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Courtney Howsden and Alina Sanchez: First Medical Lab Sciences Graduates

UW-Casper Graduates First Medical Laboratory Sciences Students at Commencement May 11

The University of Wyoming at Casper (UW-Casper) will celebrate students at their commencement ceremonies on May 11 at 4 p.m. at the Casper Events Center. Eighty-four graduates earned their degrees this year, including the first two graduates of the bachelor’s of science degree in medical laboratory sciences, Courtney Howsden and Alina Sanchez.

After completing a medical laboratory technician degree through Casper College, both women began working in hospital labs: Howsden has worked at Memorial Hospital of Converse County in Douglas for three years, and Sanchez at Wyoming Medical Center in Casper for nearly four years. When UW-Casper opened the bachelor’s in medical laboratory sciences degree in fall 2015, they were two of the first students to enroll. Just two years later, they are the two first two graduates of the program.

“I was always interested in the medical field and began the nursing program at Casper College,” said Sanchez. “But I decided that the more in-depth study of diseases was so much more gratifying. We investigate samples to determine what is going on with patients, why they feel the way they feel, and work with doctors to resolve their problems. About 85% of treatment decisions are based on what is discovered in the medical laboratory.”

Howsden is excited for the greater opportunities that a bachelor’s degree will bring. “With a bachelor’s degree, there is more room to grow. You can get certified in different states, and advance in the field.”

Both graduates agree that UW-Casper’s smaller class sizes and new facilities with high-grade equipment maximized their education. However, the instructors were the highlight of the program.

“All of the instructors were great,” they agreed. “Jed Doxtater [assistant clinical faculty and program director of medical laboratory sciences at UW-Casper] did a great job putting it all together. Since we were in the first courses, he really listened to us on what was working and what could be improved as our classes progressed. He was super impressive!”

Doxtater felt that Howsden and Sanchez were the impressive ones. “It was a challenge for them. Courtney would get off work at 7 pm in Douglas and have to be in class by 8 pm, and Alina worked nights and weekends. At the beginning, they came to me wanting to give up, but they both made it through. I’m proud of these guys.”

Joining Howsden and Sanchez at commencement are 58 graduates representing five UW Colleges. Kendall Gammon, former NFL player, special assistant to the president at Pittsburg State University, and broadcast team member for the Kansas City Chiefs Radio Network, will be the keynote speaker. Vocal performances will be given by ReVerb, an a cappella group from Kelly Walsh High School. Natrona County High School’s Junior ROTC will post the colors, and Upward Bound Math Science students from Midwest High School will serve as ushers for the evening.

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