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COMMENTARY: Nevada State College stands ready to serve in the Battle Born tradition

Since my arrival to Nevada in August as president of Nevada State College, I have been fascinated by the meaning and history behind Nevada’s unofficial motto, the Battle Born State. This motto runs like a connective thread throughout the many interactions in which I have engaged throughout our community as I have worked to make Nevada my home.

This Battle Born ethos is a prescient guide for my first few weeks as I acclimate and begin a visioning process for the future of a college that is distinctly and profoundly born of and for Nevada.

While you might see it on the state flag (or even a Golden Knights jersey), Battle Born is more than a motto. It is a state of mind. Nevada earned this adage upon joining the Union during the Civil War. Nevada’s abundance of natural resources and political support helped expedite its admission to the Union just days before the 1864 presidential election. The war cemented Nevada’s place in the Union and on the right side of history. More importantly, Nevada defined itself as a place where determination and grind beat complacency and entitlement every day of the week.

Today, Battle Born represents Nevada’s frontier spirit and, perhaps more profoundly, that our state once again has a moral imperative to continue pushing for progress — for maintaining our place on the right side of history. We have the responsibility to face new challenges in education, political divisions and the fight against the pandemic with the courage, conviction and grit that is a part of the Nevadan DNA.

And for me, I ask myself daily: What responsibility do I have as president of Nevada’s newest four-year college amid today’s challenges and opportunities?

I approach my work at Nevada State College with a deep sense of gratitude and pride for our mission. Our students are resilient, they are passionate and they make up core portions of our workforce. The college was created not only to fill specific workforce gaps in nursing and teaching but also to serve as a place where working-class families can earn their college degrees. The perseverance of these students, a majority of whom are the first in their families to attend college, is what makes them Nevadan. They are distinctly and proudly Battle Born.

It is in this moment that we need a deeper and renewed commitment to our state motto. Just as this state has welcomed me, I know that anyone can be Battle Born. Battle Born is a frame of mind — a deep and abiding belief in your gut that value is not defined by how others see you but in how you show up and fight for your part of the American Dream. It doesn’t matter if you were born here. It matters only that you work hard here. And as we face another battle of rebuilding a diversified economy that is “future proof,” I have the honor of leading a college that stands ready to support our state in preparing the college-educated professionals we will need to ensure the future of our state.

Just as Nevada was Battle Born—rising in spite of seemingly insurmountable odds to claim its statehood — Nevada State College was born of and for Nevada. In this moment, we know that Nevada needs us to excel. The next generation of teachers, nurses, scientists, business leaders and data scientists will come from Nevada State College.

We were created just 19 years ago because brave leaders and community organizers dreamed audaciously for a different type of public college to join the higher education space in Nevada. They knew that the gloriously diverse student body of Nevada needed us. Dreamers, mothers, veterans, first generation, fathers, emancipated youth, reservists, retirees, high schoolers, working adults — they are all ours to serve. No student is expendable, and every part of our community belongs to us. With pride. With commitment. With excellence.

Nevada is indeed Battle Born — and your state college was “Born of and for Nevada.”

DeRionne Pollard is the president of Nevada State College in Henderson.

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