Learning has never been as much fun for Edward Stahi than during his time at Western Nevada College in Fallon.
After dropping out of high school as a 13-year-old freshman and eventually earning his GED, Stahi sampled classes at WNC periodically before finally immersing himself into a rigorous educational track over the past several years.
When Stahi graduates with an Associate of Science degree on Monday, it will mark the culmination of a nontraditional education route with more starts and stops than a Greyhound bus and the advent of his next adventure in higher education.
â€œOnce I started classes, I couldnâ€™t get enough of school,â€ Stahi said. â€œI liked learning stuff, relearning things and getting good grades. I was definitely ready for it this time. Itâ€™s kind of sad to be moving on. Iâ€™ve had a great time at WNC.â€
â€œI want to go back to being a teenager again, knowing what I know now.â€
Friends, family and school officials encouraged and eventually convinced Stahi to resume classes at WNC. Heâ€™ll forever appreciate the encouragement from Ruthie Graham, James Morris and Janet Wooner to return to school. Several professors in particular made him stay this time.
â€œWhen I began here at WNC, I started slowly. I did not want to take the chance of burning out on school,â€ Stahi said.
â€œAfter I finished (some remedial classes), I started on my general studies. This is when school became important. I was introduced to history by Dr. (Doris) Dwyer, and the way that she teaches her classes made me want to learn more. I have taken several history classes with her because she is so passionate and knowledgeable about so many places. At this time, I was also taking math classes, and this is where I met Mr. (Jeffrey) Downs. He made the math classes fun, interesting and challenging. I looked forward to going to class, not only because I enjoy math, but because Mr. Downs explains the subject in a way that made perfect sense to me.â€
While discovering his passion for learning, Stahi has taken a leadership role outside of his classes. He was president of Phi Theta Kappa for two terms and was active with the Associated Students of Western Nevada from 2013-14. He has also thrived in the collegeâ€™s work study program, becoming a dedicated member of the front office team.
â€œHe has been an ideal student. I am so proud to know him,â€ said Dwyer of Stahi, who earned a liberal arts award at the 14th annual Appreciation and Awards Banquet on April 18 at the Governorâ€™s Mansion. â€œEd is intellectually curious, eager to learn and has taken advantage of all that WNC has to offer. He is goal-oriented and is pursuing his educational goals without the distractions that sometimes sidetrack younger students. He is a kind and caring person and is loved by faculty and fellow students alike.â€
With a career goal of working in environmental science, particularly volcanism and plate tectonics, Stahi now must make the transition from WNC to the University of Nevada, Reno to further his studies.
â€œIâ€™m excited about going, but it will be a little bit intimidating with bigger classes and whole new school,â€ Stahi said.
Heâ€™ll look back fondly at his time at WNC and miss the fellowship the community collegeâ€™s classes have provided.
â€œYou get to know the students more than as a classmate,â€ Stahi said. â€œIn every single class Iâ€™ve made good friends, weâ€™ve had good study groups and you interact.â€
As a role model to other students who are considering returning to school, Stahi said that a community college is an ideal setting to relaunch an education.
â€œThere will be more people your age, the classes are more diverse, there are people who are there for you and school is fun,â€ he said. â€œSchool is what you make of it, and I wish I knew this when I was younger.â€