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Honoring outstanding CSN Class of 2020 graduates |

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Honoring outstanding CSN Class of 2020 graduates

LAS VEGAS (KLAS) — Spring commencement looked far different this year for graduating classes. The Class of 2020 persevered through the COVID-19 pandemic, finishing the semester strong.

Sadly, seniors were still unable to take part in the ultimate college tradition: walking across the graduation stage. Schools are making the best of it, though, including CSN.

Four CSN students shared their stories today, the day they were supposed to walk and receive their diplomas. We spoke with Ariana Thompson about her journey.

Ariana Thompson, Associate of Arts in Anthropology

Thompson is a mother who dropped out of high school to focus on raising her child. When she made the decision to go back to school, she turned to CSN, joining dozens of other students who jumped into a college a little later than some.

She found a passion for studying ancient cultures and was one of two CSN students chosen to join an international team traveling to Poland. She’ll be working on a newly-discovered site dating back to the 11th century A.D. next summer.

Thompson will begin classes at UNLV next fall, working toward her bachelor’s and master’s degrees.

CSN also provided the inspirational stories of the following students.

Silvio Ernesto Mirabal Torres

Torres, a Cuban native, moved to the United States just two years ago and didn’t speak English. He wanted to go to school and chose CSN as the place to get it done.

He started out majoring in journalism but moved over to Anthropology, learning to speak English along the way. The reason he changed? He said he loved his professor, the class and how the subject was “the perfect match of science and culture.”

Torres is the other student who will be working at the Polish archaeological site. He is also one of only eight college students in the country who was selected to analyze ancient skeletal remains from the Middle East. The initiative is part of a National Science Foundation grant. His future plans include likely majoring in anthropology and minoring in religious studies at UNLV, grad school and a doctorate degree.

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

Hedwall’s career choice was fueled by a love for classic cars, thanks in part to her dad. While her friends went out-of-state for school, she decided CSN was the right choice or her, especially with its Automotive Technology Program.

She interviewed for an apprenticeship at a local exotic car dealership and landed the gig. Hedwall is now working with cars day in and day out, learning the ropes of being a modern day mechanic.

Hedwall noted she paid for all of her classes by working part time at the mall. She said, “It’s like I’m living my dream.”

Krista McFarling-Kelly, Associate of Science in Biological Science

McFarling-Kelly decided to head to CSN after working part-time for a few months after high school. While attending college, she joined the Black Student Union, was soon elected president and became very involved around campus.

Her last year of school brought about a tremendous accomplishment. She was selected to be the Student Commencement Speaker for the Class of 2020 after impressing the selection committee. She’ll be able to do deliver her inspiring words once the school deems it safe to do so.

While McFarling-Kelly started with her sights set on the performing arts, she later changed over to biology with a bit of encouragement from her parents.

She’s working toward a future career in obstetrics and gynecology and plans on attending UNR in the fall. She’ll major in biology, and may look into the university’s OB/GYN program after she completes her bachelor’s degree.

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