Lupe Ramirez is finishing a story 15 years in the making.
When she walks across the stage Tuesday night at the Carson City Community Center, she will receive her associate's degree in applied science from Western Nevada Community College.
"I feel like it was a lot of work, and it was difficult at times, but it's totally worth it," the 38-year-old said.
Ramirez began taking classes at WNCC 15 years ago when she was hired part-time at the college as a receptionist in the then educational services department.
"I started taking two classes per semester in subjects that interested me or would enhance my life," she said. "I continued every semester. I'm finally done. It was like 'Am I ever going to get there?'"
Three years ago, 12 years after taking classes in subjects of interest, she decided to go for a degree. And has, during lunch breaks or in the evenings after work, taken 60 credits for her associate's degree in general business in classes of business law, management, accounting and administration.
"I really have to give a lot of credit to the instructors to always be so willing to help a student," she said. "In my situation, when there were times I was struggling with a class, they really emphasized their office hours for me to go for additional assistance."
Her new skills are already being put to use. As the administrative assistant to the dean of student services, a position she took two years ago, she works on the dean's accounts.
"All the budget experience I got from the classroom I use in my job," she said.
Ramirez will graduate at 7 p.m. Tuesday at the Carson City Community Center, 851 E. William St.
Student Body President Jennifer Gentine, who is graduating with an associate's degree in general studies, will introduce the incoming student body president Elizabeth Contreras. The Sierra Highlanders Pipe Band will play the processional.
Chancellor James Rogers will deliver the commencement address. Dr. Carol Lucey, president of WNCC, will hand out diplomas, and a member of the board of regents will deliver congratulations.
"Commencement is always a special time, especially for students," said Dan Neverett, dean of students. "It's a celebration and always a good time."
Honorary degrees will also be awarded to Rick DeMar, executive officer of the Builders Association of Western Nevada, and to Vergie Miller, a WNCC Foundation Board of Trustees member for nine years and owner, with her husband, of BME Rods & Pistons.
"The honorary degrees are given to individuals who have made significant contributions to the college," Neverett said.
Earlier on Tuesday, at 2 p.m., 44 students achieving associate degrees of applied science in nursing will be recognized in a pinning ceremony. Also, in Fallon, on today, WNCC graduates will attend their graduation ceremony at the Barkley Theater at Oats Park Art Center, 151 East St. Secretary of State Dean Heller will give the commencement address.
When Ramirez walks Tuesday, her husband, daughter, parents from Idaho, sister from Reno and sister from San Diego will be there. But her story really doesn't end that day.
"I'm going to continue taking classes," she said. "I want to work toward a bachelor's degree at UNR."
- Contact reporter Maggie O'Neill at firstname.lastname@example.org or 881-1219.
What: WNCC Carson graduation
When: 7 p.m. Tuesday
Where: Carson City Community Center
What: Nurse pinning ceremony
When: 2 p.m. Tuesday
Where: Carson City Community Center, 851 E. William St.
What: WNCC Fallon graduation
When: 7 p.m. Monday
Where: Barkley Theater at Oats Park Art Center, 151 East St.