The UNLV license plates you see around town do more than shout out allegiance to the scarlet and gray. They also support students: $25 of each new license fee and $20 per renewal gets routed to UNLV scholarships.
The program is now in overdrive, thanks to alumnus Jon Cobain, ’64 BS Business Administration. Through the end of 2017, Cobain has pledged up to $100,000 to match dollar-for-dollar all new contributions generated by the license plates. The longtime donor was UNLV's first graduate.
The license plate program is fueling the aspirations of students like Mecca Walker, who graduated in May and plans to pursue an MBA in international business. The recipient of the Child of Alumni Scholarship earned dual degrees — one in economics and a second in Spanish for the Professions — with the help of the scholarship. Her dad, Kirk A. Talib-Deen, received both his bachelor’s and master’s degrees from UNLV. He is working toward a doctorate from the College of Education and is an instructor.
“My UNLV experience helped me understand people better,” she reflects. “And this makes me a better student, a better citizen, and a better human.”
The idea to create specialty plates that benefit students came from the late Fred C. Albrecht, ’71 M.Ed. A former head of UNLV’s alumni relations program, Albrecht worked closely with athletics staff member Sheila Strike and the Nevada Highway Patrol to promote the bill at the Nevada Legislature, and it passed in 1993.
The Nevada DMV began printing plates later that year.
“My scholarship allowed me to fully participate in campus life and explore academics to find the right fit for me. It’s a chance to really enjoy learning, rather than trying to scrape together funds to pay for books and tuition.”
Walker plans to apply her economic education to cultures and specific communities, which she was able to explore during her graduate career. “Because of my scholarship, I had an opportunity to study abroad in Santiago, Chile.” Her ultimate goal is to help communities understand the value the arts bring to their neighborhoods and to help artists monetize their work.
“My college experience has been enjoyable and memorable to me and my family. As a Las Vegas native, I’ve had the complete college experience. Plus, my dad has been completing his master’s degree. We’ve studied together at the library. I will follow in his footsteps and walk across the stage at commencement," Mecca said shortly before graduation. "To me, the thought of that is thrilling.”