CSN celebrates completers of Prison Education Program

More than 50 inmates celebrated their academic and workforce training achievements earlier this week, thanks to the state’s Prison Education Program.

The College of Southern Nevada provides the education portion of the program, which aims to help inmates transition back to society. The students are able to earn academic credit and workforce training as they finish their sentences. First funded by the Nevada Legislature in 2017, the program also works with Nevada System of Higher Education, the Nevada Department of Corrections and Hope for Prisoners.

In 2019, lawmakers decided to expand the program across the state. CSN will assist Western Nevada College and Truckee Meadows Community College in setting up programs with the new funding.

“We’re here because we want to make a difference,” CSN President Federico Zaragoza told completers of the program at Florence McClure Women’s Correctional Center during an emotional ceremony.

With six academic credits and 100 hours of workforce training under their belts, the women are well-suited to continue their pursuits at CSN or in the workforce, Zaragoza said. He said he looks forward to shaking their hands again in the fall, this time on campus.

Nevada Governor Steve Sisolak was honored to attend the ceremony, he said. The invitation went to the top of his list when it came across his desk.

“This is the beginning, this is the start,” he said. “You can do a lot more. It’s all up to you.”

For Nevada System of Higher Education Chancellor Thom Reilly, the ceremony showcased what education can do.

“You’re changing the narrative about your life right now,” he said. “Use this education to make better decision when you’re out there.”

Addressing her fellow completers, Autumn Murry, the chosen student speaker and an accomplished artist, praised the students for refusing to give up when classes got tough and for leaning on each other for support.

“There has been individual transformation in each and every one of my classmates,” she said. “This really shouldn’t be called a completion ceremony because we haven’t finished anything. We have just begun to transform our lives.”

To start that transformation, CSN Associate Vice President of Academic Affairs James McCoy said, the students will soon turn in their Nevada Department of Corrections inmate number for a NSHE student ID number.

“You are among the best and brightest of this valley’s college students and your home at CSN is waiting for you with your name on it,” he said.

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CSN students win five Emmy Awards

Students from the College of Southern Nevada’s Videography & Film Program won five Student Production Emmy Awards from the Pacific Southwest National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences earlier this month.

Student wins included:

  • Randy Sly’s film “Swipe” in the Student Programming – Long Form category
  • Raul Saldivar and Leonel Saucedo’s project “Aria Food Commercial” in the Student Programming – Commercial and Student Craft – Photographer categories and
  • Justin Steele’s short film “The Call” in the Student Craft – Editor and Student Craft -Director categories

The longest of the films, at 20 minutes, Sly’s “Swipe” was created in CSN’s most advanced portfolio class. The film is an online dating romantic comedy, taking its name from the swiping feature used on many online dating websites.

Randy Sly, center, with Margo Martin and John Aliano

The story follows Chris, who is in love with his neighbor down the hall, Carly. The lead actor and actress are a couple in real life.

Saldivar and Saucedo’s project was inspired by underwater photos and videos, according to the students. Saldivar is continuing his studies at CSN, but Saucedo has already graduated and is using connections made at CSN to work in the film business.

“The best part about CSN’s program is that you get hands-on experience,” Saucedo said.

“You do your own films. You work with other students. You work as a team, you become friends with other students. You meet people and then you get jobs. My first job was from this student from CSN, she called me about a TV series and asked ‘Do you want to join?’ I knew her because I had helped her on a student film.”

Steele’s film “The Call,” was a project created in CSN’s Video 1 class. Steele wouldn’t have thought to enter the film into the contest if it weren’t for the urging from John Aliano, the program director and instructor.

The emotional film follows a professional athlete, who starts his morning listening to a voicemail, before going about his day. The film eventually reveals the voicemail was an old voicemail from the athlete’s father, who had passed away.

Steele drew his inspiration from a personal friend of his, Nick Hecht, who did lose his father, Steven. While the beginning voicemail in the film is a voiceover actor, Steele was able to incorporate a real voicemail Steven left Nick at the end of the film.

When a clip of Steele’s film was shown at the awards ceremony, that’s the part that was highlighted.

“When you win, they play clips of the pieces to give people an idea, that’s one of the clips they chose to use. That was pretty cool,” he said.

For more on the videography and film program at CSN, visit: https://www.csn.edu/programs/videography-film

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CSN students train on life-saving technology

Vital medical information can often be hidden under the surface, so CSN paramedic medicine students are getting a peek under the skin with the use of new life-saving portable ultrasound devices.

The students are the first in the state to receive training on the devices, due to a partnership with Valley Health Systems Graduate Medical Education program and a grant from the Governor’s Office of Economic Development.

The machines can help diagnose life-threatening conditions on the spot, giving medics the critical information they need. In addition, the machines are equipped with technology that allows them to send the diagnostic information directly to emergency room personnel so they are better prepared when injured patients arrive.

“This training will make CSN graduates better paramedics,” said Braiden Green, director of CSN’s Emergency Medical Services Program. “Providing both paramedics and emergency room doctors with the vital information they need to care for patients immediately will save time, money and lives.”

The students are practicing on each other, to see what a healthy patient looks like, and are also using computer software to help diagnose sick patients.

For more on CSN’s paramedic medicine program, visit: https://www.csn.edu/programs/paramedic

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CSN Promise Scholars get jumpstart on college life

Almost 200 incoming College of Southern Nevada students are getting a jumpstart on English and math courses, while making valuable community connections.

The Nevada Promise Summer Academy is the first of its kind for CSN, and is allowing students who have completed all the requirements to earn the Promise Scholarship a chance to explore CSN before fall classes begin.

Signed into law after the 2017 Legislative Session, the Promise Scholarship is a last-dollar scholarship program, covering tuition and fees for students attending community college after all other financial aid has been applied. In 2019, Nevada lawmakers added an additional $4.5 million in funding for the program over the biennium.

During the six-week summer program, students are learning leadership skills from Promise staff and peer mentors/facilitators, hearing the educational journeys of influential members of the community and earning five credits by completing personalized math and English courses.

Community partners, like the MGM Foundation, Nevada Energy and Nevada State Bank, have provided support to the summer program and students are getting a chance to ask questions of successful community members including Cirque du Soleil performers, leaders in the Nevada System of Higher Education and members of various CSN Academic Departments.

Including CSN’s administrative staff, the summer program is led by peer mentors and facilitators, some of whom are Promise recipients themselves. The peer leaders are crucial to creating a welcoming environment for the new students and are forging lasting connections through the program.

Zackery Gould, incoming CSN student and Promise Applicant

Zackery Gould wanted college to be affordable, but he knew his test scores likely would be competitive enough to earn him merit scholarships. So, when a teacher at Southwest Career and Technical Academy told the 17-year-old about the Promise Scholarship, he was eager to apply.

“Some people have good test scores, and I didn’t have great test scores, so I knew this would be beneficial,” he said.

Since he was a child, Gould has dreamed of working as a police officer. He plans to pursue a criminal justice degree at CSN and one day he hopes to work for the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department.

Gould thought the Promise Summer Academy would be a good way to stay busy during the summer, but he’s said he’s already learned more than he anticipated.

Many of the activities in the program encourage students to share their experiences and learn from others. During an exercise called “Cross the Line,” a moderator announces a life situation and students step forward across an imaginary line if the statement applies to them.

For Gould, that was eye-opening. After the activity ended, Gould said he would be more than willing to sit and talk with any fellow participants who may be feeling uneasy or upset.

“There were some pretty deep questions during the activity, so I just said I would be there for anyone who needed it,” he said. “I may not have ever been in their shoes but maybe I can help them.”

Arica Cobham, incoming CSN student and Promise Applicant

With no money set aside to attend college, the Promise Scholarship was Arica Cobham’s only chance, she said. Administrators at Durango High School encouraged and helped students complete the requirements and 17-year-old Cobham jumped at the chance.

“I had no money to go to college, I knew this would help with the finances,” she said.

Cobham said she had no backup plan for affording college, but was considering military service before she found out about the Promise Scholarship.

Cobham plans to study English literature at CSN and signed up for the summer program to improve her math scores before starting in the fall.

“I’ve already seen an improvement, this program has been amazing,” she said. “If I would have just started college without this program, I wouldn’t have had the same chance of succeeding that I do now, it would have been a much harder transition.”

Oscar Flores-Encarnacion, Promise Scholar and Promise peer mentor/facilitator

As both a peer mentor and a Promise Scholarship recipient, Oscar Flores-Encarnacion knows exactly what the latest batch of Promise students have put themselves through to get to CSN. A graduate of Eldorado High School, 19-year-old Flores-Encarnacion is working toward an associate of science degree at CSN with an end goal to earn an engineering degree from UNLV, and the Promise Scholarship has been a game changer for him.

During his second semester at CSN, Flores-Encarnacion was enrolled in what he called a really tough math class. There were nights when he was stressed and wanted to quit. But his Promise Scholarship community mentor, Terri Clark, was there for him.

“She has this quote,” he said of Clark, a retired former Vice President of Human Resources for SYSCO.“It’s ‘Just Focus and Do It.’ I talked to her about my math class and she repeated that quote to me. It really helped.”

Flores-Encarnacion got involved with peer mentoring in the Promise Scholarship program because of the experiences he had with Clark. Flores-Encarnacion hopes he can be that person for some of the new students, and since he’s a student himself, he feels he can more closely relate to the struggles students will face at CSN.

The experience of working as a peer mentor will likely also help Flores-Encarnacion as he moves into his planned career in engineering, he said. Because of this program, Flores-Encarnacion feels he is comfortable talking to large groups of people, connecting one-on-one and leading large groups.

Veronica Calles, CSN student and Promise peer mentor/facilitator

When Veronica Calles went straight to a four-year university after graduating Canyon Springs High School, she thought she was ready for the challenge. But during her first semester, she got very ill and needed surgery. She was missing class and wasn’t able to find resources available to her. She ultimately failed a course, and left the university for the workforce.

Three years later, she came back. She’s now 24, studying for a philosophy degree at CSN, and working part time as a peer mentor/facilitator in the Promise Scholarship program. She hopes to be the support network for students, so they won’t have to experience the same loneliness she says she felt.

“Being a mentor and facilitator allows me not only to be a role model, but to be that helping hand, to be that support team that students need,” she said.

Calles would ultimately like to be a judge in Las Vegas, and she hopes the experience she gets working in the Promise Scholarship Program helps her. As a peer mentor, she is learning how to connect with students from all walks of life and how to sympathize with their situations.

David Vidales, CSN student and Promise peer mentor/facilitator  

Earlier this year, David Vidales was wasting time with another peer mentor before a Promise program began. He put a challenging calculus program up on the whiteboard in the classroom and he and the other peer mentor were working on solving it together.

But shortly, Vidales and the other peer mentor were surrounded by the Promise students, who were all eager to discuss the particulars of the calculus problem.

“We ended up drawing a group around us and we didn’t even mean to. It gave us a much better connection to the incoming students,” he said. “I’ve had a lot of favorite moments during the group peer mentoring.”

A 22-year-old CSN student working on a physical sciences degree, Vidales said he wishes he had the opportunity at a program like this when he graduated from Las Vegas High School.

“I had zero idea what I was doing when I came to college, I didn’t know how serious I was supposed to take it,” he said.

The work at CSN has helped Vidales grow as a person, he said. He’s learned to be more open-minded and how to connect with students.

“I feel like I’ve grown quite a bit with my people skills, this is helping me grow my range with people,” he said.

Gustavo Rico, CSN student and peer mentor/facilitator

Gustavo Rico discovered the CSN Promise Scholarship Program by accident. As a physical sciences student, Rico spent a lot of time in the Paul Laxalt Education Center on the North Las Vegas Campus. It was there the 24-year-old he learned he could work as a peer mentor/ facilitator and help give back to other students.

“This whole program is very meaningful,” he said. “Even for me, the training to work in this program really tested me to learn more about myself.”

Rico graduated high school in California and moved to Las Vegas a few years ago to live with an older brother, where he enrolled at CSN. In high school, Rico said most of his mentors were his peers and that was very beneficial to him.

“Those lessons are sometimes more easily learned when coming from a peer,” he said. “Learning from older mentors is valuable too, it’s very valuable, but there’s a common language among peers.”

Carmen Ayala, UNLV student and Promise peer mentor/facilitator

Fresh out of high school at Canyon Springs, Carmen Ayala thought she had it all together. She went straight into a four-year university and planned to studying nursing. But the classes weren’t what she thought they’d be like, and she struggled.

She transferred to CSN, and continued in the nursing program, but there realized that wasn’t the career path she wanted to pursue. She finished a general studies degree at CSN and now the 26-year-old is studying psychology at UNLV.

Ayala said she hopes her work in the Promise peer mentor program can help other students navigate difficult life choices like the ones she was faced with.

As part of her work, Ayala helps with administrative tasks, like answering Promise applicant phone calls or emails. While sometimes it can feel dull, Ayala said it’s very satisfying to help the students.

“I feel like we’ve really changed their life in that moment,” she said.

After finishing at UNLV, Ayala said she hopes to get into family therapy and ultimately become a professor at the college level. Working the program is helping Ayala sharpen her people skills, helping her become a trusted person people can confide in.

“There’s a lot involved, especially with people’s emotions. I’m able to understand that and build that trust,” she said.

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College of Southern Nevada helps create ‘Work Ready Community’

The testing company ACT recently named Clark County as a Work Ready Community — an elite national recognition — and the College of Southern Nevada helped play an important role.

The designation is bestowed on counties with robust workforce development initiatives. These initiatives must link education and workforce, align to economic development and match people to job. CSN’s Division of Workforce and Economic Development partnered with Clark County in this endeavor.

More than 2,000 students and jobseekers have earned the ACT WorkKeys Nationals Career Readiness Certificate through DWED, led by Assessment Services coordinator Malik Williams. The certificate is an industry recognized credential that helps identify skill levels in workplace document, applied math and graphic literacy. Jobseekers can use their credential to prove their skills to potential employers.

Malik Williams

In addition to offering the credential, DWED has helped provide training and remediation for jobseekers who are looking to hone skills in certain areas.

DWED has worked collaboration with partner entities like Workforce Connections, the Las Vegas-Clark County Library District, the Governor’s Office of Workforce Innovation and the Nevada Department of Employment, Training and Rehabilitation.

Together the initiative has helped more than 7,000 individuals earn NCRC certifications and has recruited more than 600 employers to support and recognize the credential.

Future plans for the initiative include increasing the number of employers actively using the NCRC in Clark County, increasing the number of individual certificate-holders, and providing job profiling services to help employers link WorkKeys scores to specific job needs.

For information about the Division of Workforce and Economic development, visit www.csn.edu/workforce. For more information about ACT and the Clark County Work Ready Community initiative, visit www.workreadycommunities.org/NV/003

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CSN students to fingerspell at Commencement Ceremony

Four College of Southern Nevada students will flex their fingers and gain real-world experience on Monday as they fingerspell the names of each CSN graduate during the 47th annual Commencement Ceremony at the Thomas & Mack Center.

It’s the first time students in CSN’s deaf studies program have participated in the commencement ceremony. Certified interpreters are always on stage during the ceremony, but this year, the students will provide the interpreters a break during one of the most demanding portions of the ceremony.

Harley Hollis

“It’s a very tedious, time-consuming and difficult part of the ceremony,” said Caroline Bass, lead faculty for the program. “This partnership worked out beautifully for us. For many of our students, this is the first time they are doing anything like this.”

CSN was the first college in the state to provide a program for sign language interpreters back in 2002, offering an associate degree in deaf studies and an associate degree in interpreter preparation. This fall, CSN launched a bachelor’s degree in deaf studies with an emphasis in American Sign Language/English Interpreting to fit with changing national certification standards.

To obtain national interpreter certification, interpreters for the deaf are required to obtain a bachelor’s degree prior to qualifying for testing. There are fewer than 100 nationally certified interpreters in Nevada to serve more than 39,000 people with hearing disabilities. 

Participating in commencement was a volunteer opportunity 24-year-old Harley Hollis couldn’t pass up. Hollis, who has already completed an associate degree and is working on her bachelor’s degree, also works for CSN as an administrative assistant in the Disability Resource Center. She originally planned to study business at CSN.

“My second semester, I took an ASL class and I was hooked,” she said. “This has changed my life, I became so much more than I dreamed of. It just shaped my life.”

Hollis will be joined on stage by Docian Molden, Abigail Russo and Crystal Perry, taking turns to spell out each student’s name as he or she walks across the stage.

To learn more about CSN’s deaf studies program, visit: https://www.csn.edu/programs/deaf-studies

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CSN to Graduate Record Number of Students

A focus on student success has helped more than 25,000 students graduate in the last decade

2018 Commencement/ Ronda Churchill

The College of Southern Nevada expects to graduate its largest class ever at its 47th annual commencement ceremony May 20 at the Thomas & Mack Center.

A record 3,667 students are eligible to receive 3,721 degrees and certificates, according to preliminary data. Official numbers for spring 2019 will be available once grades are final. In the last decade, CSN has seen more than 25,000 students earn their degrees and certificates and go on to fuel the growth and diversification of the southern Nevada economy.

“We strive to put our students first to ensure that they get the best chance we can give them to receive a world-class education,” said CSN President Dr. Federico Zaragoza, who will preside over his first commencement ceremony this year as CSN’s president. “That effort is paying off, with record-sized graduating classes for 10 years in a row. I am very much looking forward to celebrating our students’ successes at this year’s commencement ceremony.”

More than 90 percent of CSN’s graduates remain in Nevada after graduation, electing to either continue their education or join the workforce and fuel the region’s economy.

The following is a look at just seven of the outstanding students set to graduate this year:

Narée Asherian

Narée Asherian was named a Regents’ Scholar by the Nevada System of Higher Education Board of Regents. As a CSN High School student, Asherian is scheduled to earn both a high school diploma and an Associate of Business degree from CSN. While at CSN High School, Asherian has balanced more than nine college credits per semester, as well as juggling her high school workload. She has maintained a 3.8 grade-point average and plans to transfer to UNLV and earn a bachelor’s degree in business. Asherian is an ambassador for Positively Arts, a nonprofit that uses arts to inspire, empower and heal. She helped created an anti-bullying program called Happy Notes Revolution, which encourages students to be positive on social media. 

Andrew Boswell

Andrew Boswell will be the first in his family to graduate from college. His dream to attend college had to temporarily be put on hold after finishing high school because of financial difficulties his family faced in affording higher education. Boswell is studying to be a teacher and has not let anything stand in his way. Boswell juggles his schoolwork, two jobs, volunteering at Opportunity Village and family obligations. Boswell was named the 2018-19 Outstanding Student for the CSN English Department.

Thomas Calvin

Thomas Calvin, a Jazz vocal major at CSN, has been selected as the 2019 Student Commencement Speaker. Calvin considers himself an old soul and has a passion for Jazz music. He is primarily a vocalist, but is no stranger to branching out musically. He has performed at numerous venues around town, large and small, including the Smith Center, Thriller Villa and local churches. Pulling inspiration from his birthplace of Chicago, Illinois, he is a determined student, maintaining a 3.9 GPA for consecutive semesters. He plans on continuing his education and receiving his bachelor’s degree in Vocal Performance.

Polly Flores

Polly Flores sold her cosmetology business to enroll as a student at CSN at age 34. She left behind the business she had run for five years because she believed she should be more passionate about what she chose as a career. Many questioned her move, but Flores said she knew deep down she was unhappy with her life and needed a change. CSN was the catalyst for her. Flores is graduating with her business administration degree and is moving on to UNLV.

Carlos Gomez

For most of his time at CSN, Carlos Gomez commuted 90 miles from Mesquite, Nevada. Last summer, he and his wife finally had enough. They bought a small-fixer up near the CSN campus. It didn’t take long to realize he hid bitten off a little more than he could chew. Carlos, a U.S. Army veteran, dropped his classes for the Fall 2018 semester so he could get his house in order. The temporary hiatus could have turned permanent without a push from his mother, who repeated a Spanish phrase to him, encouraging him to give it his all and finish his degree in architectural design technology. Carlos re-enrolled in the spring and was able to finish his degree this semester.

Monique Moreno

Looking to fulfill volunteer hours for high school credit, Monique Moreno joined her mom working in the CSN computer labs when she was 14. Twelve years later, she will earn two associate degrees and plans to complete a bachelor’s degree at CSN as well. She juggled finishing her degree with full-time work in the casino industry and as a network administrator at CSN. She helped formalize CSN’s Cybersecurity Club and serves as its president. The club helps cybersecurity and networking students find resources, scholarships and learn soft skills, like networking. Moreno’s mother, father and sister are all employed at CSN as well, working in the computer labs helping students. Moreno was named the 2018-19 Outstanding Student for the CSN Computing and Information Technology Department.

Michael Saladino

Michael Saladino first attended CSN at age 3 as a preschool student at the Early Childhood Education Lab on the North Las Vegas Campus. He came back to CSN as a teenager, enrolling in the CSN High School program, which allows students to complete college-level course while finish their high school diploma. By completing additional coursework and enrolling in classes during the summer, Saladino has finished an associate degree even before completing his high school diploma. Saladino believes people should not wait for their time, but rather they should make their time.

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CSN Students Receive 19 Emmy Award Nominations

Students from the College of Southern Nevada’s Videography & Film Program received 19 Student Production Emmy Award nominations from the Pacific Southwest National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences.

The 19 nominations were the most of any college chapter in the region and they add to a recent history of great success for CSN’s program, with 73 nominations and 33 Emmys in the last five years alone.

Award winners will be announced at a ceremony June 15 at the M Resort Spa Casino in Henderson. 

“Our students deserve this. They work extremely hard on their films and consistently produce some of the best student work in the country,” said John C. Aliano, director of CSN’s Videography and Film Program. “I am proud of every one of the nominees for what they’ve already accomplished.”

CSN students honored with the nominations are: 

Student Craft – Director

  • “Aria Food Commercial,” Raul Saldivar, Leonel Saucedo
  • “Lucis Mortis,” Jeremy Ayres
  • “Que Vida,” Violet Baldwin
  • “Reverie,” Alejandro Lopez
  • “Swipe,” Randy Sly
  • “The Call,” Justin Steele

Student Craft – Editor 

  • “Reverie,” Alejandro Lopez
  • “Que Vida,” Violet Baldwin
  • “Aria Food Commercial,” Raul Saldivar, Leonel Saucedo
  • “Lucis Mortis,” Jeremy Ayres
  • “The Call,” Justin Steele

Student Programming – Short Film

  • “Que Vida,” Violet Baldwin
  • “Aria Food Commercial,” Raul Saldivar, Leonel Saucedo

Student Programming – Long Form

  • Signing Off,” Eddie Felix
  • “Swipe,” Randy Sly

Student Craft – Writing

  • “Reverie,” Alejandro Lopez
  • “Swipe,” Randy Sly

Student Craft- Photographer

  • “The Call,” Justin Steele
  • “Aria Food Commercial,” Raul Saldivar, Leonel Saucedo
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CSN students dig deep into classwork at Springs Preserve

More than a dozen College of Southern Nevada students got the chance to help excavate some of Southern Nevada’s oldest history this semester, as part of a new cultural resource management certificate offered by the anthropology department.

Under the direction of Dr. Leilani Lucas, with help from a large swath of area archaeology partners, the students spent Friday mornings this semester assisting in the work and getting hands-on experience that will help them in their careers.

Cultural research management is the applied approach to archaeology, Lucas said. Wherever there is digging or construction, especially on government property, there is likely to be an archaeologist on site, potentially working for a cultural resource management firm.

The archeologist is tasked with making sure any cultural material is handled properly in compliance with national laws, which is why hands-on experience handling material is so valuable, Lucas said.

“In terms of field work for archeology, this the most important class that the students are going to take,” Lucas said. “It gives them the foundation, it also gives them the idea if this career is what they want to do. It’s quite difficult. The conditions are difficult. It’s very meticulous, very science-oriented, very outdoorsy.”

But the sweltering heat didn’t stop the group, who worked in long pants and shirts, shaded by wide-brimmed hats.

There’s no better place for the collaboration than at Springs Preserve, with 180 acres of rich Las Vegas history.

“We’re using multiple disciplines to figure out how people were living here at the Springs,” said archaeologist Nathan Harper.

With numerous projects at the Springs Preserve and only one full-time archeologist, the excavation project is getting new life with the help from this new partnership, which also includes UNLV and the Archaeo-Nevada Society.

Students who complete the cultural resource management certificate will be able to go directly into the workforce, Lucas said, working for cultural resource management firms, local government or state and national parks.

If they transfer to a four-year university, they will likely have had more hands-on experience than student who started at a four-year university, who typically wouldn’t start working in the field until their third year.

For more information about the program, visit csn.edu/programs/anthropology

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CSN hospitality student named Miss Jetset 2019

A $50,000 prize earned by a College of Southern Nevada culinary student will help get a catering business off the ground.

Enea Culverson

Enea Culverson, a 27-year-old Las Vegas resident, earned the prize money by competing in the Miss Jetset 2019 competition. The competition, run by the Luxury magazine Jetset, is both a pageant and a fundraiser for pediatric cancer. With the money, she plans to finance the rest of her schooling and launch a catering business, with the goal to help the Las Vegas homeless community in the end.

Culverson, in her second semester at CSN, has previously competed in pageants throughout Southern Nevada and was the top fundraiser for Miss Jetset. Culverson said she is very humble and typically would not have mentioned the award to her CSN professors.

“The only reason I told my professor is to be able to take my finals earlier,” she said.

Part of her reward is flying to Arizona on a private jet to shoot the cover of the magazine and the shoot schedule interfers with finals. Culverson has maintained a 4.0 so far at CSN and did not want this award to interfere with her education.

Culverson originally enrolled at CSN to study broadcast journalism, but moved to culinary after having an epiphany cooking at home.

“I realized I was happier when I was cooking,” she said.

The skills she will learn at CSN will help her open a catering business and ultimately, Culverson said, a brick-and-mortar restaurant. She hopes to use some of her skills to help the homeless community in Las Vegas, as well.

But first, Culverson will spend the next year serving as Miss Jetset 2019, which includes being a public face for the magazine at events and at different magazine fundraisers.

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