The sudden death in February of Curtis Blackwell, Western Nevada College student body president in 2012-2013, has caused an outpouring of grief and remembrance of the dynamic and outgoing leader.
Blackwell was studying communications and political science, and planned to transfer to the University of Nevada, Reno to pursue a degree in public administration. One of his dreams was to run for public office.
His dedication to ASWN and inspiration to WNC students resonated with many.
â€œCurtis welcomed me with open arms when I came on board as the new adviser in the middle of the school year,â€ said Shelly Bale, ASWN advisor and student center manager. â€œI was impressed with his warm and caring personality toward our students. He was always trying to lift them up and inspire them to be their best.
â€œDespite the fact that he was older than the other students that we supervised in student government, he had a youthful and energetic attitude that was contagious. Curtis showed by example that earning a higher education was important, and he encouraged his entire family to follow his lead.â€
In honor of Blackwellâ€™s contributions to student government and his outstanding example of leadership, ASWN has created the Blackwell Excellence in Leadership Award. Alana Rogne of Fallon was this yearâ€™s recipient.
Blackwell was a positive influence to many of the students he interacted with on campus.
Frankie Perez, an ASWN senator from 2012-13, was one of those students who Blackwell touched and encouraged to make the most of his education.
â€œIt hurts my heart to hear this. He was a fatherly figure to me. He always looked out for me and gave me some of the greatest advice,â€ Perez said. â€œHe always encouraged me to pursue my dreams and never took me lightly when I said I would do something.
â€œI spent so many nights in the student government room with him, just talking about so many different things. He and I would talk so much that his wife would get mad because they were trying to go home, but we would be stuck in conversation.
â€œI definitely believe he left us before his time. He had one of the brightest futures in Nevada politics ahead of him.â€
Current ASWN President Alejandra Leon, Blackwellâ€™s successor, recalled his leadership and inspirational qualities.
â€œHe will always will be missed in this office, and his wisdom of leadership and motivation to strive for success is continuing with the lives that he’s touched,â€ Leon said.
Former AWSN Vice President Lorena Cedano felt honored to have known Blackwell.
â€œIâ€™m truly at a loss for words, my heart is just broken,â€ Cedano said. â€œMy memories with Curtis will forever be in my heart. He has truly inspired and touched all of our lives. I had the privilege as not only serving ASWN right beside him, but the privilege of calling him a dear friend of mine.
Cedano said sheâ€™ll never forget a conversation she had with Blackwell during a conference in Los Angeles in 2011.
â€œI called him grandpa. I didnâ€™t call him that to insult him, just something about him genuinely reminded me of my own grandpa, whom I havenâ€™t seen in years. It was in the way Curtis talked, laughed and smiled. My favorite part about that night was that he didnâ€™t take it as an insult, but rather, he was delighted that he could have such a special impact in my life.â€
Student Ryan Livermore will remember Blackwell for his commitment to education and student government.
â€œCurtis was truly a man of many talents,â€ Livermore said. â€œOne thing I would like to say to current and past ASWN members is that Curtis truly believed in the importance of education and how important it was for student government members to be to voice of the students of WNC.
â€œHe would always say, â€˜We took an oath for this; it is our job.â€™ He would want all of us to continue to be the voice for him. Let us not forget that.â€
Director of Admissions Dianne Hilliard said Curtis â€œdid very wellâ€ academically, and was a member of Phi Theta Kappa Honor society.
â€œCurtis was very helpful and good to work with when planning last yearâ€™s college commencement ceremony,â€ she added.
Livermore said Blackwell had a quality for touching the lives of the many people he interacted with.
â€œCurtis was loved by all the people he met throughout his life,â€ Livermore said. â€œHe left an imprint in my heart, the hearts of the students, the community and more importantly, his family. Let us all keep Curtis close to our hearts.â€
As student body president, Blackwell represented WNC students at meetings of the Nevada System of Higher Education Board of Regents and oversaw many student events and campus initiatives. Blackwellâ€™s daughter is a WNC graduate, and both his wife and son attend WNC.
An education fund in Blackwellâ€™s name has been set up at Wells Fargo Bank.
â€œThe funds will help his wife and son continue their academic path,â€ Bale said.