WNC nursing student earns Regents’ Scholar Award

Western Nevada College student Daniel Lear has aspirations to become a critical care nurse and nurse practitioner.

Courtesy Steve Yingling, Western Nevada College

A military career showed Daniel Lear that he wanted to spend his life helping others.

Adult life has taken Lear on a few twists and turns, but it hasn’t changed his primary goal to assist people. That desire is closer to becoming a reality as a second-year nursing student at Western Nevada College.

“My time training to become a nurse has been the most rewarding period of my life,” Lear said. “In my short time as a nursing student, I have been able to care for the sick and touch their lives in ways I never could before.”


His good intentions and unselfishness have been recognized by the Nevada System of Higher Education. Lear’s academic success in the WNC nursing program, leadership ability and service contributions contributed to him recently being selected as a Nevada Regents’ Scholar Award winner.

“The faculty and I are most proud of Daniel’s accomplishments,” said WNC Nursing & Allied Health Director Judith Cordia. “We all wish him well and look forward to following where his career path may take him. We even dare to hope that maybe the path someday will bring him back to Western Nevada College, where he would influence others how to also be great.”

Lear reflected on how many people have helped him reach this point.

“To me, this award is a recognition and testament to the dedication our community has toward education. The academic successes I’ve had were not achieved without an amazing amount of support,” Lear said. “In my four years pursuing nursing, I have had countless teachers and professors spend untold hours to ensure that myself and my peers reach our goals. Local facilities like Carson Tahoe Hospital have provided us with expert nurse mentors who have guided us along the way. The WNC Veterans Resource Center has stood by me and my fellow veterans. And, of course, my amazing wife Christy has been there for me through the entire process, as well as after those long clinical days.”

Lear said that the most important quality that he has learned while pursuing his nursing degree at WNC is perseverance.

“Each faculty member is an expert in their craft and each can give a unique perspective into the vast world that is nursing. They have taught me what nursing was, is, and most importantly, will be,” he said. “The single greatest attribute they have given me is the ability to get back up and move forward after we fail. The invaluable ability to get back up, learn from our mistakes and drive forward is a skill that I will take with me through the rest of my life and career.”

Before entering WNC’s nursing program, Lear was an elite ski racer and an Army paratrooper who was selected to train as an 18 Delta special forces medic. Lear’s commitment and success in these endeavors shaped who he is today.

“I would have to attribute my desire to succeed to my many life experiences,” Lear said. “My years of ski racing around the world instilled me with confidence and self-reliance. My years in the military gave me the discipline to formulate a mission and see it through. But the event that I would say was most impactful would be my exit from the military and the simultaneous birth of my son, Jackson. They say that necessity is the mother of all invention and nothing is more necessary than leaving a career and needing to provide for your new family. “

While studying nursing at WNC, Lear’s father-in-law passed away from a long-standing illness. Lear will forever be grateful that he had gained the skills and abilities necessary to help his father-in-law transition from life with comfort and dignity.

“I was also fortunate to experience and work with the amazing people at hospice. The hospice staff embody compassion and have a level of caring that I have yet to see elsewhere,” Lear said. “While I plan to focus my career on caring for critically ill patients in the hospital, I would like to one day work with hospice again and pay forward their incredible generosity.”

Each Regents’ Scholar receives a $5,000 stipend from NSHE. The award will help Lear as he continues his dream of becoming a critical care nurse. He also plans to earn a bachelor’s degree in nursing and eventually become a nurse practitioner.

“When people are at their worst, I want to be the person they can count on,” Lear said. “I want to be their candle in the darkness.”

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