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Nevada community colleges get $10 million for career-track programs

Western Nevada College

Nevada's four community colleges are getting federal grants for almost $10 million. Reno Public Radio's Michelle Bliss reports that the funding, which was announced this week, will go towards programs that train students for in-demand jobs across the state.

The money will help expand career-track programs in industries like healthcare, information technology, and manufacturing. Western Nevada College will get the largest slice of the pie--$4.4 million--which will be used for growing its Certified Nursing Assistant enrollment. Right now, that program is unable to meet community demand.

Bob Wynegar is vice president for academic and student affairs at WNC and says the money will also benefit student veterans because the school will be hiring full time staff for its Veterans Resource Center. That organization is currently run by volunteer faculty and students.

"Those two full-time positions will give us the chance to get out and do a lot more recruiting, a lot more active participation, counseling, that sort of thing, with the veterans in the area," Wynegar says.

The school is trying to boost its recruitment among veterans of the naval air station in Fallon.

Another perk of this grant is that it'll pay for special software that can help evaluate the previous training a veteran may have through the military so those students can get the appropriate credits for their experience. The change will ultimately help them earn degrees more quickly. That process is a problem nationwide.

"Let's say they've been working in the military as a corpsman doing medical help, and they come to us," Wynegar says. "Do they know enough anatomy to get credit for Anatomy 1 or maybe they can get credit for Anatomy 1 and 2 because of the training they've had previously?"

The Departments of Labor and Education administer the grants, and the other schools receiving part of this pot include Truckee Meadows Community College, Great Basin College, and the College of Southern Nevada.

Michelle Billman is a former news director at KUNR Public Radio.