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Proposed budget cuts could affect the education of UNLV students over the next few years

March 2, 2011 by  
Filed under Community

Budget cuts at UNLV could threaten the education of students like Karla Washington, shown here with her daughter, Kennedy.

With Nevada state officials weighing budget cuts that could result in UNLV losing nearly $100 million over five years, those who rely on financial aid to pursue higher education are wondering how the proposed reductions will affect their futures.

In addition, with many of the cutbacks likely to result in a reduced number of courses and programs that students count on to advance their careers, lives could be forever altered by the decisions now facing the state legislature.

Among those watching with deep concern: 41-year-old Karla Washington, a single mother and onetime high school dropout who once believed she would never be able to attend college. However, with the help of scholarships and grants, she has been studying at UNLV since 2009.

“I came from a very dysfunctional background, which also (included) spending time in foster care in San Diego — and it took being caught by a truant officer at the age of 15 to force me to appreciate school,” Washington recalled. “I was placed on probation and had to go back to school to graduate in order to get off probation. I also received another blessing from my employer at the time, who promised to promote me if I finished high school.”

Washington earned her high school diploma, and was soon promoted to a supervisory position at that job. She also lost more than 100 pounds and her self-esteem blossomed as she grew into adulthood. Her journey through life fostered a serious work ethic that only deepened when she looked into the eyes of her baby daughter. “I decided to go back to school the day I had my daughter,” she said. “I just always worked two or three jobs. Never having a college education, but I had supervisory skills. Customer service has always been very important to me. I have always been a good worker, but never able to make more than minimum wage because I didn’t have a degree.”
In California at the time, Washington pleaded her case to Santa Monica College, explaining her passion to receive a higher education. “I gave my total self to them,” she said. “I took an assessment test and was put into classes at my level — and I have not looked backed since.” Earning a high GPA, she parlayed her success at the two-year college into an offer to attend the UNLV College of Hotel Administration.

Terrified by the proposed budget cuts, Washington is bracing for potential detours on her path to a degree.

“My life has been built around UNLV and completing an education that will lead me into a hotel management position in event planning,” she said. “The Las Vegas Urban League assists me with day care on the UNLV campus, I work as an administrative assistant on UNLV’s campus, I am involved with student government and many other organizations. A lot of people look at the proposed budget cuts for UNLV as no big deal. They just think you will be all right because you can go and apply for a student loan. We are talking about $5,000 per semester. That is $10,000 for the year. Right now, I am living beyond my means even with the financial assistance I receive, (and) it doesn’t really cover my expenses. I will probably have to move from my apartment or find a roommate. Also, I know I will definitely have to stand in those long lines for financial assistance in order to stay at UNLV and complete what I came here to do — get an education that leads toward my career.”


One Response to “Proposed budget cuts could affect the education of UNLV students over the next few years”
  1. Edward says:

    Karla is a beacon for young African American women struggling to do something with their lives. Prior to my retirement from higher education, I observed for years that young ladies will put off other things and enter college to achieve their goals. I only wish our young men had the same focus. In todays times with the conservative right and the lack of funding there seems to be a movement to keep young aspiring talented people from achieving their dreams. I applaud this young lady, and “keep on keeping on”.

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