As a parent and high school graduate, Daren Kight wanted more for himself and his family. He wanted a career. More than a decade later, Kight is on course to reaching that goal as a Western Nevada College student and the 2013 recipient of the Nevada System of Higher Education Regents’ Scholar Award.
Each year, the Nevada System of Higher Education Board of Regents recognizes the state’s top college students for their service contributions, leadership and academic achievements. Kight’s academic record and the assistance he has provided to students while working in WNC’s counseling office are, in part, why the WNC sophomore was selected as a Regents’ Scholar Award winner. He will receive a $5,000 stipend to use toward his future education costs, and he’ll be one of nine top scholars honored during an awards ceremony in Reno.
“It means a lot and greatly helps my family and me,” said Kight, who has two children with his wife Kaysha. “I know that one’s hard work pays off in the end, and it is very nice to know that people around me do see how much I have worked to achieve my goals thus far.”
The 1996 Carson High School graduate initially enrolled part-time at WNC in 2009 while working full-time, then became a full-time student the following year. Since resuming his education, Kight has been highly successful in the classroom and discovered a career ambition while working at the college.
In his role as a peer mentor in the counseling office, Kight provides nervous, prospective students a comforting perspective and helps them understand that their anxiety isn’t uncommon.
“Daren contributes a wonderful presence of maturity, competence and dedication to serving students to our peer mentoring team,” said Deborah Case, WNC counseling services director. “As a nontraditional student himself, Daren recognizes the fear and intimidation that most nontraditional students experience when beginning their college experience. He actively reaches out to these students to help dispel their fears by connecting with them and sharing his experience and insight as a seasoned student.”
“I wasn’t big on high school. That wasn’t the highlight of my life,” Kight said. “I had a lot of fears when I started part time here with the one class. At the same time, I have children, I was working and my wife was working … I didn’t know how it was all going to work out. Every semester I realized I could do more. “I wanted to be able to provide for my family. I knew my heart was set on helping people.”
In hindsight, Kight said perseverance through difficult times eventually pays off.
“My main thought is that no matter how hard something might get, keep trying and try again until you succeed,” he said.
Kight is scheduled to receive his Associate of Arts degree next fall. He has compiled a 3.668 grade point average through 48 credited classes. His academic excellence led to his induction into Phi Theta Kappa Honor Society in 2011 and his current role as an executive officer for WNC’s chapter of Phi Theta Kappa. Kight also serves as an ambassador for the Associated Students of Western Nevada.
After graduating from WNC, Kight plans to enroll at the University of Nevada, Reno, where he will work toward a bachelor of social work degree.
“I know when I get to UNR, (the award is) something that will be on my transcript. The (social worker school) is something that I have to apply for … it’s not easy to get in,” Kight said.
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