Western Nevada College offers high school students a Jump Start on higher education

Alysha Deynzer, left, and Emily Gredziuck talk about their experiences in the Jump Start program at Western Nevada College on Thursday.

Alysha Deynzer, left, and Emily Gredziuck talk about their experiences in the Jump Start program at Western Nevada College on Thursday.

Emily Gredziuk, 17, knows she has many years of school ahead of her if she wants to graduate from UC Davis with a veterinary degree after earning her master’s at the University of Nevada, Reno.

But a new partnership between area high schools and Western Nevada College may ease that burden a bit.

“Hopefully, I’ll only need three years at UNR instead of another four,” Gredziuk said.

The Carson High School senior is part of the inaugural group of students in the Jump Start program, where high school students can complete their final year of high school and their first year of college at the same time.

The program was introduced in Carson City and Lyon, Douglas, Storey and Churchill counties last spring for high-achieving juniors and seniors.

“It’s so far exceeded our expectations,” said John Kinkella, dean of student services at WNC. “Where we thought we’d get 50, we have 200 students. It’s amazing.”

He said 11 schools have students who are participating, with students being bused to campuses nearby. For remote students, such as those at Yerington and Smith Valley high schools, instructors travel to them.

“They have the ability to take the classes right there,” Kinkella said. “This is really good stuff.”

The same courses at the University of Nevada, Reno, would cost $2,310.50 per semester and $825 per semester at Western Nevada College. Each school district determines how much of those fees the students will pay.

Troy Warne, 17, takes two classes at Carson High School and the rest at the college.

“It’s fantastic,” he said. “It’s nice to get away from the high school. I’m tired of it.”

That, said Kinkella, is one of the purposes of the program. He said students often burn out during their senior year, but will be more engaged in the college setting.

And they’ll be better prepared.

“We can get a feel for college before we go into it,” said Alysha Deynzer, 17. “We now realize that we have to look at syllabuses, and we can’t rely on teachers for information about homework.”

Mervin Dagdagan, 17, said the work load and rigor increases as well.

“It’s really different from high school,” he said. “It’s a dramatic change.”

Kinkella said a great opportunity is being afforded to students in the area, especially those who may not have been able to afford college otherwise or had support from home to attend their first year.

“This is an important thing to do for these kids,” he said. “This isn’t a small thing.”


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