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July 30, 2014

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In Memoriam:

Educated populace is the living legacy of Kenny Guinn

UNLV student pays silent tribute to former governor for creating the Millennium Scholarship program

Image

Sam Morris

Army National Guard Spc. and Millennium Scholar Matthew Andenoro stands at attention before Kenny Guinn’s funeral Tuesday.

Gov. Kenny Guinn Funeral

The body of former Governor Kenny Guinn is carried into St. Joseph, Husband of Mary Roman Catholic Church before the start of funeral services, Tuesday, July 27, 2010. Guinn passed away last Thursday while working on the roof of his Las Vegas home. Launch slideshow »

Kenny Guinn 1936 - 2010

Former Governor Kenny Guinn is seen as a Clark County School District Administrator in a photo circa 1967. Launch slideshow »

In his crisp dress blues and gold-trimmed belt, Spc. Matthew Andenoro is a picture-perfect soldier.

Soon he will take his place outside St. Joseph, Husband of Mary Catholic Church, as part of the honorary color guard at Tuesday’s funeral Mass for former Nevada Gov. Kenny Guinn. He will stand at attention as former first lady Dema Guinn, joined on either side by sons Jeff and Steve, slowly follows her husband’s casket into the church.

Andenoro will seem unaware of the hazy heat. His gaze will not waver.

He is there for Kenny Guinn. And he is there because of Kenny Guinn.

A reservist in the state’s National Guard, 24-year-old Andenoro is a 2003 graduate of Foothill High School and a UNLV business student.

He’s also a Millennium Scholar.

While Andenoro is always proud when he’s chosen for color guard duty, this assignment carries special significance.

“It’s a good way to pay Gov. Guinn back for his hard work and show my respect,” Andenoro says.

Guinn, who served as Nevada’s CEO from 1999 to 2006, died July 22. He was 73. He created the Millennium Scholarship program during his first year in office, using the state’s tobacco lawsuit settlement money as its key funding source. The intent was to encourage students to attend Nevada’s public colleges and universities, and prevent the “brain drain” of top scholars to other states.

Because of his Millennium Scholarship, “books are more affordable … I can focus on my academics instead of making ends meet,” Andenoro says.

Besides his classes at UNLV, and satellite communications work for the National Guard, Andenoro works in the graphic arts department at Southwest Career and Technical Academy. He intends to enlist for full-time active duty in the Army in about two years.

At the same time, the scholarship provides an extra incentive to take his academic pursuits seriously.

“It puts some pressure on you to do well,” says Andenoro, who has a 3.0 grade-point average. “You probably work a little harder.”

It had been expected that Guinn would put the tobacco settlement money toward health care. But he focused instead on education. Andenoro knows he’s a direct beneficiary of Guinn’s priorities.

“A well-educated population means a better standard of living for people,” Andenoro says. “It means a more qualified workforce, and that’s better for the state.”

And while he’s prepared to go where the Army sends him, Nevada is still home. He intends to build a life and career here, and pay back the state’s generous investment in his future.

And what would he say to Guinn, if he could?

“I guess I’d say thanks for making education a priority,” Andenoro says as he pulls on his white gloves and prepares to take his place in the color guard procession. “And that I’m grateful for the opportunity he gave me.”

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