Regents from the Nevada System of Higher Education agreed with her peers’ and students’ fervent commendations, recognizing Conkey with the 2020 Regents’ Teaching Award.
“I am honored to receive the Regents’ Teaching Award for 2020,” Conkey said. “It’s wonderful to be recognized for the work I’ve done, all of which is a result of my passion for teaching and my commitment to our students at Western Nevada College.”
WNC has recognized her dedication and commitment to the college during the past two decades. She has been teaching at WNC since 2000 and received the Outstanding WNC Faculty of the Year Award in 2018. She also received the WNC President’s Award for the 2010-11 and 2003-04 school years.
She has worked feverishly to keep the graphic design program relevant for students seeking professional careers and made the associate degree program more accessible for working and rural students by becoming one of the first programs at WNC to convert to an online format.
“Professor Conkey embodies excellence in the faculty member’s role in post-secondary education through a student-focused approach, active member of the WNC community, artist and contributions to NSHE’s strategic goals,” said WNC Professional and Applied Technology Director Dr. Georgia White.
Her students become gainfully employed following completion of the associate of science degree program. Graduates from WNC’s graphic design program are employed at a variety of industries, including Sierra Nevada Media Group/Swift Communications; International Game Technology; CustomInk; the Nevada Department of Transportation; the Sparks Tribune; Peri & Sons Farms; Rosetta Ad Agency in San Luis Obispo, Calif.; Motion Graphics & Visual FX in Seattle; UEM Pistons; smaller design studios; and other state agencies.
“Her enthusiasm for the subject is contagious and genuine, emphasized by recognizable interest in the success of her students within the program and beyond,” graphic designer and former student Jennifer Smith. “Jayna applied the perfect blend of encouragement and tough critiques to give honest and valuable feedback on submitted work. As my teacher, Jayna was consistently available to help me with specific assignment adjustments, as well as guidance on how to advance my education following WNC.”
Conkey also maintains a visible presence as a professional artist, setting an example to her students by exhibiting her work at five galleries around the country in 2019.
The Regents’ Teaching Award was established in 1996 and annually one instructor is selected from WNC, Truckee Meadows, College of Southern Nevada and Great Basin College, while a second professor is honored from UNLV; University of Nevada, Reno; Nevada State College; or the Desert Research Institute. Each honoree receives a $5,000 stipend and a medal.
“Jayna has been integral to Northern Nevada institution progress in the area of graphic design and has been a helpful partner and gracious colleague throughout the growth of UNR’s graphic design program,” Monica Maccaux, assistant professor, director of graphic design at UNR. “I will forever be grateful for her contribution to not only UNR and NSHE but to my own progress as a director of a program and tenure-track faculty member. She is supportive, inventive, energized and someone I continue to look forward working with.”