Galena Foothills, 89511
As you drive further and further south from downtown Reno, the city starts to become unrecognizable. Small brick homes with stout chimneys, old apartments and businesses become fewer and further between. Glossy office parks and warehouses are dotted among grass fields and the occasional housing development.
Keep going and you’ll eventually leave town for Carson Valley, but just before that you’ll find the neighborhood of Galena, where 21-year-old nursing student Shannon Enloe has lived since she was two.
“I think it’s just far enough outside of Reno to feel like you aren’t in a city anymore. You’re kind of in the country,” Shannon says of her home in the foothills of Mt. Rose. “Where I live, everyone has at least an acre or two, so the houses are pretty spread out.”
Shannon’s description of her home in South Reno does little justice to the actual grandeur of her family’s two-and-a-half-acre property — replete with a barn that, until recently, boarded her horse of ten years. Riding, she says, was a competitive sport for her in her childhood, but now she enjoys spending time with her horse recreationally, in the trails and foothills between Galena and Carson City.
The abundant space in this remote area of Reno was a formative part of her childhood, and yet the distance between homesteads had little effect on the community spirit shared by her parents and neighbors.
“We have a lot of close family friends in the neighborhood,” Shannon says. “Everyone kind of did the same thing so we’d have neighborhood park dates, or I’d ride my horses with the girls in the neighborhood — so it was super community oriented.”
Shannon’s closest neighbor borders the north side of her parent’s property – the houses sit about 100 yards away. When she was younger, Shannon and the other students of Hunsberger Elementary School would walk to the bus stop unaccompanied by parents, as they felt the neighborhood itself was very safe.
In the seventh grade, Shannon attended Mountainview Montessori as her parents believed she would receive a more personalized education than at the school she was zoned for: Pine Middle School. However, as the curriculum failed to challenge her, her parents attempted to homeschool her for eighth grade year in preparation for high school at Bishop Manogue — a private school in south Reno.
“It was awful,” Shannon says, laughing at the memory. “It was terrible; I used to say I went straight from 6th grade into high school because I feel like I did not get a middle school education at all.”
Despite her unconventional middle-school experience, Shannon attended high school and graduated in 2010 before moving on to the similarly Catholic Gonzaga University. Shannon met her boyfriend, Nikolai, her senior year of high school — they have been dating long-distance for four years.
Shannon said that her religious faith influenced her decision to attend both private schools, and Gonzaga’s nursing program is renowned as being very prestigious. She and her family have always placed a very high importance on the quality of her education.
“My parents chose to make my education a priority, so in other areas we would kind of cut back to make sure we could afford Manogue and me at Gonzaga,” she says. “Club sports, that kind of thing, they wouldn’t pay for anything like that. We’d go on one big family trip a year; we wouldn’t go on like cruises or anything like that. They would splurge on, like, one big thing.”
While Shannon has always been financially supported in greater expenses, like education and her car, she says her parents instilled in her a strong sense of fiscal responsibility and a dedicated work ethic.
“I never had an allowance growing up; I don’t remember ever asking them for cash,” she says. “They encouraged us to work for neighbors who would pay us for our time — I would babysit and my brother would mow lawns.”
More than just earning, Shannon was taught to save her money too. “We had our own little bank in the house growing up where we would have to put some of our money in savings until we got old enough to have real accounts,” she says.
Shannon’s safe and comfortable childhood, private education and expansive home paint the picture of a young woman who has been very fortunate in many aspects of life—but Shannon has always been grateful for her circumstances. Her years away at college have made her more aware than ever that the opportunities afforded to her are valuable, and at times rare.
“If you are in your own little sheltered protected area, you don’t realize that you are the minority,” she says of herself. “When you get to college you go, ‘No, I’m really going to have to work if I want to keep living the life I’m used to.’”
The life she is used to is one that she intends to give her own future children. “It’s not the materialistic aspects that are important to me,” she says. “Like having a big house or that sort of thing – it’s more just the feel of it. I do like having open space, I will say that, so I want enough to buy a property somewhere. I don’t need the nicest house or the best car, I want my family to be able to look back when they’re adults and say, ‘That was a good childhood.’”
She has already taken that next step in building her family – Shannon and Nikolai were engaged on Easter Sunday, April 20. Nikolai will be graduating from UNR in May and moving to Virginia Tech University to study Veterinary Sciences — and Shannon will be going with him.
There, she intends to take the licensing exam so she can work as a nurse while Nikolai attends veterinary school. After that, however, she hints that maybe they will find their way back to Reno — maybe even her old neighborhood or Nikolai’s hometown of Carson.
Even though Shannon has been away at college for four years, she still very much considers Reno her home. Leaving a familiar community and moving across the country can be daunting for anyone, and Shannon foresees finding work in a new state as one of her biggest challenges. She remains hopeful though, and even if her vision of the future isn’t clear, she’s committed to it.
“No matter what, everyone is going to have to work to get what they want,” she says, measuredly. “I don’t think it’s going to necessarily always be fair, but I do think hard work pays off … I think it’s going be a little bit of luck and faith.”