Meet a Few of Our Graduates

Ariana Thompson
Associate of Arts,

Photo of Ariana Thompson

Like a lot of CSN students, Ariana didn’t enroll straight out of high school. In fact, she dropped out of high school years ago. She spent a few years raising her child, who is now 9, but knew she wanted to go back to school someday. 

She wasn’t sure if she would fit in with the freshmen crowd at a university, so she looked into CSN, and found it was the perfect fit. There were lots of students like her, who got started in college a little late. Plus, the scheduling was flexible and easy to fit around her work schedule. 

When Ariana started, she thought she wanted to become a museum curator, so she majored in anthropology. Her first class gave her a taste of human evolution and prehistoric civilizations, and she was hooked. Obsessed even. Now, she was all about paleoanthropology and evolution studies. She’s fascinated by ancient cultures. They’re so different from us, while also having many things in common. 

Ariana and another CSN student were chosen this year to join an international team to work on a newly discovered site in Poland dating back to 11th century A.D., and she couldn’t be more excited about it. The trip is on hold until next summer due to the pandemic. 

For now, she is set to begin classes at UNLV for next fall, where she plans on earning bachelor’s and master’s degrees. After that, she’s flexible.

Emily Hedwall
Associate of Applied Science,
Automotive Technology-Master Technician

Photo of Emily Hedwell

Emily enrolled at CSN knowing exactly what she wanted — and she got it even before graduation.

Attending CSN wasn’t a given for her though. Emily’s dad is a car collector, so she basically grew up surrounded by classic cars. She’d go to car shows with him, and she was amazed by all the things people could do to these cars. The mechanical stuff, specifically. So that was it, she would become a mechanic. 

After high school, her mechanically inclined friends all went to an expensive private school out of state. That didn’t seem like a good option for her, so she hit the internet and found CSN’s Automotive Technology Program. The program offers a selection of nine different degrees and certificates, ranging from light repair and diagnostics to collision repair and hybrid technology.

Being a mechanic isn’t like it used to be. It’s all computers and gadgets now, so an education is critical. Lucky for Emily, CSN’s program has a reputation in the industry for producing stellar professionals. A couple months ago, one of the local exotic car dealerships contacted the program director, John Ventura, looking for a new apprentice. Emily interviewed, got the job, and now she’s out there working already. 

“I feel like I’m so much further ahead of where I could be right now, which is really nice because I’m not in debt. I was able to pay for all of my classes myself working part time at the mall,” she said. “It’s like I’m living my dream.”

Krista McFarling-Kelly
Associate of Science,
Biological Science

Photo of Krista McFarling-Kelly

Krista took a little break after high school, worked a part-time job for a few months, and then realized she was bored to tears sitting around at home all the time. She didn’t have a car, so she rode the bus when she did go somewhere. Which was lucky for her, because those CSN ads you see plastered all over the city’s buses? They got Krista’s attention.

She enrolled, and “Immediately I knew it was for me.” She couldn’t get over how much she loved the campus, how friendly everyone was, how helpful. She joined the Black Student Union club, and soon enough she found herself being elected president. 

This got her heavily involved in things at CSN, putting on events, meeting people, getting to know her school well. Once she knew she’d be graduating this spring, she applied to become this year’s Student Commencement Speaker. And guess what? The selection committee was so impressed with her speech, Krista was chosen to represent the Class of 2020 and give her speech this year, once we’re able to safely put on a traditional in-person graduation ceremony. 

Originally, Krista intended to study the performing arts, but that little voice in the back of her head (her parents) encouraged her to study something more “realistic.” So, biology made the most sense to her. She thought of studying in CSN’s Veterinary Nursing program, but the prospect of dealing with sick dogs overwhelmed her. 

Now, Krista’s focusing on obstetrics and gynecology as a career. She’s planning on attending the University of Nevada, Reno this fall and work on her bachelor’s degree in biology. After that, she’s heard UNR has a really good OB/GYN program.

Silvio Ernesto Mirabal Torres
Associate of Arts,

Photo of Silvio Ernesto Mirabal Torres

Silvio came to the United States from Cuba two years ago, and then he was like, Now what? 

He spoke no English, but he knew he wanted to go to school. A friend suggested CSN. Sure, why not, he figured. 

He signed up, majored in journalism, learned to speak English by throwing himself into it, and started taking his required classes. Which is where he ran into Dr. Diane Hardgrave, an anthropology professor who changed his life. “I just fell in love with the professor and the class,” Silvio said. “Anthropology was like the perfect match of science and culture.”

So he switched majors. And from there, he just took off. Soon, he was one of only eight college students in the entire country to land a prestigious spot analyzing ancient skeletal remains from the Middle East as part of a National Science Foundation grant. Then, he and another CSN student were selected this year to join an international team to work on a newly discovered site in Poland dating back to 11th century A.D. That trip is on hold until next summer due to the pandemic. 

Next up, Silvio is enrolling at UNLV, where he’s pretty sure he’s going to major in anthropology and minor in religious studies. Then, grad school, a doctorate degree, and who knows what else. 

He’s just getting started.