Kathy Trujillo, a native of Hawthorne and 1981 graduate of Mineral County High School, was chosen as a 2015 commencement speaker at Nevada State College. Trujillo addressed almost 400 “virtual classmates” in her graduation address delivered Saturday evening at the Henderson Pavilion.
Trujillo’s 20-year long journey to receive a bachelor’s degree began when many of her NSC classmates were toddlers. Her first class, an English 101 course taught by Professor Hugh Qualls, stirred up the possibility of getting her Associates of Arts degree through Western Nevada Community College. “I was working for Superintendent Granvill Gage at the time, and those writing skills came in really handy at the Administration office,” Trujillo said. She added that her colleagues, Dave Cochenour, Janell Carlos, Richard Stokes and many of the teachers at Mineral County School District encouraged her.
It was when she met Roselyne Pirodeau, Director of the WNC Hawthorne Campus, that a road map to graduation was devised. “Rosy helped me plan my classes so that I could take full advantage of distance education,” Trujillo said, adding, “She would also put a scholarship application in my hand and say, ‘here fill this out,’ and I would.” Many of the business courses at WNC were taught by Shirley and Louis Thompson and Tony Hughes taught the most popular photography classes, field trips included. In 2000, Trujillo graduated with her Associates of Arts degree Summa Cum Laude, with an emphasis in business education.
Trujillo was selected as a member of the WNC’s Advisory Board and President Carol Lucey announced the opening of the state’s first public system of higher education, Nevada State College. “I looked into NSC immediately, as I knew that I’d never be able to get a complete on-line education through the University of Nevada Reno. I really didn’t want to move from Hawthorne, and did everything in my power to work, volunteer and go to school right from my hometown, “Trujillo said.
While working for the State of Nevada, Trujillo enrolled in a new Mental Health Technician program. “Thanks to Rosy’s mentorship I knew how to creatively enroll in on-line classes. One semester I was a student of three institutions and driving back and forth from Reno during the week,” Trujillo noted, “I was one of the first to earn the MHT Associates of Applied Science from Truckee Meadows Community College.”
Working for Cliff Cichowlaz at SOC Nevada, LLC, now stirred up the possibility of getting her Bachelor’s degree. It was during a Christmas break that Trujillo started looking for a way to complete it. “I talked to three prominent on-line schools and knew in my heart that I wanted a Nevada degree,” she said. Once again, devising a creative road map created a plan for an Interdisciplinary degree at Nevada State College.
“This past year, I’ve carried a heavy load. I re-enrolled in WNC for core classes, spent my Christmas break at Wintermester at UNR, and took on-line classes to finish up at NSC,” Trujillo reported. This is in addition to working a 40-hour week, occasionally substitute teaching, volunteering in the community and helping out with the grandkids.
Trujillo’s commencement address highlighted her love of her hometown and state of Nevada and explored the concept of firsts:
“A life full of ‘firsts’ means that you are willing to be a part of something that you’ve never experienced before; take the lead, blaze a trail. Isn’t that what Nevada’s pioneering spirit is all about?”
Trujillo received her Bachelor’s of Arts degree with a major in Psychology and a minor in Communications, with highest honors, carrying a 3.7 GPA over the two-decade span. When asked what was next, she said, “I’m going to take a minute to relish this moment and then make a decision. I have an opportunity to enroll in the Executive MBA program at the University of Nevada Reno, but I really want to complete the IRONMAN Lake Tahoe in the near future.”
You will find Trujillo, for sure, continuing to work with the youth in the community and urging others to pursue their education. “I believe in life-long learning and am so grateful for my life in Hawthorne and what I’ve learned from my Kindergarten teacher and in my high school government class, from all my professors at Nevada universities and colleges, classmates and SOC colleagues, parents, friends, and family . . it truly does take a village.”