A record number of students are expected to graduate from the College of Southern Nevada Monday evening.
20-year-old Larissa Marcum is one of the more than 3,400 students expected to receive their degrees and certificates. She has also been selected as the student commencement speaker.
Public speaking didn't always come naturally to Marcum who had a speech impediment growing up. Through her work helping create a suicide prevention organization, Marcum began speaking publicly in high school and has enjoyed doing it in the years since.
Public speaking is also what led Marcum to her associate's degree in communications. She plans on transferring to Nevada State College.
Marcum could have gone to Nevada State College or UNLV after graduating from Legacy High School in 2014 but said she might have got lost in the crowd.
Marcum liked the individual attention she received from professors at CSN.
"From the teachers to the tutors to the staff that work here, they really want you to succeed," she said.
But Marcum looks forward to Nevada State College's communications program, which she said is broader and will allow her to explore different career routes. Her minors will be in English and history, the latter she didn't expect to enjoy as much until she took a class at CSN.
"Coming to CSN, I feel like I'm more prepared now going into university because you get the smaller class sizes, you get the one-on-one detail and attention and then you're feeling more confident when you're going into something that has a larger class size," Marcum said.
Another reason Marcum decided to attend CSN was her mom, who was diagnosed with cancer in 2003. While her mother is in remission, she also battles lupus and fibromyalgia.
Her mother did encourage Marcum to go to school out-of-state, but Marcum still wanted to be close to support her mother when needed. Her commencement speech will touch on her mother's impact on her life but also the "heart of the coyote" -- CSN's mascot.
Going to a community college also helped Marcum graduate from CSN debt-free. While attending school, Marcum has worked as a peer mentor and tutor at CSN, along with working at Galaxy Theater. As she transfers to Nevada State College, she will also be working as a substitute teacher for the Clark County School District.
Marcum is considering pursuing teaching after graduating with her bachelor's degree but also getting involved in the media or public speaking engagements.
As part of being selected commencement speaker, she will receive a full-ride scholarship to any Nevada public college.
"It feels like I have liberty now to pick where I want for my education," Marcum said.
The CSN commencement will be held at 6 p.m. Monday at the Thomas and Mack. It will be streamed online here.