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Alum Advice: How Mentorship Makes All the Difference

Jeremy Aguero, the 2018 Alumnus of the Year, on how to pay kindness forward.

Jeremy Aguero holds a rare status: He’s a fourth-generation Las Vegan. He’s put his stamp on Nevada in the last decade through countless economic and fiscal policy studies that shaped legislative and development decisions for Silver State leaders. Aguero has won the “Good Government Award” from the Nevada Taxpayers Association and numerous other honors, including UNLV’s 2018 Fred C. Albrecht Outstanding Alumnus of the Year. But getting there began with the moment a UNLV professor took time to mentor him. 

Mentoring is a Daily Act

“There have been several instances during my life where I have benefited from unexpected kindness. Most often, this has come in the form of mentorship. Although, as I have gained experience, I have come to understand that countless acts of kindness — large and small, overt and obscured — have made all the difference in my life.”

Extend an Invitation

The late Shannon Bybee, founder of UNLV’s International Gaming Institute, was a powerful personal and professional mentor to Aguero. “My undergraduate career was marked by uncertainty. After taking a class or two from Dr. Bybee, he invited me to his office. He asked me about what I wanted to get out of college and what I wanted to do after it. He shared his successes and his failures, unabridged. He helped me find a path and then paved it with encouragement and expectation. Shortly after I graduated, Dr. Bybee made me promise him that I would go to law school. I fulfilled that promise. He was right. It has made all the difference in my career.”

Take Leadership Seriously

“That’s the greatest gift Shannon gave me. He knew what happens if you don’t think about leadership as a service and just see it only as a position — you’ll never get the most out of anything you do.”

Say “Yes” … A Lot

Aguero’s list of extracurriculars runs the gamut from coaching youth baseball to serving on the boards of organizations like Opportunity Village and Nevada Child Seekers. Plus, he delivers the hard truth about numbers to policymakers and business leaders in legislative hearings and keynotes addresses around the state. “When you give an assignment, when you take on an intern, when you agree to teach a class at a college … I like to say we have a default position of saying ‘yes’ to things in the community and constantly looking for an opportunity to leave the community better than how we found it.”

Set the tone for others to mentor, too

His philosophy is simple: He wins when others win, whether it’s an employee, a nonprofit partner, or a client. “Seeing people grow and succeed, there’s nothing more fulfilling than that. … It’s just as important for me, as a business owner, to develop and have people who are happy and productive members of the community at it is to have happy and productive employees of the company.”

In addition to Aguero, the UNLV Alumni Association is honoring these Rebels on Oct. 18 during the 2018 Homecoming week festivities. 

Association Honors 

  • Silver State Award: Mark L. Fine
  • Achievement in Service: Michael
  • Gordon, ’08 Master of Public Administration, ‘13 Ph.D. Public Administration 
  • Outstanding Faculty: Business’ Bernard Malamud and Engineering’s Brendan O’Toole and Mohamed Trabia

College Alumni of the Year

Allied Health: Dr. John J. Pierce, ’98 BS Kinesiological Sciences 

Business: Caroline Ciocca, ’07 EMBA 

Community Health Sciences: Dr. Charles Bernick, ’11 MPH

Dental: Dr. Ashley Hoban, ’09 DMD 

Education: Wayne B. Nunnely, ’75 BS Physical Education 

Engineering: Mike Maier, ’86 BS Computer Science

Fine Arts: Michael Del Gatto, ’96 BS and ’99 Master of Architecture 

Graduate: Michael Gordon, ’08 MPA and ’13 PhD Public Administration

Honors: Paul Moradkhan, ’03 BA English 

Hospitality: David D. Ross, ’95 BSBA Management and ’05 MS Hotel Administration

Law: Brenda Weksler, ’99 BA English and ’02 JD

Liberal Arts: Jeanne Hamrick, ’88 BA Psychology and '94 MS Educational Psychology 

Nursing: Maileen Ulep-Reed, ’09 BS Nursing, ’15 MS Nursing Practice

Sciences: K. Bruce Jones, ’95 PhD Biological Sciences 

Urban Affairs: Judy Tudor, ’94 BSW and ’97 MSW


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