Submitted by Chancellor Dan Klaich
Nevada System of Higher Education
I have spent a lot of time lately discussing the budget. My comments have tended to talk about millions of dollars coming out of campus funds and large percentage reductions to budgets or formulas. What that discussion has not conveyed is the personal damage these cuts are doing to the young men and women of our state.
Higher education changes lives, one student at a time, and it is our goal to build a better Nevada and a better future for all of us. In this report and in reports to come, I would like to stop talking for a moment about numbers and percentages and remind you of the wonderful students in this System and share some of their personal stories.
Jarell Green–UNR student:
I am a sophomore majoring in nursing at the University of Nevada Reno. To attend the university, I needed to fight my share of adversities: being the son of a single parent with mental health issues as well as drug problems, becoming technically homeless the summer before college, speaking to my mother through the Plexiglas at jails and rehabs and coming from a household whose annual income was short of $10,000, along with many other things. The point is not what I have experienced, it is what I have dedicated my life to escaping and understanding how to obtain that, which is UNR.
In the midst of the budget cut discussions, I am not blind nor naive and I understand cuts are inevitable and needed, but I need to know things such as: if the tuition were to increase would need-based student aid be raised as well? If programs are cut will this include the programs that have helped guide my journey at UNR such as the Trio Scholars Program? And most importantly, will a student like me (who works three jobs to pay for bare necessities while being enrolled full time and carries a cumulative GPA of 3.8) be placed into circumstances where despite his hard work attending the university and obtaining his degree to beat the statistics, that he would be nothing–be denied his right to pursue his dream?
I hope this answer is no, because a land grant university should be a gateway to changing socioeconomic status, not ensuring socioeconomic barriers.
Jillian Murdock-UNR student:
I have lived in Reno for most of my life, from the time that my parents decided to leave a small mountain town in California to find a better educational system for their two girls. I am a product of the Nevada K-12 system, and was in the first graduating high school class to receive the Millennium Scholarship. I enrolled at the University of Nevada, Reno in the Fall of 2000.
My first experience with higher education was not ideal for personal reasons. My parents were going through a rocky divorce, and while I did attend classes for 3 years, I eventually dropped out in the fall of 2003 and worked full time in a restaurant. I was on my way to what Chancellor Dan Klaich refers to as the “path to the middle class,”and I was proud to be so. In 2005 however, inflation of general costs of living (gas, utilities, rent, etc.) showed me that my salary was not serving me well, and I decided to return to higher education.
I am thankful every day that I was able to come back to the University of Nevada to complete my education. I finished my BA in Psychology in May 2008 with an incredibly different outlook on college education. Through this I realized I had gained a new educational interest: the study of higher education. I applied to the master’s program in Educational Leadership and hope to graduate this August. I plan to utilize my education to work toward positive change here in Nevada, where it is needed the most. Cuts to education will create additional obstacles such as fewer courses, fewer program choices and all at a higher cost. These are the sorts of changes that would have hindered my re-admission to the University and I would not be who I am today.