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Chancellor Dan Klaich
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College of Southern Nevada
Desert Research Institute
Truckee Meadows Community College

Building a New Nevada
Destroying Dreams, Deferring Futures
Part V

Dear Friend of Higher Education,
I have spent a lot of time lately discussing the budget.  My comments have tended to talk about millions of dollars coming out of campus funds and large percentage reductions to budgets or formulas.  What that discussion has not conveyed is the personal damage these cuts are doing to the young men and women of our state.
Higher education changes lives, one student at a time, and it is our goal to build a better Nevada and a better future for all of us.  In this report and in reports to come, I would like to stop talking for a moment about numbers and percentages and remind you of the wonderful students in this System and share some of their personal stories.

DRI Student Carolyn LinkAs a non-traditional graduate student, I never could have succeeded without help from NSHE and the Desert Research Institute.  A few years ago, while working a full-time job at a casino in Las Vegas, long after completing my undergraduate degree, I dreamed of going to graduate school and doing conservation research. I discovered the Water Resources Management department at UNLV, a unique program that offers amazing interdisciplinary research opportunities. When I first started taking coursework, I was still working full-time and attending graduate classes; it was difficult, but UNLV offered enough class variety for me to find appropriate valuable classes to fit into my schedule. When the time came for me to begin work on my thesis, I realized I couldn't juggle school and work any longer. I was worried if I quit my job, I'd lose my health insurance and have to take out student loans to live on. Luckily, through DRI, I was able to receive a graduate assistantship that allowed me to quit my old job and focus on my research and my future.
Working at DRI, I've been able to gain research skills, network with top scientists in my field, and have confidence and excitement in pursuing my dream of working in research to protect the fragile aquatic environments in the Desert Southwest. Without the class variety, without the dedication of top professors and scientists that are passionate about their work, and without a graduate assistantship, I would never have reached my goals.
The thought of potential budget cuts causes me to wonder what will happen to future scientists that come from my background.  Will smaller departments like the Water Resources Management program still be available to offer students the diverse subject experience needed for work in this field? Will they have enough classes to choose from? Will UNLV, UNR, and DRI be able to maintain high caliber faculty?  Will there still be grant opportunities for dedicated students? I feel lucky to have benefited from the Nevada System of Higher Education as I am scheduled to graduate with my master's degree this spring, and I already have opportunities for work in my discipline post-graduation. I can only hope that NSHE will be able to continue to provide the same opportunities for future students.
- Carolyn Link

DRI Student Bo TanWithout the Desert Research Institute I would have lost my motivation to study as a graduate student. I have always put considerable effort into my job, either in school or in the workplace. I started working my sophomore year in high school, and I have been working and studying at the same time since then. My first job was at JC Penney, and I was able to bring home almost one $1,000 a month, part-time. That was not enough, so I turned my concentration to school.

I ranked in the top five percent in the California Star's Chemistry Tests, and top 25 percent in the Math Test. I wanted to choose a different path than many of my friends, who were happy earning mediocre wages as a waiter or a waitress. To fulfill my interest in the sky, I enrolled in the Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University in Prescott, Arizona to become a pilot. Halfway through, I realized it would take my mother's entire savings account to complete my degree. So, I quit, because through my advisor and my friends I learned that there were better opportunities for me to stay in school and become a professional in the math and science field.

My sophomore year in college, I earned the top grade in my physics class, and I earned many A's in my math classes. In my junior year, I competed nationally and won one of 10 spots in the National Weather Service Internship.

In joining DRI, I am able to apply the knowledge that I have learned. Living in Arizona, I gained much interest in the weather systems over the southwest region, and I am currently working on a problem that could potentially affect the future summer forecasting efforts of rain events over the southwest desert region, including Nevada. Without the Nevada System of Higher Education and DRI, I would have lost my motivation and become another waiter or waitress as my friends had done years ago. I hope the higher education system will always be available to serve students who want to become somebody better

- Bo Tan


Dan Klaich
Nevada System of Higher Education