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We Have Big Dreams

May 17, 2021
head photo of a woman
Cristina Gonzalez (Courtesy photo)

UW students share how they hope to change the world. 

(Part One) University of Wyoming students have big dreams—not just for their careers but also for their larger impact on the world. We asked students from across campus how they hope to change the world and how UW is helping them along the way. 

Cristina Gonzalez

Senior, BSN (nursing) completion program, Lander, Wyo.

I’m a registered nurse for the Northern Arapaho Tribe, and I work out of Wind River Family and Community Health Care. I went to school originally at George Mason University for sociology. I feel like I have that eye to see what works in our community and what isn’t working. Then as a nurse I’m able to say, “Why isn’t this working, and how can we fix it? What can we do to work toward a community’s strengths?”

What I’d like to do over time is create a mobile unit that deploys health care to communities. When I was in the Peace Corps, we’d do that, except we’d strap on immunization bags and a jump bag to a horse, and we’d ride out to communities that didn’t have electricity or running water. I see that as a possibility here.

I think you can create a mobile medical unit that’s not just for immunizations, but you can send a doctor or a nurse practitioner and do wellness checks, women’s reproductive health and chronic disorder management. Being able to get transportation to the clinic

is a huge problem on the reservation.

In my nursing completion program at UW, there’s a big emphasis on collaboration. I think that’s huge if you’re in a rural area. You can’t get anything done by yourself. What I’ve seen a lot in my UW classes is how we, as nurses, can utilize the resources around us.

Being a nurse during this pandemic, I’ve learned a lot about the health disparities in our area and what I can do to overcome that. I’ve also learned about collaboration so that we can get people into the clinic to get their regular services as well as get them tested or get supplies. As a health care system, we’re having to work with our providers, clinic directors, nursing staff and all the different departments in our facility to figure out how are we going to roll out this next phase of pandemic preparedness with administering the vaccine and keep on top of regular visits.

At UW, it’s been really nice to do a lot of research in my field of nursing and see how nursing has moved policy forward and how I can be a cog in that wheel of progress. That’s been really enlightening. There’s a lot nurses contribute.


man with a bass
Marcis Bravo (Courtesy photo)

Marcis Bravo

Junior, music education major, Cheyenne, Wyo.

A world I want to help create is one of acceptance, tolerance and unity. I believe that, especially recently, our country—and our world—has been polarized, divided and blinded. We see big-name media outlets sowing fear and unrest across the board, and we see monopolistic companies reaping the benefits of a confused public. It sounds almost trite to say, but everyone is not nearly as different as we are told to believe. We spend so much time at each other’s throats, we’re letting everything else fall apart.

The work of a few cannot affect change against gargantuan corporations, but a unified population could change anything. The dominoes start to fall once we stop living in fear and begin living with decency, respect, integrity and love. I want to change the world

by not just spreading these cornerstones and demonstrating them through my chosen profession but also to actively advocate for them whenever I am given the opportunity to stand up and raise my voice to do so. The world I want to live in—and the world I invite everyone to live in—is one of critical thinking, of mutual understanding and of unity.

At UW, I’m involved in the Symphony Orchestra and the Singing Statesmen and as an instructor for the String Project. I would never dream of imparting my own beliefs upon those I teach because I truly believe that accepting others’ differences of opinion is the only way to grow as a person. Instead, I cultivate an environment of critical thinking, of comprehension and of open-mindedness. Even things as simple as a student claiming they do not want to play a piece because the title sounds “silly” is an opportunity to foster a mindset that nothing can be judged until it is understood. Asking students if they understand not just what we’re doing but also why we’re doing it creates critical thinking skills that can change their lives. I am incredibly lucky to work in an occupation where students are using their creativity as a rule. Building upon that creativity, kindling natural curiosity and bringing connections from all over space, time and media into one purpose create thinkers unrivaled by those that do not get to experience music. I am so grateful to have the opportunity to guide young minds to form their own opinions, use their curiosity and imagination for good and truly learn to think independently.

Not only does UW assist me with the opportunities granted through the Department of Music, the National Association for Music Education chapter and the UW String Project, but it also helps me through my scholarships. I am a very grateful and fortunate recipient of the Trustees Scholarship, and I would not be able to dream to effect the change I wish to see without the financial assistance from the university. Furthermore, the diverse community UW has fostered has given me connections across the state, across the country and even across the globe. It is with distinct conviction that I say that UW has helped me to take steps toward my goals and has given me the opportunity to eventually turn those into enormous leaps.

In the future, I hope to continue to inspire and motivate young people to think for themselves and create change in the world as well. From time spent in the past volunteering, I hope to continue to do what I can to improve the quality of life for others at home and abroad. I hope to eventually be in a position that grants me the opportunities to effect real change in policy and/or legislation for the benefit of everyone. These seem like lofty ideals, I know; however, I truly believe that hope, unity and independent thought are traits that spread like fire. I may be one spark, but I hope that I can inspire change into a blazing inferno.


man in a football uniform
Claude Cole. (Photo by Paul Kanaly)

Claude Cole

Junior, American studies major, pre-law minor, Palo Alto, Calif.

I would love to pursue law school and become a defense attorney. I’m really interested in social justice. I think it’s important that we have more people of color—more people who look like me—in the justice system. I think it’s important that we have more people of color pursuing higher education as well.

UW has given me the opportunity to pursue my passion for football as well as given me the resources I need to pursue my studies. I’ve met a lot of great professors. That’s helped grow my passion for learning, for sure. This past semester I took Assistant Professor Fredrick Douglass Dixon’s Black Freedom Movement class, which perfectly aligned with the racial injustices and rising tensions occurring over last summer and last semester. Professor Dixon allowed for us to tie what we had been learning into current events and how we can examine these events from a critical and educated lens. In that class, we learned to examine Black studies and our society from a critical standpoint. This class also helped me learn how to write in a more concise and academic manner. Professor Dixon also serves as an advocate for all students and a role model for students of color who wish to pursue their studies more deeply. He guided us through the process of creating a scholarly capstone research paper on a racial issue we are passionate about. Being from the Bay Area, I chose to research gentrification in that area of California. Professor Dixon helped me create an accessible article, highlighting the voices of the most marginalized. (Read more about Professor Dixon and the Black Studies Center)


woman outdoors
Andrea Perez (Courtesy photo)

Andrea Perez

Senior, business/marketing major, graphic design minor, Cheyenne, Wyo.

I want to be able to bring more compassion into the world. I want to be known as a compassionate person and leader.

I have had more leadership opportunities than I can count at UW, and I think that is because of how intimate it is. I don’t think I would have these opportunities if I went

to a different university.

I am the incoming president of Alpha Phi sorority. For three years, I was the head auxiliary captain, and now I am the social media coordinator for the Western Thunder Marching Band. I’m a graphic artist intern at the Biodiversity Institute on campus and an office aide for the Student Organizations and Entertainment office.

I am actively trying to learn, not only how to be a better leader but also a compassionate one. I’m reaching out to all the leaders in my life—university associated and non-university associated—and asking them what they believe makes a compassionate leader.

In the future, I hope to be able to have more opportunities to lead and grow, especially in the marketing field.


woman in snow with dog
Clara and Ginger Delahaye. (Courtesy photo)

Clara Delahaye

Senior, animal and veterinary science major, honors and French minors, Jackson, Wyo.

I have always been dedicated to helping people, but once I heard the starfish parable of a boy throwing back one starfish at a time after a storm, it describes exactly what inspires and motivates me. There are so many things in this world that need improvement, and it can be disheartening and seemingly hopeless at times to think about all of the hardships people and animals face. Once I adopted the boy’s mindset and started focusing on the impact I can have on each individual, I began to realize that even the smallest act makes a difference. I know my childish dream of saving the entire world is unrealistic, but my new dream consists of changing one person’s world at a time through dialogue, small acts of kindness, and also through broader sustainable community development programs.

I have always been very involved in the campus community. I am currently employed at the Wyoming State Veterinary Laboratory. This is my second year there, and I work part time as a student necropsy technician under the supervision of veterinary pathologists. Working at the lab has provided me with a unique opportunity to get exceptional hands-on experiences in the diagnostic setting. The knowledge I have gained while working alongside professionals is something I value, and I appreciate the opportunity to work a job that is connected to my future career.

I am also the vice president of the Wyoming Pre-Veterinary Club. Although we have not been able to do a lot of our normal events, like hosting a pet wash, we have been able to take the pandemic as an opportunity to meet virtually with a variety of speakers from all over the country and even internationally. I have arranged some guest speakers such as the president and CEO of Veterinarians Without Borders, Dr. Thomas Graham, to talk to the club about his journey and current work. I am also the student advisor for the Collegiate 4-H club. Last year while I was president of the club, I worked hard to institute a volunteer aspect and developed creative and safe outreach activities to support the broader community in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Additionally, I am the treasurer of the Best Buddies student organization. This is a super neat organization that works toward fostering inclusion, understanding and acceptance by forming one-on-one friendships between individuals with and without intellectual and developmental disabilities. Lastly, I am an Ag Ambassador for the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources. Generally speaking, I promote the college and the agriculture industry more broadly by acting as a liaison with the general public, sharing personal experiences and recruiting prospective students.

Currently, my main goal is to provide low-income individuals in the Laramie community with accessible pet health care. I came up with this idea after spending the last three years volunteering at the Downtown Clinic here in Laramie. The clinic provides free primary health care opportunities to hundreds of low-income uninsured residents in Albany County. It’s roughly estimated that over half of the clients are pet owners. If these individuals are struggling to receive adequate health care for themselves, I thought that their pets are most likely also in need. My plan is to partner the clinic with local veterinary providers, the veterinary lab and the Wyoming Pre-Veterinary Club to offer basic veterinary care for free or reduced cost. The lab has agreed to diagnostic support for the program. I hope that we will be able to offer things like annual physical exams, vaccines and other basic veterinary care options. For some of these animals, it may be the first and only time they are seen by a vet, so not only will it help the animals, but it will also be beneficial from a public health point of view in terms of rabies vaccinations and such. Another exciting part of this partnership is the connection with the Wyoming Pre-Veterinary Club. I plan to have this program become integrated with the club to ensure the longevity and sustainability of this partnership. Not only would this reduce the amount of staff needed to run these clinics, but it also would allow pre-veterinary students to get some hands-on experience, community service hours and just generally give back to the community. 

The help the UW faculty has offered me throughout my time here has been incredibly valuable. They genuinely care and not only help me throughout my educational journey, but they also have provided me with new ideas and perspectives regarding the veterinary partnership. I am truly lucky to attend a university with such compassionate, helpful and engaged faculty.

In the near future, my hope is to join the Peace Corps. There are numerous ways to have a positive impact, but the reason I am so drawn to the Peace Corps stems from my multicultural background. Coming from an immigrant family, my parents imparted to me the importance of being a responsible global citizen. This instilled in me the value of approaching the world with an open mind. I want to fully immerse myself in another culture to listen, learn and understand different perspectives and ways of life. Then once I understand, I could hopefully work with local communities to provide them what they truly want and need instead of what I think they need. The Peace Corps is the perfect organization for me because it would provide me with the platform to create sustainable programs to help those in the greatest need and also would allow me to experience a new culture and way of life. In the distant future, after completing vet school, I would like to be part of Veterinarians Without Borders or some other similar organization and help people through helping their animals.


man at a computer
Benjamin Jellicoe

Benjamin Jellicoe

Senior, petroleum engineering major, Saskatchewan, Canada

I would like to see the world focus on ethical production of oil and gas. Promoting domestic operations where policies and legislation ensure that companies are accountable for their environmental and social impact is an important step to achieving this. The public understanding of how North American energy companies respect communities and environmental sustainability will help to change the negative stigma that surrounds the industry. Deterring projects in North America means that the energy demand is being met by importing that difference from unethically producing countries that don’t share the same standard for health and sustainability as we do here. We all share this planet—promoting production in countries that do not uphold our values but are out of sight is not a better solution.

I’m currently president of the American Association of Drilling Engineers UW student chapter and the health and safety officer for UW’s Engineers Without Borders Natividad de Maria water project. I strive to continuously learn about energy operations and the impact they have locally and internationally. The best approach is to start a conversation with people who aren’t in the industry and speak to the facts. It can be difficult to understand the whole picture when many media outlets paint the subject with broad strokes. Talking to friends and family about the topic helps to lend perspective from the other side of the situation that is not so widely publicized.

UW has a world-leading petroleum engineering program that provides a wealth of knowledge in all aspects of the industry. Professors here are passionate about the field and provide excellent insight and access to information that otherwise I never would have been exposed to.

I have attended many presentations from industry leaders, including UW graduates, who have challenged me to think critically about the world around me. I would like to establish myself in the industry and circle back to give my own presentations that will do the same for future students. Taking that idea a step further, I aspire to speak to the public about the benefits of domestic oil and gas operations to help people develop informed opinions about the energy industry.


group of people posing outside
Danna Hanks (fifth from right) with members of Health Equity Leadership Program between UW and Howard University at Register Cliff Pharmacy in Guernsey Wyo. (Courtesy photo)

Danna Hanks

Junior, pharmacy major, Powell, Wyo.

People change the world, but encouragement is the spark that allows them to do so. To make the world a better place, we need a bumper crop of encouragement. Encouragement is a valuable tool that has arguably shaped everyone. When I think back through my educational experience, my success was often shaped by my mentors pushing and encouraging me to be my best. If the world followed suit, many problems would be resolved. This why I want to encourage my peers and future patients to push toward their goals. I seek to encourage people in the same way that I have been encouraged throughout my life.

At UW, I serve as an Associated Students of UW College of Health Sciences senator, a Food Share Pantry volunteer, vice president of the President’s Council, class vice president for third-year pharmacy students, American Pharmacists Association Academy of Student Pharmacists policy vice president, and a member Phi Lamba Sigma international pharmacy leadership society and Rho Chi pharmacy honor society. Pharmacy school can be very challenging, but thankfully I have an amazing set of colleagues who help me get through the stressful times. To encourage them, I have created study guides and made them available for the entire class. I have also helped to make a class SharePoint page so that classmates have access to the calendar, class notes, etc., to aid them in studying. Furthermore, I helped to initiate the weekly update for the class. Alongside of some of my classmates, we send a weekly email with the assignments, homework, quizzes, exams, Zoom links, events that are happening during the week and fun memes.

UW has also given me mentors and educators who are examples of what it means to spur others on to achieve their goals. In the future, I hope to encourage my patients to make health-conscious choices that lead them closer to their health goals. I want to utilize all my resources in order to help them improve their health as well as their quality of life. I also hope to precept and mentor pharmacy students in the future. I hope to encourage them to explore different avenues within the profession, as well as to practice at the top of their license, regardless of where they end up in the profession. Lastly, I want to encourage the co-workers around me to provide the very best possible care to our patients.


Brayden Gaston

Graduated December 2020, physiology major, disability studies, neuroscience and honors minors, Jackson, Wyo.

I want to be a health care provider who comes back to Wyoming and establishes good health care here in the state. I hope to go to medical school and then be as qualified as I can so that people get the care that they need here in the state. Being a premed student with a focus in health care, I’m really fascinated with how the body works but also how we can attain better health care for all people—particularly those with disabilities. The studies I’ve gone through at UW have really impacted how I want to see the world in the future. What that means for me is a more accessible space for all persons, all abilities, all races, and all backgrounds to be able to access the health care they should have the right to and not just the privilege. That means better training for all our health care workers so they can better communicate and provide the best care for all people and break down barriers, both social and political, to health care that exist in the world.

Freshman year at UW, I jumped into student organizations right off the bat. I was a member of the wellness ambassadors. My spring semester of freshman year, I started a registered student organization called Best Buddies. It’s an international organization, and we didn’t have a chapter here on campus. It’s an organization that is targeted toward establishing and fostering healthy friendships between individuals with and without intellectual and developmental disabilities. A lot of what I did is take college students and partner them with adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities. I would try to help facilitate a friendship between the two. All I asked of my members was to go have fun and establish a good relationship to show that accessible friendships that bridge the gap between persons with and without disabilities are perfectly possible. It was a wonderful experience.

I went on a study abroad through honors to Scotland. We studied anthropology and geology. It let me step outside of my boundaries and feel a little uncomfortable. I find a lot of learning happens when you aren’t perfectly comfortable with what you’re learning.

I think UW is so unique for a university because we’re the only one in the state. I was born and raised in Wyoming. I’ll love Wyoming till the day I die, and I’ll probably be here till my last breath. I love the state, and UW mirrors that in a lot of ways. The campus is such a great community, and I think that community and those feelings carried over into my education and fueled a lot of passions and provided a really wonderful environment—really small teacher-to-student ratios and professors I knew were highly qualified and very dedicated. I think UW and its professors and the community as a whole really help facilitate impassioned learning and create students and alumni who want to make change in the world. I think that’s really important to have that community focus.

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