Jasmine Avagyan and Lin Martinez have ambitious goals for their futures. Both students at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, Avagyan is studying to be a pediatrician and Martinez plans to become a lawyer. Thanks to the United Way of Southern Nevada’s Women’s Leadership Council, they are starting on the path to creating a better life and a better community through education.

According to a UWSN report on post-secondary attainment, 54 percent of jobs in Nevada require some form of post-secondary education, but only 31 percent of residents qualify. (Read the full report at uwsn.org/communityconnect.) Programs like the Women’s Leadership Council Emerging Leadership Scholarship, which both Avagyan and Martinez have received, are helping to change that and providing ways for Southern Nevadans to gain a degree or certification to prepare for the workforce.

“The first step to work towards becoming a lawyer is receiving a bachelor’s degree,” shared Martinez. “The next step would be to study and take the LSAT test, in order to apply for law school, where I would spend three years to receive the training and education needed to become a lawyer.” Avagyan’s path to being a doctor is similar, with a bachelor’s degree, medical school and years of training coming before entering her chosen field.

Both women consider the years of schooling worth it to help their community. Avagyan was diagnosed with severe scoliosis at 11 years old, and was told her lungs would collapse by the age of 30. At 13, she underwent surgery to save her life, which changed the way she sees the world. Now, she’s studying to become a doctor so she can help others who suffer from the same condition and create a healthy environment in Southern Nevada. “My community has given so much to me and I want to continue on my journey to give back, as well as continue to make my community grow,” she said.

As an intern at the Legal Aid Center of Southern Nevada, Martinez has seen first hand how the law affects families across Southern Nevada. “The law can dictate what happens to children, families, individuals and entire communities,” Martinez stated. “I have been a witness to the fear and uncertainty that people have when they aren’t aware of how they can protect themselves from certain situations.” With a pressing need for bilingual lawyers to reach all of Southern Nevada’s residents, Martinez looks forward to using her degree to help people protect themselves and find resources for assistance. “The Southern Nevada community has given me so much and I intend to give back through my determination, passion, and time.”

To learn more about the Emerging Leadership Scholarship for Women and the Women’s Leadership Council, contact Lawrel Larsen at 702.892.2319 or LawrelL@uwsn.org.