CSN steps up student success efforts

Michael Sandoval took his first cooking class in high school because he thought it would be an easy “A.”

Today the 27-year-old chef de cuisine at the Thomas Keller Restaurant Group’s Bouchon in Napa Valley is one of the top achievers in his field.

“CSN culinary professors John Metcalf, Levy Acosta and Jill Mora were three key players in my growth, not only in food, but in support of anything I wanted to achieve,” said Sandoval, who has worked his way up through the company since he started his studies at the College of Southern Nevada in 2004.

He’s come a long way since his days on the CSN Culinary Team, which went to nationals and allowed Sandoval an opportunity to go to Germany in 2006 for the Culinary Olympics. He has worked hard to gain his current status, where he enjoys being able to impact the experience of guests and colleagues.

Sandoval is a model for many CSN students who aspire to achieve success. While the definition of success varies for each student, the College of Southern Nevada is working on a number of initiatives to help them reach their goals.


Nevada ranks 43rd in the nation in terms of educational attainment. As the state’s largest college, CSN is attacking this problem on multiple fronts.

“Our plan for the future is to enrich the substance of what we are,” said CSN President Dr. Michael Richards. “This is a time for us to focus on student success and support. We’re not just going to transmit knowledge; we’re going to transmit knowledge that leads to a degree or certificate.”

CSN is taking part in Complete College America, an initiative which aims to increase the number of college graduates across the nation. As part of this effort, CSN has a goal to bolster the college’s number of graduates by 85 percent over a decade.

In the last year, CSN has doubled the graduation rate used by the U.S. Department of Education and exceeded its goals under Complete College America.

As part of this initiative, the college launched Project Graduate last year. CSN officials identified 4,269 students with at least 45 transferable credits and a 2.5 GPA. They were invited to meet with advisers and counselors to develop academic plans to help them finish their degrees.

The effort helped increase the number of students graduating in May by 20 percent over the previous year.

Students often rely on degree sheets that tell them what classes they need to pass to obtain their degree. As a result, they may get off course, get frustrated and drop out. But connecting students with counselors helps students realize how close a degree is within their reach and how to get there.

“We need to find ways to help these students see the light at the end of the tunnel,” interim Vice President of Student Affairs Dr. Chemene Crawford said.

Orientation and increased emphasis on counseling will also help students navigate the college better, she said.

To reduce the number of incoming students who need developmental education, which extends the amount of time it takes for a student to obtain a degree, CSN is now promoting preparation tools for math and English assessment tests. This will help students do better on the mandatory exams that determine if they are ready to take college-level math and English courses.

CSN will also work with the Clark County School District to create summer bridge programs to help high school students prepare for college-level courses.

Helping Students Reach Their Goals

Obtaining an associate degree is not the only goal for community college students. For instance, Sandoval, who transferred to UNLV but has not yet completed a degree, was eager to put the knowledge he had gained from his classes to use in the workforce to see where it would take him.

“Within the last seven years, I haven’t wanted to stray away from the Thomas Keller Restaurant Group because they have so much to offer,” Sandoval said. “I’m 27 and have had a lot of different and great opportunities.”

He plans to return to college, however, and one day start his own business.

Sandoval is not alone as many students attend community colleges to learn the skills they need to obtain the job or promotion they are seeking and then return to college years later to complete their degrees.

“Some students come for a couple of classes or to learn a skill. Some folks are just trying to get a job,” Crawford said. “But it is our job to make them aware of all that we have and encourage them to come for more.”

CSN Support

Whether students’ end goal is personal enrichment, a degree or a new job, CSN enriches students’ lives and helps them learn more about themselves and where they want to go.

J.T. Creedon attended CSN for eight years off and on as a full-time, working student. Like many who drop out of college, life got in the way — life being a car that broke down and a fling with music school. He joined a band and toured the country, playing guitar.

In 2007, he got serious about his education. He joined the CSN Capitol Club and learned he loved politics and government under the tutelage of CSN political science professor Mark Peplowski. His grades were good and he was invited to join the college chapter of the honor’s society Phi Theta Kappa. The continual small rewards and acknowledgements he received from professors built Creedon’s confidence.

“I never thought of myself as an honor student,” he said. “It was such a trip.”

In 2010, he ran for student body president and won. Last year, Creedon led a massive statewide grassroots effort to advocate for more education funding, working with thousands of students, local and national media, lawmakers and other state leaders. And, he graduated with two degrees.

“Before I came to CSN I was very intimidated to the degree I was afraid to order a cheeseburger from McDonald’s. I’m not even kidding. I had such social anxiety,” Creedon said. “I went from that to making speeches in front of hundreds of people and meeting with the governor. CSN has such a great support base.”

Based on his experience in student government, he was offered a political organizing job in May, but is planning on pursuing his four-year degree.

Finding Their Way

Like Sandoval, Creedon serves as a model for students, who find their way at CSN and achieve notoriety in their fields. Both credit the professors and staff they met at CSN with helping them to find their way.

Both credit their education with helping them to discover and define success.

“I am a firm believer in traditional sauces and I enjoy them so much because I have learned about them and I have so much respect for their historic value and their region,” Sandoval said. “That’s how education makes a difference. College will teach you how to be successful and how to be a professional.”

Mojave Poppy Bees
Male Mojave poppy bees exhibit territorial fighting behavior. The Center for Biological Diversity wants the bee, found only in Clark County, to be added to the endangered species list. (Zach Portman/University of Minnesota Department of Entomology)
Clark County Schools announce random searches
Clark County School District middle and high school students will be subject to random searches for weapons under a new initiative to combat the wave of guns found on campus. (Amelia Pak-Harvey/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Ron Jeremy and Heidi Fleiss React to Dennis Hof's Death
Ron Jeremy and Heidi Fleiss speak about their friend and prominent brothel owner Dennis Hof's death at Dennis Hof's Love Ranch. (Benjamin Hager/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Nevada brothel owner Dennis Hof has died
Nevada brothel owner and Republican candidate for Nevada State Assembly District 36, Dennis Hof has died. He was 72. Nye County Sherriff's office confirmed. Hof owned Love Ranch brothel, located in Crystal, Nevada.
Las Vegas police investigate suspicious package at shopping center
Las Vegas police evacuated a southeast valley shopping center at Flamingo and Sandhill roads early Tuesday morning while they investigated reports of a suspicious package. (Max Michor/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
The Las Vegas Metro hosts the K-9 Trials
The Las Vegas Metro K-9 Trials returns to the Orleans Arena to benefit the Friends For Las Vegas Police K-9 group.
Kingman residents love their little town
Residents of Kingman, Ariz. talk about how they ended up living in the Route 66 town, and what they love about their quiet community. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Service at Southern Nevada Veterans Memorial Cemetery
Twelve unclaimed veterans are honored at Southern Nevada Veterans Memorial Cemetery in Boulder City in Oct. 9, 2018. (Briana Erickson/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Las Vegas house prices reach highest level in 11 years
Las Vegas house prices are rising But so is the amount of available homes on the market Still, properties priced below $300,000 are selling fast And September was the first time since June 2007 that the median house price reached the $300,000 mark Las Vegas home prices have been rising at one of the fastest rates in the country over the past year Recent data show the market is now less affordable than the national average
National Night Out
About 100 Summerlin residents gathered at Park Centre Dr. in Summerlin on Tuesday for National Night Out. Lt. Joshua Bitsko with Las Vegas Metro, played with 3-year-old David who was dressed as a police officer. Face painting, fire truck tours and more kept kids busy as parents roamed behind them. (Mia Sims/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Rural homeless issue comes to a head in Pahrump
On Sept. 12, Pahrump sheriff deputies told residents of a homeless encampment on private property that they had 15 minutes to vacate and grab their belongings. That decision might face some legal consequences. (Rachel Aston/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Remembrance blood drive on October 1
A blood drive was held at the Las Vegas Convention Center on the one year anniversary of the Oct. 1 shooting. (Mat Luschek/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Remembrance Lights memorial unveiled at St. Rose hospital
A dedication ceremony was held at St. Rose to unveil a memorial and to read the names of those who died on October 1, a year ago. (Mat Luschek/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
1October Blood Drive Remembrance Wall
(Mat Luschek/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
1October Blood Drive
Vitalent hosts a blood drive at the Las Vegas Convention Center on Monday, Oct. 1, 2018, the first anniversary of the Las Vegas shootings. (Mat Luschek/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
1October sunrise remembrance ceremony in Las Vegas
Myanda Smith, sister of Las Vegas shooting victim Neysa Tonks, speaks at the sunrise remembrance ceremony at the Clark County Government Center in downtown Las Vegas, Monday, Oct. 1, 2018. (Chitose Suzuki/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
‪Gov. Brian Sandoval speaks to crowd at Oct. 1 sunrise remembrance ceremony ‬
‪Nevada Gov. Brian Sandoval speaks to the crowd at the Oct. 1 sunrise remembrance ceremony ‬at the Clark County Government Center in downtown Las Vegas, Monday, Oct. 1, 2018. (Michael Quine/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Father of Route 91 Harvest festival shooting victim talks about college scholarship in his daughter's memory
Chris Davis, father of a Route 91 Harvest festival shooting victim, Neysa Tonks, talks about a college scholarship in his daughter's memory to assist the children of those who died in the shooting. (Bizuayehu Tesfaye/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @bizutesfaye
Oct. 1 survivor Malinda Baldridge talks about life after the shooting
Malinda Baldridge of Reno attended the Route 91 Harvest festival with her daughter, Breanna, 17, and was shot twice in the leg when the gunman fired on the crowd.
Route 91 survivor talks about lack of progress in gun legislation
Heather Gooze, a Route 91 survivor, talks about lack of progress in gun legislation since the Oct 1. (Bizuayehu Tesfaye/Las Vegas/Review-Journal) @reviewjournal
Review held in death of man after encounter with Las Vegas police
The mother of Tashii Brown, who died after an encounter with Las Vegas police on the Strip, not satisfied after public review of evidence. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Clark County Museum opening "How We Mourned: Selected Artifacts from the October 1 Memorials"
The Clark County Museum is opening an exhibit "How We Mourned: Selected Artifacts from the October 1 Memorials" of items left to honor the victims killed in the Route 91 Harvest festival shooting. (Bizuayehu Tesfaye/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @bizutesfaye
Memorial service for former RJ lawyer Mark Hinueber
Mark Hinueber, the Review-Journal's former lawyer and defender of the First Amendment, died in Las Vegas on Aug. 23. Hinueber, who was 66, worked at the RJ and other newspapers for 42 years. On Saturday, his friends and family gathered for a memorial service.
Army veteran honored in Henderson event
Army Sgt. Adam Poppenhouse was honored by fellow veterans in an event hosted by a One Hero at a Time at the Henderson Events Center.
Michelle Obama and Keegan-Michael Key urge Nevadans to vote
Former first lady Michelle Obama and comedian Keegan-Michael Key urged Nevadans to vote at Chaparral High School in Las Vegas Sunday, Sep. 23, 2018. (Marcus Villagran/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @marcusvillagran
Nevada Task Force One Cheers Golden Knights
Nevada Task Force One Cheers Golden Knights
1 dead, 1 wounded in North Las Vegas standoff
A woman was hospitalized with serious injuries on Thursday morning after being shot inside a North Las Vegas house. Police responded about 11 p.m. to a shooting at a home on the 5600 block of Tropic Breeze Street, near Ann Road and Bruce Street. The wounded woman, police believe, was shot by a man, who later barricaded himself inside the house. SWAT was called to assist, and when officers entered the house, they discovered the man dead from an apparent self-inflicted gunshot wound.
Las Vegas Teen Makes Clothing Resale His Side Hustle
Las Vegas resident Reanu Elises, 18, started buying and selling streetwear online when he was a high school junior. Like many other young adults, the world of online resale applications like Depop and Mercari have made selling clothing online for a profit easy. Now, Elises spends his free time at thrift shops looking for rare and vintage clothing he can list on his on his shop. Now in his freshman year at UNLV as a business marketing major, Elises hopes to open a shop of his own one day and start his own clothing brand. He estimates that he's made about $1000 from just thrifted finds in the past year, which he'll use to buy more thrift clothing and help pay for expenses in college. (Madelyn Reese/ Las Vegas Review-Journal) @MadelynGReese
Fruition Vineyards Encourages Young Entrepreneurs to "Buy, Flip, Dream"
Once a month, young adults gather at Fruition Vineyards on South Maryland Parkway near UNLV to dig through a stack of rare, vintage and designer clothing that's marked down well below it's resale value. Shop founder Valerie Julian began the vent, dubbed "Fruition Vineyards" in August after running her streetwear shop since 2005. The event gives young entrepreneurs the opportunity to "buy, flip, dream" according to Jean. Meaning that they're encouraged to buy the clothing for sale and find a way to resell it for a profit, then reinvest that into whatever dream they pursue: college, a hobby or their own resale business. Shoppers lined up starting an hour before noon on the last Saturday in April for the opportunity and spoke about what they hoped to do with their finds and profits. (Madelyn Reese/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @MadelynGReese
Local man goes under cover searching for answers to homelessness
Licensed mental health therapist Sheldon Jacobs spent 48 hours under cover posing as a homeless man in an attempt to gain perspective on the complex issue.
News Headlines
Add Event
Home Front Page Footer Listing
You May Like

You May Like