March 27, 2012

Maira Ibarra Earns $5,000 Award

Latino Student Named Regents Scholar

Motivation and inclusiveness are qualities that Western Nevada College sophomore Maira Ibarra has applied to her college experience. They may also be the reason that she has been awarded the Nevada System of Higher Education 2012 Regents' Scholarship for WNC. The $5,000 award will help her continue her education beyond WNC.

Ibarra, who enrolled at Western in fall 2010, is the first member of her family to pursue a bachelor's degree. With her parents' education curtailed prematurely, Ibarra has been motivated to obtain her degree, not only for personal achievement, but to reward her parents. She is quick to credit others for her academic success.

“I've had a lot of help from the college's Latino cohort, and I couldn't have done it without the support of my parents,” said Ibarra, a 2010 graduate of Carson High School. “Without all that they have given me, I wouldn't be here today.”

Ibarra is on track to graduate from WNC this spring with an Associate of Science degree. In her final months at Western, she is already enrolled in some classes at the University of Nevada, Reno, where she will study to become a civil engineer.

Ibarra said she was given valuable direction and inspiration as a member of the first Latino Cohort, a group of WNC students who meet regularly with college staff and one another, support each other in their studies, and do extra enrichment to help them succeed academically.

“At first, she was very introverted,” said Lupe Ramirez, WNC's executive assistant for the dean of Student Services, as well a Latino cohort coach and an advisor for the Latino Student Club.

“Initially, I didn't know if she would become engaged in the process. Then she got comfortable, and she's one of those individuals who have excelled tremendously. She's inspirational to the rest of the Latino cohort members and other students.”

Ibarra's involvement at WNC has reached beyond her personal academic course work. She has been secretary for the Latino Student Club, a tutor at the Academic Skills Center, a member of the Latino Cohort, and vice president of Phi Theta Kappa honor society.

“I love being part of the college because it keeps me more focused in my studies,” Ibarra said. “I plan to do so as well at the University of Nevada, Reno and continue to be involved in my community after graduation.”

That social awareness and quality of caring for others is just beginning, Ramirez said.

“She likes to work for a variety of groups and enjoys interacting with those other than her comfort group. She likes to explore,” Ramirez said. “She wants to make sure her peers are moving along, which is a beautiful thing.”

“They picked the most-deserving student for this award, in my point of view,” Ramirez said.


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