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Las Vegas teen in high school, college named Regents’ Scholar

Naree Asherian, 17, was recognized in February as a Nevada System of Higher Education Regents’ Scholar. She said she owes the recognition to the College of Southern Nevada High School program at the Charleston campus in southwest Las Vegas, which she has been a part of for two years.

“Honestly, I didn’t think it was going to happen,” Naree said. “Without CSN High School, I wouldn’t have a chance at the Regents’ Scholar. I want to bring awareness to this program and show people that it exists and it is worth your time.”

Naree is set to graduate in May with a high school diploma and an Associate of Business degree from CSN. Under the program, she has taken high school classes required by the Clark County School District, with the district paying for 12 CSN credits. CSN High School students take their high school and college classes on one of the three CSN campuses.

Students are able to purchase more CSN credits to obtain their associate’s degrees after two years, but Naree said only a handful of students typically do. Naree’s family paid for the extra credits, receiving a discount on them during a summer semester because Naree’s mother works at the college.

Naree’s mother, Vartouhi, is a senior analyst in the office of E-Learning at CSN, and the two had known about the program before Naree applied.

Vartouhi encouraged her daughter and more students to apply for CSN high school because “not every kid fits into the one-size-fits-all model.”

“We need to offer those kids something,” Vartouhi said. “CSN High School fills that gap.”

Vartouhi said the public school Naree attended didn’t give her “the excitement of success at the end of the day.” CSN High School does.

“She thought, ‘I may be young, but I can be a college student; I am mature enough to be on time,” Vartouhi said. “Maturity is key.”

Colleen Greenburg, high school counselor at the Charleston campus, said her daughter graduated from the high school in 2011 and found that the school “prepared her for life at a university because of the university setting.”

“They learn how to navigate a college campus, navigate instructors and pick college classes,” Greenburg said.

Greenburg said CSN High School also has a prom, graduation and mixers, as well as assemblies every month.

Next stop: Armenia

In her time at CSN, Naree has maintained a 3.8 grade-point average. She plans to transfer to UNLV to get her bachelor’s degree in business within two years.

After graduating, Naree’s plan is to move to her native Armenia permanently to start a dance shoe company and perform as an actor.

Naree has been cast in local plays, singing and acting, and is the ambassador for a nonprofit, Positively Arts. The organization provides performing arts opportunities for students who may need financial assistance and lack the ability to access the arts. Positively Arts pairs students with professional artists who act as mentors.

Naree said the organization helped one student with free or reduced-fee vocal lessons.

Naree was just cast as Katherine in a play called “Newsies, The Broadway Musical.” It will be performed at Summerlin Library through April 27.

Naree has also participated in cabarets on the Strip.

Naree said Armenia, which borders Turkey to the east, is known for making quality shoes. She said the most popular Broadway dance shoe costs about $250; she wants to make a less-expensive alternative.

“If I can create something that has to do with the fine arts, that uses my degree, that I would be in charge of and still be able to act professionally, that is the dream,” Naree said.

Contact Rachel Spacek at 702-387-2921 or rspacek@reviewjournal.com. Follow @RachelSpacek on Twitter.

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