March Good News

K. Patricia Bouweraerts
Shelby Brown Image

Shelby Brown, TMCC alumna, and strategic communications major at the University of Nevada, Reno. She will graduate with a Bachelor of Arts in Journalism degree at UNR, summer 2016.

Shelby Brown, TMCC Alumna, and Strategic Communications Major at UNR

Shelby Brown started at the University of Nevada, Reno in 2011, but was unsure of which major to pursue.

She began taking classes at Truckee Meadows Community College in 2012, and at the same time, explored introductory courses in several majors at UNR. Brown completed her Associate of Arts degree at TMCC and therefore fulfilled the general education requirements for a bachelor’s in Nevada.

“I took online general education classes at TMCC,” she said. “It gave me the opportunity to explore more at UNR. During the introductory class for journalism and strategic communications, I fell in love with ‘strat-com.’”

Brown will be graduating in summer with her Bachelor of Arts in Journalism degree at UNR.

“I’ve worked during my entire college studies, so the online classes helped give me the flexibility to schedule my studies and be able to work,” Brown said.

She is Assistant Manager at Great Full Gardens’ UNR location, and its social media director.

“It’s a great company to work for — they treat their employees really well,” she said. “School is the priority and being able to support myself. A big piece of getting through to this point was being able to take the general education classes online, and for less money. I’ll graduate almost debt free.”

Brown is a fan of community college and said it’s a great resource for potential students.

“I feel people have this perception that community college is something less, but really it’s helped me in so many ways, including financially. You get the same experiences. I’ve learned from professors who have taught at both schools.”

She credits her sister with guiding her academic plan.

“My sister Natalie Brown has been an inspiration,” she said. “I wouldn’t have gotten my degree without her. She helped me find my passion in life. She also helped me choose courses I’d enjoy.”

Darren McKay and Rick Sorensen, WDCE Specialists and Extraordinary Volunteers

Darren McKay, Youth Program Specialist for Workforce Development and Community Education (WDCE) volunteers not only in Nevada, but also for causes abroad. He has been contributing to local and international organizations for more than 10 years.

“I started Namaste Preschool located just outside of Kathmandu, Nepal,” he said. “Here in the U.S., I’m involved with fundraising to keep the preschool operating. Locally I have volunteered with the Food Bank of Northern Nevada, Habitat for Humanity, and Community Chest.”

McKay’s volunteering started with an organization called Volunteers for Peace. He worked on rebuilding a farm house in Dresden, Germany that was bombed in WWII.

“Following that, I was fortunate enough to take students on international volunteering trips in Costa Rica, Ecuador, Mexico, and Peru,” he said. “Even though volunteering is an act of compassion to others, I find that the volunteers themselves often reap the greatest reward for their service. In helping others, we also help ourselves.”

Rick Sorensen, Program Specialist for WDCE has volunteered in correctional centers for more than 10 years.

“The Alternatives to Violence Project (AVP) conducts three-day workshops in Nevada prisons,” he said. “Workshops are held at the Lovelock Correctional Center, which consists of two separate prisons, and the Warm Springs Correctional Center. AVP is international in scope.”

Sorensen said his inspiration is in knowing what a big difference the AVP program can make.

“I've learned that most incarcerated men were taught by their families and friends that the correct, and only, way to handle conflict is violently,” he said. “One inmate said his father would punish him by beating him up and chaining him to a tree. The AVP experience affirms for me how desperately these inmates want to change their lives.”

Traci Morrison, TMCC Alumna, Successful Welding Specialist

Traci Morrison, a 2015 graduate of the Accelerated Welding Program at TMCC is now a successful practicing welder. Working for a company in Northern Nevada, she builds unbonded support braces for high-rise buildings; earthquake support braces.

“Structured fabrication is a way of putting it – building buildings,” she said.

Morrison took the accelerated welding program from May-August 2015. The curriculum included courses in OSHA Safety and certification preparation classes. OSHA is the acronym for Occupational Safety and Health Administration, a federal government agency.

“It was a pretty intense program,” she said. “We were there from 3-10 p.m. every Monday through Thursday. And we’d have homework in math and learning the welding symbols. I got a job three weeks before school was out. I love it. It’s definitely fun, and I learn something new each day.”

Morrison continues to take more welding classes at TMCC.

“Now I’m taking TIG (Tungsten Inert Gas) welding,” she said. “It can have an application in the aerospace industry, for aircraft, and for production of parts in general that involve thin pieces of metal in mass production.”

She said that welding is her passion.

“I loved the welding program – we became a family,” she said. “We spent all the class time together, we supported each other and helped each other. We’re all still friends today.”

Morrison recommends the welding program, either accelerated or regular pacing.

“The instructors really know what they’re doing—very knowledgeable—an encyclopedia of information,” she said. “They’ve been in the industry for so long. They help you. This program has benefited me so much in my career and I couldn’t be more thankful. Doing the program was one of the best decisions I could have ever made.”

She couldn’t have made it through without the help of scholarships.

“Without the benefit of Pell Grants and scholarships, I couldn’t have gotten through it financially,” she said. “Knowing somebody was willing to help meant a lot. Everything was really expensive; the hood, the tools and the supplies – the costs add up.”

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