CSN HVAC students donate skills for ‘an amazing day’

A local nonprofit aimed at helping economically disadvantaged students took a big step forward Wednesday, with CSN students and staff helping install a brand-new walk-in cooler.

Project 150, which provides homeless, displaced and disadvantaged students with a variety of resources, purchased all the building materials for the 819-cubic-foot cooler. CSN students in the HVAC program are building and installing the cooler, under the direction of Applied Technologies Department Chair Dennis Soukup.

The new cooler will allow Project 150 to provide fresh produce for students and their families, in addition to the nonperishable food, hygiene products and clothing already provided. Project 150 partners with high schools in Southern Nevada and serves more than 6,000 students in need.

“We all need fresh produce in our lives. This is a huge step for us and we’re grateful to have this launch this fall,” said Senia Reybal, the programs manager for Project 150. “Today is an amazing day.”

The project had extra meaning for student Alex Zamora. As a senior at Western High School, Zamora began taking classes at CSN as a dual-enrolled student. But continuing college after high school would have been a big financial strain for Zamora.

Project 150 came in and provided Zamora with scholarship money so he could continue his studies.

“Project 150 helped me out so it’s my turn to give back,” Zamora said.

In addition to Zamora, four other students in similar situations were granted scholarships from Project 150 to finish their studies at CSN.


Zamora plans to complete his associate degree in the spring. He is already working in the HVAC field while he is still in school, but having a degree will help Zamora continue to advance his career.

To learn more about Project 150, including how to donate, visit www.project150.org

To learn more about CSN programs, including the HVAC program, visit www.csn.edu/apply.

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Scheduling Space in the New Student Unions

Colleagues,

With the new student unions now open, we wanted to take a moment to remind you of our procedures to reserve campus space for events and functions.

The student unions will follow the same booking process as the rest of our campus event spaces in 25Live. Please note, priority access to the student union space will be given to student-focused events. Campus Vice Presidents will have the final say on events in the unions.

For all events, it is recommended to book space with an hour’s worth of room on either side. If your event is from 5 to 7 p.m., consider booking space from 4 p.m. to 8 p.m. Booking earlier is not necessary for most events.

Also, please utilize the comment section to let us know what you need for the space. For example, if you are booking an event and would like food at the end of your event, use the comment space to let us know.

If you do plan on having food at your event, you must order through CSN’s exclusive on-campus food service provider, CulinArt Group. CulinArt has developed a comprehensive catering menu to align with the diverse and exciting events taking place on our campuses.

CulinArt offers options for breakfast, lunch, dinner, breaks and desserts, as well as receptions and custom orders.

Please note, CulinArt will need at least 48 hours’ notice to prepare your order. Purchases will be available via P Card only. To place an order, contact CulinArt directly or contact the CSN Events Management office.

You may select from an extensive predesigned menu or customize a catering menu specifically for your event.

  1. Visit CSN/CulinArt Group website at: culinartcsn.catertrax.com.
  2. A login is required to order catering, but you may review the full menu.
  3. To order, click Order Catering and select campus.
  4. Set event details (date, number of guests, location)
  5. Select menu options
    1. Categories are on left bottom column
    1. Download catering guide to print menus
  6. If you wish to customize or discuss, email cateringservices@csn.edu or call the Café

Contact:

Henderson Café: 702-651-3647

North Las Vegas Café: 702-651-2822

Charleston Café: 702-651-5234

Email: cateringservices@csn.edu

Website: culinartcsn.catertrax.com

Thank you,

CSN Events Management Office

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CSN students participate in SEA-PHAGES research

Michelle Moriarty saw the poster for the two-semester SEA-PHAGES course at CSN and was hoping for field trips to the ocean.

Unfortunately, that’s not what was in store for Moriarty and her fellow classmates, but it all turned out to be a happy accident.

“I’d like to consider this program one of my best mistakes,” Moriarty said during CSN’s Fall 2019 CSN Convocation Kickoff & State of the College program held at Texas Station. Instead, she got her first exposure to scientific research.

D’Andrew Harrington, Michelle Moriarty and Samantha Pochiro are some of the CSN students who have been getting hands-on research experience through a SEA-PHAGES course.

The project, which spelled out stands for Science Education Alliance Phage Hunters Advancing Genomic and Evolutionary Science, is a national research-based lab course specifically geared toward early-career science students, like those at CSN. Students participate in research in their institutions and are able to present at an annual symposium.

The two-semester course at CSN will start its second academic year this fall. Eight students participated in the inaugural year.  Instructor Earl Yoon said the enrollment is expected to climb each year.

“Teaching community college students about the scientific research process by allowing them to conduct real research and discover new things from nature is a fantastic way to put them on the path to success. Not only do the students learn a whole repertoire of new skills, they gain confidence in their ability to pursue higher education and see themselves as working professionals in any field,” Yoon said.

Along with Samantha Pochiro, D’Andrew Harrington, Moriarty described how the research they undertook in the SEA-PHAGES program will propel them in their future career endeavors. Although Moriarty loves biology and wants to pursue biology as a career, the class helped her learn that being in a lab every day may not be how she wants to spend her life.

“We all thought about what do we want to wake up and do,” she said. “That’s something this class really taught me and I don’t think another class would have. I’m really thankful I took this class.”

In the course, students study phages, which are ubiquitous viruses often found in soil, seawater and humans. Studying phages gives students the opportunity to approach scientific problems creatively and collaboratively and prepares them for more advanced research in the futre.

“They’re actually contributing to a greater body of knowledge that has some real-world application,” Yoon said.

Instructor Earl Yoon

In fact, research done by students like those are CSN were used to help treat a teenage girl with a drug-resistant infection in London in May. Hearing about that news really brought the importance of the work to light for student Samantha Pochiro.

“Maybe next time we hear about a phage therapy helping somebody, it’ll be from research done by CSN students,” she said.

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CSN, Urban Chamber of Commerce discuss small business partnerships

Promoting and supporting small businesses at CSN took center stage at this month’s Urban Chamber of Commerce Luncheon.

Led by CSN’s Executive Director of Workforce and Economic Development Ricardo Villalobos, CSN President Dr. Federico Zaragoza, Business Professor Kevin Raiford and Associate of Vice President of Purchasing Rolando Mosqueda discussed all the various ways CSN supports small businesses in the community, starting with CSN’s overall mission to help students graduate, complete, transfer and prosper.

“It’s very important we align our resources to grow these programs,” Zaragoza said. “We need to align our programs to current and emerging occupations. We’ve got to be in the place to add to our curriculum.”

He added: “What young people need, they need the curriculum, but many of them don’t have the role models, they don’t have the mentors. They need internships, hands-on experience. These are the kind of game changing actions that the Urban Chamber of Commerce can help infuse into the agenda.”

Part of how CSN helps engage the business community is supporting new and emerging business through Nevada GROW.

The program is customized for Southern Nevada existing businesses that have over $50,000 and less than $700,000 in sales. Participating businesses receive access to economic and demographic data and assistance from counselors to help grow their businesses.

In addition to teaching at CSN, Raiford is the lead counselor of the program. Often, he sees people doubt that they can run their own business because of their life circumstances.

“My job is to give data to people, but also to provide that kind of assurance that you can be successful,” he said. “My role is to help people get into the right room. My job is to help you get into that room.”

CSN student Renee Emerton sang the national anthem

And CSN also supports the local businesses through the procurement process, Mosqueda said. CSN is doing well right now in purchasing from local businesses, but Mosqueda’s staff wants to continue to innovate and to do more.

“There’s more opportunity for the business owners in this room and others in the community to participate in the procurement process and the supply chain process at CSN,” he said. “We are looking at some events that invite the entire community in.”

For more about CSN, visit csn.edu. For more about the Urban Chamber of Commerce, visit www.urbanchamber.org.

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Safety tips for back to school at CSN

CSN Police and UNLV Police recently consolidated in to University Police Services Southern Command.

University Police Services, Southern Command Associate Vice President & Director Adam Garcia has passed along some general safety tips for all of us as we navigate our campuses and our community:

  • Look confident, keep your head up and walk with a confident stride.
  • Make eye contact with people you encounter. This shows self-confidence and may deter a potential attack.
  • Be aware and alert to your surroundings.  Don’t talk on your cellphone or listen to music when you are in an unfamiliar area. This can be a distraction and can make you vulnerable for an attack.
  • If you do jog alone, stay in public areas that are well lit and populated.
  • Keep your hands free. Limit the number of items you’re carrying or use a backpack or bag to ensure that your hands are free to defend, if needed.
  • Regularly change your routine.
  • Develop a survival mind set. While you’re in a safe place visualize a dangerous situation and what you would do if confronted with it. This may be unpleasant, however, it is a good idea to prepare yourself if you were ever attacked, so you don’t freeze with fear if something ever was to happen.
  • If you feel uncomfortable in a situation, don’t worry about hurting the person’s feelings, just leave.
  • Trust your instincts. If something doesn’t feel right, trust your gut and do what you need to do to be safe.  
  • In the event of an active assailant at any of our campuses, remember to “Run, hide, fight!”
    • RUN:
      • Evacuate If possible
      • If there is considerable distance between you and the gunfire/armed person, quickly move away from the sound of the gunfire/armed person. If the gunfire/armed person is in your building and it is safe to do so, run out of the building and move far away until you are in a secure place to hide.
      • Leave your belongings behind.
      • Keep your hands visible to law enforcement.
      • Take others with you, but do not stay behind because others will not go.
      • Call 911 when it is safe to do so. Do not assume that someone else has reported the incident. The information that you are able to provide law enforcement may be critical, e.g. number of shooters, physical description and identification, number and type(s) of weapons, and location of the shooter.
  • HIDE:
  • Hide silently in as safe a place as possible
    • If the shooter is in close proximity and you cannot evacuate safely, hide in an area out of the armed person’s view.
    • Choose a hiding place with thicker walls and fewer windows, if possible.
    • Lock doors and barricade with furniture, if possible.
    • Turn off lights
    • Silence phones and turn off other electronics.
    • Close windows, shades and blinds, and avoid being seen from outside the room, if possible.
    • If you are outdoors and cannot RUN safely, find a place to hide that will provide protection from gunfire such as a brick wall, large trees or buildings.
    • Remain in place until you receive an “all clear” signal.
  • FIGHT:
    • Take action to disrupt or incapacitate the shooter
    • As a last resort, fight. If you cannot evacuate or hide safely and only when your life is in imminent danger, take action.
    • Attempt to incapacitate or disrupt the actions of the shooter.
    • Act with physical aggression toward the shooter.
    • Use items in your area such as fire extinguishers or chairs.
    • Throw items at the shooter if possible.
    • Call 911 when it is safe to do so.
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CSN’s North Las Vegas Student Union to be named after Assemblyman Tyrone Thompson

The College of Southern Nevada will remember former State Assemblyman Tyrone Thompson by naming the North Las Vegas student union in his honor, after a unanimous vote from the Nevada System of Higher Education’s Board of Regents earlier today.

Thompson was an active education and mentor advocate, as well as a longtime CSN supporter. He regularly attended CSN events and was actively involved in mentoring efforts. He passed away in May during the 2019 legislative session. At the time of his death, he was actively working with CSN officials to pass important education legislation.

Assemblyman Tyrone Thompson addresses the crowd at a December 2018 topping off ceremony for the student union being built at CSN’s North Las Vegas Campus. The building will be named after the late lawmaker.

“Assemblyman Thompson was a tireless champion for our students,” said CSN President Federico Zaragoza. “His legacy will live on through their success and in the community he served so selflessly. Countless community leaders have expressed their support for naming the student union in his honor, and we feel privileged to be able to make that happen.”

The formal naming will take place in the fall, when the new student unions open all three campuses.

The student unions will serve as a gathering place for students between classes, will play host to various events on campus and will house the student government offices.

Tyrone Thompson often posted selfies. Here’s one he took at a December 2018 topping off ceremony for CSN’s Student Union on the North Las Vegas Campus. The union will be named in his honor.

Thompson will join a host of other influential lawmakers and community members whose contributions to the CSN community are honored on CSN buildings. Here’s a look at a few of them:

  • The Paul Laxalt Education Center, also on the North Las Vegas Campus, is named in honor of the former Nevada governor and senator. During his time as governor, Laxalt made a major push to establish community colleges in the state.
  • The North Las Vegas Campus is also home to the June Whitley Student Lounge, named after a former university Regent.
  • The Charleston Campus includes the Paul E. Meacham Student Services Building, named after the 11-year president of CSN, which was known as Clark County Community College. Not only did Meacham bring stability to the college, which had run through seven permanent and interim presidents before him, but he was also the first African-American president of any of the institutions in the state system.
  • The Ralph & Betty Engelstad School of Health Sciences is the first school at CSN to be named after community members. The health sciences building on the Charleston Campus also bears the couple’s name.
  • In 2009, CSN received a transformational $8.2 million gift to support the health sciences field. Money from that gift was used to expand the health science building and to establish a scholarship in the Engelstad’s name.
  • The C Building on the Henderson Campus is named after Caesar J. Caviglia, who played a significant and critical role in the establishment of that campus. He died in 2013 at age 84, after spending much of his life as a priest in Henderson. During his lifetime, he was also a faculty member at CSN, teaching sociology, anthropology and philosophy.

For more on the student union being named after Assemblyman Thompson, read our press release.

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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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