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.
Angelic Garay, UNLV student:
I am a 22-year-old Hispanic female. I am a junior pre-professional biology student at UNLV. I am the second youngest child of four, and the first to go to college. I can go on and on about the things I am, but my purpose in life is not what I am but who I wish to become.
My mother never went to high school, and only one of my older siblings got his GED. I didn’t have much direction – other than my own efforts – to get where I stand today. However, I am not the only one. I wish to become a surgeon. I have both the grades and ambition to succeed in such a dream that even my own family is staggered about. If student fees go up, my plan of graduating in two years can potentially double if I can’t figure a way to pay for my education. And I am not the only one.
As the economy stands right now, my college dream is becoming more difficult to attain. Both the quality of education and the opportunity to make education a reality is becoming more and more limited for students. If the children of today will become the leaders of tomorrow, will only those born into privilege be the only ones guiding the way?
For those who have the power to decide on such a delicate matter, I ask to just remember this: What we become is our gift for each other. Please let everyone have the opportunity to help build where you leave off.
Kristina Huddleston, UNLV student:
I’m currently finishing my master’s degree in marriage and family therapy, one of the university programs in the discussion to be cut. After I got my undergraduate degree, I spent a lot of time working with children who needed help – foster children, sick children, and abused children.
I also have a son of my own whom I love dearly. Luckily, he is happy, healthy and very bright. When I decided that I should go back to school, it was so I could offer my son a better future with more opportunities, but I also knew that I wanted my work to help other kids have the happy, healthy childhood they deserve.
If I had to leave Las Vegas to get my education, I simply would never have gotten it. UNLV was my only option, and I am thankful it offered a program that could make my dreams come true.
My program is not just a way for me to get my education; it’s an outlet for community service. As part of my education, I administered free or low-cost counseling services to families that could never have afforded a full-cost therapist. My fellow students and I have, I believe, saved and changed for the better many lives over the course of our study.
So think of all the potential students, like me, who would never have a chance to realize their dreams were it not for UNLV. More than that, though, think about what it means to the community to have a place like UNLV right in the heart of our city.