Spending a year attending at a Southern California college revealed to Western Nevada College student Robyn Openshaw just how much her community means to her and her future. Openshaw began to realize she could work on bettering herself by returning to the familiar faces of her Fallon home.
Since then, Openshaw has immersed herself in earning a Western Nevada College education and becoming active in Fallon community service organizations who are not usually frequented by 20-year-olds.
Openshaw’s dedication toward earning a degree while serving her community contributed to her recently being selected as WNC’s Board of Regents Scholar Award for 2015.
“I was surprised to get nominated, knowing how many students there are on campus,” Openshaw said. “I’m the first person in my family that will graduate from college. There are lots people out there like that, but still it’s pretty special.”
The Regents’ Scholar Award is granted to a student from each Nevada System of Higher Education institution for their academic achievements, leadership ability and community service efforts. Along with the honor, Openshaw will receive a $5,000 stipend.
“Coming to WNC, you get a lot more personal connections; you get to know your peers and professors by name,” said Openshaw, who also commutes from Fallon to Carson City several times a week to attend business and economics classes.
At the same time she was named to the Dean’s List in the fall, Openshaw served on the Board of Directors for the Fallon Chamber of Commerce, and worked as secretary for the Fallon Downtown Merchants Association.
“Because Fallon is a smaller community, I have developed relationships with all of the people involved with those organizations throughout the years,” Openshaw said. “I’m the youngest person on the board of directors by about 12 years. It makes me feel different than what people my age do.”
The chamber’s confidence in Openshaw has led to her being selected as the coordinator for the Hearts O’ Gold Cantaloupe Festival, the longest-running food-driven event in the state. She’ll organize committees and communicate with the chamber in preparation for the September 4-7 event.
If those duties aren’t enough, Openshaw is interning with the state Legislature this semester.
“I wish I was that organized,” said WNC Business Professor Richard Stewart. “I can’t imagine doing what she is doing at my age, much less at 20. Her accomplishments say far more about her work ethic than any testimony I could give.”
Openshaw believes in order to achieve personal growth, people must be connected to their communities for the well-being of themselves and others.
After graduating from WNC in May with an associate degree, Openshaw plans to attend the University of Nevada, Reno to pursue a bachelor’s in business administration and marketing, as well as a minor in political science.
“I am passionate about my goals and do not plan on stopping until they have been achieved, no matter how long it takes me or how hard I have to work,” she said. “I love going to school. Sometimes it’s hard because I don’t get to sleep. It’s so much fun learning new things, meeting new people and going to class and discussing things.”
Eventually, Openshaw wants to work at the local or state level in politics, perhaps as a county commissioner or state representative. Wherever her education takes her, Openshaw plans to maintain her passion for agriculture.
Openshaw was honored at the Associated Students of Western Nevada’s Awards and Appreciation ceremony Saturday, in the Larry Ruvo Stateroom of the Governor’s Mansion.
“She is an excellent student who does beautiful, thought-provoking work,” Stewart said. “She knows what her goals are and her education is necessary for her to achieve her goals.”