I would buy her the car she had dreamed about, after I finished at TMCC and had become a journeyman. (Jim smiles, a big wide smile) And I did, do you know that? I bought her a BMW two-seater, the car she always wanted.

How long did it take you to find a position in your area of study after you graduated?

Not long, I was hired on with Sierra Air pretty soon. It was actually a little scary. I rode around with a co-worker for a little over a week, then they handed me the keys to a van and I was out on my own. I was really nervous, but I had the training and knew what needed to be done. Soon I realized, “I know how to do this” and stopped second guessing myself. After Sierra Air, I was hired by RHP and have been with them for almost seven years. Recently my wife was transferred to Las Vegas so we will be moving. I have already found a job. That’s the good thing about this occupation there’s always a need for the trades. As one of my instructors used to say, “You can jump out of an airplane, pull your parachute, and as long as you land in a civilized part of the world, you can find a job.”

Did the fluctuation in the economy affect you?

I was lucky, even with a reduction in hours I was able to still make enough money. Once everything hit and the housing market dropped, it took a little while for property owners to stop requesting maintenance on buildings or units that were not occupied. Same with residential customers, people who we had visited for years and years stopped their maintenance contracts. That really hurt our business. Being in the trades, you get used to and plan for slow times of the year. For me, there’s generally three months a year that I can expect to not be working 40-50 hour weeks. But no one could plan for that type of slow down. RHP went from having approximately 380 employees to about 100 employees. I certainly wasn’t working as many hours, but managed to survive and still made a decent amount of money.

Who was your favorite instructor while attending TMCC?

(Without hesitation) Wes Evans. He’s the one that told us we could always find work, no matter where you are. I always knew that I could call him at any time, whether it was when I was a student or even after I graduated. He’s still my fallback person, twelve years later. If I have a question or something has me stumped, I know I can still call him. I even stop by Edison just to visit every once in awhile.

What is your best memory at TMCC?

Winning a silver medal at a VICA (SkillsUSA) competition. There were a lot of people participating from all over and we had to show what we had learned by doing all kinds hands on demonstrations. I remember I had to solder something, identify different types of refrigerant, and some other tasks. I was proud of achieving second place. I had been working really hard and I was happy to show what I had learned.

What would you say to others that may be considering entering the HVAC/R field?

It is an excellent career choice. There are always positions open, you can get a job anywhere. It is an awesome trade. The pay is phenomenal and there are so many opportunities. I think it’s exciting and fun, it changes every day. Plus, there is no better feeling than looking at what you have done and knowing that your work is appreciated. We help people every day with services that are essential to them. There is also a comradery between the people I work with and others in this field. RHP is a great company that values its employees and treats them really well. Unlike my previous career, I feel like people are there and want to help you, push you forward. I joined the United Association Local 350 Pipefitters Union (Plumbers, Pipefitters, HVAC) a group of professionals in my field that are always helpful. No one knows it all, and the people I work with are willing to take time to listen to questions and assist others. And stick with it. Put your head down and just do it. In the whole scheme of things, the time spent attending classes is short and can be so beneficial.

Any parting words for our Alumni Association?

Going to TMCC turned my life around. I did the hard work and studying, but TMCC was the car I drove to get there. TMCC helped me change my career successfully, mid-life. I appreciated that it was affordable and offered courses that I couldn’t have taken anywhere else. There is always going to be a need for people to work in the trades. They are extremely important. People are often ashamed to say they work in the trades and/or look into a career in these areas, but it pays well, very well and I am valued for my work. I am proud to say I help people. Sitting in an office, doing the same thing, looking at the same view was not for me. Now I have a job that is exciting, fun and changes every day. It may be sitting out in 100 degree weather or shoveling through a foot of snow at times, but the views are fantastic.

Jeremy Warren Photo

Jeremy Warren: Hoptologist, Founder of Knee Deep Brewing Co.

by Lisa Farmer

Jeremy Warren is a self-described hoptologist, a brewmaster busy running his business and studying beer, continually on the road as his brand and reputation grow into new areas. In his spare time, Jeremy likes to hike and ride his mountain bike. He’s a simple, laid back businessman making a living brewing beer since 2006. Jeremy attended Truckee Meadows Community College from 2001 to 2004. He transferred to the University of Nevada, Reno where he graduated in 2008 with a Bachelor’s in Communications and a minor in Business.

During his last semester at the University of Nevada, Reno, Jeremy’s home brewing hobby was starting to grow legs. He found himself spending class time writing down new beer recipes. After college, Jeremy was working an entry-level office job and was bored out of his mind. By this time he was starting to perfect his home brewing operation and asked the company general manager if he could start "Beer Fridays". Jeremy would bring in his best brews for employees to enjoy Fridays at 3 p.m., a great way to kick off the weekend.

Unfortunately for Jeremy, the company downsized and he was laid off not long after starting this Friday tradition. While preparing for his departure, a company regional vice president suggested to Jeremy that he follow his passion: beer.

And that’s just what he did.

He started a small operation out of his garage in Reno and graduated to "contract brewing" his beers at Mt. Tallac Brewing in South Lake Tahoe by June of 2010. Jeremy continued living as what he referred to as a "gypsy life", basically sub-letting from larger breweries until early 2011. Jeremy’s beer was growing in popularity, and in order to expand he needed to be able to better control the production and find a facility. That’s when Jeremy and his new partner, Jerry Moore (officially referred to as CEO and janitor, according to the Knee Deep Brewing Company website), reached an agreement with a defunct brewery in Lincoln, CA. In May 2011, they brewed their first batch of beer in Lincoln and eventually phased out their contract with another California brewery.

Within two and half years, the success of Knee Deep Brewing Co. had grown significantly, requiring Jeremy to find a new home for his operations. That’s when they made the move to a 18,000 sq. ft. facility in Auburn, home of their current operations, which now employs 22 people. Knee Deep runs seven days a week; their beer is available for purchase throughout California and can also be found in Arizona. Growing in popularity is their "Loading Dock Friday Growler Sales" where Knee Deep fans can purchase a growler of the freshest possible beer directly from the brewery, literally on the loading dock.

During his short time as a commercial brewer, Jeremy has produced over 40 different beers and Knee Deep has received several awards, including a gold medal for their Hoptologist DIPA at the Bistro 14th Annual DIPA Festival.

We were lucky enough to catch up with this busy entrepreneur for a brief, but very candid interview while he was on the road.

Tell me about your experience at TMCC.

TMCC broadened my horizons, increased my knowledge base.

How did TMCC help you develop your business?

I learned organization skills and a new set of social skills. I was able to develop fundamental understandings of subjects like math, which is very important in day-to-day operations.

What was the most valuable lesson learned at TMCC?

I was held accountable. In high school you have your parents and teachers pushing you along, helping you, but in college I had the freedom to make my own choices. My grades reflected my actions. The first semester was the hardest. Luckily I had great professors who helped me. There was a lot of communication, professors were really engaged.

What was your favorite thing about attending TMCC?

I was a student worker at the Starting Point, working with Echo Marshall (Lynch). I was helping students figure things out, letting them know about all the different options available. Plus, I met a lot of new people. Professors were also one of my favorite things at TMCC. They had field experience that really related to the subject matter. Professors had working knowledge and they seemed to have real interest in their students.

What advice would you share with current TMCC students?

Stay as long as you can before you need to transfer. I was in a hurry to get to the University. TMCC offers excellent academic instruction, it’s cheaper, and in my experience professors cared more about students.

What is in the works for your business in the future?

We are looking at plans for two years from now. Our business is growing, we are having to think about the next phase. Expanding operations will take two to three years and we’re already at maximum capacity. In the next twelve months, we’ll decide whether we grow our business in a new location. There is some space close to our current facility in Auburn that has potential to house expanded operations.

Any parting words for our Alumni Association members?

Attending TMCC was a huge game changer. It’s when I developed who I am. When I was a student I was living in a motel room, working as a bouncer at night and at TMCC during the day. When people say they have it hard, I let them know I did it. It was a struggle, but I stuck with it.