Western Nevada College News & Notes: Pa Kang, Thomas Herring receive Regents’ awards

Physics Professor Tom Herring, right, and Lab Assistant Jordan Dargert teach high school students about science at Western Nevada College on Feb. 19, 2016.

Physics Professor Tom Herring, right, and Lab Assistant Jordan Dargert teach high school students about science at Western Nevada College on Feb. 19, 2016.

Nevada System of High Education’s Board of Regents recently recognized a Western Nevada College student and professor for distinguishing themselves academically.

Nursing student Pa Kang received the 2017 Regents’ Scholar Award for his academic achievements, leadership and service contributions.

“Pa seeks academia!” said WNC Nursing professor Edda Gibson. “His passion for learning is intense. He seeks knowledge way beyond his assigned class content and personifies the many aspects required in our profession. He is focused, yet there is depth in his desire to delve and research. I find him to be so refreshingly inquisitive that we too evolve to further research and inquire.”

Thomas Herring, a physics professor at WNC since 2010, was selected as the recipient of the Regents’ Teaching Award.

Kang was among the exemplary students from each NSHE institution who were honored with a $5,000 stipend.

“It was an amazing gift that you can’t imagine how much it surprised me,” Pang said. “It is a humbling process to me. Get humble and strong through this reward.“

The Regents’ Scholar Award means much more to Kang.

“It means I must use my knowledge to serve the community and the weak and poor,” he said. “It means stay humble and keep learning for the one who needs what I learn. It means thankfulness from my parents, even though they do not know what a Regents’ Scholar award is. They were in tears and thanked my professors.”

The Regents’ Teaching Award was established in 1996. Annually, the Regents present two awards to instructors for their contributions to NSHE: one is selected from WNC, Truckee Meadows, College of Southern Nevada and Great Basin College, while a second teacher is honored from UNLV; University of Nevada, Reno; Nevada State College or the Desert Research Institute. Each honoree receives a $5,000 stipend and a medal.

“I know that many faculty at WNC excel as teachers and being chosen from among such an accomplished group was a bit of a surprise,” Herring said. “I know that without the support of the other faculty I would not perform at the same level.”

Herring has also served as the director of Jack C. Davis Observatory at WNC since 2014. He said that there is no secret to his penchant for inspiring students, as well as the community, in physics, science and astronomy.

“A few 12-to-14-hour days every week or so will get a lot done,” Herring said. “If there’s anything special about what I do, it may be my genuine enthusiasm for science. Science is tremendously cool and sharing it is something I will always do no matter what I do for a living. I think that’s why I pursued a career as a teacher. Getting paid to help others appreciate something you like is pretty nice.”

Herring received his Ph.D. in physics from the University of Utah in 2008. While at Utah he studied amorphous semiconductors, specifically hydrogenated amorphous silicon, a material used for inexpensive solar cells. After graduate school, he lectured in physics at Rochester Institute of Technology in Rochester, N.Y., where he became interested in active learning in the physics classroom.

New Writing Center Aims to Help Students Improve Essays for All College Classes

The need for strong essay development is not restricted to college English classes. Writing is a significant component to many college courses, and students often struggle with the process of creating a solid essay.

WNC’s new Writing Center aims to get students on track to improved writing, as well as better brainstorming and thought development, which are important parts of essay creation.

With the intention of improving writing across the curriculum, WNC English Professor Joshua Fleming, who is overseeing the Writing Center, said the center is just what WNC students and faculty need.

“WNC students need to participate in the writing process in a more serious, comprehensive fashion within all courses that require writing,” Fleming said.

“In a perfect world, students would retain every ounce of information from their English courses regarding the writing process and move confidently into writing for other disciplines.”

That isn’t always the case, though, and that’s where the Writing Center can reinforce writing strategies and grammar that students learned earlier.

Hours of operation for the Writing Center are Monday through Thursday, 9 a.m. to 8 p.m.; Friday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.; and Saturday, 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. The center is located in Bristlecone Room 332.

“Much of the credit for the launch of the Writing Center lies with our supportive faculty,” Fleming said. “Professors like Susan Priest, Amy Ghilieri, Geraldine Pope, Kim Desroches and Mary Gillespie have ‘embedded’ writing tutors within the online components of their classes to stimulate participation in the Writing Center. Furthermore, the center benefits from the close support of Dr. Elizabeth Skinner, who has assumed a leadership role in supporting writing across the curriculum.”

The college’s original Academic Skills Center will shift its focus to students’ math and science needs. Lynette Capurro, a longtime WNC math instructor and tutor, has assumed the role of providing tutoring and support for students needing tutoring in math or science.

For information, contact Fleming at Joshua.fleming@wnc.edu.

Kick Butts Day Coming to All Three WNC Campuses

It’s not a rally for an athletic team or a boxing card.

Kick Butts Day at Western Nevada College is much more important for the well-being of people who are not only damaging themselves with tobacco use but those taking in second-hand smoke.

WNC’s Healthy Campus Committee is presenting a Kick Butts Day on March 15 on all three of its campuses to bring more awareness about the effects of tobacco use. Everyone is welcome to participate. There will be tables set up on each WNC campus with information regarding Kick Butts Day, heart health and smoking cessation.

An information scavenger hunt is planned from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the Carson City and Fallon campuses. Stop by one of the Healthy Campus Committee’s tables and pick up an entry form. Find all the answers and return the form for a chance to win a raffle prize. The grand prize is a free, three-credit class.

“The Carson and Fallon campuses will have an art instillation of 1,300 pinwheels representing how many people die every day from tobacco related illnesses,” said Rebecca Bevans, a WNC Grant Project Coordinator and adjunct faculty member.

At the Douglas campus, an information booth will be open from 2:30 to 7 p.m. If visitors participate in a survey, they will receive a goodie bag filled with Quitline cards, a tobacco pen, a Kick Butts Day sticker, a brown ribbon representing cancer from tobacco, information about tobacco and a toothbrush and mirror to help prevent mouth cancer from tobacco.

This year, WNC restricted use of nicotine products, including electronic cigarettes, to designated tobacco-use areas on all its campuses. WNC aims to join more than 1,475 colleges and universities by going tobacco free by August 2017.

Truth Initiative, a not-for-profit organization dedicated to inspiring tobacco-free lives, has provided WNC with a one-year grant of $10,000 to help the college with its tobacco-free campus education campaign.

Local organizations and agencies have been instrumental in helping WNC bring the tobacco-free initiative to life, including Carson City Health and Human Services, the American Heart Association ANCHOR Partnerships Program, Churchill Community Coalition, Partnership of Community Resources of Douglas County and the University of Nevada Reno.


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