LAS VEGAS (KTNV) — From being the first to go to college to coming back to school after many years, the graduating class of 2021 at the College of Southern Nevada (CSN) is incredibly diverse and had to overcome obstacles in a pandemic year. Later this week, family and friends will be able to see them walk and get their diplomas.
“Look at this! It fits perfect!”
Sharica Lee is thrilled to wear her cap and gown for the first time. A moment of pomp and circumstance she’s cherished for a while.
“I am just excited. I feel it’s an epiphany in my journey,” she said.
A journey that has taken a while. Lee took 15 years off from college focusing on traveling the world and being with her husband and daughter. Now, she’s graduating with an associate degree in psychology from the College of Southern Nevada and transferring to UNLV. It’s an accomplishment that required a lot of juggling.
“It really just finding that real finesse and managing my family life and work in school and most importantly, having their support,” she said.
For Nathacha Nucamendi, graduating with an associate of arts degree was a major milestone. She was the first in her family to go to college.
“I definitely think my motivation was my family and my sisters because it’s just a household of women,” she said.
Growing up with just her mother and sisters required perseverance, especially while working two jobs on top of her studies. Nucamendi says getting her degrees feels like she’s proven something.
“It’s just something about empowering women, especially Latinas and backgrounds like minorities to go ahead and get it done,” she said.
These women are just two of about four thousand graduates in the class of 2021 at College of Southern Nevada, a record number. School officials saying their graduates have demonstrated grit and an academic drive to succeed.
“It’s really helping to perpetuate future generations in families that indeed college is for everyone and that there is a place in a classroom for every human being,” James McCoy, vice president of academic affairs at CSN, said.
Nucamendi hopes to work in hospitality when she finishes her education after transferring to UNLV and sees a bright future.
“Not just getting a college degree opens doors, but if you accomplish what you want, you will have the doors open and people are willing to help you.”
Lee meanwhile is reaching for the stars and plans to pursue a Ph.D. in psychology. An ambitious goal she set on making a reality.
“I want to establish myself as a leader, an educator, a motivator, and a doctor,” she said.
The graduation ceremony for CSN will be on May 15 at Sam Boyd Stadium.