Pennington Grant to provide many benefits to WNC students pursuing science, medical careers

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Courtesy Western Nevada College

When the renovation of Western Nevada College’s biophysical science and cadaver labs is completed next fall, students pursuing careers in medical and science fields stand to benefit the most from the $1.45 million project funded by the William N. Pennington Foundation.

Along with providing additional space and state-of-the-art facilities that will enable WNC to better serve more students, the funding will allow instructors to enhance student participation in class and lab activities, and improve their connection to critical concepts.

“This is an unprecedented grant that is absolutely phenomenal,” said Steve Carman, Ph.D., professor of biophysical sciences. “It will allow faculty to demo experiments that are mentioned in lectures in a safe and descriptive manner. The lab redesign makes the lab more modern and more inviting to students — maybe even a little more professional-looking as well.”

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The Department of Biophysical Sciences and cadaver labs were created more than 25 years ago when WNC’s Aspen Building was constructed in 1990. Over time, they have developed accessibility, space and functionality challenges.

Photo by Cathleen Allison
From left, Holly Foster, Jose Banuelos, Taylor Good and Bradley Dawson work in a chemistry class at Western Nevada College in Carson City, on Tuesday, April 5, 2016.

The renovation will expand the chemistry lab capacity from 24 to 32 students and align them in pods instead of on benches, fostering better interaction between students and an overall improved learning environment. The remodeled lab will include video monitors, providing students with direct, visual access to demonstrations and lectures.

“The teaching style will change from head-of-the class style to focusing and centralizing instruction on and for the students,” Carman said.

The remodeling project will expand the cadaver lab from two to four cadavers and increase student capacity from 10 to 20. Students use the cadavers for anatomy and physiology courses for pre-nursing, pre-pharmacy, pre-respiratory therapy, pre-med technology, pre-X-ray technology and pre-physical therapy instruction.

“As a student I feel like this is a great opportunity,” said WNC pre-nursing student Yessica Alonso, who has used the cadaver room for her Biology 223 class. “The grant can provide a better environment where students are more likely to learn and give them an opportunity for hands-on experiences.”

The late William N. Pennington, who founded the William N. Pennington Foundation, made his mark in the gaming industry and became more widely known for his work in philanthropy. His humanitarianism has benefited Northern Nevada organizations in education, health, medical research and community services.

The Pennington Foundation made generous donations to WNC’s nursing program last year, providing students with scholarships and textbooks.

Niki Gladys, director of development for the Western Nevada College Foundation, worked with the Pennington Foundation to finalize the grant in mid-November and the Nevada System of Higher Education formally accepted Pennington’s contribution to WNC on Thursday. The WNC Foundation enriches students’ lives through fundraising that includes employee giving, special events and fundraising campaigns while working with individual, corporate and private foundations in support of the college.

“Our community’s ability to prepare students for successful careers in science and health care fields dramatically improves, thanks to the Pennington Foundation gift,” Gladys said. “This exciting project will yield a significant return for both the college and the community. As STEM (Science Technology Engineering and Math) classes continue to increase in importance, Western Nevada College will be able to provide the high-quality learning environment our students and our community deserve.”

For more information about the renovation project, contact WNC Foundation Director Niki Gladys at 775-445-3239.

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