Enrolling in college classes ahead of time has presented Nate Hammock of Carson City with a more challenging education. It’s also an opportunity to jump-start his future.
Through Western Nevada College’s Jump Start college program, the Pioneer High School junior is earning dual credit for the classes he’s taking, putting him on course to graduate with an Associate of Science degree before he receives his high school diploma.
“It’s a wonderful opportunity, one of the best opportunities I’ve ever received,” said Hammock, who was 16 when he started the program. “I came here and I no longer felt like a high school student. Responsibility kicked in pretty quick. The most important part of being able to do this is it not only helps my resume but with other colleges and programs that I want to get into.”
Last fall, WNC launched Jump Start, a partnership between the college and 11 western Nevada high schools. It offers high-achieving junior and senior students the opportunity to earn up to a college associate degree prior to high school graduation.
Hammock learned about Jump Start just prior to his junior year at Pioneer. Since he had already passed an Algebra II class at Pioneer, he needed only to take aptitude tests to qualify.
In his first year at WNC, Hammock has taken English 101 and 102, Pre-Calculus, General Chemistry, World Religion, Anthropology and early American history classes.
“I knew going into college classes that they’d be a challenge; that’s what I was looking for,” Hammock said. “The classes are little more difficult, but they are better. They push me to be a better student.”
One of the major changes for Hammock the college student is the amount of time he now spends studying.
“This is where you really have to study,” said Hammock, who typically studies four hours between classes, several more hours at night and even more on weekends. “It’s been hard studying, and it’s been hard writing essays, but none of it has been too bad. I’ve missed out on a couple of video games, but if I could go back and do the semester again, I’d do more studying.”
Hammock said he has met many new people and fits in like any other college student.
“I find it easier to study here with students than I would at high school,” he said. “I not only study with other Jump Start students, but I also study with college students. We get together to work on math and it’s helped with essays. Studying isn’t so bad when you are studying with friends or studying at the café. Studying is even better when you get good test scores back.”
A middle school science club sparked Hammock’s interest in science and now he’s determined to spend the rest of his life associated with physics and chemistry.
“Part of me always wanted to be a rocket scientist,” Hammock said. “I’m going to look into applying at Berkeley and Penn State. I want to get my bachelor’s degree, my master’s and hopefully one day I’ll get a Ph.D. in science.
“This has given me a pretty good idea what kind of degree and career I want. Most people don’t think about that until after completing high school.”
After earning a 3.52 grade-point average during his first semester in Jump Start, Hammock qualified for the Phi Theta Kappa Honor Society. He has applied for an officer position and wants the honor society to become more visible and active in the community.
As his first year in the Jump Start College nears an end, Hammock wouldn’t hesitate to recommend the program to future high school juniors.
“It’s one decision that I’ve made that I’ll never regret for my entire college career,” Hammock said. “If they want to do it, they should do everything they can to do it.”
Suicide Awareness March Raises Funds for At-Risk Vets
When the Veterans Resource Center opened at Western Nevada College in 2013, its main objective was to help veterans better their lives. More recently, the center has been concerned about saving veterans’ lives. With national data indicating 22 veterans take their own lives daily, WNC’s Veterans Resource Center held a march to bring awareness to the national issue of suicide among veterans returning home from war.
The center raised $1,000 from donations and the sale of T-shirts from its recent Veterans Suicide Awareness March and donated the proceeds to the Northern Nevada Veterans Resource Center.
“When it comes to suicide prevention, every bit counts,” said Timothy Galluzi, a pre-admissions adviser for WNC’s Veterans Resource Center and a veteran of two tours of Iraq and one of Afghanistan.
He estimated nearly 250 community members joined WNC for the 1.3-mile Veterans Suicide Awareness March on May 2.
Funds will help train those who work with at-risk veterans at the 20-bed facility.
National statistics indicate 10 times more veterans are lost to suicide once they return home than are lost in combat. Many veterans who return home are struggling with disabilities, psychological problems, post-traumatic stress disorder, drug and alcohol dependency, unemployment, financial strife and homelessness.
“All vets who are using their benefits come through VRC and we tell them about programs and support that is there for them,” Galluzi said. “Each semester we’re impacting that many more vets. We are here to support them.”