WNC’s Jump Start program is a model for the rest of the state.
— Gov. Brian Sandoval
Meeting the demand for a larger future workforce means educating more Nevadans. Gov. Brian Sandoval and the Nevada Legislature recognized that Western Nevada College’s Jump Start program has done just that, shepherding high school students into higher education and enhancing workforce development in the state.
On Wednesday at WNC’s Reynolds Center, Sandoval signed Senate Bill 19 into law, requiring all Nevada high schools to provide dual-credit opportunities to their students.
“Here, Western Nevada College has it dialed in and it’s frankly a model for the rest of the state,” Sandoval said. “This is something that we need to franchise out across the state of Nevada to ensure that all students have those opportunities to get those great jobs.
“Western Nevada is ground zero for this New Nevada that we’re all so proud of and that we’re looking forward to. This is one of those days that I’m so proud, so proud that I’m a Nevadan.”
Through WNC’s three-year-old Jump Start program, participating high schools, academies and home-school students can earn up to an associate degree before graduating with their high school diploma. WNC’s Jump Start program has been embraced by rural schools, enabling first-generation college students the opportunity to earn a degree at a lower or no cost to their families.
“That is what today is all about, to help remove some of the barriers for students,” said Sandoval, who also signed a STEM and STEAM-focused bill (SB 241) on Wednesday at WNC. “We want to make sure, and I talk about it all the time, that every student, no matter who you are and where you come from, that there is a ladder for you and you can climb it. You all have your hopes, dreams and your aspirations with what you want to accomplish in life. But it’s up to all of us to make sure that those opportunities are there. You have to work for it, obviously, and work extremely hard to get there. But we have to make sure that those resources, the equipment and the instruction are available to all people. That’s what is important about [the Jump Start] bill.”
More than 400 high school students — predominantly from Northern Nevada, participated in WNC’s Jump Start program in the 2016-17 academic year, according to WNC Dean of Student Services John Kinkella.
“Western Nevada College and our partners in the Carson, Churchill, Douglas, Lyon and Storey county school districts, as well as Pyramid Lake High School, Nevada Virtual Academy and Oasis Academy, are very honored to have the Jump Start College program selected as the model for Senate Bill 19, which expands dual high school-college enrollment opportunities statewide,” Kinkella said.
The success of the program has been recognized outside of the state. WNC’s Jump Start College recently received national recognition.
“Jump Start was selected as one of four ACT National Exemplar programs, and we are very proud of this new way of working together,” Kinkella said.
During WNC’s 45th commencement ceremony on Monday, six Northern Nevada high schools and two academies contributed to the largest Jump Start College graduating class in the three-year history of the program.
“The governor has challenged higher education to double the number of degrees awarded by 2020,” Kinkella said. “Last year, 27 high school students attained their Associate of Arts degree at the same time they graduated high school. This year, that number has grown to 89 high school students attaining an Associate of Arts degree. Based on our experience, expanding this opportunity statewide may go a long way toward meeting the governor’s goal.”
Meanwhile, SB 241 is focused on recognizing high school students who have earned STEM and STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Mathematics) college credit. WNC has already been offering high school students in the region opportunities to earn Career and Technical Education credit. The bill is intended to generate workforce development for younger Nevadans.
“Preparing professionals and technicians for the contemporary workforce requires a strong background in STEM,” said WNC CTE Director Georgia White. “Encouraging high school students to pursue the STEM or STEAM track provides those students with knowledge and critical thinking skills applicable to all Career and Technical Education fields. Bringing a strong STEM framework to college courses allows the students to engage fully in computer information systems, advanced manufacturing and other high demand high wage career paths as we build the New Nevada.”