Jennifer Stevens didn’t want to work in a casino her whole life, but without an education, she felt it was the only way she could make a decent living.
That is, until she heard Dr. Rhonda Patrick interviewed on a podcast. Patrick is a biochemist who has done extensive research on aging, cancer and nutrition. Patrick’s interview helped inspire Stevens to apply to CSN and study biology.
“That was fall of 2016. I started with one class; it was Math 98. I had to work my way up to higher math,” Steven said. “For two days straight before the placement test, I just crammed. I had forgotten how to solve for ‘x’. After I took the class, I felt like school helped me to structure my thoughts better.”
The hard work has paid off for Stevens, who earned the coveted Regents’ Scholar award today from the Nevada System of Higher Education’s Board of Regents.
While studying biology at CSN, working full-time and raising two children, Stevens, 34, has maintained a 3.73 GPA. She’s served as the vice president of the biology club at CSN, participated in the SEA-PHAGES research project at CSN and recently began working as an assistant in the biology lab at CSN.
But Stevens’ path to prosperity was anything but a straight line. Orphaned as an infant, Stevens suffered abuse as a child, finished high school divorced and pregnant, and found a job in the casino industry.
“Jennifer is a testament to what hard work, determination, a passion for knowledge and a drive to succeed can mean for a student,” said CSN President Dr. Federico Zaragoza. “I congratulate her on the Regents’ Scholar award, and I thank the Board for recognizing her talent. We’re proud to have her at CSN.”
Each year, the Nevada Regents’ Scholar Award is given to an undergraduate student from each university and community college and the state college, as well as to one graduate student at each of the public universities in Nevada. The award includes a $5,000 cash stipend, and is based on academics, leadership, service contributions and the recipient’s potential for continued success.
In addition to the Regents’ Scholar award, the Board also honored two CSN professors today; Mark Wherry, the director of vocal music at CSN, was awarded the Nevada Regents’ Creative Activities Award and Cris Aguilar, a surgical technology instructor at CSN, was awarded the Nevada Regent’s Teaching Award.