First Generation Engineer
With help from programs including Upward Bound, Ann Gibbons is earning her engineering degree and becoming the first in her family to attend college.
By Micaela Myers
No one in Ann Gibbons’ family had been to college, thus making applications, scholarships, financial aid and college test preparation foreign territory. But in 10th grade, Gibbons found Upward Bound, a federally funded program administratively based out of the University of Wyoming that serves eligible low-income and first-generation students throughout the state by offering academic support, enrichment, and financial aid and college application assistance.
“If you didn’t have a family member who went to college, they’re kind of like that substitute,” says Gibbons, who is originally from Cheyenne, Wyo. “Most kids who are in Upward Bound are first generation, so it’s kind of a scary thing to think of how to pay for college or how to apply or what you want to do. Brandi Roesener, the Upward Bound project coordinator for Laramie County, helped me apply to UW and other colleges, and helped me apply for scholarships.”
Gibbons went on college visits with Upward Bound and attended the program’s summer camp at UW before deciding to attend the university. “UW has a really good engineering program, and I got the Hathaway Scholarship, so it’s hard to pass up,” she says. She’s now a junior in the engineering program, majoring in energy systems. “We’re the first university to have the energy systems ABET accreditation,” Gibbons explains.
In addition to a full class load, Gibbons works at the UW Upward Bound office, plays intramural soccer, serves as the secretary for the Society of Women Engineers and acts as a Daniels Fund Scholar Ambassador for the state of Wyoming.
While she lists her fantasy dream job as being an “Imagineering” engineer at Disney World, Gibbons is also perfectly content to stay in Wyoming and hopes to work in the energy industry.
As an engineer, she wants to make a difference in the world, perhaps taking part in creating a more efficient wind turbine blade or other energy-related improvements that will help future generations.
“I hope that I help somebody,” she says of her future. “When I think about Upward Bound, GEAR UP or the Daniels Scholarship, they help kids who don’t have someone to give them direction. … I hope I can say I took part in something that will continue for generations.”
One of the 10 Cowboy Ethics adopted by UW is “Ride for the brand.” With help from Upward Bound, Ann Gibbons prepared herself for college and is on her way to a career in the energy industry, illustrating this principle with pride in herself, her state and her school.