Knowledge: a timeless endeavor for two WNCC college graduates

Although separated in age by more than a half a century, Matt Christensen and Jean Marino will both graduate from Western Nevada of Community College on Tuesday.

"It's amazing the variation of ages among our graduates," said Anne Hansen, director of marketing and information. "It's indicative of what a community college is all about. It takes people from where they are to where they want to be."

For Marino, 74, it marks the end of a nine-year endeavor to achieve her associate degree in general studies.

For Christensen, 18, it marks the beginning of his pursuit of a degree in medicine.

"It was a nice stepping stone to get where I want to be," said Christensen, who left Carson High School early to begin his higher education career at the community college.

"Basically, I was just tired of high school," he said. "It was not very challenging academically. I went to the junior college to get a head start there."

Marino moved to Carson City from California and wanted to know more about her new state so she audited a Nevada history class from John Yurtinus at the college.

She enjoyed the class so she audited more history classes. Finally, Yurtinus convinced her to take the classes for credit and pursue a degree.

Marino raised two sons and has no plans to work outside of the home but said she loves to learn.

"It's not about the degree per se," she said. "I wanted to keep my brain active. I like learning new things."

Christensen attended home school until high school.

He dropped out of high school half way through his sophomore year to attend the community college.

"I feel good," he said. "I'm finally going to graduate from something."

Christensen plans to attend the University of Nevada, Reno in the fall as a pre-medicine major.

This is not the end for Marino either.

"I fully intend to start again in the fall," Marino said. "I'd like to get a bachelor of arts degree."

Marino said there were times when she felt she could not finish but the faculty at the college encouraged her to continue.

"Every single one of those teachers was very supportive and encouraging," she said.

Marino didn't think she would be able to complete her Nevada geology class, but her professor, Winnie Kortemeier, told her she could.

"I guess I could," Marino said.

She's not the only one who could. The college will graduate 321 students this year.

Hansen said the graduates represent all ages.

"There are people who have waited all their lives to go to college and they are finally able to realize their dreams," she said. "Then there are people who are just anxious to get started and have big dreams ahead."

If you go:

What: Western Nevada Community College Commencement Ceremony

When: Tuesday at 8 p.m.

Where: Carson City Community Center


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