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Q&A with Diane Wrightman, GBC’s Pahrump director

Diane Wrightman, director of Great Basin College’s Pahrump campus, said about the new school year, “Graduation starts today.” That means from the time a student registers, plans a two- or four-year curriculum and starts attending classes, they’re on the road to their graduation.

“We hope students will want to both get and share their degree, moving from education to practical and positive use of their training in the community,” says Wrightman. She has been with the college for four years as manager, and just accepted the title of director. The Pahrump Valley Times sat with her to discuss GBC, its students and a host of issues involving local education.

PVT: When do classes start this year?

Wrightman: Most classes start on Aug. 26 and registration is underway now for the 16-week semester. History and some management classes run only 8-10 weeks and start later. The present enrollment numbers indicate a large number of students coming back to school, which is the number we expected and better. It appears that we also have a lot of new students this semester. What we want to see is steady and increasing enrollment over the year. Funding is based on completion rates in the Great Basin schools. The Pahrump college graduated 40 in 2013, and it looks to substantially increase that number.

PVT: What’s new and exciting that you really want people to know about?

Wrightman: Added to the curriculum this year is a B.A. in Education, and another in Social Work, both highlighted due to the perceived need and high hiring levels across the nation. The same is true for the Bachelor’s degrees in business technology and natural resource science. What many people don’t know that we want them to know is that Great Basin in Pahrump has the best graduation rate in the state — for our size. Based on completion rates now (as opposed to prior required head count), we are literally top-notch.

PVT: There are some very unique things about the Nye County service area for GBC. What are some of those you’d highlight?

Wrightman: The Great Basin colleges are unique for the 63,000 square miles of “service area” it covers for six counties where students are made up mostly of the rural population, and a large number of those are coming back to either attend “live” classes, which is around 400 students at the Pahrump location, with 600 online students. Having the technology to bring vital classes to students not able to travel or with a conflicting life situation that prevents attending live classes, is essential to the community.

PVT: What are some additional things, new and present, that new and prospective students might want to know about?

Wrightman: I want students to know that tutoring and financial aid are available to students and that the staff is very excited about adding a new interactive video Paralegal Certificate Program, which runs for eight weeks in the evenings. In addition, but in the planning stages for next summer is the new “Kid’s College,” which will be a summertime two-week course for elementary and middle school kids. It will offer stimulating subjects in a format appropriate for their age group.

Paralegal training, according to college literature and surveys of attorneys and judges in Nevada, is a vocation for which there is a real need for qualified individuals. It is offered at Great Basin through the Continuing Education department. The college is hoping for a class of 20 that includes the rural areas through interactive video. Classes begin August 29.

Another new certificate program coming up for high school seniors is Leadership Achievement, which teaches students to learn their own strengths, how to lead by example, organize and plan meaningful community work. Level 1 is on personal empowerment and leadership awareness; Level 2 is citizenship and service; Level 3 is mentoring and coaching and Level 4 is on self-development; building a leadership portfolio. All are six weeks long.

PVT: Are you looking forward to the new year?

Wrightman: The staff here is very excited for the beginning of school, and we have a lot to be excited about as we see steady on-line and live enrollment increases, we look to continuing to support our increased student population with new, strengthened and vital material. The additions are innovative, in tune and in time with the direction the country is moving in high-tech and other areas opening to new job-seekers, and we’re also looking forward to doing a lot of extended community outreach. We are poised and ready for the present and future needs of our student population.

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